Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Final Fantasy II: Match Game

One of the things Square added to Final Fantasy II in the Origins edition is a little minigame where you have to match 8 pairs of cards by flipping them 2 at a time. You can get some money and consumables out of it pretty early on if you can perfect the board. Perfecting the board is extremely unlikely (it's a little worse than 1 in 2 million) so it feels like this can't be faster than just grinding mobs or whatever. There's a catch though. Apparently the game will only generate 32 boards and will loop around them. So if you're willing to write down the first few boards you'll be guaranteed to get some perfects on board 33 and on...

When I read about this I thought they meant there were only 32 possible boards so I went in and wrote them all down. The idea being I could then go in, flip a couple cards, and know where I was in the sequence. Unfortunately this turns out to not be the case. After writing them all down I did confirm that they cycled back for board 33. But then when I left the minigame and then went back in the board that came up had a pattern that didn't match any of the 32 I'd written down. Playing the game 33+ times just to get some gold has to be wrong.

There's a twist to the game... If you happen to have leveled the toad spell up to max level (for reference I have never maxed out a spell or skill in this game) the game changes and the rewards get significantly better. We're talking end game quality gear here... Aegis shield, ribbon, genji helm, genji armour, genji glove, and possibly some one shot consumables too. So if that gear makes the game significantly faster it could be worth the time and effort of writing down some patterns and plowing through the minigame a few times. You'd have to grind up a toad spell, which would also add on a fair amount of time. On the plus side toad is the best instant death spell in the game so maxing it out might actually be optimal even if you weren't going to abuse this minigame.

So the question is... How good are these items? Is it feasible that spending time getting them early will save more time over the course of the entire game?

Ribbon - Probably the best helmet in the game. It has no evasion penalty, so you can wear it without screwing up your agility gains. It has no magic penalty, so you can cast spells at full power. It has the highest magic defense of a helmet. It provides resistance to every element, which means you're immune to all negative status conditions from spells. That part is the one that could be huge... Not having to worry about dying to confuse or stone might save a lot of time. You get one ribbon out of a chest and can fight enemies that drop ribbons so eventually you'll get them that way, but all of these sources are only found in the final dungeon.

Genji Helm - The highest defense helmet in the game, but it comes with massive evasion and magic penalties. If you're happy going last, being unable to run, and getting hit by every attack then you want to wear this helmet. I don't want to do those things, except maybe on my 4th character who isn't going to get agility power leveled.

Aegis Shield - The best shield in the game. It has the highest evasion and provides resistance to 4 of the 8 elements. The evasion boost isn't very big, and since I'm planning on scumming a high shield level it probably wouldn't matter. You get one normally and can farm more off of the optional superboss of the game. All in the final dungeon.

Genji Armour - Same as the helm. Highest defense, but massive evasion and magic penalties. Do not want.

Genji Glove - Same as the other two.

Ok, so the genji gear is all terrible for the way I play, and the aegis shield is probably redundant. But getting my hands on 3 ribbons early on in the game is awesome. And maybe worth the time spent... I need to figure out what that would be. I also need to actually get the toad spell in the early game, which is not a trivial task...

There's a scroll in a treasure chest in Castle Fynn, but that place doesn't open up until near the end of the game. A long time after you get the snowmobile which opens up the minigame, so that's probably out. It's also a drop from a monster that appears on the world map at the same time as Castle Fynn opens, so that's no help. It also drops from a second monster that appears on the world map at the same time as the first one. But they also exist as a trap encounter in the first town. You can walk up to them and talk to them to start a fight. They're brutally powerful for the start of the game, but by the time I can get the snowmobile I'll have twinked out more than enough to kill one of these guys I would think. The toad scroll is only a 5% drop so I'll need to kill lots of them, but the bottom line is it is actually feasible to have toad really early in the game.

Which means I should investigate how long it takes to beat the minigame with 1 miss three times over.

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