Thursday, July 20, 2017

Supplementing Olafson's
Final Fantasy VI / III Players Guide

I don’t know everything about Final Fantasy VI/III, but I do know a bit, after 20+ years, and these are the things that I can personally attest that Mr. Olafson glossed over in his guide. Or, sadly, in some cases, omitted from it entirely. However, as noted in the review that this is intended to supplement, this is not a punitive act, regardless of its length. He wrote his guide in 1994 and it was published early into 1995. The game and its coding had not yet been filleted completely and that information had not been widely spread over what would come to be the internet. For a Westerner writing at the time of the game's release, he did a perfectly passable job.

Why do this for a guide published in the 90s? Why do I do anything that I do? "Because I choose to..."

Mines of Narshe: Vicks and Wedge should absolutely be using Fire Beams, as stated. Terra, however, has a full menu of additional options, being the Magitek Elite that she is. TekMissiles are the way to go when fighting Whelk.

Cave to South Figaro: If you leave the chests in here alone until the second half of the game, you will get much better items. Not your second visit, mind you. The second half of the game. You’ll know.

South Figaro: Walk behind the chocobo stables and check the box there for an item.

Sprint Shoes: They are absolutely essential. Walking around without them is completely intolerable once you’ve tried them out. Buy three pairs. Only one person in a party need equip them to reap the rewards, but there are times when you’re handling three parties.

Mt. Kolts
: There’s a few hidden paths here, to be found in the blackness composing the corners of the visible areas. Push up against them and you’ll be able to get around in a few places for some nice items.

A note on a Blitz: Mantra will actually remove small status effects. I know that it definitely heals poison. Bear in mind that Mantra only affects the rest of the party, not Sabin himself. Make sure someone else is casting cure on him every once in a while.

The Gauntlet/Genji Glove Choice
: You’re unknowingly presented with this choice when speaking with Banon as Terra. While you could argue that the Genji Glove simply suits my style of play more, I honestly believe that it also makes more thematic and narrative sense for Terra to keep turning Banon down. It’s very early in the game for her to make such a decision outright. Being carried along by circumstances is a much more acceptable and valid reason for the game continuing on, in my eyes. I feel that going for the Genji Glove makes sense on every level.

“FF3 doesn’t have any backdoors.”

That has borne out to be completely untrue~ FF VI’s coding is rife with exploitable loopholes. The nice thing is that if you don’t want to engage them, you’d never know that they’re there at all. There are, however, a myriad of ways to make invincible characters and even a way to kill almost every enemy with no effort whatsoever. If you want to break the game, you have carte blanche. If you don’t, you’re probably not even aware that you can.

Keeping Shadow Around: What Olafson says about the order in which you do the scenarios affecting whether or not Shadow chooses to leave early, may very well be true. However, that order is the reverse of the way that I’ve always done them. All you have to do to keep Shadow is run away from every fight in the Phantom Forest. If you don’t allow a battle to finish, he has no opportunity to leave you. As soon as you’re on the train, you’re golden. If you also run from battles once you return to the world map, he’ll stay with you until the absolute last second that he can.

Mobliz: there’s a free bed in the back of the relic shop, at the very top of the town.

Multi-Party Battle With Kefka: Olafson’s strategy is sound enough. However, there are benefits to defeating every enemy on the field. This is a good chance to realize just how broken Edgar is. I put Gau, by his lonesome, in front of Banon. He won’t see any action. My Kefka party is my party of choice for the game as a whole: Sabin, Terra, Locke, Celes. Cyan is with Edgar just for safety reasons. Edgar then proceeds to destroy every unit on the field with his Autocrossbow. The main party takes down the rider and Kefka. Simple as that. Mr. Broken is even more broken for all the experience he just guzzled.

