Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta 2016: A Trip Report (Part 3)

(Hey there! This is the third and final part of the FFV FJF Trip Report! You can check out Part 1 right here and Part 2 right there and Part 3... right down below this intro. Well, into it we go once more, I guess.)

The end.
Previously on the FFV Four Job Fiesta Trip Report! The evil Exdeath turned out to be quite the challenge because he suddenly became adept at dodging Yellow Dragon-fu! Perserverence prevailed and some wild warping happened! Now the two worlds we've been visiting are one! It's the end... but the moment has been prepared for! So here is an account of how I managed to defeat a bunch of other scary bosses in this game!

First up is Antlion. Antlion is tricky and annoying because you are fighting him with only half a party. Thus, most of my tricks were out because I wasn't battling with a full team. He liked to spam Dischord to lower my level and thus the damage I could do, and after that Exdeath fiasco my Hi-Potion stock wasn't looking too good. Still, victory was mine and I got another party member back. But not four yet. That wouldn't be until the next dungeon. After a revisit to the Library, my Page 32 catching grounds that I love oh so much, we got a task: Go to a Pyramid and get an ancient seal so we could get some LEGENDARY WEAPONS. Mmmmmmm don't that sound like a fun time? The Pyramid entrance was guarded by two Gargoyles, and you have to kill both at the same time or else the one revives the other. I had Zeninage so I could deal most of the damage with one of those, and attack for the rest. Done and done. The Pyramid was spooky, but there were lots of Elixirs and some items and crap to get. Mostly annoying fights though. Our team got the Seal and it was time to regain back our other lost party member with a boss fight against a spooky demon named Mellusine. She switches her weak points around a lot, as well as swapping between taking no physical damage and taking a shitload of it. This being a No 750 Run, I had to hit her with physical stuff. There were no more Sand Bears in the desert, sadly. But I could catch Bulettes which do strong physical damage and are even better! The only other thing to worry about was her magic, but hey. Reflect Rings. That ain't no issue. Two Bulettes, plus a Zeninage or two, plus attacking, and down she went. Of course then Exdeath, who wasn't really dead, starting warping more and more places into the Void with his Void powers. Including the Library. YOU SON OF A BITCH IT'S ON NOW. Inside the Sealed Castle, I broke a seal and was able to grab three LEGENDARY WEAPONS. The Fire Lash is a whip that sometimes casts Firaga. The Masamune is a rad katana that lets your Samurai always make the first move in battle AND casts Haste when used as an item. The Assassin's Dagger is a knife that sometimes uses an instant death attack. Yeah. A LEGENDARY WEAPON has the same ability as our dumb Death Sickle from way back. From here you could go on to the final dungeon... but I wanted one more weapon just in case, so it was on to the Island Shrine to get another seal thing.

Yuck. Wendigo is a nasty fella who splits himself into four targets and shuffles between them. You have to hit the real deal and keep finding him. Samurai had some of that Genji gear on to prevent status bullshit, and we kept on finding weak points and hitting the real thing before it switched where it was. Everyone else that wasn't a raging barbarian healed up and helped to find the real one when they could. More weapons could be mine! Neat! The only one I really wanted was the Rune Axe, which can do critical attacks at the cost of MP. I thought my Berserker could get some use out of it. I needed no other tablets and was ready to start fiddling with the final dungeon, but some last minute item gathering was first. In the mysterious Phantom Village, I got three Hermes Sandals. They give you permanent Haste. Dear god this was good. I also picked up the Chicken Knife, a knife that gets stronger the more you run from battles. All my running had already made it max power, and it was ridiculously strong. Only problem: it has a chance of making that character try to run instead of attacking. Solution? Put it on my Thief and have them use Mug. A Mug attempt doesn't count as an attack action so the knife running thing never happens. One last goodie, behind a waterfall. The Magic Lamp is an item that summons... summoned monsters, and goes through them from strongest to weakest, one each. Bahamut, Leviathan, Odin, et cetera. You only get one shot of each, but the lamp can be recharged if you take it back to that waterfall. A helpful tool, indeed! With everything prepared for, it was time to delve into the heart of the void, the final dungeon of the game. A lot of devilish creatures were lurking inside and waiting to tear through me, but I was ready. Mostly.

The final dungeon in this game is so goddamn cool, by the way. It's a bunch of disjointed little areas that are like, pockets of reality. Also it has my favorite music in the game. Listen to this shit. Holy shit. After some exploring, we found our first Void beast in a forest. Calofisteri does some bullshit or something. I don't really recall because by this point I had all that cool shit. Hermes Sandals, LEGENDARY WEAPONS, the Chicken Knife which did massive damage... she really couldn't do anything much to me! It was still a moderately challenging fight, but I beat it. Lurking in the underground caves section was Omega. He's one of the superbosses, and beating him IS a Fiesta achievement. I've never done it and I wasn't going to try this time because you usually need specific extreme shenanigans to deal with him and I didn't think I had any. So, the next boss was Apanda. He's kind of like a harder Byblos. I was getting overconfident and sloppy and I just sort of went into the fight like this, without prepping any captured monsters. I found it quite annoying since it went a lot like the Byblos fight with all the buffing and debuffing, but I had enough Hi-Potions so the hell with it. Next on the list, Azulmagia. He's a Blue Mage! He has all those broken Blue Mage spells! Well, a lot of them anyway. I bothered to look up what you could catch in the Void, and found that Great Dragons do a shitload of damage. I caught three of them to release at Azulmagia's face. 15,000 damage. It was not hard to attack through the rest of that HP, and he unlocks another save point!

