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Author Topic: A Journey through Final Fantasy AAR (Warning: Spoilers!)  (Read 6292 times)
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Godzilla Blitz
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« on: August 25, 2006, 03:34:54 AM »

The Goal
Play all the Final Fantasy games, in order.

The Catch

Iím going to play them in Japanese.

The Odds of me Finishing This

Slim

Background
I work with Japanese a bit, and speak the language fairly well. I used to read the language decently (to the point where I could read some Japanese novels), but with family demands and a work life that has left me with little time to read/write Japanese, my reading skills have atrophied over the past ten years. Now that things have settled down a bit, Iím trying to improve my Japanese reading and writing again. As part of this, Iíve been attempting to play some games in Japanese. Somewhere in here I got the ambitious and ridiculous idea of playing all the Final Fantasy games in their original Japanese. I've never played even one of them in any language, and have always wanted to give this a shot.

Why the Slim Odds?

At the moment, I can probably read Japanese RPG game text at about a 70% level of understanding. This is borderline for novels, but in a game it leaves you susceptible to what I call ďMissing the Critical HintĒ. You know, this is the one line from one character that clues you in to traveling west for 3 days to a deserted cave to look for a dead squirrel hidden inside a robot. If you miss this hint, you end up what I call ďTotally Fucking LostĒ (TFL, for short). Actually, I should come up with a more accurate name for it, because theoretically you must have a destination to be able to get lost, and when you Miss the Critical Hint you no longer have any idea where you should be going, forget about getting lost on the way there.

My general strategy when this happens is to do what I call ďWander Around in CirclesĒ. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the best method of completing Japanese RPGs. The reason is that Wandering Around in Circles quickly segues to the next stage, what I call ďGetting Really BoredĒ. And this quickly results in yet another problem, which I call ďFalling AsleepĒ.

But it doesnít end there. Falling asleep leads to all sorts of other annoying conditions like ďWaking Up With a Dead PartyĒ,  ďBurning Out Your GBA Battery and Losing All Your ProgressĒ, and ďWaking up with your Party in the Middle of an Endless Ocean and Having No Idea How you Got ThereĒ. This last one usually stems from falling asleep with a button mashed down and having your party sail for a few hours in a random direction. Anyway, the result of all this hocus pocus is that it takes me about as long to complete a Japanese RPG as it takes someone to complete college, both in terms of calendar days and hours spent playing. And now weíve come full circle and you know why the chances Iíll ever complete this are slim.

Not to be too heavy with the negative waves, I do want to tell you that there is an upside to my highly advanced strategy of beating Japanese RPGs: My characters tend to get pretty powerful from Wandering Around in Circles and Killing Everything, and when I finally stumble onto that squirrel in that cave a billion miles away, my party is uber buffed and about 20 levels higher than what they should be at that point in the game. It can be rewarding to kill bosses with one shot.

But anyway, Iím losing my focus, which happens a lot since I started playing Japanese RPGs. Time to get started on this adventure.

Actually, weíre not quite ready to start yet, but weíre getting thereÖ
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 03:39:00 AM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

EddieA
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 05:26:12 AM »

Have you played the games in English before?  That would certainly help slywink  Also, I think around FF7 or so they started highlighting important words in the text, at least in the English versions.  For instance, it would read "I saw something special in a [cave] to the [north]" or something like that.  That should make it easier to pick out the important details.  Good luck!
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 07:32:10 AM »

I wish you good luck and look forward to your AAR.

Gokouun o inorimasu!
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 01:47:53 PM »

I wish you luck as well, and long life and happiness, and would like to further mention that I think you are out of your ever loving mind!  drool
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 03:31:34 PM »

Quote from: Calvin on August 25, 2006, 01:47:53 PM

I wish you luck as well, and long life and happiness, and would like to further mention that I think you are out of your ever loving mind!  drool
Agreed, but it's an awesome idea.  Gogogo!
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2006, 06:17:35 PM »

EddieA: Nope, I haven't played a single Final Fantasy game in English, either. Always have wanted to, but never quite got around to it. It would definitely help a ton, though. As I move forward, though, I want to try and limit the number of times I resort to walkthroughs and hints and stuff, and I think if I knew the gameplay from the English version, I could get by without referring to the Japanese. I really want to force myself to use the Japanese to make it through the games. Having said that, if I get totally stuck, have no clue what to do, and stay that way for a few hours, then I'll likely take a peek at a walkthrough.

That's helpful to know about the highlighting in the later versions of Final Fantasy. I wonder if they do that in the Japanese versions as well. But in any event, I'm guessing that Final Fantasy 7 is a looooong way off at the moment.

MissingLink: Thanks! Ganbarimasu!

