GB – #30 – Final Fantasy Legend

History:

I’ve never played this game, nor any of the SaGa games.

Expectations:

I really hate going into a game negatively, but that’s kind of what I’m doing here. Not only have I managed to hate every RPG I’ve played on the system so far, but just looking at this one fills me with… meh! I’d love to proven wrong, but, I’m kind of seeing a trend here…


Day 1:

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Uuuuuunnnnghghghhhhhh……

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Aside from dialogue that causes internal bleeding, the systems in Final Fantasy Legend aren’t actually that bad. Combat is a lot better than Dragon Warrior and the whole “weapons and spells have uses” concept is easy enough for me to get my head around.

Music is fine, graphics and map design are on the mediocre end… well, the sprites themselves are okay, but I don’t think they’re being used optimally.

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The story, near as I can decipher, is that there’s a tower that I need to climb because RPG. I’ve recruited a party of humans, mutants and monsters and must now acquire the key to the tower. The key, of course, is missing. To recovery it I need to obtain special items from three kings. I was able to get one of the three, and lost most of my party in the process, but hey, progress…

I really need to do some reading to betting understand the systems in Final Fantasy Legend, but I’m actually seeing some potential here.


Day 2:

Today I did a bit of research before starting my lunchtime play session, and as a result decided to restart my game. I hadn’t gotten very far to being with, so it wasn’t that big of a loss. I made a new team of two humans and two mutants, and set forth with a better understand of this game’s progression system.

It’s strange, and the stranger part is that I don’t actually notice it as much as you’d think. In this “Final Fantasy” game there is no experience system. Humans increase their stats through equipping better items and drinking stat/HP potions. Mutants increase their stats through battle, based on what kind of weapons their using. Monsters get stronger by eating bigger monsters… which is kind of rad.

As a result of this system, gold becomes king. You need gold to buy gear, and gear deteriorates over time, so you’ll be buying a lot of it! Gold buys potions and spellbooks and revives and inn stays at the cost of 1g per HP restored!

This, in addition to the unique mutant ability system wherein mutants will learn and forget random abilities at random, makes me play this game with a very different mindset than any other game I can think of, except maybe Dark Cloud. That is, with complete detachment. Just buy an awesome new sword for a couple hundred gold? Well, 50 swings later and it’ll be gone. Mutant just learn Ultima? Well, use it to blow away goblins because you never know when it’ll vanish from your ability list. It’s interesting, and in a way, liberating. In the case of my human characters, it’s also incredibly expensive…

This reliance on gold also causes you to tackle grinding in a different way. I did a lot of grinding today, and more than once I found myself in a loop of taking two steps forward and a step and a half back. You can kill a monster for 40g, but if you took 25 damage from that fight, you’ll be charged 25g at the inn, netting you only 15g. Fight three monsters for 120g but you’ve sustained a combined 90 HP in damage across your party, well, you get the idea.

And it’s worse than that, actually, since you’ll be grinding for weapons and armor. That 40g helm just got a lot more expensive…

But I like it. It’s different, and it makes me play differently, and that I’m still playing is a good thing. I still need a table or something so I can know what all these abilities do, and what weapon stats are so I know what to buy, but that’s fine.

I played up to the point where I quit last night, and in much better condition, and hopefully I’ll find time to pick it up again tonight.

Later…

I did actually play more in the evening, not for very long though.

Earlier I claimed the King’s Armor, so now it’s off to get the Shield and Sword. First stop is for the sword, because Shield King still won’t talk to me. On my way to his castle I notice that combat is getting a lot easier, and as a result my gold supply is finally starting to improve! I get to the castle which is full of random encounters and patrolling guards, until I eventually face the Sword King himself.

I lucked out with some mutant powers, so the fight was actually pretty easy. After the king fell I was able to claim his sword, which had super high attack power and infinite uses… I knew I shouldn’t get attached…

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It’s Tuxedo Ma… I mean, the dude who has the last piece of equipment I need!

The was this whole snafu in trying to get the King’s Shield that culminated in me fighting that guy, who went down with a single hammer to the face.

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Slyf has some anger issues… we’re working through them…

By the way if you’re wondering about the pallet change, I’m playing this on the Super Gameboy right now. I sure wish they updated it for playing Gameboy Color games… In any case, with all three pieces of King’s gear in my possession, I headed back to the town of Hero (Yes really) and placed them on the statue, thus receiving the key to the tower. What I wasn’t expecting to happen after losing all my equipment was this…

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First real boss fight of the game! And my tank is naked!

Again I got lucky with some mutant abilities and was able to put a Barrier on my party, which was enough of a boost to completely negate Gen-Bu’s melee attacks. After a good while of chipping away at him, the turtle beast went down, netting me a nice 900g.

With that I bought some potions to up my humans’ stats and HP, and saved inside the first floor of the tower.

The ascent begins!