Right after that is Catastrophe, but I had to retreat and do some planning. North Mountain, where Magissa and Forza were, still existed. As did the Gaelicat enemy. As did its release of casting Float on someone. My Berserker was the lucky one to get it, and for the Catastrophe fight I gave them a Reflect Ring. Catastrophe's plan of attack is to use Earthquake spells. If you're Floating, he uses an attack called 100 G's to dispel the Float status. 100 G's can be fucking reflected. All the boss would do was keep trying to dispel my Berserker's float so it could quake up the place, but it would forever be bounced back and not do shit. The boss could do NOTHING against me. I released three more dragons and then fucking auto-battled one of the bosses in the final dungeon to death. Holy christ, I love this game sometimes. Up next, Halicarnassus. A scary lady who likes to turn you into frogs. I can deal with Frogs. I have Maiden's Kiss items. Three more Dragons in her face, undo the froggy spells so I can attack, and whack her. Nothin' to it.

The final boss before the "true" Void was Twin Tania, and this guy was tricky. There was a quick trick that could be done to instantly murder him, but you need perfect timing to do it. In the first place, he spams a Tidal Wave attack. That was fine, I had gold enough from my levelling in this Void to buy four Coral Rings. They absorbed that. Not the only attack he does, but that's manageable. Now, the key to this fight is Twin Tania charging up for his Giga Flare move. Giga Flare will do ridiculous damage to you, but he becomes weak to instant death while he is charging it. I could have caught something with instant death, but I figured Iainuki would suffice. The problem with that strategy was that he uses a Mind Blast attack on the team earlier in the fight. It paralyzes you, and by the time my character with Iainuki became free, they didn't have enough time to fire off the attack before Giga Flare killed us all. The solution was more Genji gear to negate paralysis, but this meant that character couldn't absorb Tidal Waves. Hi-Potion usage kept them topped off, and all that was left now was timing Iainuki juuust right to hit the window of opportunity before Giga Flare made us all dead. It took a bit, but I got it. Time for the true Void! Hey, it's Gilgamesh again! After a cutscene/battle more of the True Void is open to you, but you can steal some more Genji crap from him. Also of note are Crystal Dragons, whose common steal is an Elixir. Great! I could use those! Only problem was, in this area you encountered lots of King Behemoths who countered physical attacks with strong ones of their own. I could run, but sometimes it wasn't fast enough to stop the berserking moron from smacking one and hurting me. I didn't want to run all the way back for Hi-Potions because of a silly Berserker. This farming was a bit... unpleasant.

Guarding the final save point before the final boss fight was the final Void boss of Final Fantasy V, it's Necrophobe! His gimmick is having four barriers around him that make him untouchable. So you gotta destroy the barriers but they're spamming reflected high level magic at you. I thought I could Iainuki the barriers and make this simple. I was wrong. I would have to fight them on my own. It was tricky: I had to kill one or two fast because that would mean less magic in my face wrecking my team, thus less healing, thus more time to whack the others and maybe stop another spell from hitting me. All that was left was Necrophobe himself, who... was exactly the same. High level magic and desperately trying to outheal it. Eventually Gilgamesh bails you out! You can steal another Genji thing from him. I didn't get it the first time and had to redo the fight. Ouch. Well, the final save point was open. All that was left was Exdeath himself! I could deal with this! I had a plan!

Shit. It didn't work.

In Exdeath's first form, which we'll lovingly dub Tree Exdeath because he's a giant monster tree, he liked to spam a White Hole attack that instantly kills you AND petrifies you. So you need to use two turns getting that character on their feet again, three if you want them to have health. Below 30,000 health or so he starts using Holy and Flare. These were guaranteed to kill whoever he hit with them. I was barely holding on but then I got one final surprise: below 10,000 health he uses Meteor. It straight up wiped me the first time he used it. So I had to really blitz the shit out of him once he got down that low. Eventually I made it through... but this is the final boss. He has another form, and that other form was Neo Exdeath. Neo Exdeath, fittingly, was the hardest goddamned thing to take down. Let's break it down with this helpful diagram.

