Final Fantasy 2 Part 1 – Rebels without a home

Final Fantasy 2 is one of those odd games in the series. It seems like the fan base for this game is pretty divided. Some love it, some hate it. It does a lot of things that are very different from the first Final Fantasy, and is even different from others in the series.
This game uses a non-standard leveling system where there are no levels. Instead, the characters get stronger with certain things by actually doing those things repeatedly. For instance, attack with a sword, and you get better with a sword, cast a spell a bunch of times, the spell gets stronger.

While it does feel odd and sometimes a bit grindy to “level up,” I think it is a pretty neat mechanic. Also, unlike FF1, there are no set classes this time around. Instead, you are given control of Firion, Maria, Gus (or Guy), plus many others to craft as you so please. Want one person to be a healing monk who beats things with their fists, but can heal allies? How about a dual-wielding knife user who uses black magic? Or any combination, really. I enjoy this customization. Given enough time, you can create all sorts of characters.

You might also notice that the title screen is different than the one I presented in part 2 of my FF1 journey.
Well, I had originally planned to play through the iOS version of the game. I had downloaded it for free during a promotion on the Square Enix Portal app.
Well… There were some immediate problems.
For one, the menu systems and control scheme are downright horrible. I mean, really bad. So bad, in fact, that there is a “Title” button that takes you straight to the title screen, no confirmation, but it is in between the close and the save buttons!

Think on that for a second. I imagine it would be very easy to accidentally hit that, and get instantly booted to the title screen, potentially losing a lot of progress. The fact that the touch screen isn’t exactly perfect made me worry about that. As I said, no confirmation, no, “Are you sure?” Just an instant boot.

Really now? Come on.
Also, my game froze when an alarm on my phone went off, making me restart my game because I hadn’t saved yet. Also, it just seems like you have to press so many buttons, half of which don’t register (which could very well be my phone, I don’t know), to even get to any menu, like equipment.
All in all, a really horrible experience. I will admit, I had only played it for about 30-45 minutes, but I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Perhaps it would be better on a tablet or a bigger device, but I just couldn’t take it anymore.
It’s unfortunate, really. I was excited to play the, what I thought was a great-looking (which it is), and not so glitchy (I can’t say much, but my game did freeze within minutes of playing it), version, but I just decided to play the Origins version. The Origins version is what I am most familiar with anyway, so no skin off my nose.

I would also like to mention that I am nowhere near as fluent in FF2 as I am FF1. There will probably be mistakes, running around, ect, but I have beaten the game. Once, years ago. I know the beginning all right, but after the ice cave area, I seem to be drawing a blank. So hurrah to a new adventure!
We start the game by getting to name the protagonists of the story.
Firion, Maria, Gus (Who is Guy in other versions, if I remember correctly), and Leon.
We then are treated to a cinematic of this evil looking guy, with an insane manicure, who proceeds to engulf a village in flames.
After escaping from the guards that were after our plucky heroes, they immediately get surrounded by more of the same guards.
The black knights beat the poor party’s face in, quite quickly, I might add.
But! We are saved by another group of armored men!

After being brought from near death by a man named Mindu, we gather our party, minus Leon, who has somehow went missing, and talk to the apparent royalty, Princess Hilda. Our group asks to join the rebels, but she refuses, saying that we aren’t trained or experienced, which is very true. She says we can stay in Altair, however, since our home and families were just murdered by the empire. She informs us of the rebel password, Wild Rose.
Here is another thing that separates FF2 from the others. It uses a “keyword” system, where we can “learn” words, and ask people about them. Asking Hilda about Wild Rose, for instance, she just informs us that it is the symbol of the rebels.

This is a mechanic that we will be using quite a bit. We need to actually speak to NPC’s, ask about certain things, and possibly learn more keywords to further ask more NPC’s about. I know some people aren’t too keen on this system, but in my opinion, I think it is spectacular, especially considering the time this game came out.

Another thing people seem to hate about this game, the lack of boundaries between you, and very powerful monsters that you can’t fight until much later in the game. Yep, explore too far in an area, and you might just stumble upon a group of monsters meant for hours later in the game, who will gleefully devour our bumbling band of teens.
I don’t think this is a necessarily a bad thing, as long as you think to save periodically, which this game now lets you do at anytime on the world map, no sleeping bags or tents required, like in FF1. Some games, like Dark Souls even use this mechanic, showing players what they can expect later, to give them a goal to eventually achieve. Or perhaps just to keep the player in line. I like how when you are just starting out in your adventure, you really have to watch yourself. You can’t just go gallivanting around as you please, there are monsters about!

So, after heading to the town of Fynn to look for Leon, by advice on Princess Hilda, whose father is slowly dying on his deathbed from an arrow, we see the town is under siege from the empire. Talking to any of the wandering guards here will trigger an encounter with a Captain, who will execute our fresh newbies really quick. We talk to a man, ask about Wild Rose and see that he is a part of the rebellion. He leads us to a secret room in a pub, where Hilda’s fiancee is dying from battle wounds. He gives us his Ring, has a few last words and dies at our feet.