Calvin, depward: Thanks! I, too, think this is a totally insane idea destined for failure.  I have enough trouble finishing games in English, forget about Japanese. But, charge! icon_smile
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 06:31:46 PM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2006, 06:24:44 PM »

Warmup or Burn Out?

I have to confess. I came up with this dumb idea to play all the Final Fantasy games in Japanese about eight months ago, but wasn't sure if I could even finish one game given how rusty my Japanese was. To see if there was any hope at all, I decided to play what I thought was going to be a ďWarmupĒ game before digging in to the Final Fantasy series. I broke out a used copy of  the original Breath of Fire in Japanese that I picked up on a trip to Japan. I stuffed it into my GBA and got busy. And busy. And busy. I figured such an old game would take me about 10 hours to finish, but it ended up taking quite a bit of help from a walkthrough and a ton of time: I probably spent 60 hours or more on the game, two-thirds of which was spent in various stages of Wandering in Circles or Fast Asleep. It took me about four months of real time to complete the game, as most of the gaming sessions would pick up at the TFL (Totally Fucking Lost) stage carried over from the previous gaming session and within ten minutes degenerate to the Fast Asleep stage. But with liberal amounts of walkthrough help, I finally finished the game. This was actually the first Japanese RPG that I have ever finished, so all things considered Iím satisfied with how things went.

Not that I liked it, mind you. I actually found it a boring game, which is probably natural considering I spent so much time wandering in circles through the same towns looking for hints that I missed the first time around. It gets pretty old talking to the same people over and over again, especially since they say the same things over and over again and half the time I donít even know what they are. My general impression of many of these conversations was something like this:

My Party: Hi!
NPC: Hi, warriors of destiny. (unintelligible Japanese sentence #1) (unintelligible Japanese sentence #2) (unintelligible Japanese sentence #3) You must do this! It is very important!
My Party: Why?
NPC: Because it will save the world!
My Party: Very well, weíll do that.
NPC: Good luck.
My Party: Bye.

And off weíd go Wandering in Circles again.

You might be wondering how I managed to stick to the game if I found it so boring. Well, Iíll tell you. As any follower of epic fantasy knows, all heroes are aided on their adventure, and I, too, had some fortuitous help in the beginning. I was aided by A Broken Reading Light. What, you say? Well, my wife and I will often read before we fall asleep, but a few months ago my night light broke, which means, yes, you guessed it: no reading before bed! Instead, I fired up the GBA a few times a week for some pre-sleep gaming. Without the Broken Reading Light, I doubt I would ever have made it through Breath of Fire.

But anyway, enough dallying around with the warmup. Letís go on to the adventure!
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EddieA
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2006, 08:00:46 PM »

If the text was anything like the English version, Breath of Fire was probably the worst first game you could have picked slywink  I'm playing the English version, and I still have to constantly use walkthroughs.  Unlike most games, the game almost never tells you where you need to go next.  For instance, it'll tell you that you need to go to a cave or city, but not where they are.  Most games will tell you to go to the "cave in the north" or whatever, but not BoF.  You just have to explore until you find it.  It wouldn't be so bad if it were fun to explore, but it's not.
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2006, 08:21:56 PM »

Quote from: EddieA on August 26, 2006, 08:00:46 PM

If the text was anything like the English version, Breath of Fire was probably the worst first game you could have picked slywink  I'm playing the English version, and I still have to constantly use walkthroughs.  Unlike most games, the game almost never tells you where you need to go next.  For instance, it'll tell you that you need to go to a cave or city, but not where they are.  Most games will tell you to go to the "cave in the north" or whatever, but not BoF.  You just have to explore until you find it.  It wouldn't be so bad if it were fun to explore, but it's not.

Yes! That's exactly how I felt while playing the game. I would wander around for an hour or two, with no clue where I was supposed to go, then I'd take a look at the walkthrough and it would say something like, "Go to the cave in the middle of the mountains at the north edge of the map so you can learn this transformation spell to continue." And I'd think to myself, "Where did I miss this? I remember something about a cave, but how was I supposed to know where the particular cave was?." I just figured that I missed something in the Japanese, but your post makes me feel a lot better, that maybe the game just didn't give me all the information in the first place. This is good. My confidence grows. Thank you!