Alright. I already had a cheese strategy for the back half. It's not "heavy". This means that instant death stuff can work on it. Iainuki? Too slow. I needed faster, and that Magic Lamp had it. A summon of Odin would do the trick and instantly cut out one of the four targets. That left three, but they were all still nasty business. Almagest straight up did 1600 damage to my team. Not enough to kill them, but a fair chunk of their HP. Grand Cross inflicted all sorts of status bullshit, and it's a dice roll. Once I instantly lost because my two remaining teammates were zombified. It's a really bad attack. Vaccum Wave is high physical damage that basically was guaranteed to kill me. So, I died. I tried some more and kept dying. I had to rethink things. I tried levelling up a bit. That in itself didn't work. I tried a radical strategy of catching an enemy called Crystelle with only 3 HP but high defense. The theoretical way to get it was Controlling it to cast Protect on itself, then having my Thief use the Dancing Dagger, which sometimes does a dance from the Dancer class. I just wanted a regular attack that would hit. But no. I'd get health draining, or strong attacking, or an outright miss. Plus it needed to be a back row Crystelle, which is only in one specific formation. I wasted lots of time at this. Looking at the monster list, I saw that Dragon Aevis unleashed my favorite Breath Wing attack. Three of those would knock Neo Exdeath's parts down by 75% and I could blitz the rest. I was wary, though, because of my Yellow Dragon experience. Still, I gave it a shot. I WAS RIGHT THEY MOSTLY MISSED FUCK FUCK FUCK. I stole a bunch of Elixirs for full healing because I didn't have time to shag around with multiple Hi-Potions. What could I do? It was simple, really. I went back to refill my items and sold off a lot of my shit. All the rare items I'd stolen with Chicken Knife mugging that I didn't need, all my treasure, that sort of stuff. I had 350,000 gold on me, and I was going to throw every last piece into Neo Exdeath's face with Zeninage. By now I knew how to blitz Tree Exdeath, and threw gold at just the right time to get out of Meteor. Now for Neo Exdeath. Odin via the Magic Lamp to get a piece out. Then alternate Zeninage throws with Elixir spamming once Almagest whapped me. Heal up the status effects from Grand Cross (which weren't too bad this time), revive from Vacuum Wave. Hell, my Beastmaster had innate Catch and still had a Dragon Aevis on him. I let it out and it managed to do 9999 damage to the Vacuum Wave form, so that was something! Finally, after what seemed like forever. Crack. He went down. I don't know quite how much hard-earned cash I wasted hucking it into his face, but it worked. By God, it worked. Neo Exdeath was dead, the game was cleared, and I got to watch the credits and reflect on the week I'd spent flying through the game. 36 hours on Steam. Where does the time go?

I have to say, I really liked this party setup. Having a Berserker was a bit annoying, and they're kind of old hat for me at this point as far as Fiestas are concerned. I would have much preferred playing with Mystic Knight, since I've always wanted to try that; they have some broken status tricks for instant kills as well, and are actually controllable. Thief was surprisingly fun to toy with, and stealing shit was fun. You can get some great items from stealing, like the Hi-Potions in world 1. Don't quite know how this run would have went without those. Beastmaster and Samurai are the unexpected MVPs, however. Catching monsters allowed a shitload of fun shenanigans, be they ending fights before they started or just doing massive damage with powerful captures. Samurai was a great physical attacker, and Zeninage and Iainuki are ridiculous good and were key to me beating the game in this instance. I can say I was satisfied with my group this time, even if the Berserker was a Berserker and not really all that "helpful". Well, except for Liquid Flame and some instant kill stuff, but really. There are more fun classes to toy with that I'd love to do in another run. Mystic Knight, for one. Or maybe Ranger/Bard. Hell, Chemist would be great just to bust the game open utterly. The point of all these has been to show just how open ended Final Fantasy V really is. I had a strange mix of jobs this time, but I still managed to be clever enough to find loopholes to get through it. I hope you've enjoyed what must be close to 10,000 words on this silly game, and I leave you with... our valiant heroes.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta 2016: A Trip Report (Part 2)

(Well, hello there! This is part 2 of a trip report for the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta! But you probably knew that from the title already. If you've not read Part 1 yet, you really should before jumping into the story halfway. This ain't one of those out of sequence blog posts, that wouldn't make any sense. Anyway, you can check out Part 1 right here if you haven't yet. I've been an even busier bee and I bothered to write a full review of the new Kirby game, Planet Robobot! If my opinions on Kirby games are something you're into, pop right over here and give it a read. Okay, enough expository banter! On with the writeup!)

Wait, I just said that. Shit.
When we last left our glorious Fiesta heroes, they were jumping into an interplanetary warp to chase after the main antagonist of the game. They hopped on in and warped to a whole other world, got captured by him but then busted out, and made a break for it across the Big Bridge, which has one of the best tracks in the game. Halfway across was our first boss fight of the game, against the recurring villain who is also the Fiesta Twitterbot's namesake: Gilgamesh! This goofy guy can be a bit tricky, with a lot of health and a desperation phase in which he starts Dragoon jumping on your team's heads for lotsa damage. I had a secret weapon, though. Well, not so secret. I caught a bear before jumping into the warp and let it loose on his face at the start of the fight. In hindsight I probably should have saved the bear for the aforementioned Dragoon jumping phase because it does so much damage, but I didn't. I survived without too much trouble, though. That poor bear. I Pokemon caught it with my Beastmaster powers and took it to another planet and let it out against a weird red guy in armor. I'd be pissed off too. Anyway, following that we got blasted to another continent and wandered around for a bit until we found Moogles. This led to a mini dungeon with a "boss" that's like an undead T-Rex. As awesome as that sounds, all it takes is using a Phoenix Down on it to win. Any Fiesta team that's not four Berserkers (and god help you if you rolled that) can make this fight a joke. After some more plot, our mission was to climb a mountain and find some Dragon Grass to heal up our dragon friend. But that's not what I did right away, oh no.

See, the dragon lives in Bal Castle, and Bal Castle has a basement with a big locked door in it. Eventually you can get back there and fight the Odin summon for the right to summon him, but we don't need to do that. Although Odin will come in later. No, the basement of Bal Castle has a single enemy type within it: Objet D'Art. They're stone statues with a lot of health and the ability to petrify people. However, two important things to note about them. First, they can be instantly killed if you use a Gold Needle on them, and Gold Needles can be bought in Bal Castle. Second, they give 2 ABP per Objet defeated, and you encounter them in groups of either two or five. This is a prime place to level up your Jobs, and that's just what I did because I had my sights set on the Samurai's ultimate ability. I figure, while I'm explaining that, I might as well go over all the abilities my classes have. So you can see the full set of tools I had to work with in this Fiesta.

