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Malik (7/7/09)

Just when I thought my time of posting too few times per week was behind me, I find the perfect excuse to not post regularly; triple digit fever coupled with minor hallucinations. Just when I'm finally feeling healthy again, someone had to give me the flu. The only thing worse than getting sick right after recovering from something else is to do so when it's summer and you cannot enjoy the good weather.

Anyway, I was feeling healthy enough yesterday to try some of the new Final Fantasy 4: The After Years chapters/tales. Yesterday saw the release of the tales for Yang, Palom, and Edge. Of which, I downloaded (well, downloaded a several kb unlock key) all of them. The one advantage of being sick is that I had nowhere important to be, so I even proceeded to play through the Yang and Palom tales and the bonus dungeon for Rydia's tale.

First off, I did the challenge dungeon for Rydia and that left me with a strong conclusion; I'm not doing any more challenge dungeons. After wasting too much time getting too damned frustrated as annoying dungeon layouts and almost random treasures, I finish and get nothing worth the hassle of the damned random encounters in that place. To top it off, the random encounters are far more challenging, at the end, than the boss fight. Add in the level cap you get for each chapter/tale of The After Years, and you're left with just a large dish of frustration with nothing worth it to show as a reward. Maybe I'll do some more challenge dungeon runs in the future, but not to beat the damned things...I'll just do it so each party is around the same level for when the final chapter comes out in September and you can merge the saved games (including levels) so I don't have Rydia and Luca at level 40 (their cap) while Yang is at level 23.

Anyway, as for the new tales, I'm enjoying them so far. Yang's tale felt a bit short compared to Rydia. I mean it consisted of one town (Fabul) and three abrupt dungeons. The plot wasn't too bad, but since it primarily revolved around one of the less interesting characters of FF4 (Yang) and his daughter (Ursula; both new and equally uninteresting), I'd be lying if I said it was full of excitement. To make matters worse, half of the plot basically mirrored the Fabul section of the original FF4 (invasion of Baron troops, boat ride afterwards, and even the same conclusion to the boat voyage). I mean the added fun of the character development was ok, but overall this was a pretty cut-and-paste style of story.

Palom's tale was also quite short compared to Rydia's tale, but it didn't seem to matter as much. The shortness, in terms of play time to completion, is pretty well handled by the majority of the tale being based around being chased. It's a fast play, but it's also a fast paced story. It starts with a short, but controlled tutorial section. As this is the first time in the game that you control only a party made entirely of magic users, this tutorial is greatly needed. Your party for this entire tale is a black mage and a white mage with some limited black magic. In other words, you'll need to get used to a whole new idea of playing without heavy hitters, high HP and defense tanks, and a time when phases of the moon literally are life or death scenarios. For example, if you play much when the mood is in a bonus for physical hits, your party will die...and quickly.

After this opening tutorial dungeon, you are in a constant race against enemies. While there is no true time requirement as a player, you will no longer be able to go to town. You will also no longer be able to count on using an inn to heal. All healing will be done via expensive tents or very expensive cabins, but you'll also use multiple tents since your MP will always be low if you stick with a single tent.

Anyway, despite how stressful this sounds, it's actually good a "difficult, but not quite frustrating" way. Plus, the plot really brings out some personality in Palom, who always seemed one dimensional in the original FF4.

Anyway, Palom's tale is good fun. I'll end abruptly with that since I think I'm going to be sick about now, and I want to keep any nasty stuff off my keyboard. I hate being sick...


Malik (7/9/09)

Well, I am still sicker than I'd like to be. Sadly, due to different factors (mainly how little time off I have from work right now), I have no choice but to keep on going on with my daily life. So, while I'm probably still in the grip of a nasty flu (maybe even the dreaded swine flu...wait that's insensitive to Jewish and Islamic people...the dreaded Mexican that's insensitive to Mexicans...the dreaded American, that's insensitive to the uninvolved Canadians...), I must keep working. At least I now have most of my cognitive abilities. In other words, I think I'm done with hallucinations.

I played through a good deal of Edge's Tale on FF4: The after Years. I didn't beat the tale yet, since it's a very fun one that required me to take my time and fully enjoy it.

Edge's Tale is more like five different chapters in one. He has four ninja apprentices who each has a solo mission to fulfill. Unlike other missions in The After Years, a game over screen is not common. Yes, you can die fairly easily, but if any of the four apprentices die on their mission, you just continue with the next mission...with the possibility of never playing as that failed ninja again as he or she will be permanently killed. So, if you want the best outcome, you will need to think through your actions quite carefully. This is easier for some apprentices than others since some face mini-bosses, and one never has a town to visit to buy supplies.

I managed to beat all four apprentice missions. I did fail one originally, but reloaded so I could keep the party whole later on. Each mission was pretty fun since each ninja apprentice has the usual ninjitsu (ninja magic), item and attack commands. However, they each have one unique ability that ranges from stealing to a funny take on Kain's jump command. Also, each one uses different weapons (beyond the standard ninja swords and boomerangs), and each is focused on a different small set of ninjitsu spells. Luckily, unlike the original FF4, a healing spell or two is now in the list for most of the ninjas, including Edge.

I am now at Edge's part of the chapter, which eventually involves him being joined by each of his apprentices (assuming you kept them alive) to make a fun party of five ninjas to take on the final dungeon. While I may have said, previously, that I don't think I'll do anymore challenge dungeons after the annoyance that was Rydia's challenge dungeon, I may change my mind. With this party of five ninjas, with some awesome band attacks, I think I want to keep this party going as long as possible.


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