The thing that made the exploration so tedious in Breath of Fire was the high frequency of random battles in many places, and the huge size of the maps. Often it would seem like I couldn't go more than a second or two without a fight, and some of the maps required huge amounts of wandering around to get through.
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EddieA
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2006, 02:56:16 AM »

I think the BoF developers made a bet that they could write an RPG using the least amount of text ever used.  At least in the English GBA version, the text is sometimes absurdly concise.  A typical conversation would read "I am village chief.  Go to cave."  Also, many of the villagers said the exact same thing as the others.  You can usually figure out what place you're supposed to go to next (although not where it is), but reading the text in the game was sometimes like watching those Tanto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein skits on Saturday Night Live slywink
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2006, 01:50:41 AM »

Quote from: EddieA on August 27, 2006, 02:56:16 AM

I think the BoF developers made a bet that they could write an RPG using the least amount of text ever used.  At least in the English GBA version, the text is sometimes absurdly concise.  A typical conversation would read "I am village chief.  Go to cave."  Also, many of the villagers said the exact same thing as the others.  You can usually figure out what place you're supposed to go to next (although not where it is), but reading the text in the game was sometimes like watching those Tanto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein skits on Saturday Night Live slywink

Good humor! However, the Japanese version wasn't like that. That may have been a translation issue. The Japanese sentences and conversations seemed pretty normal.
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2006, 01:51:08 AM »

One Last Word Before we BeginÖ

If youíve read this far, youíre probably expecting me to get started on playing Final Fantasy I now. But such is not the case. If Final Fantasy teaches us anything, itís that life is never so simple. Neither is this story, and Iíll explain what happened.

I actually started the game about three months ago, and have been making slow yet steady progress through the game so far. To complicate matters, I started writing this journal about a month ago, but was too chicken to post it, figuring that Iíd be exposed as a total pudding head if I never made it halfway through the first game. Now that Iíve got a bit more confidence that Iíll actually accomplish something, Iíve decided to go ahead and post the story. This means, of course, that there is some catching up to do.

To get you all caught up, Iíll be posting a summary of the action through the first two months, then posting my accounts from the third month over the course of the next few days. As they say in Japan, wakarimasu ka?

Here is a brief summary of the action over the first two monthsÖ
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2006, 01:51:55 AM »

Final Fantasy I: The First Two Months
(Written on July 24, 2006)



The handy dandy play meter says that Iíve spent just shy of 20 hours on the game. I have a party of four level 45 characters. I made a standard party: Warrior, Thief, White Mage, and Black Mage and set out to do stuff. As a result of four or five hours spent TFL we are fairly uber right now and are mowing down our opposition.

Iím a little vague on the details of the plot, but I take it Iím supposed to gather four crystals and bring them to these 12 guys who spend all their time dancing in a circle in the woods. This will apparently save the world from its current decrepit state. Yup, beats me, too. The catch, of course, is that the four crystals are in the possession of four bad monsters, and they arenít too excited about giving the crystals up. Which means I have to kill them (the monsters, that is, not the crystals). Complicating this are the hordes of assorted creatures that randomly attack you from nowhere like Cato in the Pink Panther movies and various little prequests that you do to be able to get to meet the big bad monsters.



So far Iíve actually made decent progress. Iíve got two of the four crystals and just broke an hour-long TFL stage by stumbling onto an airship in the desert that allows me to fly all over the world. The really cool thing about this airship is that it allows me to Wander in Circles much faster than when I walk. Iím not sure this really helps, as Iím simply going nowhere a lot faster than before, but it feels Iím getting somewhere when I can go ďwheee!Ē and fly all over the place at warp speed.

Overall, though, Iíve spent a lot less time TFL in this game than in Breath of Fire. Come to think of it, I like this game. The combat is better, there are fewer tedious sections of the game, and the plot is much smoother. And compared to the 50 or so times that I used a walkthrough with Breath of Fire, to date with Final Fantasy I Iíve only had to use a walkthrough once to end a two-hour TFL stage. Iím guessing this has something to do with rust falling off my Japanese reading skills.

As I mentioned, I just found an airship that allows me to fly all over the place. I immediately flew north to explore two cities that I noticed while sailing around lost in my boat. Iím trying to find the third crystal, which is the water crystal, and I think Iím close to figuring out what I need. There is a fairy (I think itís a fairy, anyway, but it might actually be something else as Iím not sure of the Japanese) who is missing from the town and apparently she can make something magical with the water from the spring in this town. Since Iím looking for a water crystal, I figure itís pretty important I find this fairy. Apparently she got sold to a caravan to the west of the town, which seems like a rotten thing to do to a fairy, but it makes for a good story and it gives me something to do, so no complaints here.

Other current mysteries: I found a tower in the desert that I canít get into and a town where everyone speaks a mysterious language. Back on the main continent is a flooded cave where a man speaks the same mysterious language and a big statue blocks the way farther into the cave.

Iím guessing is all somehow connected, and thatís what Iím working on figuring out.

Oh, yes. I also stumbled onto a beat-up castle with a man standing in it. He said (unintelligible ďcrownĒ, uninintelligble), and then vanished. Humm. I proceeded to kill all the nasties in the castle and was rewarded by finding a mouse tail in a treasure chest on the top floor. Seems like a bum deal for an hourís worth of killing monsters, but it beats Wandering in Circles. What all this has to do with everything remains a mystery.

Current Status: Confused.