Berserker: All but useless to me. The Berserk ability makes the character act like a Berserker, with high attack power but the inability to control them. If I wanted more goddamned Berserkers I'd have picked Berserker Risk. Equip Axes... lets you equip axes. Could be useful for a weaker class like my Thief or Beastmaster, but I had better abilities for them besides high attack power.

Thief: Most of these are support abilities innate to the Thief, and I always would have a Thief on the team due to Fiesta rules so they were redundant. Regardless: Find Passages shows you hidden passages in dungeons and whatnot. Flee is a command that lets you instantly run from a battle, and it was very helpful when I couldn't be arsed to fight and the regular run command refused to work. Dash gives you the ability to Dash, and as I mentioned before it's such a convenience that the GBA version just gave the thing to you. Steal lets any character steal items. Stealing items is a good thing, if you've not gleaned that by now. Vigilance prevents back attacks, and I love it. Back attacks are annoying because they swap your battle positions and you get whacked in the fight first. Not having to deal with them was a plus. Mug is a nice one: it combines a Steal attempt with a regular attack action. Helpful when you're fighting. Artful Dodger gives the character equipped with it extra agility, like a Thief's innate agility. I stuck this on my Berserker to make them faster. It's a nice capstone.

Beastmaster: Calm is something I never played with. Supposedly it acts as a Stop spell, but only against magic beast type enemies. Control has a 40% chance to take control of a monster and let you select its actions, at the cost of not being able to use your Beastmaster. This is helpful sometimes, but it's hampered by the fact that I constantly had a raging idiot who smacked things in the face. Attacking a controlled enemy snaps it out of the control. This is bad. Equip Whips lets you equip whips. I might have used this exactly once. Catch is the capstone ability, and it lets any class do the monster catching thing. As you'll see, unleashing three monsters in a boss fight can be a good thing indeed.

Samurai: Mineuchi does regular damage and some other special stuff I'm not sure about. Didn't toy with this. Zeninage is the gold-tossing thing that is overpowered as shit and very good. Shiradori gives anyone equipped with it a 25% dodge chance for an attack. Don't know if this stacks with stuff like the Elven Mantle or Main Gauche. Equip Katanas lets you equip Katanas. The capstone, however, is Iainuki. Iainuki is a goddamned instant death attack against all enemies, and it has a highish hit rate. It was something I wanted badly for my current Samurai. Unfortunately you need 540 ABP to unlock this final ability. Fortunately I was in Bal Castle with a shitload of Gold Needles and about 15 years' experience in grinding in old RPGs. I threw on some Emerson, Lake, and Palmer albums (Brain Salad Surgery is the shit, y'all) and got to work. After a little while. I had my Iainuki ability. Oh yeah, and learned a lot of abilities for my other classes.

On we went towards the mountain, but I wasn't done making my classes better just yet. In the next town there was a weirdo in a well who would give us a goodie if we could catch him a frog. So off we went to catch a frog enemy for him. It didn't take long, and with the frog plus 10,000 gold we got a new item: the Kornago Gourd. This thing was a godsend for my monster-catching shenanigans. Normally you have to lower a monster down to 1/8th HP to catch it. Anyone with the Kornago Gourd equipped can catch a monster at 1/2 HP or less. What a helpful trinket! As for the mountain, it was nothing at all. The boss was Dragon Pod, a big carnivorous flower that spawns little Dragon Flowers to hassle you. I had my Samurai charge up a use of Iainuki. It takes two "turns" to use, but the results are effective. Bam. Instant death. No need to even catch a monster with my new tricks, or throw gold. This was going to be fun to play with.

Next on the agenda, our old pal Gilgamesh was harassing the attack fleet of a friendly king who we became... friends with. I could have killed him quickly with an instant death thing, but I had to wait. See, from this point on Gilgamesh has rare equipment on him that you can swipe. Before I wrecked him I had my Thief steal the piece he had on him this time, the Genji Gloves. After that, guess what. Iainuki? Nope! Turns out I lied. There's a shellfish enemy called Aquathorne that you can catch, and its release is a Banish attack just like Page 32's was. Gilgamesh didn't even get to summon his gargoyle buddy, Enkidu. Too bad. With him out of the way, our kingly friend led us to a tower that helped power a barrier to shield Exdeath's castle. We were going to blow the damn thing up, but before that I had some prep work to do. Inside the tower is an enemy called the Reflect Knight. Its rare drop is a Reflect Ring, a ring which gives that character innate Reflect. That shit bounces magic spells back at their casters and it was great and I wanted four. So I went to work. The RNG gods were nice to me and it didn't take too long. Now I had to deal with the boss atop the tower, Atomos. Atomos is not a very nice boss, and a big scary roadblock for a lot of players. When every party member is alive, he spams Comet magic that will almost certainly KO somebody. If someone is KOed in this fight, their body is slowly pulled towards Atomos, and engulfed if it reaches him. Yikes. I wasn't worried. I had a plan. Remember that little dungeon with the undead T-Rex? An enemy down there called Lesser Lopros has Breath Wing as its release attack, which does 25% of a monster's max HP in damage. Atomos wasn't immune to this, and since I'd ABP grinded to hell and back I had three people capable of catching monsters. And a Kornago Gourd to make it easier! The only wrinkle now was surviving the Comet attacks long enough to hit him with those... but I had a way around that too. I deliberately KOed my Berserker before the battle began. A KOed party member means he'll be satisfied and start sucking, giving me time enough to let out my Loproses and deal 3/4 of his HP in damage. He has 20,000, give or take, so I only needed to do 5000 damage after that. Easy street, and I even revived the Berserker... only for someone else to die to the Comets. Oh well, he was down!

