The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy II

by Camel Pimp

Part 1: Pathetic Flailing

First things first, we might as well begin as the game does: with this bit of exposition and then naming our hero and their corpse companions.

I named Firion Solo, after the Fighter in ddegenha's FF1's solo LP.

On that note, Guy's name is now Loq, after the Red Mage run of the same LP.

Leon will be Stalin, after Mega 64's FF3 solo LP

And finally Maria shall be called Vivian. Because I like naming her Vivian.

Final Fantasy 2 quite famously opens with an unwinnable battle. When you think about it, it's actually kind of a neat way to teach the player about the row system. If you'll notice, Vivian's standing behind all the burly menfolk. Unlike other games in the series where standing the back row decreases physical damage, here it completely prevents being targeted by normal attacks.

Meaning that this battle always has to take two rounds (well, in original, it'll often take three because enemies in the game can whiff hits on dead targets like you can). Once everyone in the front row is dead, everyone in the back row comes forward and inevitably dies.

I figure I might as well mention this because you will never see it again for the rest of the LP.

Because this is a gameplay oriented LP, I'm not gonna bother transcribing text. For the most part I'm just gonna summarize. Like so:

: Hey I found these kids while escaping from the Empire. Could you make sure they don't die?
: Sure.
: Thanks.

Oh no where's my buddy Stalin?

Well we find everyone else. I'm certain Stalin is fine. Probably out there, doing very morally upright things.

: Hey can we join the rebellion?
: No, you'll die.
: Well, not all of us.
: What?
: Nothing.
: You can go back to Phin if you want.
: You mean the place we nearly died trying to escape from?
: Yeap.
: Okay.

Oh, and we get a keyword. Occasionally people will drop keywords and you have to pick them up and throw them at other people so you can progress. It's a really vestigial thing. This sort of bizarre, pointless little gameplay detail is pretty common of early Final Fantasies, who loved throwing odd ideas here and there and seeing what stuck. (That's pretty much the design doc for this game, now that I think about it)

Anyway, all we really needed was that keyword. But there's a couple of things here to note.

The dude who healed us up is Minwu (he's called Minh in this translation, but I'm just gonna call him Minwu.) He's a future party member. He's the only one I'm gonna feel kinda bad about killing.

Also there's a Potion here. It does what you think it does. I will actually probably use this. That's... interesting I guess.

Here's the King. He exists solely to die later. I'm really not sure why the game doesn't start with him already dead.

There's Paul. He doesn't have a unique sprite in this version. He's cool; he's pretty much the only competent NPC.

And lastly here's Gordon. He is a future party member that I will relish killing.

Because of the sort of run I'm doing, weapon shops will be completely useless to us and armor shops mostly useless. I don't really want to buy items just yet, so we're only stopping off by the magic shop.

Before we start shopping, we have to make the choice: who shall be our survivor?

A quick run down on these stats: Power adds to your attack and accuracy score, Agility determines base Evasion percentage, Vitality determines how much HP we'll get on a level up, Intelligence determines how strong our black magic is, and Soul is the same thing but for White Magic. There's no levels or experience points in the traditional sense; our stats raise based entirely what we do in battle. If we attack Power has a chance to raise, cast black magic Intelligence has a chance to increase... and so on. For most of these stats, it's fairly easy to understand. As for spells and weapon skill, they have levels; every time we use them they gain a small amount of experience.

Honestly, if I was doing a less restricted solo run, the choice of character really wouldn't matter. I suppose Solo is the best choice, being as he's the most balanced. In all honestly, though, the differences between them aren't that big, and any deficiency they have would correct itself quite quickly.

However, since we're doing this unarmed only, that changes things. Since Fists are so strength reliant, characters with low strength are going to have a hellish time starting out. You'd think this would disqualify Vivian, and would make either Solo or Loq the best choice.

Not quite. You see, while Vivian will start out weak, once we get some strength and a few levels in unarmed, that's not going to be a problem. What will be a problem? Evasion. Unfortunately, it's going to take a bit of text to explain why I do what I do, and why this run's restrictions are so difficult. So strap in kids; even more text!

Agility and the Evasion are simultaneous the most important and difficult to understand stats in the game. Agility simply determines base Evasion percentage. That's all it does. So what does Evasion percentage do? It determines chance of evading an attack, obviously, as well as turn order.

In addition to Agility, your equipment effects Evasion %. Heavy armor decreases Evasion massively, while light armor has much smaller penalties. Weapons and shields, on the other hand, add to evasion. The formula is level x evasion bonus of the weapon or shield. Most weapons have a evasion bonus of 1%, so that's a minor bonus. Shields, on the other hand? The worst shield, the Buckler Solo started with, has 4% evasion bonus. The best shield in the game has a ten percent bonus. It's not uncommon by the end of the game to have your shield level up to level 8 or higher if you're a heavy shield user. 99% Evasion isn't hard to reach.

