January 24, 2012

Final Fantasy II - Ain't Got No Class

After obtaining the Sun Flame from Kashuon, the only problem is where to find the Warship.  Perhaps someone from Altea has information or... Hold on, what's all this then?

Go Warship Go!... erm, I mean
booooo warship, booooo.

After chasing that sweet sky battle and ending up back in Altea, the party learns that the warship has somehow taken damage and is down for repairs north of Phin.  I guess the time is ripe to sneak aboard and destroy it, I guess.  Wait!  We, um, heard that there was this special herb hidden far away that can cure the ailing King and... Oh, he already died?  Um.  Oww!  Oh, owwww!  Ah, we must have all caught bovine spongiform while we were in Kashuon... Oh, that only affects the moo cows?  *sigh* Fine.  Gimme the stupid Sun Flame so we can destroy the stupid warship.  It won't be easy as the ship is crawling with tough-as-nails soldiers and monsters alike.  Our latest companion, Gordon, isn't handling them too well so he'll need to be toughened up a bit before continuing on.  I'm sure the warship repairs will take a long time.

Don't make me put you
in the back row, Gordo.

Since the beginning of the adventure, the party has always had the fourth slot open to various NPCs that end up joining for a brief time.  Gordon is the newest such member but we've also had a martial artist named Joseph as well as a white magic-user named Minh.  Minh joined early on and had a full arsenal of white magic spells, all at decent levels.  This allowed the party to play around with his magic and figure out which spells would be useful for the other members to learn, if given the chance.  There will be no wasteful purchasing and training up a subpar spell here (as long as it's white magic).  Having a single new character join the party every so often in storyline is both a boon and a curse.  It's cool to get a new member with new abilities and makes sense, story-wise, for them to join you.  The only problem is that some of them (*cough* Gordon) start off fairly weak and need to be trained up a bit.  Luckily the battles, as well as the character advancement system, are both fun to use and makes it far less of a chore than it may seem.

The character advancement system is the most unique aspect of Final Fantasy II.  Instead of the normal gaining experience and levels as most RPGs have, FF II has opted to try out a classless and levelless system.  Not often seen in RPGs of any kind, this system is very malleable though easily exploited.  Stats are possibly raised, or lowered, at the end of each combat.  The actions the characters took during the combat influences the chance of a corresponding stat being modified.  For example, if a character does melee attacks all the time, the PoWeR stat will increase and sometimes decrease INTelligence.  The net effect of these changes are positive though if a stat is never used, it will eventually reach zero.  Hit Points are raised by taking damage in combat which means that weaker members catch up to the others fairly quickly ("As long as they don't die!" — Gordon).  Since characters also have the ability to target each other, this can lead to a "training camp" exploit in combat.  Party members unequip their weapons, crack their knuckles and roll their necks, and just start wailing on each other (using cure spells to keep the combat going as long as possible).  When the battle is concluded, there is a guarantee of many stat changes taking place.  However, only parties in the distant past have ever used the camp.  For these heroes, they must always be fighting against many of the monstrosities that inhabit the world.


That doesn't mean we can't bring
it with the fisticuffs though.

Weapons come in many different classes, such as sword, axe, bow, and yes, fists.  These are also trainable though they progress at a steady rate as opposed to randomly increasing.  Magic spells work in the same way.  The lack of classes allows any character to learn any weapon or spell and train it to whatever extent they want.  Training progresses quickly at first but takes longer and longer to gain more effectiveness as one advances.  Since pure fighter types are usually boring, all the characters have cross-trained in both light and dark magicks.  This also keeps the stats balanced out a little bit more.  It means a lot more grinding but that has to be done anyway whenever the party gets a new character.

Okay, it has been put off for long enough.  The party rescues Cid and some princess who were being held in the bowels of the warship.

Yeah, you'd like that, wouldn't you, Cid?

Fighting through hordes of fiendish creatures and avoiding the deadly warship Captains, the party eventually sneaks into the main engine room.  Taking one long last look at the majesty that is the warship, Shen hesitantly prepares to throw the Sun Flame into the core.  A single tear streaming down his face, Shen squeezes his eyes shut and... and...

♫♪ And IIIIIIIIIIIIIeeeeIIIII will
always love yoooouuuuuu.