The next area is Moore Forest, and you encounter the four crystals of this world which attack you for intruding upon their domain. Normally they're real nasty business, and each one spams a different high level elemental spell when it's at low HP. Fire spams Firagas, Water spams Aqua Breath, Wind spams Aeroga, and Earth spams Earth Shakers. You could get around this in many ways. Have your team floating to negate the Earth attack. Give everyone Fire Rings that cause Fire attacks to heal them, then get the Fire Crystal at low health and keep it there while you focus on the others and get free healing. Or you could just do what I do and Iainuki the shit out of them for an instant win. I love this goddamned ability, it's so good. After this fight is a very touching scene that I won't elaborate on even though the game is almost a quarter century old. On to Exdeath's Castle! It's a nasty scary place with pulsating living walls, very Gigeresque almost. Near the top we had another fight with Gilgamesh, and he had another piece of Genji equipment on him. I stole that, and then released a monster found in the Castle itself; Yellow Dragon. It does a lightning attack that again deals 25% of max HP in damage, but Gilgamesh stops fighting after 13,000 damage. The dragon took off about 8,000 of that which made things easier. All that was left now was Exdeath.

Oh, christ. Exdeath turned out to be unexpectedly resistant towards my usual set of tricks. I couldn't Iainuki him, for one thing. I expected that, but I had a plan. Once you get him down to half of his 32,000+ HP he starts using lots of magic spells. I farmed those Reflect Rings for exactly that purpose, to bounce all the shit back at him. Great idea, but I still had to knock out 16,000 HP of life off of him. No problem, I thought! I can catch those Yellow Dragons! That's 75% right there, he'll go down like a punk! I caught all three and went into battle and let them loose. Miss. Miss. Miss. Huh? I tried again and they kept missing. I don't know if it was always like this, or if the Steam version I was playing fiddled with things, but even hitting Exdeath with one Dragon was difficult, let alone all three. I told myself I'd settle for two. I couldn't even get that to happen. I had to try with one, and that was tough because he doesn't just attack with spells. He has a physical attack too. Not to mention a terrible Zombie Breath attack. If it kills you, you get zombie status. It's like Berserk, Confusion, and KO. All in one. Horrific. I had to resort to some Zeninages to get enough damage in to hit that second phase where he eases up on the worse shit and casts magic I could reflect. Eventually, after a tough fight and a shitload of Hi-Potions, down he went. We did the space warp again, ending up in the final world.

I like splitting these up between warps and worlds in the game's plot, so we'll end here because I could probably hurl out another 3000 words about the endgame to this shit. Or not! We'll have to see when I get to it in the next little while! Until then, I leave you all shivering in anticipation. I coulda cut off the "pation" and started the Part 3 post with it, but ah well. See you for the finale, kids!

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta 2016: A Trip Report (Part 1)

What big eyes you have, Mr. Chocobo.
So, hey there! How was your week! Did you go out and enjoy the sunshine? Maybe you took a vacation. Maybe you didn't and did some  much-needed work around the house. Maybe you just were at work all week and didn't get much time to yourself. What did I do? Well, what I did was so niche and clearly interesting that I'm going to devote a few thousand words to it. Maybe less. I don't know how much this is going to balloon into. Anyway, you know it by now because you can read blog post titles. I played Final Fantasy V! What's special about that? Well, the fact that hundreds of other people ALSO played Final Fantasy V this week, and will continue to do so for a solid month or so! Yes, it's every old RPG fan's favorite season, the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta! For quite some time now, the Four Job Fiesta has allowed people to come together and play an old RPG they all love and also help donate to charity. Good times all around. So it was that I participated... but before we get to how the Fiesta works, a little background on Final Fantasy V. Because it helps to give context and also that gives me more words to work with.

So, in 1992, a game called Final Fantasy V came out in Japan. It was part of that big old Final Fantasy series and it was very good... but in hindsight, it was a finale for both North America and Japan. For Japan, this was sort of the end of "classic" Final Fantasy, it being the last game that series director Hironobu Sakaguchi actually... directed. Two years after this was Final Fantasy VI, which marked a sudden change in tone and style that would later be reflected and refined in Final Fantasy VII and fucking explode and become Bigger Than Jesus. But that's a story for another time. Over here... nothing happened in 1992. V was skipped over, the third game in the series to have this happen to it. The other two, Final Fantasies II and III, were long in the tooth by the time #1 made it over here in 1990. V did get over here eventually, however. It was one of the first major big fan-translated ROMs back in like 1998 or so (which is how I first got at it, in 2000 or so when I was a teenage ROM fiend) and officially translated in 1999 and bundled with VI for the Final Fantasy Anthology on Playstation. Unfortunately that translation is... well, it's shit. They translated an enemy called "Wyvern" as "Y Burn". I am not making this up. Later still, in 2006, V got remade for the Game Boy Advance. Now it had four all new classes to play with, a bonus dungeon filled to the brim with super enemies and a new super boss, and a GOOD translation! Later ports for iOS and Android followed in 2013, and a Steam version of those in 2015. The Steam version being what I played this year. Got all that? Great!