Day 3 & 4:

I’ve been playing, but not writing, and that’s not a habit I plan on picking up. Memorial Day weekend and all that…

Still, I HAVE been playing, and enjoying it too! Last we left off I was getting ready to take on the first part of the tower. I made it to the end, but wound up circling all the way back because I was having some serious issues against the monsters.

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The gold was good, and I was profiting quickly. I used it to buy a bunch of stat increases for my humans, and some armor upgrades all around. I was able to farm the first hallway in the tower to bring in some decent money. After a bit of grinding I was able to zip through the whole tower without much issue, leading me to the second world.

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After restocking on weapons and buying some more stats, I set out to do some spelunking until I eventually found a floating island I could use as a boat. Exploring this ocean world, I eventually found an Air Seed, allowing me to breath under water, which I used to reach the Ocean Castle.

There was also an underwater shop, where I picked up some really slick (and expensive) weapons.

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At the end of the Ocean Castle was Sei-Ryu, who proved to be… anticlimactic… Despite having two blinded party members he went down before he could even prove a threat, and now I have the key to the next section of the tower!

…Now I just have to climb back out of the ocean…


Day 5:

After climbing the next portion of the tower I found myself in a world in the clouds, quickly becoming involved in a classic empire vs resistance .struggle.

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With that, I was set off to run some errands, rescue a girl, and eventually square off against Byak-Ko himself!

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My HP is lacking on the humans, but my stats are so high and my gear is so good, that the cat beast didn’t even last two rounds, and with that it was back to the tower and onward to World 4!


Day 6 & 7:

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World 4 is set in what looks like a post-apocalyptic world, being terrorized by a giant bird monster. Travel is done through underground tunnels, people live in run down cities full of tall buildings… and you get a motorbike. It actually has a pretty strong 2300 AD vibe from Chrono Trigger.

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Sometimes I have to express my own feelings for a game… sometimes the game sums it up for me!

So basically the big bad bird monster who looks suspiciously like Moltress is protected by an impenetrable force field. In order to break through said force field we must gather parts and build a nullification machine.

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The build up to the encounter was pretty great. The encounter itself? Not so much. Like most bosses in this game this one went down after a few auto attacks.

Once done here, it was time for the final climb!

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Ashura was waiting for me at the top of the tower.

They trip to reaching him was very “final dungeon-y” as I picked up all the best spells and weapons during the climb, or so I thought. Ashura was a rough fight, taking two of my party members with him, but before I knew it he was beaten. Once the fight was over, I was dropped back at the base of the first tower, where I was able to purchase even stronger items.

This final climb had me fighting all the game’s bosses for a second time, while collecting some really great armor and eventually the Masamune. When I reached The Creator I was down one party member, but I was pretty sure I could still handle him.

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Oh yeah, I got this…

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Yep… right where I want him…

So the first attempt didn’t quite go as planned, but the second did. I saved after every floor in the final tower, running from encounters to keep my health up, reaching the final boss at full strength.

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Yay…


Conclusion:

One thing I was really curious about when I started this game was whether or not it could really have been passed off as a Final Fantasy title here in the US in 1989. Frankly, yes, it easily could have. Sure, the story was pretty mediocre, but it did try to tell a story, complete with cutscenes and recurring characters. The combat was different, unique and interesting, but turn based and familiar. Plus, I mean, I was hunting down magic spheres, which at the time screamed Final Fantasy.

Now, in judging it on its own merits as Makai Toushi SaGa, I actually found a pretty compelling game. Yes, I have complaints, but in the context of other RPG’s of the time, well before games like Final Fantasy IV and considering the confines of the Gameboy itself, it was actually really decent. That’s saying something considering my expectations.

I really enjoyed the race system. It was unique, fairly fun, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it from any other game so far. If I do give this game another playthrough, I’ll probably have to mix it up a bit to experience different aspects of it, especially having monsters in my party. That said, I didn’t love the executions. Mutants gained HP pretty rapidly, leaving my humans feeling very weak for most of the game, and making me even question why I was using humans at all at certain points. This balanced itself out, but it didn’t change the fact that getting my humans to that point felt extremely grindy. 300g for a 2 point strength or agility, 100g-5000g for a random HP boost. Character sheet only shows stats up to 99, even though they level past that. Tiny inventory means I can only buy a few stat items at a time… you get the idea. Alongside that was the interesting weapon system. It was a different experience having my characters hold multiple weapons for different occasions, and planning ahead for when those weapons inevitably broke. I feel like it’s something that should have been annoying, but instead it just added another sense of uniqueness to the game that I appreciated.

Aside from that, I found this to be a pretty enjoyable little adventure that didn’t stay too long beyond its welcome.

Liked:

– Fun and unique race system.
– Weapon system had to constantly planning, and never getting too attached to any one item.
– Music is still stuck in my head… actually not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
– Story wasn’t great, but the game still made a decent effort at telling it.

Disliked:

– Buying stat items for humans was tedious and expensive.
– Random encounter rate felt frustratingly high at times. And random encounters in boss rooms? REALLY!?

Final Fantasy Legend

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