Oh, and one quick request: no hints please, as it would ruin all the fun!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 05:24:24 AM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2006, 03:40:18 AM »

Hah, love it - keep us posted!  I've always had a master-plan to do something like, though, I'm not that ambitious   icon_biggrin
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2006, 02:05:45 PM »

You are insane dude, surely you have a new game you want to play?  eek
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2006, 01:17:37 AM »

depward: Thanks!

Calvin: The game is new. Final Fantasy I for the GBA only came out a few years ago. That's new, isn't it? :slywink:
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2006, 01:18:01 AM »

Highly Accurate Status Meter

As I progress through this adventure, I think it would be nice to end each session with a simple blurb as to how I ended my previous play session. This will give you the reader an idea how well Iím doing. Now, after much tweaking, I present to you my highly precise status meter.

Done
Killing Stuff with a Purpose
Killing Stuff with a Purpose but Really Bored
Lost
Confused
Stuck
TFL, Wandering in Circles
Really Bored
Fast Asleep
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2006, 01:19:10 AM »

Hungover in the Desert
(Written 25 July 2006)

Um, Iím not quite sure what happened in last nightís play session. As usual, I played game right before I went to sleep, and last night I was both tired and somewhat drunk. I know I played, and I remember thinking that I might have missed a hint in the town with the missing fairy, and that I should go there to wander through the town again. But when I checked the game this morning, my party was in the middle of a desert. Humm. Wish I could tell you more. Iím guessing I didnít find the fairy, as I think Iíd remember that much, but as to what my four party members were doing in the middle of the desert remains a bit of a mystery.

In many ways Final Fantasy reminds me of college, where often you wake up in strange places with only the vaguest recollection of how you may have gotten there.

Status: Level 45, Confused (I think).
Total Time: 20+ hours
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 04:13:15 AM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

EddieA
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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2006, 02:48:58 AM »

I like how you keep adding new challenges to the mix - Japanese, sleepy, drunk, etc. I'd say next up is playing with your eyes closed  icon_biggrin
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2006, 02:37:35 PM »

Quote from: EddieA on August 29, 2006, 02:48:58 AM

I like how you keep adding new challenges to the mix - Japanese, sleepy, drunk, etc. I'd say next up is playing with your eyes closed  icon_biggrin

Well, playing sleepy does usually result in playing with my eyes closed, so technically I've already tried that, but I must have some model glue around here somewhere. I could always sniff that and play for a new challenge. smile


The Lost Continent

(Written 3 August 2006)

Well, a bit has happened in about a half dozen play sessions. I had been feeling frustrated with the lack of a mapping feature in the game, so I went online and looked for a map. I found one, and immediately noticed that there was a huge continent to the northwest that I hadnít found yet. Oops. Also, on this continent there was the name of a town: Caravan! Aha. Because I used an outside source for information, Iíll have to call this my second peek at a cheat sheet.

Immediately I headed to this new continent and looked for Caravan. Problem: itís not there. I found another town, and talked to some people that mentioned that I should find a certain person in the town of Caravan to speak with, but no matter where I look, I canít find Caravan.

Oh well, there still seems to be plenty to do, as there were a half dozen holes in the ground on some small islands between the two northern continents. The first three I went into were simple dugeons that seem to be connected to plots Iíve yet to uncover, but the fourth one is where Iím currently totally lost. I fought my way through about four levels in some kind of molten dungeon, beat a boss, then got dropped into another level where all the people keep telling me to turn back. But there was no way to turn back as far as I could tell, so I kept going. Now Iíve dropped out into the 7th level of the dungeon, which is a huge outside level that seems to go on forever. Iím wandering around here, looking for I donít know what. Well, actually, Iím looking for a way out, but I assume there is something I should find before I leave. Iíve only run into one person, a pirate, who told me about how to get the flying ship, but Iíve already got that, on the surface anyway---oh, wait, maybe I can still fly down here?

Status: TFL
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2006, 08:12:29 PM »

"I had been feeling frustrated with the lack of a mapping feature in the game, so I went online and looked for a map."
There is no mapping of dungeons, but there is a world map you can bring up, and it shows the locations you can visit.  There is a person in the game that tells you how to access it, but, without spoiling anything, I can see how you could have easily missed it.
Spoiler for Hiden:
In the English version, one of the characters tells you how to access the world map, but the text is backwards.  In the NES version, the line was "Tceles B Hsup".  I'm not sure how this was handled in Japanese, though.
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Godzilla Blitz
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« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2006, 11:18:36 PM »

Quote from: EddieA on August 29, 2006, 08:12:29 PM

There is no mapping of dungeons, but there is a world map you can bring up, and it shows the locations you can visit.  There is a person in the game that tells you how to access it, but, without spoiling anything, I can see how you could have easily missed it.