I would always take Olafson’s party recommendations with a pinch of salt
. As an author of a strategy guide, it is his literal job to make the game as easy on you as he can. However, you should make your own decisions for a couple reasons. One philosophical and one logistical:

  1. Ideally, an RPG should be set up such that you are allowed to use whichever characters are the most compelling to you as characters. Every character should also be relevant to the story at hand. Forcing one’s hand can be disastrous (as in X, where all of the characters are horrible, in my eyes), or sublime (in parts of VI, and most of XIII) when ALL of the characters are compelling both in terms of development and abilities. When finally given freedom to choose, one should be able to grab their favorites and run with them, assured that they can be successful regardless of their choices. That is definitely the case in VI. If you pick your favorite four and teach them every spell, you will win. You may have to wait longer to have permanent access to some of them, but you will eventually have them all, and you will win with them.
  2. Cyan is a wondrous character and I ADORE him, but Edgar is the obvious choice, at this juncture, Mr. Olafson. He’s broken and he’s only going to get more broken once you reach your current, ultimate destination at this point in the game. If, as a player, you are willing to listen to advice about which characters to take, take Edgar. You will thank me.

Olafson repeatedly advises buying the strongest weapons for each character, and while in general that’s the obvious and correct thing to do, bear in mind that he suggests buying flail weapons for Celes, by name. If you want her to be a physical power-house (which she is VERY capable of being, especially with several late-game weapons), that’s fine, but keep in mind that she can only use Runic with proper bladed weapons. Also, Locke can only utilize Capture/Mug if he has a melee weapon. He’s great with a boomerang, but not THAT great~

Zozo: When fighting SlamDancers, use Runic to avoid their magic. Assuming you brought Celes, of course.

At this point in the game, because you now have access to Espers, it’s time to start planning for the end game. Yes, it’s a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG way off, but now is the time to start thinking about it. At certain points, you’ll be using multiple parties. Sometimes two, sometimes three. You absolutely have to think in terms of three separate parties, though. Hence the three pairs of Sprint Shoes.

You can train all the characters, but, even with cheats, that will take entirely too long. You simply don’t have to do that. You can easily survive by training a party of four and thereby have one fully-trained member in two of the parties, and two trained characters in the third party. Because there are easy in-game cheats afoot, I train six characters. This means I can have two bruisers in each party. Victory is even more absolutely assured that way.

You might want to train four of the ones you’ve yet to meet, but hopefully you want to train some of the ones currently available, because you almost have to, at this point, before carrying on. At this point, I don’t have access to Terra or Shadow, but I do have Sabin, Locke, Celes, and Edgar. That’s four of my six and I get down to work training all four all of the available spells before moving on to Jidoor and the Opera House.

Doing the same for whoever you choose is my advice, here. Zozo is one of the greatest fictional locations ever and it’s fantastic for grinding.

Opera House
: The off-color singular rats will summon more if you don’t defeat them first, eating up more of your time. You should have more than enough to destroy every group of them, if you have one party member kill those “leader” rats and then Edgar mop up the grunts with his AutoCrossbow.

Magitek Facility: Pay close attention to the very bottom of the screen. There’s a door and a hidden chest or two to find in the darkness.

When you have access to the Airship:

  • You can now find Golem and Zoneseek at the Auction House in Jidoor, if you’re patient enough to wait for them to come up. I suggest doing it, as at this point you can do the per capita bulk of your training.
  • Olafson mentions the possibility, but I’m going to outright say that you should grab Sraphim from the thief in Tzen now, for the same reason as Golem and Zoneseek. It’s because now is the time to make use of easiest and most beneficial glitch in the game: The Vanish Glitch.
    • When an enemy is invisible, it will almost invariably be hit by whatever magic you cast upon it. Unless it’s a boss that’s specifically coded to side-step it, if you cast Doom or X-Zone on an invisible baddie, it WILL die. Many bosses are actually susceptible to it. The coolest part of this specific instance of the trick is that the enemy you want to grind for Magic Points with is invisible to begin with!
    • Equip whoever has the most HP, of the characters you want to train, with Shoat and teach them Doom in the normal manner. Then, head to the roughly triangle-shaped island at the top-right of the map. There are intro-level monsters from outside of Narshe afoot, but there’s also the glorious Intangir. It’s invisible, so cast Doom on it. It will retaliate with Meteo, but your character should ideally be able to survive it. You’ll get 10 Magic Points. Life will be wonderful if you get on a streak of Intangir encounters. Even if you don’t, it’s still handily worth training there.
    • Train as many of your characters of choice, that you currently have available. You won’t have to grind like this for a long time if you take care of all of the available Espers, now.
    • This glitch IS mentioned in the text, but MUCH later on, at a point when you can’t take advantage of readily available Intangirs.
  • There’s an item in the crates to the left of Maranda’s entrance. I only learned of this on the playthrough I finished a few days ago.
  • It isn’t made clear that once you reach this point in the game, you can kick-start each exchange in the Injured Soldier & Lola side-quest by staying at an inn. Go see him, send what needs to be sent, go see Lola, stay at an inn. Rinse and repeat. You’ll know when you’re finished, as you get a reward for it.

