Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Final Fantasy 1 Four-Character Extra


Now for something completely different. Not a standard playthrough of FF1, that's for later. This is more of a challenge run of sorts. When I was a kid, I played through the game with four Fighters. It was a fun time, and it made me want to play through with four of various other classes. I never got around to it...until now.

The one that generally gets all the hype as being a major challenge run is 4x White Mages. Much like four Fighters was the one I did in the past, 4x White Mages is something to do in the future, to give me one more same-class group to run. Today, I'll be looking at the four in-between, starting with ::thunder crashes:: ...4x Thief.

My God.

Before we start, I just want to clarify the rumors: is NOT now owned by Soulja Boy. Thank you.


At first I started this run on the Pixel Remaster version, but it became abundantly clear within minutes that Thieves are more powerful in this version, so I wouldn't be getting the true 4x Thief challenge by doing this.

So...back to the NES we go. Kenny gets switched out because of the four-letter limit. Let's find out how terrible this group is...

...yeah, it's pretty awful. Fights with Imps left our heroes in shambles. This is going to be rough. It's hard to imagine WM x4 is worse than this because at least they can nuke undead. Thief can't nuke anything.

This was the moment where I stopped and re-thought my choice to try this. A few minutes in and I'm already like "wtf am I doing"

That said, I was definitely interested in seeing what a 4x Ninja party would look like, so I toughed it out.

The Wizards weren't long as you only get two of them (it can be anything from 2 to 4). This run is all about grinding, and grinding, and grinding some more. Thieves can't (and I mean CANNOT) beat Astos until a certain point in the low teens, and it takes ages to get your levels that high in this part of the world. But yeah, it's all about the levels, they're the determining factor in whether or not you can win any fights. And forget about the Peninsula of Power, it ain't happening.


This is, no joke, the true uberboss of a 4 Thief game.

Yeah, that didn't work out. All of their attacks do 1 damage, unless they critical and do like...20. He's got 180 HP so you need a lot of criticals. Once you level to a certain point and get 2x Hits, you do a whopping 2 damage. However, your criticals also do a lot more, and at that point you only need about 5 of them to win the fight.

When I finally eked out a win at level 13, it was BARELY. And yeah, a fight that a typical group should be winning handily at level 7-8 took me until level 13 to get through with only major traumatic injuries.

Another thing to note for this run is that the Scimitar is actually a better weapon for these guys than the more-powerful Sabre is, because for whatever reason the Scimitar gets access to 2x Hits a few levels sooner.

The next (and maybe last) majorly challenging fight is Lich. After this you can reach the class change. However this fight, like Astos, is another mess of doing 1 damage while he can AOE the group for like 70.

Another narrow victory. I actually did this at level 13, the same level as Astos, but he whooped me the first several times. Astos does more damage, but Lich has almost 3x the HP.

Now that the two uberbosses are downed, I beeline for the class change. GET THESE THIEVES OUTTA HERE.

In later games in the series, Thieves would generally be a fun and worthwhile class. Not here, though. Not here. They seem like easily the worst Tier-1 class in this NES version, and it isn't even close. At least their Tier-2 class, Ninja, is one of the better classes.

Got here at a decently low level, too. Ninja is probably the best Tier-2 class in terms of being an upgrade. No other class is an upgrade like this is. They can use Haste, Temper, level 2 elemental AOEs, and a lot more equipment. Almost as much as Fighters.

After sailing through Marilith (since I can hit for well over 1 damage now) the next challenge is Kraken. This dude hits so hard that he'll one-round almost any class. I think only Fighters can survive more than one hit from him, unless you're drastically overleveled. The good news is that Kraken only has 800 HP, so if you can get Haste and a few Tempers on one character and then unleash enough hell before he chews through the group, you can win.

Tiamat was much easier than Kraken, and a bunch of levels later here we are at Temple of Fiends. Can I beat Chaos at these levels?

...yes, yes I can. It wasn't too bad at all, though I did take some damage. If PAC hadn't gotten taken out immediately, the fight would have been much easier. Level 34 is definitely more than sufficient for 4x Ninjas.