Now, Final Fantasy V's main method of character progression was the Job System, a mechanic introduced in Final Fantasy III. The idea is, at certain points in the story, magical crystals grant you the ability to change into certain "jobs". So you've got straightforward stuff like Knights and magic users, more flavorful stuff like Berserkers or Ninjas, and then just plain weird shit like Geomancer or Dancer. You unlock four sets of these jobs within the first half of the game, and then can go wild with them. Each job earns ability points after winning battles, and once you get enough you learn some ability that class has; magic for a Black Mage, or the Throw command for a Ninja. The kicker is that you can set the abilities you learn as a sub-ability for any other job. It's possible to get a Knight that casts magic, or a mage that punches the shit out of things with the power of a Monk. Clever mastery of this system can turn your party into walking gods that tear through anything... but the Four Job Fiesta isn't about learning every ability and blasting through. No, it's far more complex than that. The Four Job Fiesta is a challenge run in which, of the 20-odd Jobs available in the game, you only get to use four. You don't even get to pick, exactly; you tweet to a Twitter bot called Gilgabot that manages the Fiesta whenever you unlock a new set of jobs, and Gilgabot assigns you one of those jobs. You can switch who has what job, so long as your team has one of everything you've been assigned, and there's plenty of interesting variants as well to make the thing tougher on yourself; having the roll come from any eligible job and not specifically from a set you just unlocked, for example. Or Berserker Risk, which we'll get to. There's a lovely interview that US Gamer did with the creator of the FJF that you can find here that explains more about all this, but the point is that the Job System makes Final Fantasy V such a goddamn open-ended and accessible experience that it's still possible to clear it with such restrictions. Which I've done a few times before, and I did again this year! So that's what this writeup is. A trip report of my experience with Final Fantasy V in the Fiesta this year.

So, here's what I'll do. Final Fantasy V is... a special game. In most other RPGs you'd just have to level up to deal with a hard boss, or change your tactics around. Final Fantasy V's bosses have certain vulnerabilities, and ones you might not even expect. Nearly everything in the game can be utterly cheesed with the right ability setup, and multiple classes can gain access to this. In my run, I was able to exploit the hell out of many of the bosses, and I took notes on how I cleared each of them. I'll go through the game boss by boss, keeping plot elements as vague as I can (since you really should play Final Fantasy V, Fiesta or no) and go into what Jobs I rolled and how I tricked the game out. Hopefully it will prove to be an interesting time. Let's get into it!

It takes about 30 minutes or so of introduction and a quick dungeon delve or two for you to encounter the power of the Wind Crystal and get your first set of jobs: Knight, White Mage, Black Mage, Blue Mage, Monk, and Thief. Of those, Blue Mage would be most desirable because it can learn certain special enemy attacks, and if you know what you are doing you can wreck this damn game with them. I rolled Blue Mage in my very first Fiesta and it was fun as all hell. This time, however, I rolled Thief. It's a class with relatively low attack and defense, but its claim to fame is stealing items. As well as letting you dash on the world map. Which, the GBA version let you do automatically and made the Thief version faster, but the Steam version doesn't have that default dash. Thank God I rolled Thief or I'd be going way slower. To get the jobs, I had to fight a boss called Wingraptor. It's a big bird that alternates between attacking with a multi-target wind attack that deals 25% of your HP in damage, and turtling up. You just attack and defend. That's it. The same goes for the next boss, Karlbaros. You can't actually buy weapons for a full party of thieves at this point in the game, so two characters were stuck doing practically no damage with their fists. At least I had access to free Potions via stealing them from low-level enemies, so two healbots and two knife-fighters dealt with Karlbaros without too much trouble.

The next area is the Ship Graveyard, a spooky place with skeletons and whatnot. As an aside, in 2000 on the ROM I couldn't get past this because there's a point where you go underwater. My emulator couldn't do transparencies so I didn't know what to do until I looked up stuff online and realized you could turn off the background layer to remove the water. Ah, classic. It's here that I screwed up a little and made things harder on myself. See, I had a handy-dandy guide to what you could steal from enemies, and the ones in the Ship Graveyard didn't appear to have anything worthwhile. Unfortunately it turns out that some of them drop items when you win a battle, and that's different from stealing. I could have had some more daggers for my thieves. Instead I had to fight the Siren boss with half of my party doing pitiful damage. Thankfully there was a way past this, albeit a silly one. Siren is a boss that shuffles between "normal" status and "undead" status, and in undead status she spams powerful magic at your face. Being undead in a Final Fantasy game, though, healing actually harmed her. I hucked dozens of potions that I had stolen at her face for 50 damage a pop and somehow managed to pull out a victory. Very tough. At least I could buy some daggers in the next town and have an actual full offense. Which I would need for the next boss fight, against a pair of dragon poachers named Magissa and Forza. Magissa fought us solo for a bit, but after a few turns of stabbing her she summoned her buff husband and he would just straight up wreck my poor thieves with his strong attacks. The only real solution at this point was to gain a few levels. I came back after a few tries and was powerful enough to get rid of Magissa quickly, so she was out of the picture and not spamming extra attacks at me once Forza came in. With her gone, I could get into a rhythm of attacking Forza and using three characters hucking potions to heal up the ~150 damage he could do with one crushing blow. Eventually we prevailed, and got ourselves a flying dragon.