Making our way back to Hilda, we show her the Ring, and she tells us to go to a man named Josef in the town of Salamand to search for some Mythril. Using this Mythril, she says the rebels can better fight the empire. She also instructs Mindu, the man that saved us, to accompany us. In addition, he lets us use his canoe, which allows us to traverse the rivers of the world, much like it did in FF1. Except this time, no encounters while on the canoe! Thank goodness, no more Crocodiles and Hydras to hound the party!

Let me start by saying, I love Mindu. He is such a bad-ass. Just look at his stats compared to the rest of our group:
That being said, he isn’t much stronger physically, than the rest of the group, but he more than makes up for it in his healing magic. He comes locked and loaded with a full compliment of nearly every white magic spell in the game, all leveled fairly high for us to use. But don’t worry, he won’t be sticking around with us for long, so enjoy him while you can!
That being said, let me talk about how I plan to build the main cast of heroes.

Firion has average stats all around the board. I plan to make him my main white mage, who uses a sword and shield.

Maria has a slight bias on Intelligence and Magic, thus I will make her my main black mage, with just a dash of healing magic for back-up. Also, I will have her use a staff and shield.

Gus is your chopper of enemies. I will have him stay that way, using an axe and shield. Maybe down the line, give him some basic healing magic, like Life, in case of emergencies, but that is it.

As I said, Mindu won’t be sticking around, so there is no point in building him up. Which, he is already built to be a healer, so might as well stick with that.

Speaking of stats and builds, this game also features formations, but not like in FF1. Instead, this is the first appearance of the front row and back row. People in the back row cannot be targeted by physical attacks at all, as long as there is someone on the front row to protect them. This doesn’t stop certain skills, or magic, but that is pretty handy.
Another thing about magic in this game, you can multi-target every spell, if I recall correctly. So a Cure spell can hit one person, or everyone. The catch, it drastically decreases the power or accuracy of the spell by doing a multi-target. For instance, a Fire1 does like 5 damage to a group of enemies, but does about 20-30 for a single target. As you level up the spell, it will become stronger of course, but it seems in the early game, just sticking with single target spells seems to be the better option, unless you are facing a horde of extremely weak enemies, and even then, it probably won’t kill them in one hit at this stage of the game, unless they are weak to it.

I move Maria to the front row, and will probably keep everyone there, since it will help their HP growths by taking hits. It will also help their Evasion.
Evasion in this game is amazing. You can basically make all of your characters “evasion tanks,” so to speak. I mean, the best damage is no damage, right? But here is the downside, armor weighs down your characters, meaning less evasion. So you can have really good Defense wearing armor, but you will pretty much always get hit. Or have really low Defense and almost never get hit by physical attacks. So, I made sure to remove all of the character’s armor before setting out to ensure they have maximum evasion at this point. Even a basic shirt that Maria has equipped weighs her down.

Later on, when our Evasion is higher, we can equip certain pieces of armor that will boost our Defense, for just a small hit to Evasion, but at this stage, I want to increase Evasion as much as possible and have as much as possible, so naked it is!

Weapons and shields don’t weigh down your characters, in fact, shields actually increase your Evasion by a set amount, so of course I have everyone equipped with one.

Anyway, back to the quest, our heroes, +1, travel to a port town to ride a ferry to another port city. We arrive, pay the fee and board the ship outside, taking us on an automated journey to the other port town of Poft. Thankfully, while on the ship, there are no encounters. We arrive, and continue to head on to Salamand. On the way there, an enemy drops an item for us.
In FF2, enemies can drop items. Sometimes, you can get some amazing drops from enemies. Right now, it is just basic items, but later on you can get some great loot.

We arrive in the snowy town of Salamand to find that the men of the town has been taken to work in the Mythril mines. We speak to Josef, who tells us to rescue them before he can help us. After a short walk, we enter the Semmit Falls and continue on. Inside are tougher enemies, but nothing our party along with Mindu can’t handle.

We rescue the townsfolk, with the help of Paul, the chaotic good thief, and continue on. We come across a chest with an amazing treasure inside, the Warp Scroll. Magic in this game can be found in chests, as well as bought, and taught to any character you wish. But before that, another new mechanic springs itself on us:
Monsters can jump out of treasure chests! Why they are in there, and who put them there, who knows, but in any case, this particular baddie is more than a handful at this early stage of the game.
The Spiketoise hits pretty hard, so Mindu is on healing and buffing duty. After a couple of Blinks, Shields, and Cures, our party can’t be hit by the tortoise any longer. Except, we can’t touch him either.
The Spiketoise’s Defense is through the roof, with magic only doing any amount of damage to him. Maria, our only magic damage dealer in the group, already spent all of her MP unleashing a few Bolt2’s on him, but it still wasn’t enough. At this point, I just had to have everyone attack and hope for criticals.
After a few more annoying rounds, Mindu is fed up with it and bonks him for 15 damage with a critical, taking him down. The Warp Scroll is now ours.