At that point I was pretty sated with this whole same-class challenge idea. At least for a few minutes. Almost right away I started thinking about a 4x Black Belt challenge. And what about 4x Red and Black Mages? Why not all 3?

That's right, I did the only thing that made sense: I used my 4 Thief/Ninja run as a launchpad to do a TRIPLECAST~! of the other parties, and bounced between the trio of games.

First up, the most appealing one. 4x Black Belts. They don't have a lot of utility. No fun spells like Ninjas. However, they also don't need them. At high levels, they punch for way more than anybody else can even touch. Then don't need high levels because they can beat the final boss handily at mid-levels.

We're off to a terrible start, as MIRO absolutely murders KIP before we even get out of the character select. Also Y2J is an outdated nickname. So they're out, and I add Dustin and Hangman.

This one is slow to start, because they're even weaker than Thieves at level 1. If that's possible. However, by level 3 they pass Thieves up, and by level 8 or so they pass the damage output of Fighters even. After level 4 there's no point in equipping them with weapons because their fists are already doing more damage. Once they get to level 8, there's pretty much no stopping them from then on.

Unlike the 4 Thief game, I was even able to do the Peninsula of Power, so leveling was a snap. ...leveling that I didn't need as much. The Thief grind was INSANE.

It isn't always smooth-sailing, though. Sometimes the Peninsula of Power can still knock us all down. Mostly

I held off on class-changing in the Black Belt game until right before I went to Temple of Fiends. This is because Master, the Tier-2 class, is actually worse than Black Belt. Functionally they're the same in battle (which is already lame, they should be an upgrade). However, their MDef growth per level goes from like...4 to 1. Yeah, Masters gain almost no MDef per level.

Does this make any sense? Nope. In any case, Masters have a good look and I wanted the game to feel "finished" so I did do the class-change. Just not until I was done leveling and ready for the finale.

Chaos beaten at level 28...extremely easily. Didn't need buffs, didn't need to heal. Could have probably won this a lot lower, too. This was easier than 4 Ninjas, and definitely easier than the 4 Fighters game I did back in the day (without Haste or Temper, their DPS isn't so good even if their survivability is).

I began the Red Mage game more or less concurrently with the Black Belt game. For this one I'm using the PS1 port of the game, Final Fantasy Origins. This version is pretty accurate to the NES version, and just as challenging. It also moves at about the same speed. Red Mages, however, have taken a whack from the Nerf Bat for this version. Didn't realize this until after I'd started already. Their level-ups are terrible, and I'm not going out of my way to farm for "critical level-ups" in this.

In other words, this is actually MORE challenging than a 4x Red Mage party on the NES version. So I'm not skimping on difficulty by trying a different version. Plus I'm getting to experience a version of the game that I never played in the past.

Looks like the Peninsula of Power is still here, so it was only removed for the Pixel Remaster. I give the place a try and it doesn't go very well at all, as everyone gets murdered.

Well, everyone except Orange, who is just laying there.

"WHAT DO YA SEE" says the pirate.

Funny coincidence that he says that in this version, since I didn't bring a Punk this time.

Unlike the Pixel Remaster, the Mythril Sword (Silver Sword on NES) is intact here, which is a HUGE boon for Red Mages. It's something they can use damn near up to endgame. Gradually you get better weapons to replace it, yes, but it's great from this point until late. This weapon is also why Astos is MUCH easier for Red Mages and Fighters than it is for Thieves. Unfortunately Thieves can't use this weapon, so they absolutely struggle during this part of the game.

OHHHHH! Them's fighting words!

Fun Fact: Gnoma is what Gnomes turn into when water gets on them after midnight.

Late in the game I decided to employ an odd strategy: Kill off everyone except my primary attacker and level them to 50 real quick, since they're the only one who will really be doing damage to Chaos (Masamune + stacked Tempers).

Chose Sammy for this very important task. Here are his final equipment/stats. Obviously this meant taking a trip into the final dungeon to get Masamune.

