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Author Topic: The GBA was good to this franchise: Let's Play Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls!  (Read 5195 times)

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R^2

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The game was groundbreaking in Japan, back when all there was to compare it to was Dragon Quest. It came to the USA a bit late in the NES's life, but you'd be surprised what a full-issue spread in Nintendo Power can do for a game's notoriety. But despite all its popularity, Final Fantasy was two things: 1) a flagrant rip-off of Dungeons & Dragons, in many cases without even the serial numbers filed off, and 2) a terrible, bug-ridden mess.

But Final Fantasy seems like one of the most often-rereleased video games out there, behind Tetris and Pac-Man but not a whole lot else. The GBA port is itself more or less the same as the Wonderswan port that came out a little before it, but to its credit it at least addresses one of the two issues hindering the NES version.


Squeenix did a lot of combination rereleases of the Final Fantasy franchise, at one point combining Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger together. This is... one of those, and Dawn of Souls is the first time Final Fantasy 2 was released in the USA. You know Final Fantasy 2, it's the one that eventually spun off the SaGa series, for better or worse.




But -- for now, at least -- I'm sticking with what I sort-of know. I've played the NES version through a few times, but not this one.


Warriors are the game's easymode. Having trouble with the game? Start over with more Warriors. (At least, this is true of the NES version.) They can take hits like a champ thanks to their heavy armor, and they can use the game's best weapons. Their damage output isn't as great as the dedicated strikers, but to their credit, swords swings aren't limited by Vancian magic spell slots. (And the Warrior gets white magic too, later in the game.) If the Warrior were a Pokemon, he would be Snorlax.


Thieves get some of the biggest benefits from the GBA remake, because now they work as intended. See, Thieves are supposed to be good at running away, keeping your party out of trouble in hazardous dungeons. But since the NES version was hacked together, fleeing a battle didn't work right, and everyone was as good at it as everyone else. The Thief lost his specialty and basically became a Warrior without the heavy weapons and armor.

In the GBA version, Theives are indeed better at running away than anyone else, and I suspect they keep your party from getting ambushed as often. Once they promote, they can wear heavier armor and wield better weapons and some black magic. They start out weak, and eventually gain power to get... still outclassed by other options. If the Thief were a Pokemon, he would be Magikarp.


Monks are like Warriors in that they just brawl enemies to death without the aid of magic. But while Warriors are the slow-and-solid tank, Monks are agile death-of-a-thousand-punches sorts of fighters. They can wear limited weapons and armor but are almost always better off without it, moreso in the GBA version than the original NES game (where nunchaku were somewhat useful in early levels). Later in the game, they get even better at punching things and dodging hits. That said, if the Monk can't dodge a hit, his sturdy training is only going to do so much to keep him standing. If the Monk were a Pokemon, he would be Charizard.


The Red Mage is the first casting class, and not a dedicated one. Red Mages are better fighters than the other mages and can cast better spells than the Warrior, Thief, or Monk. There are some spells that Red Mages just can't learn, however, including some of the most useful and powerful ones. Nonetheless, they can do a little bit of everything. If the Red Mage were a Pokemon, he would be Clefable.


The white mage is a healer and defender. They make their allies hard to hit, and restore their HP once they're hurt. In the NES version, they're a little superfluous because having another Fighter on the team instead means you take so little damage overall you never have to cast a healing spell. Not sure if that remains the case in this version. If the White Mage were a Pokemon, it'd be one of the ones with a healing move, but not Chansey because they don't have that kind of staying power. They're Final Fantasy mages, they're kind of fragile!


The black mage sucks at fighting and can't take a hit, but commands elemental blasts and has some useful utility magic. In the NES version, they're made obsolete by spellcasting equipment thanks to, yes, more bugs. In this version, they remain useful as the casters with the highest raw damage output. If the Black Mage was a Pokemon, he would be Alakazam.

Normally this is the part where I'd open up the team composition to a vote, but ah, screw it. I roll four dice and take the classes in order. 1, 3, 4, 6 means...


Rock on, food theme naming.
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R^2

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Now that I have a party of valiant heroes, let's figure out what to do with them!




It's not shown in the static screenshot here, but there was a pretty nasty sandstorm blowing around this desert tower before the text showed up.


Ever tried to screencap a lightning flash? It ain't easy. I can't even get the glimmer of a Zodiac Stone, so I don't know what you people want from me.


This one's more obvious to the LP reader. Those marshes and bogs replaced some verdant green fields.


Ever tried to screencap a lightning flash? Sometimes you get it entirely by chance.


Twice.










That was about as detailed as introduction sequences got in the middle of the NES era. And even then it was just a text dump on a blue background.
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I had this game. I 100%'d both games.

Then some shit at the call center stole it.
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R^2

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Beef, as a Warrior, has excellent Strength and Stamina.