Ah! Thanks! I took a look at your spoiler, but thanks for hiding it. I wonder how that hint was handled in the Japanese version, or if it's in the Japanese GBA version. I'd have to think it's in the game, though. I'm at a point where I can't check to see if it works right now, but I'm curious. I'll check this out as soon as I can. Thanks again.

Whew, Return to Wandering in Familiar Places

(Written 4 August 2006)

Aha. I wasnít able to fly, but the pirateís words tipped me off that perhaps I could find a different flying ship down here on this underground continent as well, and sure enough, I almost immediately found one at an oasis. With the flying ship, I made quick work of the continent, and found a hole that led me toÖ

Ömore dungeon. Level 8, or something like that. It quickly became apparent that I was now working my way back up to the surface, but about two levels in I ran into a mombo boss dude. What a fight! I had to have put 10,000 hits on the guy and he just wouldnít go down. Finally, with two of my party knocked out and my white mage nearly drained of mana, the dude fell. Best fight so far. Picked up a kick-ass sword that boosted my thiefís potential damage significantly.

Knocking off the boss also led us directly to the surface, where we can once again resume our wandering in circles in normal places.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2006, 11:25:19 PM by Godzilla Blitz » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2006, 03:12:50 AM »

Caravan or caravan?
(Written 15 August 2006)

Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote. I have both good news and bad news. First, I found Caravan! I wasnít a Caravan after all. It was a caravan. Someone in a town gave me specific directions where to go: near the forest on the north side of the desert to the west. Got it. Except I still couldnít find the damn place. Finally, a few nightís ago, I was randomly searching the area and bingo! I found it.

Well, I bought the little fairy bitch from the caravan master and took her back home, and she made me something that allows me to breathe under water. Except it doesnít work. I canít get under any water to use it. Defective goods! Iíve been had.

Well, thatís not actually true. In a moment of actual intelligence, I figured out that the whirlpool I remembered seeing in some random ocean might be a way to get under water. Sure enough, inside the whirlpool there is a dungeon antechamber with some big stone statue blocking the main entrance. This is, I think, the dungeon for the water crystal, but beats me how Iím supposed to get through it, except find the fish people, who can only be found if I can figure out how to use my defective underwater breathing apparatus. Argh. Somewhere in there is a Catch 22, but Iím not sure where.

And I found out who wanted the mouse tail. It was the dragon king! Who says games donít teach you useful things? This is what Final Fantasy I has taught me: Next time youíre about to get mauled by a dragon king, just give him a mouse tail and heíll make you a ninja. The dragon king wanted the tail, and he got so excited he gave all of my party titles like knight instead of whatever they were called before. So far, this is as useful as the defective underwater stuff from the fairy bitch.

And thatís where I am now. I know I need to find the Rosetta Stone to be able to talk to the people that donít speak any known language. I know there are fish people underwater somewhere, behind the cave in the whirlpool, perhaps, and they have lots of valuable stones. My stones are valuable, too, so Iím not sure whatís so special about this. I found a couple of random dungeons that have multiple fights at the end that would require you to go back in a few times to kill all the bosses, and Iím wondering if thatís what I need to do next, because Iíve been in totally fucking lost mode for two hours now. Only problem is that I donít remember where those random dungeons are, so Iím still totally fucking lost.

Status: Totally Fucking Lost
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2006, 04:20:05 AM »

I Cheat, Part Three
(Written 18 August 2006)

After spending another two hours slogging through more of those repeatable dungeons, and searching the world over for more hints and clues, I gave in. I looked at a walkthrough. Low and behold, I had missed a person in the town of Onlak who owned a submarine. The good thing about this is that my getting stuck wasnít a language problem, it was a problem of simply not exploring enough. Matter of fact, the three times this game that Iíve gone to outside sources for information Iíve discovered that Iíd gotten stuck because of not exploring enough. So that might be something I can use to get myself unstuck in the future, and it makes me feel that my Japanese skills are getting better again.

Anyway, once I got in the submarine, I was taken to some underwater palace where I kicked butt on the badguys and got the water crystal! And the hit parade of wonder treats doesnít stop there. I also found the Rosetta Stone. And I discovered that I need something called a ďchimeĒ to open the mystery tower in the desert. AndÖ, thatís right, thereís more! And I triggered the door of the dungeon inside the whirlpool. Iíve got a veritable list of things to do now!

Apparently, Iíve got to take the Rosetta Stone to someoneís brother, but I think I have an idea where this guy is. That will open up that village where I canít understand anyone. Things are rolling rolling rolling. Three crystals down, one to go.

The only thing I donít quite get yet is that Iíve only encountered abou 63% of the monster types yet. If Iím getting close to the end of the game, why havenít I encountered a greater percentage?

Status: Killing Stuff with a Purpose
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Kagath
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2006, 05:18:26 AM »

You amuse me.