Narshe (Re-redux):

  • Much like a certain choice in Silent Hill Homecoming, if you choose not to save Mog, you’re the sort I don’t want interfering with my fiction. I.e., you’re a heartless monster. Plus, you’ll miss out on one of his Dances, as there’s one that can only be learned in the first half of the game. If you let him fall here, you can’t recruit him until the latter half. I.e. you’re boned.
  • Speaking of which, Olafson doesn't let you know that you can go learn virtually all of them right now, in VERY short order. Put Mog in your party, and head out.
    • You should already have the Cave-based dance, from your first multi-party battle with Locke at the beginning of the game.
    • Walk to Figaro Castle’s default position, or fly over to the Kohlingen area, and grab the following once there: Field, Desert, and Forest.
    • Fly to Mt. Kolts for the Mountain dance.
    • Pick a fight in Zozo for the City dance.
  • The last one available in this half of the game is a trek, regardless of which way you do it. Fitting, as it’s the one that can be missed entirely if you let Mog fall:
    • The way it can unquestionably be done at this point:
      • The rockslide cutting Nikeah off from the tiny house where you started Sabin’s scenario is gone. Park the airship outside Nikeah, make sure Mog is actually in your party, and walk north-east until you reach the house. From there, follow the path of Sabin’s scenario, without the fear of Shadow leaving prematurely. You don’t fight your way down Baren Falls this time, but you will be heading through the Serpent Trench, which is where you can learn the Water dance.
    • The way it can be done later (in the first half of the game):
      • You might be able to do it this way immediately, if Olafson is to be believed, but determine for yourself if the cave to South Figaro and Mt. Kolts are both clear of troops before doing the following: Park the airship at Narshe and travel south through the desert to South Figaro and then to Mt. Kolts and the Returners’ Hideout. From there, ride the Lete River again to learn the Water dance. If you park at Narshe and the cave to South Figaro is closed, then you simply can’t do this, yet. If you park at South Figaro, and the cave is off-limits, however, you’d deadlock your game because you wouldn’t be able to get back to South Figaro to retrieve the ship after being put back at Narshe by the river.
  • The final dance (Snow), as far as I’m aware, can only be learned in the fight with the Ice Dragon or Tritoch, in the second half of the game. Granted, you’d logically have Mog with you at that point because you’d be heading to get Umaro, but there’s no guarantee of that, meaning it’s another dance that, as far as I’m personally aware, can be missed entirely.

For my biased money, Olafson doesn’t make a big enough deal of the Atma Weapon. The one that’s actually a weapon you can equip. It’s VERY similar to Cloud’s sword of the same name. Yeah, it’s supposed to be Ultima, but it’s FF VI and as far as I’m concerned Ted Woolsey is always right. Except that one typo in Mobliz later on, iirc. It’s definitely Vicks and Wedge, though, and XIII even acknowledges it. What’s a Star…Wars? ๐Ÿ˜›

Oh, right, the weapon! Its strength and length are dependent on the user’s HP. After leveling up a few times with it, it’ll grow to a ponderous length, worthy of being homaged in Kyoryuger~<3 Pick someone who can use swords and give it to them permanently. For me, it’s always Terra.

The Banquet at Vector
: One of the answers that Olafson tells you to give isn’t the one that will net you the most points in the mini-game. Answer that Celes is, “one of us!” because she is ๐Ÿ˜  Also, DO NOT follow his advice of asking the three concluding questions multiple times. Ask each of them once and remember which one you asked first. Also, also, don’t consider taking a break and fighting the troopers at the table as optional. That ups your score as well.

After the banquet, but before heading to Albrook, go visit Setzer in the Airship for an important cutscene.

