Part 1: Rodia01. Rodia
The opening of this game is pretty memorable. It starts with some fancy mode 7-ish effects, and suitably dramatic music.
We're not interested in any of that though.
The story is primarily about a man who starts off in the army, leading the air force no less, who's name is Cecil.
We're not interested in any of that, either.
During cinematic auto-combat, he pops 2 items that instakill these things.
He gets 0 exp out of this, and I left him here for Reasons.
That done, more scenes happen, we get the totally inconspicuous Bomb Ring/Package/Carnelian Signet and can move on to the main event.
Namely soloing the game as Rydia. It's a fair bit easier than it sounds, honestly, though it does start off ungodly tedious.
Disregard how her stats are all kinda terrible right now, since that doesn't matter just yet. Her initial equipment is way more important. We'll get to that a fair bit later, though.
This is also a really good time to address the one obvious issue here. That would, of course, be "how is this even doable?" And normally the answer would be that, well, it kinda isn't.
Under normal circumstances, you have to continue past the second boss (well, I'm being generous there; the game calls it a boss at least) before you can even think of using Rydia.
Though, of course, this isn't exactly "normal." We can circumvent this issue by just using a couple of... codes. I wish I could be more specific there, but I really can't; they function somewhat differently to Action Replay, GameShark, Codebreaker etc. in that you are actively changing a hex value to whatever you want.
In this case, it's the ones that apply to the active party. We can get access to most characters at any time by doing this, though some just aren't accessible this way. Unsurprisingly, there's also a lot of values that just do nothing; the 03 at the end of the first one is specifically what gives us Rydia in the second party slot. FF just means that the space will be empty, and anyone there will be removed from the party. Likewise, anyone placed into slot 2 will be removed and replaced with Rydia.
The 00 is there to give me Cecil at a few points early on. This isn't for combat or anything; this is because occasionally the game will just crash if he's not around.
The other obvious question is "why Rydia?" Well, that's a bit more tricky to answer. She's definitely not the hardest, that'd most likely be either Cid or Edward, and probably not the easiest either, if only due to having issues healing later. Really, though, that's fine. I don't want it to be too difficult, but it'd be boring if it was too easy. I just want to use a fun character to blast things, and do stuff you wouldn't normally think to do. And Rydia's basically perfect for that, since she gets a few spells most people don't even see never mind use. Also she's 7 years old (which makes her the second youngest playable character) and can still drop Bahamuts on people. What's not to like?
So, anyway, Baron Castle. It has a fair few treasures but...
That's everything we can get right now. It's all useful, thankfully, so we can hold onto the lot until they're needed. I assume you know what they are and/or do, but just in case you somehow don't allow me to explain in a manner that is very definitely not patronising, honest. The gil is a given, the Ether restores Rydia's MP which is borderline mandatory later but for now it's going to be saved, and the Tent is good for healing up should we need to do so.
This is the first scene I know of where Cecil actually being in the party is mandatory to continue. Near the end, the game just can't continue without him. I imagine the opening is identical, but I've never actually checked.
Now we're done with the prologue and can go fight a bunch of dudes.
Well, we can shortly. First, we're going to visit Baron (the town) and see what they have for us to find lying around.
The answer is a couple of Potions (which are nice for free healing I guess), a second Tent and an Hourglass. This one is the most important so far, seeing as how it inflicts Stop.
Stop works on a lot of things you wouldn't expect. This includes lots of bosses.
We're going to use this later, but for now it's going to be Chekhov's Timepiece. Just waiting for that moment.
Of course, there's a lot more things we can find if we look around a bit more. Baron has lots of free items, which is kinda unfair since later places don't even have half as much.
A couple of Phoenix Downs sounds nice, but here they're both useless and useful at the same time. Can't use them for healing, but they're good at killing the undead.
Gold Needles cure Petrify and Gradual Petrify. The former is irrelevant since we game over if that happens, and the latter comes up like once ever where it matters and that won't be for a while so no one cares about it.
And there's still more free items in the inn! Another free Potion, another Tent, and this worthless trash. Eye Drops cure Blind, of course, which you'd think would be irrelevant. For quite a while, I did too. Unfortunately, Blind is still a problem here, since it halves physical attack accuracy as well as two much more important things: evasion and spell accuracy. Yes, some spells can miss. This might just turn out to be a bit of a problem later.
The Dwarven Bread functions as a spell called Sight, but for free. Sight is the dumbest spell and we're never using this thing.
[Music: Battle 1 ~ Battle Theme]
We're done in Baron, so let's go fight some dudes right outside. These'll do.
So, Rydia in combat is kind of a jack-of-all-magic-trades (right now). She can cast White Magic, Black Magic and Summon. She currently has 10 MP, no White Magic, no Black Magic and only one Summon.
You'd think that Chocobo costing nearly all of Rydia's MP and being single target only would be a problem. It's kinda not.
Not only is it surprisingly effective for a little while, to the extent of being overkill right now, but it's also remarkably unnecessary. Rydia starts with a weapon called the Rod. This is useful for one little thing:
By using the Rod as an item when its equipped, this happens. It casts Magic Arrow, which is only available here. It's a non-elemental spell that will oneshot any single thing we fight right now. Since Rydia's regular attack is straight up useless, this basically replaces it for a little while. It stops being useful pretty quickly, since the damage isn't based on Rydia's stats unfortunately (except in the DS and iOS ports).
