The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy

by ddegenha

Part 1: In the Beginning

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

The first thing to do is to pick out a party. Normally when you're doing this, you want to think about issues of balance, filling party roles, and your playing style. Fighter, Black Belt, White Mage, Black Mage is the archetypical group, but there are a few other permutations that people have come up with that are equally viable. Since this is a single character playthrough, I've got a different priority.

All I really want from my three other characters is for them to be fragile enough to be killed off easily. Here's our hero Solo and this three friends, Inky, Blinky, and Clyde. Stupid four character name limits.

At this point the game dumps us out in front of the first city in the game. The opening screen is about as much plot as you're given before you're set loose in the game. In a lot of ways, the plot in this game is kind of like a half-assed D&D campaign. The opening makes it sound like these four people just showed up, ran into each other, and noticed that everybody had an orb. I'm surprised that they didn't meet in a tavern. Anyway, we've got 400 gold to go shopping with.

This is what 400 gold buys us. Dead men get no equipment, and there's no point in buying magic or anything like that. The good news is that this is a fairly inexpensive group to utilize.

Before going out into the world, it's important to move the ghosts into the front rows. For the most part the chance of getting hit is sharply tied where a member is placed in the party. I want 3 dead mages, so they're going to be catching most of the attacks.

Our first set of enemies are three imps. This will be important later, so take notes. In order to keep Solo from slaughtering these three imps, he's going to be using the item command on his rapier. This produces no effect, but is an important tool for later in the game.

Even with 3 unarmed black mages being the only attackers, imps are so pathetic that the last one dies before more than 1 black mage dies. I could have bought some staves or something for the black mages to use, but that'd be a bit silly.

After defeating the second group we get our reward. Various games deal with experience in different ways. In the case of Final Fantasy, experience is divided between all surviving members of the party. The net effect is that a single character will level up four times as fast as a party. This tends to remove a lot of the level grinding that early RPGs were famous for. In some ways, the game goes considerably faster with a single character.

This first level up came from the next fight, and demonstrates some of the fun and the challenge of doing a challenge like this. A single character might level up faster, but they're also going to soak up a lot more damage. Critical hits can aggravate this significantly, as in this case. This fight came down to Solo and a single imp, with solo having 1 HP left at the start of the round. The imp missed, and Solo didn't.

As you can see from this picture, I'm at full HP after a trip back to the inn. I took this shot to illustrate a key point in this game: there are no random encounters. Anybody who's dealt with computers knows that a random number generator is never truly random, but if you're clever enough you can make one that's nearly impossible to catch one in a pattern. The RNG in Final Fantasy isn't exactly sophisticated, so given the right information you can guarantee certain random encounters. In this case, immediately after starting out after staying at the inn I ran into the same group of enemies again. A particular trick that people used to use for money making involved sailing south from Corneria and getting into three random battles. On the NES cart, the third encounter would always be a group of Kyzoku.

A couple more minutes of fighting gets us to level 3, at which point I feel safe enough in heading north and continuing on with the storyline.

This dilapidated building is the Temple of Fiends, which is a particularly grandiose name for the first dungeon in the game. Although, in this case, dungeon is a bit of a misnomer.

About six steps in to the building we have our first boss fight of the game, with his threat to "knock us all down." There's a bit of ironic humor considering that he's essentially saying that to a single person who's basically towing around three dead guys on a rope. I can only imagine a bit of puzzlement in the reading of this line.

Naturally I took a bit of damage on the way up, so it's one slightly battered fighter versus the nefarious fiend who kidnapped the princess. I haven't mentioned her before now because in all honesty she's not really important.

Garland doesn't cause more than 20 points of damage before going down. If you've ever played this game and beaten him with a full party of level 3 characters, 3/4 of that group was unnecessary.

On my way to the princess, I have an encounter with a group of five wolves and reach level four. Something like that could have been really annoying if I'd died a step from the princess, since talking to her automatically gets a free trip to the castle for a reward.

The notification that you can now go to the continent is about as much direction as you get in this game. Just...wander around until you find something. The lute thing is kind of funny in its own light too, since a musical instrument is really random for a reward. I also have some difficulty buying the idea of a wooden musical instrument surviving for 2,000 years.

As a note, while we're here in the castle this is the famous invisible person. For whatever reason there's an invisible NPC here questioning our identity. Later versions of this game have solved the problem in different ways, but it amuses me when they just delete the line. Now, before we go cross this bridge, it's time to do some looting of the Temple.

Here we have another bit of armor, although it's essentially useless. Still, every little bit can help.

These enemies are fairly unremarkable, except that they represent an example of strange translation. The untranslated name of this enemy was "black widow" despite the fact that they're not poisonous and are fairly non-threatening.

Another enemy found in the temple is the humble ghoul, which is actually the most dangerous thing in here. The ability to paralyze and enough accuracy to get multiple hits means that it's very possible for this enemy to paralyze a single character and then gnaw them to death. This one doesn't succeed, but it's a very real risk. Paralysis is probably the single biggest danger in a single character game.

The only other loot we can get from the temple right now is a solitary heal potion and a cabin. Scarcely worth it, but these things could come in handy later. With that, it's time to cross the bridge.