Thamasa: DO. NOT. buy Gaia Gear like suggested. You can steal it from the local wildlife. Steal at least four of them. That’s easy to do if you want to train Shadow. You only have him for a small window of time, but as long as you’re okay with Terra and Locke being a higher level than your other members, this is your chance to teach Shadow the bulk of the spells in the game. If you want to, DO. NOT. speak to anyone in town outside of the merchants and the Inn Keeper. Only enter those buildings. The price of the Inn is super steep, but that’s fine as you’ll make much more than you’ll pay out as you're training on the strip of land Thamasa is on.

If you have 99 Shurikens, have Shadow use them, because if he hits a Baskervor but doesn’t kill it, he’ll likely be sneezed out of battle, meaning he won’t get Magic Points. If you want to save your Shurikens, well don’t, but if you run out, have Locke or Terra kill the Baskervors with level 2 magic.

If you do this, you’ll see most of Shadow’s dreams, which are crucial to the story.

Olafson seems to be under the impression that rods only work as items. They break after being used that way. They’re good weapons for Strago and Gogo, however, and they do not break when used as such. They’ll even randomly cast their namesake spell sometimes when used as weapons.

Thamasa, after significant events: Search the borders of Relm’s room for a second Memento Ring. If you saw enough of Shadow’s dreams, this should complete the picture for you, given that he can equip it.

Now is a good time to go Lore hunting. I'm not about to list all of them when there are multiple FAQs already in existence. Below, I will address the ones that involve placing Strago into the correct party, in multi-party situations, however, as if Olafson had been keeping Strago completely in mind, he would have definitely conveyed that information.

Pre-Floating Continent: Go max out your Shuriken reserves. Buy 30-50 of each type of Skean. If you didn’t follow my advice of teaching every spell to your characters of choice, you’re in luck because the Magic Points flow like water on the Floating Continent. If you do need to magic train, buy a lot of tents, assuming you can afford it. There’s a couple save points here that all do the trick as a home-base just fine. Also, Kyoryuger strikes again!

If you want a specific number for the time to vacate, it’s 5 seconds or less.

Solitary Island: The scenario here has multiple outcomes, but I feel that the much rarer one isn’t as poignant. It’s also entirely dependent on RNG (I.e., the random number generator). It’s worth attempting on subsequent playthroughs, just to see it, but it’s very difficult to achieve.

Journey to Nikeah: Near the giant mountain north of Tzen, there is a hidden Chocobo stable in a forest. There’s also one south of Mobliz. Convenient for traversing the Serpent…landmass(!) in both directions, with ease.

Figaro Castle Raid
: I’m not sure why the injured castle attendants are referred to as thieves by Olafson, but whatever. A small error. He also suggests equipping the Regal Crown on Sabin. Yes, he can equip it, but we all know that’s inappropriate from a story and character perspective. Save it for Edgar. In Olafson’s defense, it seems as if he didn’t see the Sabin and Edgar flashback until the second half of the game. That would explain why he was alright with saying Sabin should wear it. Once in the latter half, you can only see that cutscene after getting the castle back up and running. Meaning, just AFTER getting the crown.

Cyan’s Dream: If you want to get as many of Strago’s Lores as you can, without having to resort to waiting out the Dark Forces in Kefka’s Tower any longer than you absolutely must, make sure you run into a Critic before leaving the first area. That way, you can meet them later on the Veldt, if you didn’t bring Strago with you into the dream world.

It's hard to believe that someone who loves Cyan as much as Olafson clearly does failed to mention the flashbacks you can find in the Doma Castle of Cyan’s Dream. He seems to have always run straight into the throne room to fight Wrexsoul. Head outside for two flashbacks, and into Cyan’s family’s quarters for a third. Essential viewing.

He also doesn't really detail how to fight Wrexsoul. I guess Wrexsoul never possessed any of his characters? When he disappears, that’s what he’s doing and you have to systematically kill each party member, in turn, until he pops back out. I haven’t had him try to do it more than once, but if he is capable of that, repeat the process.