Continue on your way.

 icon_smile
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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2006, 06:00:30 PM »

Kagath: Thanks! Glad you like it.

Omega Robot: One Tough Dude

(written 20 August 2006)

Well, with no forethought whatsoever, I decided to go for the whirlpool dungeon, and what an adventure it was. The place goes on for ever and ever and ever. 20 levels of mayhem and madness. Actiually, sometimes the game seems to count by twos going down, so it may have only been a dozen or so levels, but we all know how much Japanese people stuggle with basic math, so Iíll forgive them this little error. At level four or something like that I kicked Gilgameshís butt, and that unlocked a door to let me go down even farther. About level 12, I had to kill dragons for a dragon lord called Dark Bahamut in order to go farther. At level 20, after constant fighting for 19 levels, I finally reached the bottom. By this time, I was running low on healing potions, and I was faced with a choice of two boss fights. I randomly picked one, and whoops, problem. Omega, some sort of robot demi-god, took us to the farm in about ten rounds. He has this laser-thingie that just ripped us up, and our swords donít do much damage to him at all.

Humm, reload, and letís try the other boss. Ouch. This oneís a fat ass dragon of the meanest sort. I donít think we even lasted five rounds.

Reload, try again against the dragon. Once again, he chews us up and spits us out like White Castle burgers.

Humm. Iím stuck. Up to now, I havenít run into a fight that I couldnít handle fairly easily. This set of bosses is proving to be a tough match, though. I look over some of the remaining potions weíve got, figure out a new strategy with spells and responsibilities, and take another shot at Omega robot.

This would turn out to be a 60-round epic battle that lasted over 50 minutes. Numerous times he took out our knight, but each time we were able to get the knight back into the battle. Finally, with our knight down, potions out, and everyone low on HP, our black magic wizard fried up Omega with a thunderbolt and took the beast down! Woot. Great fight, and we gain a ďmurakameĒ sword, a kick-ass sword well worth the effort. With that, we zip back up to the surface. I burned up all our extra special potions here, so weíll have to leave that dragon for some other day.
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« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2006, 01:44:26 AM »

Up Up and Away
(written 22 August 2006)
More progress. I went to the town of the unknown language, and things moved along well. They gave me a chime to get into the tower in the desert, and thatís where I am now. Iím just about to go up into the air, I think, using a warp cube, which I got from a robot in a waterfall. I might have forgotten to tell you that part about the robot in the waterfall, but trust me, itís all true. Somewhere ahead lies the fourth crystal! Onward!

Status: Killing Stuff with a Purpose!
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« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2006, 01:46:26 AM »

All your Crystals Are Belong to Us
(Written 24 August 2006)

The four crystals are mine! After 41 hours of digital adventuring, I have come into possession of the last crystal. As a bonus, I found some adamantite in the airborne castle, gave that to a drawf, and he made me Excalibur, an uber sword of the highest nature. My knight and thief are now a vicious one-two punch, and my level -75 party is primed for what Iím assuming is a forthcoming final battle.

Anyway, I took the four crystals to the guys dancing in the woods, and they proceeded to babble on an on about a lot of confusing stuff. Somewhere in there they let me know about something very big and bad that is 2000 years old, which Iím guessing I need to kill. They didnít actually do anything, as far as I can tell, which makes me wonder why they wouldnít tell me all that stuff before I got the four crystals. So the big question here is: What use they are to anyone? The big answer here, folks, which is fairly obvious now that I think of it, is this: If you spend your whole life dancing in a circle in the woods with a bunch of other men, youíre likely to be little use to anyone. So there, donít choose that as a career option.

I digressÖ

As I expected, when I got the fourth crystal, the guardian in front of the water cave decided to skip town, which opens up this last preliminary cave for exploring. I decided to explore that cave before I try to go after the final boss, who apparently lives in a castle very near to where our adventure started. Díoh! Tricky guy, that final boss! Anyway, Iím now on level 8 of the cave, which Iím guessing may be 20+ levels large, if itís like the previous one of these things. Once Iím done here, I think I can head off for the final encounter.

Getting close to the end!

Status: Killing Stuff with a Purpose!
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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2006, 03:06:11 AM »

Neverending Dungeon
(Written 28 August 2006)

The preliminary cave went on and on and on. My goodness, this thing was huge. There were levels with good fairies and nasty fairies, levels with people turned into zombies by an evil train, and levels with clueless dwarves who had lost all their stuff. And yes, you read that right: there was a level with an evil train that turned villagers into zombies. Now thatís something you donít run into every day. It was as if the level designers did acid and got to work. I thought I would never get out.

But finally, we conquered the final boss of the preliminary cave on level 40 and receivedÖa cheap sword? What? Tricky Final Fantasy, playing jokes on us! After we killed the final boss we got a cheap sword, sure enough, but when you transport off the level, you arrive at another level with a treasure chest. This treasure chest had the Ultima Sword, which is nearly twice as powerful as Excalibur. Woot! Time to head off to the final battle!