Here is one thing I love about FF2. You get Warp very early. Warp allows you to instantly exit the dungeon, much like Warp2/Exit in FF1. It comes with a downside of lowering the caster’s HP to single digits, which does suck, but it’s not a big deal if you have some extra MP or potions. In FF1, you had to wait until nearly halfway through the game to get any of the Warp/Exit magic. It can also be used in battle to attempt to instantly kill enemies, but I won’t be using that. The lower the level of a spell is at, the less chance it has to succeed, even buffing spells like Blink and Shield, so it will take quite a few levels for Warp to have a decent chance at successfully killing enemies.

After the fight, I use my newly found and taught Warp to exit and head back to town and rest.
Heading back in, we go through the cave with less trouble and make it to a Sergeant guarding the Mythril we need. He goes down pretty quick, once again with Mindu saving our butts with his magic. After taking the Mythril, we once again have Firion Warp us out and head back to Salamand, and also Princess Hilda. We return, give the Mythril to an old blacksmith who is overjoyed, and offers to sell us stronger equipment. Only problem:
It is expensive as hell!

As is most things in this game so far. It seems in the later remakes and other versions this isn’t so bad, with items costing less, but in Origins, they want you to work for your items. It doesn’t help that enemies can drop as little as 3 gil at times. I guess the amount of money you get can be random? It seems like I have gotten varying amounts of money killing the same monster.

Regardless, after buying new spells in Salmand, (Life, mostly, at a costly 1500 gil), we lack the funds to purchase any of the new, shiny mythril equipment. Risked our lives to get it and we don’t even get a freebie. Thanks a lot.

Speaking with the Princess, she informs us of a “black knight” that is now in charge of the Dreadnought, a huge warship, that if completed, could kill thousands of people. We are told to go to Bafsk, where a rebel spy will let us in to destroy the Dreadnought. We get there, tell him the password, Wild Rose, he lets us in, but we arrive too late and we meet the black knight, who confronts us and tells us the Dreadnought is completed, and surprisingly, lets us live. They take off in the Dreadnought, leaving us in the dust.
As we are traveling back to Altair, where the Princess and the rebels reside, we see the destruction the Dreadnought has caused to the surrounding area.
Looks like the empire didn’t waste any time.

We also stop and talk to Cid again. Yep, this is Cid’s first appearance as our friendly airship pilot. He informs us of the weakness of the Dreadnought, that something called the Sunfire could blow up the engines.
We make it back to the Princess, and she tells us her father is even worse, and people are injured due to the Dreadnought attacking the city, Thankfully, the rebel base is still kicking. Mindu, being the healer that he is, decides to stay and help everyone…
Bye Mindu… Miss you already.

We talk to some people and find out about something called the Goddess’ Bell, which can be used to open up the place where the Sunfire is hidden away. Apparently, it only opens to certain members of a blood line, one of which is nowhere to be found, or by using the Bell. We are then instructed to go back to Salamand and ask Josef what he knows.

Here is something about the game so far. It appears like you do a ton of back-tracking in this small initial area. Honestly, it isn’t that bad, once you have an idea of the layout, you can get to point A to point B pretty quick. It is just the incredibly easy encounters at this point that kind of bogs down the travel. But, we make our way back to Salmand to speak with Josef.

Upon arriving, he tells us that he knows where it is, but we can’t get there without his snowcraft to travel the ice fields. He then joins us.
Josef is much like Gus, a bruiser, except he lets his fists do the talking. No magic to speak of, but that is fine. Between Firion and Maria, they have magic covered so far. I also unequip him of all of his heavy armor to sell. Need that Evasion, and gil. I need the gil pretty badly.

So, going back to the Semmit Falls where we initially found the Mythril, Josef opens a secret passage and we get the snowcraft, allowing us to travel on the snow and ice.
As we hit the ice, I recalled there being a “ship minigame,” much like in FF1. Except this time, it’s a memory game.
You only get 100 gil for completing it with more than 4 errors, but gil is gil I suppose. I never did get less than 4 errors. The closest I ever got was 5 errors, so I have no idea what you get for completing it with less. I play about 7 or 8 times to get some money, and continue on. The encounters in the ice fields are pretty easy, no trouble. We arrive at the cave, save, and this part of the journey ends.

Here are the stats of my party so far. Josef won’t be included, since he didn’t level up at all since we got him. Firion is continuing on his path of healing and swordplay, while Maria focuses on the more elemental side of things, with a splash of Cure and Life thrown in for back-up. Gus is all about cleaving things with his axe.
Join me next time when we traverse the Snow Cavern in search of the Sunfire, in hopes of destroying the empire’s Dreadnought!


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