Turkey the Monk has even better Strength but less Agility than Beef. This will be reversed very shortly. Also notice that his Attack is higher than Beef's despite not having a weapon equipped. That's how Monks roll.


As the jack-of-all-stats, Pork sucks at everything.


Tofu is very smart.


In the NES version, monks got some benefit from wearing earlygame armor and using earlygame weapons. In this version, they still start with a Staff and some Clothes. These are best removed immediately, as the Monk's natural attack, defense, and evasion -- based on his Stamina in this version, his experience level on the NES -- are better than anything armor provides.


Well, you'd better take us to see him immediately.


Right, so take us to him.


Sheesh, king, you might wanna find some guards who actually listen to people.
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R^2

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I had this game. I 100%'d both games.

Then some shit at the call center stole it.

"Describe Lyrai in 20 words or less."
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R^2

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Check 'em.




Hey, nobody asked you! Were Chancellors always backstabbing throne-usurpers by the time this game came out? Do I need to run this guy through right now to save us a lot of headaches later?

King: Yet here they stand before us with the crystals. I cannot dismiss this as mere coincidence. Crystal bearers, there is a task I would ask of you. Will you not rescue my daughter, Sarah?

Yes! Er... wait. No? We will not will not rescue your daughter!

Chancellor: Garland, a knight once in His Majesty's service, has abducted Princess Sarah. I ask for your aid in the name of His Majesty, the king of Cornelia.

Who is sitting right there and just asked us himself, ya useless jerk.

Chancellor: Garland has taken refuge in the Chaos Shrine, which lies to our north. Of course, we did attempt to save the princess ourselves... But Garland is the finest swordsman in the kingdom. We have none who can match him.
The King: I have heard that you wish to journey to the continent to our north.

...really? We just met ninety seconds ago. Hell, at this point the player doesn't even know that's the goal.

The King: The bridge leading north was lost long ago, making passage impossible. If you can rescue Sarah, I will have the bridge rebuilt as a sign of my gratitude. Go now, Warriors of Light, and do not fail me!

Man, sounds like you were planning a civic works project for a while and now we show up and you act like it's a personal favor when we go get your daughter who ran off with a dashing knight. I'd say this whole situation reeks.


Chancellor: If you stray from your path, try talking to her. She may know something that can put you back on course.

Ever wondered what Arlyon the Dancer was for? Early game hints, apparently.


The King: Garland is no longer the man I once knew... I beg of you. Please return my daughter to me quickly!

Yeah, before she gets knocked up on her big date to the Chaos Shrine.
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R^2

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Now I'm free to wander around the castle.

Guard: The king is searching for the prophesied Warriors of Light. Th-those crystals! Could it be...?

Scholar: Garland was once the greatest knight in the kingdom. But power consumed him, and he lost sight of who he really was.

Maid: Please, save lady Sarah!

Guard: Her Majesty's overcome with grief -- she's shut herself inside her chambers. Please try not to upset her.


Making Princess Sarah one of the very few characters in any Final Fantasy game with both parents alive, not hostile to her, and having some screen time.
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R^2

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Once you leave the castle you can wander around Cornelia town, too.


Since your goal is laid out by the king, the dancer has no hints to give yet.

Guard: Restore the crystals to grace...

Woman: Please rescue Lady Sarah!

Another Guard: The king truly believes in Lukahn's prophecy... that the Warriors of Light will come to save the princess.

Pretty sure Lukahn's prophecy is that the Warriors of Light will save the entire world, not just somebody's daughter.

Youth: I once lived far to the east of here in the harbor city of Pravoka. These days I hear it's turned into a pirates' den.

How did you hear that? With the one bridge destroyed, Cornelia is totally cut off from the outside world, right? Otherwise why don't we just leave on account of having bigger fish to fry? I'm telling you, we're getting scammed here.

Man: Oh, please... You must rescue the princess.

Elderly man: Sage Lukahn said something about finding the crescent moon, then he just up and left town...


Cornelia has the first equipment and magic shops available, and this version of the game starts you with enough cash on hand to buy some goods. Spellcasters can learn three spells of each level -- Black Mages only black magic, as pictured; White Mages only white magic; and Red Mages three spells from either color.


But as the window to the right shows, Red Mages have a few spells they just can't learn, ever. Dia, which is totally not the D&D cleric's "Turn Undead" ability -- is one of those.


Outside of town, goblins lurk in the woods. They are easily dispatched...


...for trifling rewards.
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R^2

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There's the bridge. Broken, as advertised.


Hey, that's new.






Urist Earthshrine: Lang ago ye could enter, but the way's be shut syne the land began tae decay.

If you say so, dwarf-guy.


I'm pretty sure Monks didn't start getting multiple hits for quite a few experience levels in the NES version. Here they start out doing it. The trick is the Accuracy stat, I've read: at multiples of 32, characters get an extra attack. Monks get them even more rapidly, although I forget how rapidly. Maybe at multiples of 16?