Seeing as how she starts off at level 1, Rydia levels up pretty quickly right now. Blizzard's the basic Ice elemental spell, costs a small amount of MP, but more than she has left right now. The one advantage it has over the Rod is that it can be either single or multi-target. Magic Arrow is stuck being single target only.
The Goblins are, oddly enough, the weakest enemies in the entire game (except for maybe one boss we'll see later not even kidding)... and yet are relevant in this case anyway. They have an incredibly rare drop that we want. It's a 1/64 chance, well 4/256 but that's the same thing, which in practice works out as being either an obscenely rare 0.07% chance of dropping, or the slightly less ridiculous but still very bad 0.4%, for reasons that are phenomenally stupid.
The short version is that there's two dice rolls when it comes to drops; one is "will it drop a thing," (which, of course, varies depending on the monster to a point) the other is "what thing will it drop?" The long version is complicated and dumb and gets even more complex later, so I'll save it for when its more relevant.
Other than that, they're still Goblins and so they die if anyone even sneezes at them. Also Rydia's currently gaining a level every fight so she learned Cure and can now heal for less than a Potion at the cost of MP.
It's kind of an awful deal actually, huh?
At level 4, she gets Sight. Sight is completely worthless and exists only to waste your time and MP.
This is what it does. It charges you MP to look at the map. We're never using this again.
Level 5 nets Thunder. Basic elemental attack, but for, uh, Thunder. Rydia won't learn Fire ever because of plot reasons. Even though those reasons haven't happened yet, she still doesn't learn it.
The Sword Rat is a surprising enemy here. It's both dangerous and durable! It has a higher magic defence than everything else we've fought, and can deal actual damage.
This works out as being 2 Rod uses instead of 1 which doesn't matter, since it still doesn't get a turn.
Then for varieties sake, I did this to the Goblins. It's efficient and yet not; that MP cost adds up this early, but it's a lot quicker.
At level 7, Rydia learns Hold. It inflicts Paralysis. I've never used it, now that I think about it. I just find that Paralysis is very not useful. Most things are immune to it, and if its not then Hold isn't worth the MP because in the time it takes to Paralyse you can have already killed it.
From the same fight, though, I got this. The Tent is nice since it's free, but the Goblin was our real prize. It's the 1/64 drop from, uh, Goblins and its only useful for Rydia.
It teaches her a new summon. A new single target summon. That costs 1 MP.
If you think it's worthless just from that, well...
Don't forget that Chocobo might cost 7 MP, but it did deal about 10x that damage. At level 1. Goblin's just straight up worthless honestly; it might have oneshot a Goblin... but that's all it will ever do. Were it not obscenely unlikely to drop (I got lucky) then it might be worth something at lower levels. As is, it's a blatant gag that we will never speak of again.
It doesn't even has that wacky benefit of dealing 8x damage if you're the same level as the thing you're hitting here so it's not even a good joke attack or anything.
But, whatever. With the Goblin in our possession, we can move on and tackle the first dungeon.
The Mist Cave is basically a giant linear path with occasional enemies. I only encountered Goblins, somehow, except for when this happened:
This is just straight up cruel. So I ran.
..It's not cowardice, it's pragmatism!
The only things of interest here is a few chests with items we've already gotten. Lame.
Then level 8 rolled around, and Rydia picked up another ailment spell of questionable use. Sleep inflicts, well, sleep and costs 12 MP which is kind of a lot right now, for something that is probably just going to be a waste of your turn. Don't get me wrong, I can think of a use for it (and Hold) but they're just... not necessarily as efficient.
Oh, and the boss occasionally yells at you to leave. Yeah, not happening buddy.
[Music: Battle 2 ~ Boss Battle]
Okay, so this seems pretty dangerous. In that case, there's only one thing for it: blasting it with our magic!
...That's gonna be a bit of a problem.
Wait, hang on. Why did it only deal 1 damage?
Oh, it "only" has 31 magic defense. That's absurd! No wonder it took so little damage from that.
The rod isn't fairing much better either. This is kind of a slow and tedious fight because of this. Like, it took me 29 minutes to finish. It's nothing but spamming Rod and hoping he dies soon.
Well, that and his gimmick which makes you wait for a while before you can do anything.
Since the ATB gauge was still a new thing at the time, the Mist Dragon is a glorified tutorial on this system. Easy to overlook as just being its gimmick considering how every boss in this game has a gimmick, though.
If you've never played this game, V, VI, VII, seen the first bosses of any of those games, or have lived under your bed for the past 20-odd years then you might be wondering how this is a tutorial and/or gimmick.
Your attacks auto-miss, and he counters with an attack that can't be interrupted. It does nothing else in this form though, so what you do is pretty obvious: you sit there like a lemon, and you wait.
Eventually it returns to normal and you can keep smacking it.
After a stupidly long length of time, it will die. This normally takes like 1-2 minutes since you have 2 physical attackers, but that's not the case here. Doing this thing with magic is a goddamn pain.
Also the rewards aren't worth the hassle. Maybe a single level... if you're somewhat underlevelled...? Yeah, no. This fight alone took a little over 29 minutes to do. In terms of time:reward, anything else here would be more worthwhile. It's honestly kind of dumb, but I don't think I get to complain quite so much.
Next time, we'll head into Mist village and appear to burn Rydia's home to the ground, spoiler alert.
Rydia ~ Amano artwork.