Walse Castle, home of the Water Crystal, was next up. In crisis we had to scale Walse Tower to find the Crystal, but it was guarded by a normally peaceful monster named Garula who suddenly went apeshit and attacked. This battle would have been tougher, but the thieves had an ace up someone else's sleeves to swipe. The Wyvern enemies in the tower held Mythril knives which could be stolen, and these were a significant damage upgrade for the thieves. As for Garula himself, he's the type of boss who counters your attacks with powerful ones of his own. All that really needed to be done was being cautious and not going all-out with the attacks, instead healing after his counters and going back to attacking. It was no trouble, and with him felled, we gained our Water Crystal jobs! The set this time was Red Mage, Time Mage, Summoner, Mystic Knight, and Berserker. Of those, there was really only one I could possibly get. That's right, it's Berserker. Now, a few things to explain here. Berserker is kind of a running gag in the Four Job Fiesta.  It's a class that has very high physical attack power, but there's a huge drawback: you cannot control their actions at all. All they will ever do in battle is swing at a target (in the Steam version, always the nearest target) every turn, until the battle is won or they keel over at 0 HP. One of the additions you can make to your Fiesta run is a "Berserker Risk"; every 10 dollars donated via the Fiesta adds a Berserker to a pool, and those with Berserker Risk up their odds of getting multiple Berserkers on their team. This is basically a huge disadvantage for any fight where you'd like multiple people working on a strategy to take down the boss besides "hit it really hard". I got two of the damn class when I was fool enough to take on Berserker Risk one year, and it was something. So that's not what I picked this year. I went with a "No 750 Run", which basically removes all the magic-casting classes from your pool of jobs that can be rolled, because last year I got TWO Time Mages. Time Magic was ridiculously good and all, but I was all maged out and wanted something different. With No 750 in place, that took out three of the five jobs I could roll for the Water Crystal, leaving Mystic Knight and Berserker. But, with an entire damned pool of Berserkers that needed to be given out to players, the odds were way above 50/50 in favor of getting a Berserker. Thankfully, I knew my way around the game. I could deal with one Berserker, and there were even still some clever tricks to be had using one. So, now I had three Thieves and one raging animal-skin clad barbarian with a knife. Great. How is this going to go?

The very next dungeon would bestow some Fire Crystal jobs upon me if I could clear it, so that was nice. It was also very important because of one enemy lurking inside: the Poltergeist. These happy little monsters had a very special prize for my thieves to pilfer from them; Hi-Potions. A Hi-Potion heals 500 HP when used, and you can't actually buy them from stores this early in the game. It was time consuming to steal them, yes, but having them this early would prove to be a life saver. The boss, however, was the first real big challenge since Forza and Magissa. Liquid Flame swaps between three forms, and has powerful fire attacks that either do heavy single target damage or percentage-based multi-target damage. Those single target attacks were actual Fira spells, that run on MP. I actually ran this jerk out of MP fighting him, but my team was all but beaten down. The only person left alive was my Berserker, at a mere 2 HP and equipped with a hammer. Two of the forms were out of MP for their Firas, but the "humanoid" form would still be able to use its Blaze attack to hit my Berserker and end the run. So it was that I watched my berserk buffoon beat back the burning bastard with blows. He never switched back to humanoid form and I won. A small miracle. The only problem was that the castle housing the Fire Crystal was set to explode in ten minutes, and was filled with monsters. But also treasure! Very valuable treasure! I managed to grab some Elixirs, and items that had a chance to block physical attacks. (One of which, the Elven Mantle, I already had a copy of from raiding Walse Castle.) The Main Gauche was a new knife for my thieves, as were the Mage Mashers that I stole from magic using enemies along the way. With minutes to spare, I cleared out of the castle. With the Fire Crystal you have another five jobs to roll from, but you only get three right now: Geomancer, Beastmaster, and Ninja, with Ranger and Bard unlocked later. I rolled up Beastmaster, and this is where the fun really began. The Beastmaster's special ability is to "catch" monsters, and I should note that the other big RPG about catching monsters was a good five years off when Final Fantasy V came out. If you weaken a monster down to 1/8th of its HP, you can capture and store it. In a later battle you can release it for a one-time attack, and different monsters have different special abilities. Believe me, this opened up the doors to extreme shenanigans. So long as you had a handy guide to tell you all the released special attacks, and the HP needed to catch a monster, you could prep for a difficult boss and shut it down totally with little effort. Of course, with a raging madman attacking everything in sight, you needed to improvise and unequip them beforehand. But shenanigans happened almost immediately.

The next boss battle was against the summoned beast, Ifrit. He's a lot like Liquid Flame, in that he spams multi-target fire attacks and single target Fire spells. I got real lucky with my Mage Mashers here; they have a chance of casting Silence on an enemy with a hit, and I managed to silence Ifrit and shut down half of his damn attack pattern. Once that was done, it was nothing to outlast him and beat him down. The problem came from the next boss fight in this area, Byblos. A beefy beast who seemed to evade a good 70% of my attacks, used status debuff spells on my team, and buffed himself to lower the damage I could do. Worst of all was his Drain spell, which took ~200 HP from a character and healed himself for the same amount. With all my miss chances and his debuffing/buffing, I couldn't do that same amount of damage before he did another Drain. I was really banging my head against this boss. The monster I chose to catch and release was a Goblin. Normally one of the weakest foes you can encounter, if you manage to get the thing to low HP and catch it (which isn't so hard when everyone is attacking barehanded), it unleashes Flare, one of the ultimate magic spells in the game. I had two Beastmasters at this point releasing two of these, but it still wasn't enough. In desperation, I asked a forum thread for help on this. Lots of people on lots of sites I visit like to join in and discuss their FJF runs and whatnot, and someone in one clued me in on a different monster I could catch. Page 32's release ability was an instant death attack. Byblos is not resistant to instant death attacks. I caught a Page 32, went back to Byblos, released it... and bam. One hit. The boss that had stonewalled me was down. This is what I mean when I say FFV's bosses can be cheesed if you know what you're doing. Many of them are vulnerable to instant death in some way, and the ones that aren't have other tricks. With Beastmaster as one of my jobs, I had access to a lot of these tricks now. I knew about Page 32 and its instant death move now, so that would help a lot.