Actually, though, for a 40-level dungeon, it was quite fun. There were a variety of levels, none of the levels was painfully big, and the combat wasnít so prevalent as to get in the way of exploring. All in all, fun.

Status: Killing Stuff with a Purpose!
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« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2006, 03:07:13 AM »

The Final Encounter?
(Written 30 August 2006)

Well, weíre in what Iím guessing is the final dungeon, but Iím pretty lost. There are passages that go this way and that, and stairs that go up and down. I went up two levels and now I seem to be going back down two levels. Two minus two equals zero in my book, and thatís what it feels like Iíve accomplished since getting in this dungeon. Where am I? Where am I going? To top this off, there are constant encounters everywhere. Canít go more than a couple of steps without another wave of annoying beasties jumping us. I think Iíve killed about a billion of some of these things.

Status: Lost
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Jarrodhk
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« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2006, 09:17:59 AM »

Ganbare!  You can do it!

Impressive progress I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it more than a couple of hours.

Wait, you say I've forgotten 90% of the Japanese I learned?  Nonsense, that has nothing to do with this.
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« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2006, 09:55:35 PM »

I say, it's entertaining reading somebody's journeys though a game whose language you can't fully understand. Makes me glad I can read.
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« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2006, 04:52:25 AM »

Jarrodhk: Thanks! I'll keep at it! I'm surprised I've made it this far, though.

Destructor: Thanks!
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« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2006, 04:52:56 AM »

The Final Encounter!
(written 1 September 2006)

Victory! Khaos has fallen. Balance has been restored and our heroes have triumphed!

Shortly after I wrote the above entry, we stumbled onto the last level of the final dungeon. Khaos showed up and gave us a long speech about time-travel and such. We sharpened our swords and waited around patiently while he droned on and on. Iím not quite sure of everything he said, as I always get confused with time travel plots in English, forget about Japanese, and we all knew that this was simply a prelude to mixing it up, so we figured listening closely wasnít all that important. Sure enough, eventually he shut up and we got down to the business of trying to kill each other.

Surprisingly, the final battle was anticlimactic. Within a minute or two, Khaos crumbled like a Jenga tower in a tornado. My first reaction was he spent too much time figuring out how to time-travel and not enough time figuring out how to fight us. But anyway, we were then taken to a final screen where some scrolling text complemented us on our great job and told us that all was right with the world again. Good for us.

Done! Yeah! One game down and um, humm, I donít even know how many games are in this series. Oh well, one down and more to go!
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« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2006, 05:05:22 AM »

Awesome dude. Tremendous perserverance!!
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EddieA
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« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2006, 06:17:20 AM »

In the early FF games, the bosses were pretty easy, mainly because getting to them was often brutally hard slywink  They actually made the bosses in the GBA version harder than the original, but made the rest of the game much easier.  One down, 11 or so to go!
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« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2006, 10:52:11 PM »

What makes reading this so fun for me, is that I practically memorized the first two games, as well as 4,6 and 7 and a lot of X, so it is very interesting to read you going through these games and getting lost, when I remember playing the GBS versions and just plowing through them...

Can't wait for your stories from FF2, one of my favorite games in series, wonky levelling system and all.
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« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2006, 09:15:42 PM »

Calvin: Thanks! Wasn't as hard as Breath of Fire, that's for sure.

EddieA: Interesting. I didn't know that about the differences between the versions. I actually read a bit more about the game since finishing it, so I've made some more comments in the upcoming section as well.

Tebunker: Thanks! Glad you like it. I have just started messing with FF2, and you're right, the leveling system is definitely different. I don't quite understand it yet, but I think I'll spend a bit of time with the manual in the next day or so.
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« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2006, 09:16:11 PM »

Final Fantasy I
A Final Word

I donít know what happened to all the guys dancing in the woods, but letís face it: they couldnít have been all that concerned with the plight of the world in the first place if their response to worldly peril is to go dance in the woods all day long. I can just see it now.

Townsperson: Evil monsters are attacking our world!
Heroes: Oh.
Townsperson: What should we do?
Heroes: Um, letís go stand in a circle in the woods and dance.
Townsperson: Huh?
Heroes: Eventually some real heroes will show up and we can tell them what to do.
Townsperson: Huh?
Heroes: Someone get the repetitive Japanese game soundtrack and letís go!
Townsperson: Huh?
Heroes: Hi ho, hi ho, itís off to dance we go!

Iíll just assume that they are still out there, dancing in the woods.

The game took me a little over 46 hours to finish. Iím guessing that about 10 of those were spent TFL, which isnít bad for me.

My characters reached Level 87. I cheated three times.

