Some games teach you to have alternating save games. Save in slot 1, then save in slot 2 next time. Rinse, repeat. This next game, and their series of bosses, serve to teach you this in the most brutal manner possible:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Riovanes Castle Fights
I’m lumping a series of 4 battles into 1 post purely because once you’ve gone into Riovanes Castle and completed the first fight, you’re unable to leave unless you load from an earlier save, or complete the series of battles.
The first one is easy enough. KO a load of generic enemies, and one rather weak non-generic guy called Marach. He loses, he runs away, you go through Riovanes Castle Gate, and run into…
Alone, in a relatively small arena, where he has height advantage over you. Here’s where you learn whether your decision to level Ramza as particular classes was wise. There are ways of making this fight easy. You can have Ramza as a Squire, spam Tailwind to increase your speed until you get 2 turns for every 1 turn of Wiegraf, then wail on him one turn, and then outrange him the next.
You can be a Knight, and break his weapons and armor, or be a Thief and steal them. This reduces his attack, defense and health!
You can be a Dragoon and Leap at him. Leap makes you untargetable by Wiegraf, and then you crash down onto him for MASSIVE DAMAGE.
Each of these strategies are improved with the Chemist ability Auto Potion, which makes you quaff a potion when you get hurt, increasing your survivability without spending an action on it.
Trouble is, if you don’t know this fight is coming, you may well have levelled Ramza in a non-optimal way. Maybe you are the aforementioned classes, without the aforementioned abilities. Maybe you decided to level Ramza as your White Mage, Orator, or other low-damage, low defense class. Wiegraf could easily kill you in one or two hits! His White Knight abilities hit like a TRUCK, even on Knights wearing heavy armor. Squishier classes may well fall in one go. You have to get his health to 20% or below, so you can’t run away forever, you have to eventually stand and fight.
Perhaps you’ve not even levelled Ramza at all. Though he is present in damn near every story battle, maybe you’ve levelled other characters more in random ones. An underlevelled Ramza is a sitting duck against Wiegraf. Indeed, many people have memories of having to start the whole game again, simply because the way they levelled Ramza made the battle completely unwinnable.
Once you get Wiegraf to 20% health, it’s immediately followed by fight #3, against Velius/Belias. Immediately, as in you don’t get a chance to recover Ramza, so you go into this fight with the same buffed stats (if you went with the Squire Tailwind strategy), but also with the same health as you finished Wiegraf with. Woe betide you if you’re at a critical level and Velius or one of his minions goes first!
Yes, he notices your allies joined this fight, and he summons allies of his own.
Powerful Archaeodaemons, with attacks that can decimate you! Of note is their Gigaflare, which has no charge time, and thus comes out instantly. Most attacks have a small delay between when you select them, and when they come out (spells requiring incantations, that sorta thing), but Gigaflare has a charge time of 0!
Belias himself uses incredibly powerful attacks, and can inflict Silence, Confusion and Stone with his spells. Got some units clumped together? He’s gonna nuke them with a Summon ability (usually Cyclops), and if you hit him with melee attacks, he responds with a powerful Counterattack, capable of killing some lower defense units in one hit!
Beat him? Not out of the woods yet. You then move to the roof of Riovanes Castle for battle #4. At least you get to save before this one!
That character in the middle is named Rapha, and has just watched her brother die. She’s AI-controlled, and the level fails if she dies.
Those characters on the top are your enemies. The two girls are of the Assassin class, and are extremely fast. Not only that, but they have an attack called Stop Breath (or Stop Bracelet in the PS1 version) that instantly KO’s an enemy with a horribly high frequency. The bloke is also really speedy, and is of the Samurai class, which has really powerful AoE attacks. Your objective is to get one of the three enemies to a critical health level, whereupon the fight ends.
Trouble is, as mentioned, Rapha has just watched her brother die. She’s grief-stricken, and thus has slightly suicidal tendencies. She’ll make a beeline for Celia or Lettie, attack them with one of her ineffective attacks, who will then respond in turn by using Stop Breath, or one of their other powerful abilities. It’s kinda explained as her wanting to be reunited with her brother in death, her brother who has always been there for her, even in dire circumstances. Doesn’t make her running over to the assassins any less annoying!