Next up was a boss who spells doom for any Berserker Risk player: the Sandworm. It's a boss that ducks in and out of holes on the battlefield, and you have to hit the Sandworm and not a hole, or else you get counterattacked with a gravity spell that removes 75% of your health. Couple it with Sandworm's own attack that slowly drains your HP and you have a problem. Couple that with a character who blindly attacks the hole in front of them all the time and you have a major issue. Thankfully, with only one Berserker, the carnage was mitigated. No instant death shenanigans this time, just a simple pattern of attacking and healing and outlasting the Sandworm. The next area you go to is Crescent Island, and it's where you find the Ranger and Bard jobs. It also has an enemy called Harvester, and any Fiesta player with a Berserker should fight those for a while. They have a chance to drop an item called the Death Sickle, an axe that Berserkers equip that also has the chance to cast an instant death spell on an attack. Given that so many of the bosses are vulnerable to instant death, it's one hell of a good weapon to get. Mine took an agonizing bit of a grind to drop, but it was worth it as demonstrated by the next boss, who tries to attack when you claim an airship. Cray  Claw is a joke. My Berserker hit it, the death proc happened. That's it. The next boss, Adamantoise, was also hardly anything. It was weak to ice damage so I caught an Ice Soldier back around Walse for that, but it didn't really swing the fight in any way. What did was my Berserker getting the death proc again after a while. Like I said, this thing comes in handy. So the last few bosses were a breeze, but next up was a real challenge; a flying fortress with cannons to take out.

The cannons on either side I took out with some lucky Page 32 releases and physical attacks. Once all four of those were done, it was time for the main boss, Soul Cannon. The main issue here are the missile launchers which launch missiles at you. The damage is healed easily by Hi-Potions, but they inflict the Old status on you, which degrades your stats as the battle goes on and makes your attacks weaker. Not good. All that fighting and stealing items left me with a good chunk of gold, though, so I went over to an optional town and bought an Angel Ring. 50,000 gold is a lot of currency for this point of the game, but this ring would negate the Old status. I put it on my Berserker since I figured they'd be the biggest damage dealer. My Beastmasters caught some Sand Bears in the Sandworm's desert. All they do is a physical attack, but it's a powerful as hell physical attack that did a good ~2000 damage to the launchers/Cannon. My team got Old, save for the Berserker, and now for Soul Cannon. It charges up a powerful laser attack that does incredible percentage-based damage, but I had Hi-Potions and a Berserker immune to Old. Everyone healed up like mad, and after some time Soul Cannon went down. The only drawback is that I had to spend another half-hour stealing Hi-Potions, but oh well. Inside the flying fortress would be the Earth Crystal, and the final roll of jobs. In our way was a flying serpent named Archeoaevis. I let bears loose on its face, and then attacked and healed up. It was moderately difficult but not too challenging. So I had my final job roll, from a set of four: Dragoon, Chemist, Samurai, and Dancer. Chemist in particular is a ridiculous job that mixes together different items for different magical effects. A player with Chemist who knows what they're doing can utterly trivialize the game. I've always wanted to play with it, but I didn't get Chemist. I got Dragoon.

Unfortunately, this was unacceptable for me. I rolled Dragoon last year, you see. Dragoon is a nice enough class involving jumping out of the battle and back down onto an enemy's head, and at least one ability had good synergy with my Time Mages... but I wanted something new. Lucky for me, the Fiesta has the Job Fair. By donating a bit of money, you're allowed to swap a rolled job for a different one. An Earth Crystal re-roll was only 3 bucks and it was for a good cause, so I took the chance. The mulligan happened and I got Samurai. As it turned out, this would be the second most powerful job from the Earth Crystal set. Its signature ability is Zeninage, or Gil Toss as it's been called in other translations. You literally hurl your money at enemies and it does incredible multi-target damage. The drawback is that it costs gold to use. 50 gold X your Samurai's level for each target hit. Still, it's a great "last resort" attack. The next boss fight was Purobolos, a set of six bombs that would explode and revive each other unless you did something drastic. Like, say, I don't know, using a single use of Zeninage to do ~2000 damage to all six at once and instantly win the fight with no effort. Oops. You have to love the irony that I paid for a class that pays to deal extreme damage. Up next was Titan, an earth-elemental summon whose final attack is a powerful Earthquake. If I had Time Mages and a Float spell, I could easily trivialize this. I didn't have Time Mages this year... but I did have a Beastmaster. An enemy called Gaelicat is encountered back on the mountain where we fought Magissa and Forza, and its release casts Float on a random party member. With repeated shenanigans I got Float on everyone and went after Titan. It wasn't an issue at all. He did nothing to me. After that is a boss called the Manticore. It's weak to instant death. Page 32 got let out and Manticore went down like nothing.

This is the point in Final Fantasy V in which you warp to another world, and since it feels like I've written a shitload so far, we'll take a break here. I'll come back in a day or so and write up even more about the bosses I encountered, and all of the tricky tricks I employed to bypass them. This new world doesn't have Page 32 in it, so that's out. It does have a few fun things you can do, though, and my job loadout has tricks I've not elaborated on. Look forward to it!