Jidoor: It’s hard to believe that Woolsey, Olafson, and whoever translated FF VII all made the same mistake. It’s not 1/1200th of an airship. The entirety of it is right there. It’s a 1:1200 scale model of an airship! There aren’t 35 model soldiers in VII, it’s a 1:35 scale soldier! Basically, it’s one of those little green army men that they sell by the package or bucket-full. C’mon guys. C’mon. I know not everyone is into dollhouse miniatures or model cars, but c’mon.

As far as I’m aware, that’s not an electric chair. It’s just a chair that the woman in the painting sits in once you’ve defeated her. It doesn’t need to be an electric chair for it be awesome. You get dragged into the painting and the woman appears behind you. It’s creepy and infinitely awesome.

Thamasa and Ebot’s Rock: Olafson doesn't state that you have to kill all of the Hidonites in order to get Hidon to cast GrandTrain, Strago’s ultimate Lore. I.e., you can miss it if you’re using spells that hit all of them and they all happen to die (the Hidon included) simultaneously.

Star-Shaped Mountain / Phoenix Cave
: Olafson doesn’t seem to think much of Relm, but the truth is that she’s a magical powerhouse and a great choice here and in general. It only makes sense, her being a descendent of the Mage Knights (and the daughter of a ninja). She can Sketch the Red Dragon, here, so Strago can learn L? Pearl. It’s a good idea if you don’t want to take the time to track down a Critic on the Veldt. Make sure they’re both in the same party. It doesn’t matter which path the one they’re in takes, as both meet up just prior to the dragon’s location. She cannot Control it, so remember, if necessary, to unequip the FakeMustache before going into the fight.

Olafson doesn’t address that you can get a Ribbon from the chest on the stone mass in the middle of the floor originally covered in lava, once it has been quenched.

He mentions the glitch that allows you to use tents and sleeping bags, regardless of where you are, in multi-party situations, so long as one party is currently on a save point. However, he does not say that this only works so long as the party (or parties) not on the save point have not moved. If they do, you’ll have to switch back to the party on the save point, have them move off of it and then back onto it for the glitch to become active again.

Narshe: Again, remember that you can presumably miss Mog’s Snow dance if you don’t have him with you when you fight either the Ice Dragon or Tritoch.

Olafson mentions the Cursed Shield and how to un-curse it, but does not give advice on how to make using it bearable until then. Equip your character of choice (I use Locke) with a Relic Ring and a Ribbon. If the Condemned counter reaches 0, he won’t die if you have the Relic Ring. With this set-up, all you have to do is fight all those fights and be alive at the end of each. Go grind in the desert by Maranda, but be careful to make sure that the Hoover’s Sandstorms don’t down your character. They can get off two in a row. If the person you pick can’t survive that, choose someone else. Or, you can go whack the enemies in the substrate leading to the Ancient Castle. That’s far safer and gives a nice amount of consistent Magic Points, in its own right.

He also doesn’t relate the fact that the resulting Paladin Shield teaches Ultima to its bearer, meaning you really are quite free to have Ragnarok forged into a sword, if you want to do that.

Shadow: Olafson believed that you could only see Shadow’s dreams in the second half of the game. I already told you that this is not the case.

Kefka’s Tower: The biggest rub of Kefka’s Tower only exists if you want a completed Lore list for Strago. I think he deserves it. Consider it part of his bucket list. A cherry to go on top of defeating Hidon. It’ll take some planning. You ultimately need him to fight the statue known as Doom. You also need him to take one of the two paths that have an enemy known as Dark Force (a Wrexsoul re-color). Dark Forces cast two Lores that you can’t learn anywhere else: Reflect??? and Quasar. Putting him into the second or third party (from the left) on the party selection screen will make sure he can encounter Dark Forces. However, know that his party has to ultimately end up on the left side when dealing with the door puzzle leading to Guardian, the Statues, and Kefka.

I.e., he should be placed in the third party (the one to the far right on the selection screen). When you reach the door puzzle, he’ll be in the trench on the right side. His party, and the one in the left trench, will be pressing switches to open the main door. Have the party that ends up at that door walk to the right once inside and the path will close behind them. Have them come back outside by heading down. Drop the weight onto the switch, after moving Strago’s party out of the way. This will make a set of steps to let Strago’s party reach and enter the main door. Once inside, go to the left. That’s where he needs to be to fight Doom, to learn his last Lore.

No comments: