Let's Play FF1!

Originally posted by: Kishi
Other possibilities, courtesy of my friends:

Grape Imp Groovy Imp

Both awesome.

Originally posted by: Zef
Edit: When I first played this game, I thought it was more like "Grrr, IMPs!"

Even better!

Originally posted by: eirikr
Exactly. No Peninsula of Power = fail. Or FAIL, as Brick seems to be notating his FF1 terms.

He's got the perfect team to do it, too.

I won't be using the Power Peninsula at all. I'll show it off after I get my AIRSHIP for those who are curious about it, though.

We rejoin our heroes here in Elfland, where L3 black magic is on tap. L3 is a pretty kickass level for black magic; LIT2 and FIR2 are probably the most useful direct attack spells in the game. Since R/L buttons won't be invented for another year or so at least, there's no way to toggle between single/multiple targets for attack magic in FF1. The first tier of spells (FIRE/LIT/ICE) all only hit one target, but the second tier (FIR2/LIT2/ICE2) hits everybody. Our next boss fight is against multiple monsters that hit hard but have a weakness to LIT, so once again LIT takes precedence over FIRE.

Of course, I can't actually cast LIT2 yet, so even if I make it all the way to my goal in the Marsh Cave I'm not going to be able to beat the boss. The plan now, then, is to hike over there and grab a few treasures while gaining some EXP along the way.

Before we leave Elfland, though, we've got to check out this little gem. This is pretty much the definition of cocky, right here. It's even quite a bit cockier in the Japanese version, but I'll let someone else step up to the plate and explain why.

The Marsh Cave is the first real dungeon in the game, and standard RPG practice demands I save before going in. Of course, FF1 doesn't have a save option on the menu; you have to use one of three save items to do it: a TENT, a CABIN or a HOUSE. I just happened to find a free CABIN while looting the Temple of the Fiends, so after a restful night's sleep I'm good to go.

The Marsh Cave is annoying. Almost every creature in here Poisons you, and it contains a few extremely hard-hitting monsters that I'd call "out-of-depth" if this were NetHack. SCORPIONs in particular are pretty nasty; they spawn four at a time and can chop 20 HP off one of my armored RedMAGEs and drop Poison on them to boot. Even if I had the means to fight off the endless swarms of monsters, the EXP gains just aren't worth the trouble. I'll gain more EXP on the journey to and from Coneria than I will winning fights inside the cave.

Still, it's worth coming out here for the treasures: a Large Dagger, a Short Sword and 1300 GOLD. The Large Dagger does me no good, but the Short Sword is a noticable buff above the Scimtar. I'd give it to ADAM, but he can't use it, so BOSS takes it instead.

ADAM is PO! Ha ha! (/nelson)

I'd like to grab the rest of the treasure, but unfortunately ADAM is Poisoned by a SCUM and I'm out of PUREs. It's back to town for me, braving the god-awful buzzing noise the game drills into your head to remind you someone is Poisoned. I've got enough doses of CURE to get ADAM back to Elfland alive, tip a PURE down his throat and he's as good as new.

In most FF games there is a single class of healing magic that restores your HP if you're alive, but damages you if you're undead. This, combined with the single/multiple targets mechanic, means they can streamline just about everything cool in a white mage's arsenal into the Cure/Cura/Curaga line. Well, white magic in FF1 predates all that is good an logical, and is based around three separate spell lines: single target healing spells (CURE/CUR2/CUR3/CUR4), multi-target healing spells (HEAL/HEL2/HEL3) and spells to damage undead (HARM/HRM2/HRM3/HRM4).

I skipped HARM because there's no undead to speak of to cause any trouble in the first areas of the game, but I'm going to start running into them soon. HRM2 is one of those situational spells that you might never use, but can save your life in certain fights. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. SKUB can't actually cast this until L5, which is still a couple hundred EXP away, so I'm going to have to just pray I get lucky and don't run into any undead on my way to finish looting the Marsh Cave.

I haven't decided whether or not I need any HEAL spells yet. I'll skip HEAL for sure, and will probably never need HEL2 or HEL3, but by the time I'm able to buy them I'll have enough money to spend on redundancies. We'll see.

Back in we go...

Down on B3 are two pretty useful items: Iron Armor and a Copper Bracelet. There are items on B2 as well, but they're all duplicate chests. In many dungeons in FF1 you will find the same item in more than one chest, and taking it out of one chest causes the other to be empty. All three of the chests on B2 are just duplicates of the ones I've already taken. There are a lot more chests here on B3, but nothing great, and some of those are duplicates as well; if memory serves, there are three chests containing the Iron Armor!

I don't have anyone who can equip Iron Armor, but it'll sell for 400 GOLD. The Copper Bracelet is the first piece of armor worth putting on SKUB, but only because it's very slightly inferior to the Wooden Armor ADAM's already wearing. I would much rather give ADAM an extra point or two of ABSORB and leave SKUB naked, but that's just not the way the chips fall.

On the way back to the Coneria INN a helpful SHARK puts me up into L5. Not an exciting level, except for the fact that now I can cast HRM2.