This is usually before you can even act, too. This stage can be lost before you make a single action.
Before the fight, you need to optimize Ramza (or any of your team) for speed. You NEED to outspeed Celia and/or Lettie, and you NEED to KO them in one go, lest they go off and kill Rapha. Hello Ninja class, which is fast and can wield two weapons. It is possible that Celia and Lettie ignore Rapha to attack one of your characters; maybe a White Mage, or by using one of your other characters to block a direct path to Rapha. Consider this a 1 in 10 (15? 20? 100?) occurence!
Typical turn of events?
- Rapha runs towards the enemies and hits nobody with her attacks.
- You try and run over near her.
- Elmdore uses a powerful AoE attack that hits Rapha and probably Ramza.
- Celia and/or Lettie finish her off, or inflict Stop/Stone/Charm from range, and the OTHER one finishes Rapha off
Reload. Hope things go differently.
So there you have it. Riovanes Castle, one of the most frustrating series of battles in gaming! Alternating between save slots is always a good idea; being able to load up a save from before you pass the Point of No Return and buy stuff/proper abilities is just so helpful if things end up going terribly wrong.
He who can snipe you through loading screens.
I intend this to be a series on the bosses I consider to be the most difficult, frustrating bosses in all of video games! Naturally, this is merely my opinion, maybe you have bosses you find more difficult? Or you consider the bosses I list easy? Let me know!
For now, we kick off with…
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
To understand what makes this boss so potentially devastating to you, you need to understand the battle system of Nocturne. It uses something called the Press Turn Battle system, whereby you take turns, and how many actions you can perform are indicated by how many icons appear in the top right.
There are 4 icons, therefore 4 actions, generally 1 per unit. You have 4 units? 4 actions! If you’re lucky enough to get a critical hit, or you hit an enemy’s weakness, one of those turn icons, instead of disappearing, turns into a “half turn” icon, meaning you can take more actions! If your attacks miss, or the enemy nullifies/drains/reflects the type of damage you tried to do, however, it consumes TWO turn icons, effectively REDUCING the actions you can take in your turn.
This applies to the enemy too. They hit a weakness, they take more actions. They miss you, they lose turns.
And so we get to the Matador.
In a lot of RPG games, you get various magical abilities. Nocturne is no different. They fall into several categories here:
- Attack magic: The most commonly used magic!
- Healing magic: 2nd most used, probably most useful.
- Status magic: Inflict status effects!
- Support magic: Buff stats, debuff stats, and remove stat buffs from your enemy/stat debuffs from you.
A lot of people tend to neglect support and status magic in most RPG’s. It doesn’t do direct damage or heal, so what’s the point? They may keep attack-boosting spells (in this game, Tarukaja boosts physical damage, Makakaja boosts magical damage), but other than that? Useless!
Not here. Not now.
Around 1/3 of the way through the game, in the Great Underpass of Ginza, you run into this bullfighting monstrosity. The first action he takes (and he WILL take the first action) is to use the ability Red Capote. This buffs his evasion to maximum levels.
Now, remember what I said about what happens if you miss attacks? You lose turns. This means you potentially lose precious healing turns!
He may be a speedy little bugger, but he also packs a massive punch, thanks to his powerful Force spell Mazan, which hits all of your party, and the physical ability Andalucia, which hits random targets several times. And yes, it is possible for ALL the hits to be on one character.
The trick with him (and many bosses in the game, and even random encounters!) is to use the spells that other games treat as useless. The debuffers. Dekaja will nullify his evasion boost (until he casts it again of course), and Dekunda will restore your defense to normal (his ability Taunt buffs your physical attack, but reduces your defence, which will make his Andalucia hurt even MORE).
He tends to get a bit nasty when you’ve knocked off half his health. He starts combining his Andalucia attack with an ability called Focus, which causes his next physical ability to do 2.5x the normal damage. Ouch. It’s tempting beforehand to equip your main character with a Magatama (the essence of a demon that confers elemental strengths and weaknesses and level-up abilities, usable only by your main character, the Demi-Fiend) that nullifies Force abilities, this way he loses turns every time he uses Mazan.
Thing is, Mazan is NOT his most dangerous ability, it’s Andalucia (and Focus/Andalucia especially), so equipping a Magatama that halves Physical damage is more helpful here. He won’t lose turns, but he won’t KO your main character so damn easily.