Fists, by the way, don't give any evasion bonus whatsoever. Without shields or weapons, we're completely reliant on our Agility score for evasion. Oh, but here's the kicker; Agility increases are dependent on our Evasion percentage. Absolutely nothing else. Basically if your evasion percent is higher than zero, you have a random chance on increasing Agility which increases the higher your evasion percent is. It is completely independent of your actions.

So, why not just load up on heavy armor and tank every hit? This is a bad, bad idea. Not only does heavy armor carry some penalties not readily apparent, what will really end up hurting you in the end doesn't care one whit about defense score. I'll explain it once I get to it in the game; this explanation's getting long enough anyway.

Tl;dr: Agility is more important than every other stat. Therefore Vivian's our choice.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's go actually prepare our character. Unlike FF1, we do start with some equipment. It's all getting sold, with the except of the Buckler Solo comes with and the Cloth armor Vivian comes with.

We end up with a little over a thousand gil, which is more than enough to get us started. Obviously we need at least Cure and one attack spell. I went with both Fire and Ice. Probably should have just bought one attack spell and spent the rest on items, but money will cease to be problem soon enough.

And we're ready to make our way to Phin. The game doesn't give you great directions to Phin, and there are two areas immediately adjacent to where we start out that have much, much higher level enemies. The game does not stop you from going into those areas nor does it indicate that these areas contain monsters that we can't beat. Go too far north? Die. Go too far west? Die even harder. I promise you everyone who ever played this game stumbled into those areas at least once. And the kicker is there are rivers that will block us... from going east. What's east? Slighter stronger monsters than the ones in the starting area.

Final Fantasy II isn't the best made game, I'll admit that upfront.

For this first part, though, if we just follow the river we'll be okay. We'll want to cross north and-

Rank 1, HP 6, Attack Power 4, Attacks 1, Accuracy 50%, Defense 0, Evasion 0, Magic Resistance 1-50%

First (winnable) battle! And the game actually shows me some mercy by pitting me against the weakest enemy in the game. That was mighty kind, since we're gonna need a few rounds to kill off our extraneous members.

I wasn't kidding when I said Vivian was going to start out ridiculously weak. When you're unarmed, attack power is strength divided by two (rounded down). Additional levels in unarmed add 8. Vivian starts with five strength, and there are no unarmed bonuses since it's at level one, so her attack power is two. As long as she doesn't miss, Vivian needs two or three hits to bring down a Goblin. And yes, even in this game you're expected to be one, maybe two shotting Goblins out of the gate.

Taking Solo and Loq down proved a bit annoying, even with their help, so I broke out the spells. Spells are the best source of damage we're gonna have early on. Spells always start at level one, and their MP cost is always the same as their level. Unfortunately, we only start with five MP.


Since I'm only a few steps away from town anyway, Vivian just wastes the Goblins with magic. Upon slaying them, I'm rewarded with 31 gil and stat ups. We gain some Intelligence and-

I explained all the main stats, but I didn't cover this one. Magic Power is a misnomer; it's merely determines how much MP you get when you get an MP increase. It's triggered by MP loss during battle. It works the same way as Vitality.

You get HP and MP increases the same way you get Vitality and Magic Power, by losing HP and MP during battle. One thing to note is that the game doesn't technically track how much HP or MP you lose in a battle. It just takes how much HP or MP you start the battle with and subtracts how much you have at the end. Therefore it behooves you not to heal during battle unless you absolutely need to.

I should also note that a well known exploit is to hit your own party members to make sure your HP is low enough to trigger HP gains. Contrary to what you may hear, that's not very useful. There's a couple of points you'll want more HP, but what will really end up hurting me in the end isn't alleviated by having more HP anyway. (Besides, I'm gonna have plenty through normal play.)


We'll have to hit the inn before we actually start traveling, though. Rather than a flat fee, Inns charge based on how much HP and MP you're missing. It's 1 gil per 4 points of HP missing, and 1 to 1 for MP. If you're missing a lot of HP it's often a good idea to heal up before you go to the inn.

Anyway, now our journey can start for real! It's only a stone's throw to our next stop, we run into the rest of the enemies around here.

Rank 1, HP 6, Attack Power 4, Attacks 1, Accuracy 50%, Defense 0, Evasion 1-10%, Magic Resistance 1-50%

Hornets are basically Goblins with one key difference.

They have a chance of poisoning you when they hit. Well, I say "poison" but that's not quite correct. There are two versions of poison in the game; one that does not persist after battle and has a chance of going away on its own, and the other which persists after battle and won't go away until cured. Fortunately for us, Hornets inflict the former. Even with our low HP it's just a minor annoyance.