Some groups can tackle the bosses of the Marsh Cave at L5, but this one can't. A three-FIGHTER group can do it at L4 with a reasonable amount of luck, and any group with a Bl.MAGE can do it at L5 thanks to LIT2. I don't have either of those things. I'm out of places to explore now and there's no real reason to go to the Marsh Cave a third time, so there's nothing for it: I'm going to have to grind out a level here on the ocean.

The monsters on the ocean give large amounts of EXP and GOLD relative to how difficult they are to destroy. These KYZOKUs dropped a small fortune in my wallet with virtually no effort. By the time I reach L6 I'll have enough cash just from the sea monster drops to buy my second LIT2 spell and a full stock of HEAL and PURE potions for the trip.

Some guides will tell you to fight OGREs to level at this point in the game, and some will direct you to the PNEOP. OGREs hit hard and only come once in a while as you're fending off large amounts of ASPs and ARACHNIDs. The PNEOP (peninsula northeast of Pravoka, also called the Peninsula of Power) is a fool's game, completely unnecessary, of no use at all except as a curiosity. When it comes to pre-Marsh Cave powerleveling, the ocean is where it's at. If you can cast LIT2, farming the ocean's bounty is probably the best way to level at least until you get your AIRSHIP.

I like the targeting system in FF1. That is to say, I don't really like how it works, but rather how you can tell what kind of games a player was weaned on by watching their reaction to it. In modern RPGs when a hero tries to attack a monster that's not there the game will automatically pick a new target for him. In FF1, however, the hero tries to attack the dead monster and gets the "Ineffective" message.

Now, FF1 pretty much trained me in how to play RPGs, and in order to avoid Ineffectives I learned to spread my attacks around, a practice I still use to this day. Younger players who learned their skills from those newfangled games go back and try to play FF1 and get tripped up by it because, in any given round, two of their guys will attack and two will whiff because of Ineffectives.

The "learn to spread your attacks out" vs. "the game should just autotarget" brouhaha was most noticable (to me anyway) after the release of Golden Sun for GBA which uses the oldschool method of Ineffective attacks. I don't mind the Ineffectives, and I admit it's always amusing to see people complain about them. They're easy to avoid if you're willing to unlearn a couple of your ideas about how RPG combat should work. In fact, I had to purposely force this one just to get the screenshot. Going into this round I knew either EDIT or ADAM would kill the target and the other would whiff.

After burning my last LIT charges on a couple of SHARKs I headed back up to Coneria to recharge. Thanks to the mushy d-pad on the Xbox 360 controller I'm using I accidentially took a step to the left into the woods outside of town, ran into some IMPs, and leveled up. RedMAGEs get a pretty decent HP boost at L6 in addition to their first L3 spell charge. Time to return to the Marsh Cave.

Undead monsters are annoying. Their physical attacks Stun you and, even though they don't do a lot of damage, once you're Stunned there's not much to do except sit there and watch yourself be very slowly poked to death. The easiest way to counteract this is to cast HARM magic and take out the whole group in one shot, which is exactly what SKUB is doing here. If I hadn't bought HRM2, this would have probably been a game over.

Incidentially, this is the first useful thing SKUB has done in the adventure so far. I'll be sure to point out Useful SKUB Things (USTs) as I go to try and further illustrate my point that Wh.MAGEs suck and they have no place in any respectable FF1 party. Yes, this particular fight would have been my ruin if not for my Wh.MAGE, but I saved right outside the cave anyway and I would much rather have to reset once or twice during the course of the game than drag a usually-useless character through every fight.

Undead also have a weakness to FIRE spells, so if I didn't have a Wh.MAGE handy I would have bought FIR2 for one of my RedMAGEs instead, which has the same effect. Even though this is UST #1, it's not something unique that only SKUB can handle.

Here we go! The Marsh Cave bosses are the WIZARDs, a group of between two and four super-strong monsters. They're so strong that if both of these guys were to land attacks on EDIT he would die even though he's wearing the best armor and has the highest HP. The number of WIZARDs encountered is random, and some groups need to encounter fewer if you want to beat them without major trouble. I've got two LIT2 casters, so I don't really care how many there are just as long as I can get both of my spells off before too much damage is sustained. These guys drop a heavy hurt on EDIT and BOSS, but go down after the second LIT2 just as predicted.

That's the difference that one single level made. At L5 this fight would have been impossible, but at L6 it was trivially easy. Actually, I could win as low as L2 if I put SKUB in the back, had him RUSE twice, and then killed the WIZARDs over the course of the next twenty or thirty rounds providing they didn't land any criticals on me. Winning the fight that way would take longer than I spent on the ocean getting to L6, though!

For the record, WIZARDs are the only monsters I think actually have cooler names in the updated versions of FF1, where they are called Piscodemons. WIZARD is somewhat of a misnomer anyway since they don't have any spellcasting ability.

Ta-daa! Prize in hand, I'm now free to leave the Marsh Cave and get on with the quest.

The WIZARDs are on a spiked square, so I can fight them as much as I want. I don't have any more LIT2 charges, but if I had a Bl.MAGE on hand I might trigger the battle again to reap the EXP/GOLD reward. I'm done here in any case, so it's back to Elfland with me.

Next: You have no more business here. Go!!

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