Oh, by the way, your main character’s HP reducing to zero means game over, even if you have other party members at full health, so watch out for that (Focused Andalucia’s hits all hitting the Demi-Fiend will probably result in a game over!). Having the Fog Breath ability on one of your demons will also be a big boost, as this reduces his evasion AND accuracy, and if he misses an attack? He loses turns!
Matador is a very rude awakening. While the rest of the game up to this point isn’t exactly a cakewalk, Matador is a massive spike in difficulty compared to what came previously, and usually requires special preperations to actually defeat (having a physical-resisting main character, a demon that nulls Force, a way to counter Red Capote, and a healer that can heal everyone at once), but also teaches you that this game is not like other RPGs. It teaches that buffing your stats and (more importantly) debuffing your opponents,or even simply dispelling them, is an incredibly important tactic, and that it’s in your best interests to have party members capable of using at LEAST Dekaja (nullify enemy stat boosts) and Dekunda (nullify ally stat debuffs), especially later in the game when enemies will start throwing Degenerate (lowers ALL your stats) at you.
Oh yes. The one that, if unprepared, causes you to have to RESTART THE WHOLE GAME.
So for the last 8 days, I’ve been sunning it down in the south of France. La Colle sur Loup to be precise, and it’s LOVELY. The first day we were there, there was a thunderstorm, but that lasted 15 minutes, and it was so warm that an hour later, all the water on the ground had dried out.
Why La Colle? The boyfriend does aikido, and every year his club go to La Colle for an aikido summer school, where they train from 6am until about noon (with a break of course), and other optional classes from new-and-upcoming teachers in the afternoon.
I didn’t do this. I went along because HOLIDAY. I also helped out around the chalets, made coffee, did breakfast and whatnot. I’m nice like that.
We had intended to make it a more exploratory holiday. Visit Grasse, Monaco, Cannes, St Paul de Vence, places like that, but he was so knackered from aikido and I was so relaxed in the sun that we ended up staying at the chalet most days! Sitting by the pool, reading my books (Faust Among Equals and Flying Dutch by Tom Holt, one of my favourite authors), trying to get a tan and failing miserably (I didn’t burn either, I’m just… the same colour as when I left).
So I had a wonderful time, and I got back to Cardiff yesterday, and initially it was sunny, which goes against everything we had heard from our friends, but it turns out this was a small respite from the actual weather. Within an hour or so, the thunderclouds rolled in, and it’s been raining ever since!
So that’s the view from the end of La Colle’s main high street-type area, with all the restaurants. On our last day, we went to a place called Le Tigre, which is La Colle’s main pizza joint. Oh my god it was SO GOOD. I had a pizza called “la cannibale”, which featured minced meat, melty cheese and olives which I gave to my boyfriend because OLIVES ARE BAD.
Lemon meringue pie for dessert too. I’m a sucker for a lemon meringue.
This is what my boyfriend and his crew were doing each day. This is apparently a pin from kote gaishi, and I have no idea what it means but it looks painful.
My boyfriend was taking the picture. The one on the ground is one of his teachers.
This, however, is where I spend most of MY time, beside the pool at our camp site, Les Pinèdes. It’s as pretty as it looks in the picture.
And that’s where I’ve been the past week. I’ll get back to posting in this blog more regularly again, promise.
“Or the Tale of How Demon Hunters Stole Our Shit”
Before 6.2 landed, Ion Hazzikostas was quoted as saying Demonology would get a bit of an overhaul in the new expansion, and in the meantime here’s nerfs to discourage you from using it in its current state! This was going to be a post where I speculate on what Demonology would become, but what’s this?
Icy Veins did an interview with Tom Chilton and Ion Hazzikostas which you can read here. There’s a lot of details in there, but juicy juicy gossip for Demonology Warlocks among us!
Demonology Warlocks will be masters of summoning and controlling demons. Metamorphosis sort-of came to dominate the class, but the devs are refocusing the spec on demons. Affliction will continue to be about ‘decay’, and Destruction about ‘bursts of fel fire’.
This was the direction I was going to go with this. Demonology becoming a summoner of demons, rather than becoming demons themselves. What do I think we’ll see?