Anyway, knowing that little tidbit makes choosing equipment easier. It's usually better to have a lighter or more graceful weapon that bumps you up to having more attacks per turn than one that gives more raw attack power. Not that that matters for Monks, but it means the Warrior will probably never hold a hammer or axe in his entire career.


Pretty sure the NES version didn't have different kinds of goblins for a while yet. But I haven't seen any MadPONYs, so w/e
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Brentai

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Quote
This is... one of those, and Dawn of Souls is the first time Final Fantasy 2 was released in the USA.

Nope, that'd be Final Fantasy Origins for the PSX.  Which is... pretty much this game, but without a lot of the tweaks and resprites and the current translation, which makes this a remake of that remake.  Squaresoft!

Also, I checked, and that Chancellor guy never showed up until FFO.  No idea why they added him.

Also, I can't help reading the status pages for those characters as displaying their full names.  So your party is led by the inexperienced but determined Beef Warrior, his best friend from childhood Turkey Monk, the elderly and renowned Pork-Red Mage and the mysterious Tofu-Black Mage.
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R^2

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Looks like a place a runaway princess would go on a date to me.


Yep, this is the place.


As the game's first dungeon there's a bit of treasure to be had. The leather cap is my first piece of headgear, so the Warrior gets it. He'll be using it most.


Of course, as a dungeon, it also has nastier monsters than the ones lurking outside.


Weak!


Clearly the date did not go well. Or maybe... too well?




...if you didn't know we were there, who were you talking to?

Garland: Hmph. The king's lapdogs. Do you have any idea who you're messing with? You really think you have what it takes to cross swords with ME? Very well...


From back when Nintendo censorship wouldn't let anyone say "I'll kill you!", the quote got enough memetic status that they left it in.
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R^2

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Nope, that'd be Final Fantasy Origins for the PSX.  Which is... pretty much this game, but without a lot of the tweaks and resprites and the current translation, which makes this a remake of that remake.

Oh. My mistake.
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R^2

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Boss fight? Boss fight.


Pork Redmage (emphasis on the first syllable, if you'd be so kind) sets up a few spells to dull Garland's sword strikes.


Tofu Blackmage V (it's a longstanding and important name in the Blackmage family, thank you) has more direct methods -- he just sets Garland's cape on fire.


This is all somewhat to the annoyance of Silas "Beef" Warrior, who was looking for a one-on-one duel, ideally without anyone asking where he got that nickname.


Garland doesn't put up much of a fight, really. Perhaps the answer to the king's dilemma was "send four guys at once" all along.






Don't leave your drinks unattended when you go out, ladies.

Sarah, princess of Cornelia: I am Sarah, princess of Cornelia. That's the first time anyone's ever defeated Garland. You must allow me to show my gratitude. Please, accompany me to Castle Cornelia.


Whoosh! Plot warp!

The King: There can be no doubt that you are the Warriors of Light from Lukahn's prophecy! You should hear the prophecy in its entirety. Ahem. If I may...
"When darkness veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come. If they cannot gather the shards of light, the darkness will consume all. The four Crystals will never shine again..."
Now, I hear that a Crystal can be found on the continent to our north. Restoring light to the Crystals is our only hope of ridding the world of the monsters which plague it! I will have the bridge to the north rebuilt, as promised. I pray that you succeed in restoring light to the four Crystals -- and to the world.

We have a goal! Go north, and find the first of four crystals!


Sarah: When he abducted me, Garland took this lute as well. I want you to have it. It may aid you in your journey.


Well, it'll give Pork something to do on the long journey ahead of us.
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R^2

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That's clearly not a drawbridge. That's a regular bridge.




Is that supposed to be motivational? What does a bridge have to do with a prophecy?




...and they want to leave!



FF1 Opening On The Bridge


And so their quest began.

As the four Warriors of Light, they felt overwhelmed by the great task destiny had placed before them.

They did not even know the true significance of the four crystals they held in their hands...

The crystals that once, long ago, held a light that shone so brilliantly.

The time for their journey had come.

The time to cast off the veil of darkness and bring the world once more into light...


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R^2

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Bad horse, bad horse, bad horse, bad hooorse! The monsters get more lethal across the bridge's crest. You should know this already from Dragon's Quest! They hit hard and are tougher, as I expect you guessed... Your party here has no recourse, but hit them fast, without remorse.


Bad horse! Bad horse! Bad horse! He's bad! Tofu took a hoof kick, right to his darkened face. And that's although he's hit the least by standing in last place! It sapped all of his hit points, and you die in that case... The rest respond with lethal force, but nonetheless, that's one bad horse.


The sing-along done with, the rest of the party drags Tofu's corpse back to the church in Cornelia.