Annnnd Chaos down. Basically everyone channeled their power to Sammy (via Tempers) and he unleashed the Spirit Bomb, as it were.

Take a bow, Sammy, you've DONE IT AGAIN. That was just like when he won the Stadium Stampede.

The last thing to run here is four Black Mages. For this one I went with the phone version. Not using Ethers, Hi-Potions, or Phoenix Downs so I can get closer to the authentic NES experience...and surprisingly, it really is close once you rule out the items. I'd say for this party in particular the overall difficulty of 99% of the game is only slightly below the NES version...then the final boss is WAY HARDER than the NES version due to Nuke/Flare simply not cutting it anymore against the larger HP pool he has.

Other than that, Black Mages are very similar to the NES version. They have crappy level-ups and can annihilate groups of foes...but only a few at a time before they have to hit the inn.

A few weeks ago at The First Dance, we watched CM Punk's confidence resurrect before our eyes.

Here's Astos. He's zero problem whatsoever for this party, and they run him over with spells. The Red Mages had a similarly easy time with him for the same reason. It's really meleers that have a tough time with him, and only if they don't have access to the Silver Sword.

In melee-heavy games, a swarm of these guys was bad news and Annoying AF. In a Black Mage game, a swarm of these guys is AWESOME.

Becoming Black Wizards gets me the all-important Flare, which is much stronger than any other attack spell. While it usually does about 250-300 in the NES version, here it does around 400-450. So it got a nice bump in power. Thing is, the bosses got a much bigger HP bump than that, especially the last boss, and even with maximum MP you don't have enough Flare casts to down him even if he doesn't use Curaja.

Tiamat, the second-strongest, can also be tough. Flare dusts him/her off quick though. The sprite for this thing is better than ever.

Barely survived that one. While Kraken was the hardest of the fiends for the Black Belt and Red Mage teams, for whatever reason Tiamat really gave this team a rough go.

...and Lich was the toughest fiend for the Thief team and probably the Fighter team back in the day. Poor Marilith hasn't been the toughest fiend for anybody.

Final stats before the last boss. You can go beyond level 50 in this version, but your HP is lower than it would have been at level 50 in the NES version until later. This is probably equivalent to level 35-40 in that version.

I absolutely spam Flares...and it doesn't work out. Yep, even using all the MP I have, this team maxes out at around 15k damage (and that's if he doesn't heal) out of his 20k HP. After that I'm using Blizzaga with an HP-depleted team and by then he probably has Haste on and is annihilating with physical attacks. Yeah, this is ROUGH. On the NES this would have been far more manageable.

I suffered a bunch of deaths, and this was easily the hardest thing I had to do in any of these same-class challenges...outside of maybe Astos with 4 Thieves. Yeah, I think that still takes 1st place.

Once it was clear that spell damage just wasn't going to get the job done, I tried a new strategy: The old strategy of buffing the character with Masamune with Haste/Tempers. To my great surprise this worked nearly as well with Black Mages as it did with Red Mages, and pretty soon Kenny was slashing for 2-3x the damage of Flare. This put the damage over the top. While he did get felled towards the end, the others were able to pick up the slack and finish things with Flares.

That's right. The highest damage output Black Wizards have is from buffed melee attacks.

This "buff your Masamune user" meta is a viable strategy for Ninjas, Black Wizards, and Red Wizards. Fighters and Black Belts don't have these buffs...and don't really need them either. Black Belts especially can slice through enemy defense even without buffs. Or Masamune.

White Mage wouldn't have the buffs, or attack power to compensate, so I'm interested to see what chance they have against Chaos. I expect Holy would only go so far, like Flare. Would definitely be an awful fight in the 20k HP Pixel Remaster version. I'm interested to try a 4x White Mage game on the NES someday.

Now, without further ado...

...the THREE-WAY FINAL FANTASY RELAY RACE~! Here, I triple-cast the Black Belt, Red Mage, and Black Mage runs as I fight from the Earth Cave through to Gurgu Volcano, class changing along the way. It's a full-on race where each team has to hit the same few milestones. Which one will emerge victorious?

No comments:

Post a Comment