- Metamorphosis cut: This is the obvious one, seeing as Metamorphosis is going to be the primary ability of Demon Hunters. This means we’ll be staying in caster form forever and ever.
- Corruption cut, Doom stays, usable in caster form: Doom already ties into the whole summoner philosophy, as critical strikes summon imps. I believe this will stay, and function as normal, and replace Corruption. Possibly make it tick a bit faster.
- Hellfire/Immolation Aura cut: These are an annoying part of Demonology AoE, as to use them you have to be in melee range of your target. Unfortunately, you still count as ranged, meaning you expose the melee classes to ranged mechanics (think Garrosh’s Desecrated Weapons, or Kilrogg’s Death Throes). I foresee these being cut, OR Hellfire staying, but rather than AoE centered on you, have it set a target on fire and pulse AoE damage.
- Cut Shadow Bolt, Soul Fire becomes filler, no more Molten Core: Bake Molten Core into the ability itself. Give it a chance to summon an imp on hit. Shadow Bolt gone because frankly it has a cast time comparable to Chaos Bolt, with damage comparable to 0.2 Chaos Bolts.
- Cut Chaos Wave, have Hand of Gul’dan on a 8 second cooldown with no charge system: That’s pretty self explanatory there.
- 2 permanent demons: They want us to be the masters of controlling demons? Then give us the ability to control 2 demons at once. Have a second splash menu, make you unable to summon two of the same demons. You can run around with a Voidlord AND a Fel Imp!
- Cut Grimoire of Service: At least for Demonology. Replace it with Grimoire of Something Else, and make it a cooldown that buffs all your demon damage by x% for 20 seconds. Like Dark Soul, but for your demons!
- Add Demon Summoning abilities: Have a new 10 minute cooldown IF you take Demonic Servitude where you can summon a Pit Lord or something as powerful. Have an ability on a 30 second cooldown that summons 2 random demons for 15 seconds. Those Felstalkers we saw in 6.2 would be cool. Maybe other demon models we can’t usually control too!
- Some form of AoE demon summoning ability: Have infernals rain from the sky briefly, or allow us to summon 3 Felguards/Wrathguards that do their bladestorm-like ability, then vanish.
Do bear in mind these are rough ideas. I’m no developer or theorycrafter, I have no idea how feasible these ideas are, but food for thought, eh? It’s merely one guy’s opinion, and I’d like to hear yours!
What’s even more fun is getting lots of gold for doing 25 HC Cataclysm raids! Each boss drops around 125G, as well as lots of lovely transmogs and vendor items. Some DS trinkets and weapons vendor for 40+ gold each! And with each boss on 25 man dropping LOTS of items, the gold quickly mounts up.
Blackwing Descent is a wonderfully easy little jaunt, the only slight issue may be Maloriak, but as long as you smash him before all his aberrations reach you, you’ll be fine.
Nefarian has bugged a bit once, where the lava phase is meant to start and just DOESN’T. That was annoying.
Chimaeron you can probably kill shortly after the first Massacre. Heal a little bit after he casts it.
Bastion of Twilight is also easy, though Halfus and Sinestra do occasionally have hairy moments. The former due to a MASSIVE healing debuff, and the latter can just be generally hurty. Smack them until they die, before they kill you!
Sinestra requires you to kill eggs either side of her before you can damage her properly. Don’t forget that.
Theralion and Valiona also have a hurty part, but there’s a large gap between uses of that ability (Blackout) which allows you time to either heal up or just smack the dragons down.
Firelands is so, so easy. Shannox is the only worry, and that’s due to his stupid dog Rageface, but wonderful news! So long as you engage him in a tank spec, he won’t rage on your face! This means going in with Defensive Stance instead of Gladiator.
Majordomo Staghelm stands out not as being difficult, but being BORING because of his ridiculously large healthpool. Bring a book, maybe.
As usual with Dragon Soul, the only difficult encounter is Spine of Deathwing, and that requires you to be patient and concentrating on the matter at hand. Thankfully somebody wrote a guide to soloing that boss (it was me, I wrote that).
Hagara is not difficult, but again potentially boring because you need to kill her before she does her special thing. She USUALLY does the Lightning Storm one first (at least she does for me), and as you can’t do that solo (unless you have a pet you can use to make the chain) you have to sit and wait for like FOREVER.