Overall, I liked the game quite a bit. The random encounters were gentle enough, the puzzles were decent, if not easy, and the variety of fighting and locales was good. There is a lot of exploring to do in the game, and itís all quite fun.

Having said that, there are some playbalance issues with the game. Since Iíve finished the game, Iíve read a bit about it, and apparently the four dungeons that are unlocked after you get each of the four crystals are actually bonus dungeons that were not included in the original game. While these four dungeons were entertaining enough, the experience gained and weapons earned in them make the core game ridiculously easy. The final battle was over in a matter of seconds, which is a shame considering how tough of a fight the boss was in the third optional dungeon. Also, most of the random combatants in the back half of the game could barely touch my party, and we had enough cash to buy a small planet by the mid-point in the game. All these factors added up to make the game easy on the whole. The tricky part was figuring out where to go and what to do.

Overall, though, considering the age of the game, Iíll give this remake of the game a 75%. Enjoyable, but not great. I wish there was an option to turn off the bonus dungeons, or a better way to tell the player that the dungeons are optional.

Up nextÖ

Final Fantasy II
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« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2006, 05:32:54 AM »

Final Fantasy II: Off We Go!



I fired up Final Fantasy II on my Nintendo DS Lite a week or so ago, and have messed around with it for about three hours now. Actually, itís probably more accurate to say that the game messed around with me, as it only took about a half hour for me to get totally confused and lost.

I figured the beginning would be easyóyou know, a kind of ďhold your hand while we lead you through a confidence-building missionĒ thingie. But such was not the case (for me, anyway; I may have just missed the whole tutorial thing). The subtle differences in gameplay, a completely different leveling system, and the increased amount of text threw me to the mat and stomped all over me.

Compared to FFI there seems to be much more text in this game, at least in the introduction. It took me about a half hour before I finally got to do something other than to die in a plot-triggering slaughter. But after plodding through all the conversation, the basic story seems to be this: an evil empire has taken over the land. My party of four adventurers, who were nearly killed while fleeing the invasion, has vowed to join causes with the rebels and overthrow the empire. But as tends to be the case with RPGs and love, things get a bit complicated, and I was a bit sketchy on some of the generalities, let alone about the complicated details.

I do know this though: one of our party is missing. Three of us were rescued while unconscious, but the fourth was apparently not found at the site of the battle. No one knows where he is, but rumor has it that he might be in the city of Fine, which was recently taken over by the evil empire. Subtle hinting (go to Fine!) pointed us to the city and so off we went, fighting our way against the minor leaguers of the monster array. But fightingóat least the leveling systemóis totally different in FF2 than in FF1. So I got a bit confused. Furthermore, in FF1 if you have a object needed by an NPC, the NPC just knows this and takes it from you. This doesnít seem to be the case with FF2, where you have to actually pull the item from inventory and give it to the NPC. And then thereís the whole thing with ďsecret wordsĒ, which Iím still not sure Iíve figured out the reasoning behind.

Anyway, the gobs of introductory text, the new leveling system, and the other minor changes in gameplay meant that I set off for Fine with the confidence of a stutterer in a debate club. We all know in life that confidence is half the battle, so you can probably tell where we are going with this.

I ended up traveling between the same three towns over and over for about two hours, accomplishing little more than the slaughter of a couple of hundred goblins and legeaters. Since we all know there is an infinite supply of goblins in the world, and since infinity minus 200 is still infinity, we were getting a bit frustrated. After a while I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, and there didnít seem to be much help of any kind in any of the towns I was told to check out.

And then I came up with an idea. A simple, wonderful idea: read the manual! Aha! The manual cleared up much of the mystery behind the secret words, the leveling system, and clued me in to the item-handoff element of gameplay. Some of the fog started to lift.

Still, it wasnít until I figured out how to get to a bar on the outskirts of Fine that things started rolling. Iíll spare you the details because Iím not sure I understand them completely, but I got a ring there from a guy who was a friend/lover of the rebellion leader and a brother to this guy who wanders around a different town all bummed out but was apparently pretty important in another city. This ring proved that I had gotten to Fine, which made the leader of the rebellion trust me enough to send my party on a mission to get some mithril. The ring did nothing for the brother, who still just walks back and forth behind the inn in town.

But back to the mithril. It is, of course, guarded by soldiers of the empire, who have taken the males from a town in the mountains and forced them to work in mines digging the stuff out. The women of the town have begged our party to save the men, and thatís where we are now: looking for a cave in the mountains so we can save the men of this small town, in hopes that will lead us to some mithril.

Where all this is heading Iím not really sure, and I still have no idea where the fourth member of our party is. This isnít really a concern at the moment, as the rebellion leader has lent us a rent-a-magician for the time being.

And somewhere in all of this, I may have totally missed finding a fuzzy animal to ride on.

Status: Lost
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