Most early game monsters have a change to flee, regardless of your stats. I know that the chance of monsters running goes up as you get stronger, but I could be wrong. (And I'm not sure what would directly determine that.)

I'd like to reiterate that we are that weak.

After we win we get another HP up and Vitality up. Honestly, you should just assume I'm getting an HP increase every battle.

Rank 1, HP 6, Attack Power 4, Attacks 1, Accuracy 60%, Defense 0, Evasion 0, Magic Resistance 1-50%

And here is the last enemy type we have around these parts. They're pretty much like the rest. They have some resistance to some spell types we don't have yet. That's about it.

Unlike Final Fantasy I, all spells in the game can be single targeted or multi targeted. However, multi-targeted spells' damage or effectiveness is reduced by three fourths. It doesn't matter how many enemies are left. Hell, you can choose to use a multi-target spell on a single target! So instead of a one-hit kill spells are gonna be a two-hit kill. Still, with four enemies, it's better than trying to chip away at them with regular attacks.

The game has this cool little detail where sometimes you'll see an airship flying around the world map.

Anyway, you'll see there's a town just a short distance north of Altea.

It has a name, but it barely matters. It mostly just sells what Altea sells, except it doesn't have a magic shop. Mostly it's here so you'll have a chance to rest at the inn and resurrect allies. (hah)

Phin is north of this town, but there's a huge lake in the way, so we'll have to go up and around the lake. Since we've got some HP under our belts it's tedious, but not difficult. One interesting thing happens, though.

We see our first instance of stats decreasing. Sometimes when you gain stats, there's another chance that another stat will also decrease. Intelligence decreases with Power, Vitality decreases with Intelligence, and Power decreases with Soul. It's fairly infrequent, but later remakes did away with this mechanic entirely.

Here we are at Phin! We can't even enter the castle, so we go to town.

Every single one of these dudes (you can't really tell, but they're soldiers) will kill us if we talk to them. We can enter some of the buildings and shops, but no one's in them.

And there's random encounters! (It's the same enemies that are on the world map) So Phin's kind of a shithole right now. So what do we do here?

Find a secret bar and get hammered. Of course.

Again, everyone except the guy behind the counter will kill us if we talk to them.

We throw our only keyword at this fellow with poor spelling, and he politely disappears.

Secret passages!!

With three Potions. That's... mildly useful.

Again, we use our only keyword on him.

He's the brother of the useless Gordon, fiancee of the slightly less useless Hilda, and-


Anyway, he gives us a ring and dies. This is all we needed in Phin for right now. Once we walk out of the pub we can just talk a few step to the right and exit onto the world map.

Now that we have the Ring, when we press Select + B, we open the world map. It has a weird pseudo sphere effect. You can rotate it around, but it scrolls so slowly as to be worthless. It's mostly good for getting a glimpse of your immediate surroundings. Later games just replace it with a regular old map. Which gives me the mental image of Scott taking a diamond ring and pasting a map on top of it.

Anyway, the trip back is pretty uneventful an-



(Oh, and this was the first Final Fantasy game where you can save on the world map, as opposed to needing an inn or to use a tent. Still don't have save points, though.)

Anyway, I also got an MP increase, but otherwise there's not much to say about the return trip. Let's report in with Hilda.

: Hey we got a ring from your dead boyfriend. Oh, uh, he's dead by the way.
: Tha- thanks. Is there something wrong with your frie-
: Never been better!
: ...okay. Well, guess you've proven yourself. Anyway, we fell to the evil empire because we didn't have a particular metal. And that is the only reason. So fetch some, won't you?

Keyword get! To get this super awesome mythical metal (which is totally not just for a bunch of early to middle tier equipment) we have to go to Salmando and find a man named Josef.

And also we get a new party member. More importantly than a new corpse, we get his canoe. I mentioned there was a lake that prevented us from going east? We can cross it now. As a matter of fact, there are only five locations on the world map we can't get to right now. I mean, technically. There are still areas on the world map that will kill us dead if we wander into them.

Even if we can't use him, Minwu at least has the courtesy to come with some nice stuff. The IceScyth has an odd name, and I believe it casts a single target level 16 Shell. I ended up selling it; I didn't remember what it did at the time, but honestly I probably wouldn't have used it anyway. The Copper (cuirass) and Ether are highly appreciated. There are actually an armor version and an cuirass version of the copper stuff, but this translation doesn't distinguish between them. The armor is heavy, worthless crap, but the cuirass proves us some defense and only lowers our evasion by 5. We can't really coast on evasion on this run, so we still need to balance it with defense.

In any case, I'm gonna save killing Minwu for next time. For now, let's take stock of Vivian's growth so far and then sign off.

Power + 2, Agility +1 (YES), Vitality +4, Intelligence +1, Magic Power +1, HP + 49, MP + 11