Ultraxion is a DPS race. Bring Drums of Fury, they work as a slightly less powerful version of Heroism/Bloodlust.
Throne of 4 Winds is actually surprisingly easy to do solo on 25 HC. I thought Conclave would be my stumbling point and I’d have to knock it down to Normal, but apparently not. Just hop to each platform and smack each boss until it dies. Move quickly!
Cataclysm Bosses That Apparently Drop Mounts
Yeah right, they don’t exi… wait, they do?
- Ultraxion (Dragon Soul N/H): Experiment 12-B
- Madness of Deathwing (Dragon Soul N): Reins of the Blazing Drake
- Madness of Deathwing (Dragon Soul N/H): Life-Binder’s Handmaiden
- Alysrazor (Firelands N/H): Flametalon of Alysrazor
- Ragnaros (Firelands N/H): Smoldering Egg of Millagazor
- Al’Akir: (Throne of the Four Winds N/H): Reins of the Drake of the South Wind
I have the most terrible affliction.
Whenever I play my Gladiator Warrior, I have the old UK Gladiators theme in my head the whole time.
Oh gosh, do you even remember that? It was my favourite TV show! Every Saturday, my parents and I would go to Salisbury. We’d do general looking around, and one of the things we’d always do was go to the market and get a bag of sweets for me. I always had a bag full of sugary candy letters for some reason. I didn’t make words with them or anything, and there were nicer sweeties at the market stand, but I just gravitated to letters.
I’d eat them while we were watching Gladiators. Every Saturday, without fail. I remember Lightning being really good at Hang Tough, Shadow being fuckin’ unbeatable at Duel (the one where people twatted each-other with oversized cotton buds, remember? He once hit a contender so hard he BROKE THE STICK), and Referee John Anderson, the most Scottish-sounding man in the world.
THREE, TWO, ONE, *blows whistle*
And yes, there’s an extended version of the intro theme, because of course there is. Usually it was played at the end of the series, when the winner was crowned.
I always had a bit of a crush on Saracen. He was always so smiley and nice, even when he was smashing people into the ground (figuratively. And probably literally too), thus confirming my overwhelming gayness began at the age of AT LEAST 9 years old.
So yes, just know that whenever I play this character:
I’m thinking of old 90’s television.
Thanks, World of Warcraft.
Unless you’ve been on the moon the past month or so, you’ll have heard the news of the Final Fantasy 7 remake announced at E3. Built from the ground up, for the current generation. Exciting times? Yes indeed, but also terrifying. Why so?
(naturally spoilers ahead, but are they really spoilers any more?)
I can’t speak for others, but for myself, Final Fantasy 7 was the first game I played that not only wanted you to play it, but also to listen to it, hear the story it wanted to tell you. Up to that point, I was raised on a diet of platformer games of the likes of Sonic, Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Here’s point A, get to point B, collect/kill things on the way, repeat 20 times, each time increasing in difficulty. Occasional boss fight. Very little story involved.
The same was true of the other type of game I played, games like Theme Park, which saw you buy some land, build a theme park, make tons of money and repeat, or lose all your money, go bankrupt and commit suicide.
Not even kidding there. The game over screen shows you jumping out your office window, which is actually pretty damn traumatising to put in a game played by a then 8 year old, but I digress. Final Fantasy 7 was the first time I played a game that had long swathes of time where you didn’t DO anything but read what the characters were saying. This was a foreign idea to me, and I was hooked instantly.
It is by no means the first game to have done this, obviously (I mean, this game alone was the 7th in a SERIES of games like this), nor is it the first game that has emotional moments in it, but it was for me. The obvious player punch is the death of Aerith, at the end of disc 1. A character that we’ve grown attached to, and our sullen hero has grown fond of, snatched away from us by a grey-haired asshat in a douchey longcoat.
Games nowadays feature lots and lots of DLC, microtransactions and the like. Preorder bonuses are announced at the same time as the game itself pretty often (just look at Evolve and the various Batman: Arkham Whatever games). Square-Enix could theoretically, create a DLC that keeps Aerith alive, or brings her back after her death. I imagine there’s a lot of people who’d literally throw money at their screen in order to do that. I’d find it odd, it’s a key moment in the game. It’s a massive cliche moment, sure (“motivated by the death of <a woman>, our <very definitely male> hero vanquishes his foe and gains his revenge” seems to be a very common trope in games, movies, literature, etc), but that doesn’t lessen the impact.