Circumventing death in a fantasy game is treated with all the weight of super-sizing your value meal.


These straight up did not exist in the NES version, and didn't get added to the franchise until Final Fantasy 3, if I'm not mistaken. But it's a good idea to invest in some since they're here now.
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R^2

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The northern continent has a cave. Perhaps that's where the crystal is!






Backwards to frontwards, that's "B Button Select". Pushing those buttons together on the overworld brings up a map screen.














That's right, the Warriors of Light heroically stand idly by while a blinded old woman stumbles around her house, crashing into furniture.


...then heroically take her stuff, since she's not watching.
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A bit later, there's a proper town.


I hardly know 'er!






Well, before we deal with your pirate problems, we figure there's equipment upgrades to be had, so.


The prices here are far more reasonable than they were on the NES, but still, that's a lot of gold for a five-point attack upgrade.




Bikke: Keelhaul 'em, boys!
Pirates: Aye-aye, Cap'n! We'll make their bones go crunch!

did you just


Each pirate has so little HP that even Tofu can knife them to death. They attack in a swarm of nine, but Beef can take hits well enough that their zerg rush proves ineffective.


Bikke: I want ye to take me ship fer yer troubles. Can ye find it in yer heart to fergive an old pirate?


To be fair, it's not like Bikke could use it anymore. We did just kill his crew.


Bikke: I plan to buckle down and be the hardest worker in town. Ye believe me... don't ye?


Time to talk to townsfolk, of which there are...


...two. Two quotes, at least, a few other people wandering around say the same things.
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R^2

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With our new totally-not-a-pirate ship we can sail the sea inside the ominous ring of land that is the starting area, docking and boarding at ports like this one.


There are maritime encounters, too. Bigeyes only try to paralyze you with an eye beam, allowing the Sahaguin to kill you freely.


I'm pretty sure everything on the ocean is weak to lightning-elemental attacks.


Here's a port. Let's go here.


New monsters, but I don't have a song about ogres.

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Dammit Final Fantasy dwarves

Urist McChatty: Wi a crystal eye, e'en the blind can see. Ah hear that the dark elf Astos pilked the one belongin tae Matoya.

Urist McMook: Have ye blethered wi oor smith, Smyth? In the smithy he is.

Urist McTownsfolk: The earth has stairted tae rot. It began in the west, and nou the decay sprads...

Urist McSignpost: That soond? Aye, that's Nerrick. He's smushin rocks in the back o the cave.

Urist McBangle: When it comes tae defense, a guid armlet can be ivery bit as stoot as body armor. Ye shood try one oot sometime.

Urist McHeavy: Ah'm lookin for some levistone. It's supposed tae be an amazin material that actually floats in the air!

Urist McKnowswherenitropowderis: There micht hae been some nitro pouder in the castle treasure hoose way back when they sealed er up.




Nerrick: And Ah'm sae close tae openin up ma canal, too! If Ah had a wee bit o nitro pouder, Ah could knap that rock in one pluff...
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R^2

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Let us sail as far as possible from Mt. Duergar and dock there instead.


...looks a bit more run-down than Cornelia castle. Is it... made of wood? What is this, some sorta elven castle?


...oh.


Well, it's all coming together now. This Astos guy stole Matoya's crystal eye and put the elf prince to sleep. He must be a pretty nasty villain.


Eh, don't really care.


That dick! I'll get my your treasures back!


Healer: There must be some medicine to rouse the sleeping... but where?


Elf: Let's see... I think her name was Matoya.

Oh. So Astos is the cause of both problems, and if I get Matoya's crystal eye back from him she might give me some medicine to wake up the prince. It's all coming together now. Uh, again.


Elf: They're a friendly bunch!

Yes, but their accents are really annoying.


As with Cornelia, the castle and the town are two different areas. Nothing is wrong with Elfland except the prince is asleep, so I'm skipping the townsfolk who just ask you to do something about that.


!zing


Two different people say this.


In the NES version, this is where you get the moderately-useful "Silver" sword. The "Actually Mythril" sword is a lot more powerful in this version, so it's acquired later, elsewhere.


As Urist McBangle noted, armlets can be as useful as armor. And while Copper Armlets are the least useful of the type, they're still better protective gear than the silken finery Tofu was wearing before.


Also for sale in Elfheim: third-level spells. Thundara and Fira hit all enemies, making them extremely useful for large groups of minor foes like this one.


Pork gets Thundara too, but the difference in Intelligence between the two is starting to show in their damage output. In the NES version, the game just... sort of forgot to ever call Intelligence into the damage calculation for spells. It didn't matter if the caster was a Black mage, Red mage, or a Warrior using a spellcasting item -- the damage output was the same. In this version, Intelligence matters, and Black Mages invest in almost nothing else. The overall effect is that mages and wizards are more useful, while Knights and Ninja somewhat less.
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