What WOULD lessen the impact would be the ability to just change this major, pivotal moment in the story. The thing people who haven’t even PLAYED Final Fantasy 7 know about. By now, Aerith’s death is so ingrained in the culture of video games, and perhaps pop culture in general. It’s the gaming equivalent of Luke being the son of Darth Vader, of Snape killing Dumbledore, of Soylent Green being people. It was his sled, he was dead all along, he’s a figment of his imagination, Aerith dies.
You can’t just change all that. Wave a magic wand (made of money of course) and make history different. It’d feel wrong, somehow. At least to me.
Final Fantasy 7 is at times a ridiculous game. You can dress up as a woman and be so convincing, despite being Mr Macho Man Hero, that a lecherous old scrote picks you as his lady companion for the night. One of your party members is a cat-wolf-dog-THING, another is a robot cat riding a fat stuffed toy moogle that wields a megaphone as a weapon. Cat-Wolf-Dog-Thing’s grandfather is a weird old man who sits atop a floating ball. Another character, Not Mr T, swears a lot and initially thinks your character is a bit of a dick, but play the game in a specific (correct) way, and make specific (correct) dialogue choices and Mr Macho Man Hero and Not Mr T can go on a “date” in the Gold Saucer. There’s a slap fight on a cannon between a horrid business woman and a trained martial artist, that somehow is an even fight.
Seriously, Tifa should have just roundhoused her off the end, it’d have been a lot simpler.
Final Fantasy 7 is at times an emotional experience. Aforementioned death of Aerith, while her beautiful theme tune plays. The fact it carries through the next boss fight is a constant reminder of what exactly you’re fighting for. Why you fight. Who you fight for. Even though I KNOW it’s coming, it still gets me. Cloud fighting himself to stop HIM killing her, Sephirith descending from the sky, Cloud cradling her in his arms, the music, the materia, the boss fight, everyone’s reaction afterwards (Yuffie’s reaction being somehow the most upsetting of all) the sinking into the water.
Cait Sith’s (initial) sacrifice is another one that gets me. He trips, he falls, he picks himself up, he marches grimly on. “Even I can save the world!” Sure, there’s a replacement Cait Sith that comes along straight after, considering it’s a robot controlled by a man in an office, but it’s still a touching moment, one that still makes me sad.
Red XIII hates his father, Seto. He believes him to be a coward that abandoned Cosmo Canyon, leaving it to be ransacked by the Gi, only to learn that he was rushing to the entrance of a cavern to defend it from invaders. If the Gi had gone through there, Cosmo Canyon would have been destroyed. Instead, Seto saved them all.
I’ve not even mentioned Cid and Shera, Tifa caring for Cloud in his catatonia and learning the truth of his past, the crushing of Sector 7, when Elmyra met Aerith…
I’m worried the remake won’t do these scenes justice. I’m worried that they’ll try and change things. Tetsuya Nomura hinted in an interview that things could be different to how we know them. “If it’s a full remake, then of course, we want to take a different approach. If we actually just upgraded the visuals — there’d be no need for me to direct it.”
It’s the unknown that scares me. I’m excited for the Final Fantasy 7 I know and love coming to a new generation. I’m scared of what might be different. What we gain, but what we may lose in its place.
I spent so many hours of my life breeding chocobos. I wanted the golden chocobo. I wanted to get the Knights of the Round summon, and have a bird that could handily beat Teioh in the Gold Saucer.
Grinding for money to get the right greens and nuts, trying to get a Wonderful chocobo, getting frustrated when a chocobo flees almost as soon as you enter battle…
Then you pick a black chocobo and a wonderful yellow chocobo (you HAD to pick the black one first for some reason, glitch?) and finally getting your reward. The gold chocobo! The world is open to me! I could get to those stupid little islands the Highwind couldn’t land on! Materia galore.
Then you use your Knights of the Round materia, which you can only get with a gold chocobo, to defeat Ruby Weapon, who drops an item that you can trade for… a gold chocobo.