Crispy Gamer

Jones Returns to FFXII Over the Weekend, Enjoys Self Thoroughly

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After my original bid to play Final Fantasy XII was prematurely truncated by the Canadian postal system (a friend mailed the PS2 Memory Cards containing my saved games from New York; two months later, they have yet to arrive), this weekend I finally got around to starting the game over again.

To bring you up to speed, this was all part of a boozey promise I made to John Teti in Tokyo last year.

So, Saturday morning, with rain falling steadily against my patio windows, I once again revisited Vaan, Penelo, Miguelo, and the bustling cityscape known as Rabanastre.

Since FF is several thousand miles outside my comfort zone, I think restarting the game was actually a good thing for me. Everything felt exponentially more familiar this time around. The site of a dancing cactus was no longer the system shock that it was initially. I was familiar with the game's controls, with some of the environments. I knew who was worth talking to and who wasn't. I knew the location of The Sandsea tavern. I knew which enemies I could handle (Cacti, Flans) and which ones were very much out of my league (that patroling Saurian/dinosaur thing in the Eastern desert).

After 10 solid hours, I've seen things.

I fought a horse that was on fire, and I won.

I fought large spiders that were interested in eating electricity.

I've infiltrated the palace and stolen a glowing rock from a statue face.

I've been locked in a dungeon, and I've escaped.

I'm desperately, painfully in love with a tall, short-tempered rabbit-woman named Fran.

I'm familiar--at least I think I'm familiar--with the Gambit system. (I gave Fran "White Magick" and a heal spell that makes her constantly heal everyone in the group. If you've never been healed by Fran, you, sir, haven't lived.)

I've developed a nose for treasure.

Things still get a bit chaotic for my tastes when I've got four people in my party in battle situations. I have no idea what's happening at times, and I find myself simply watching the status bars in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Should someone get poisoned or blinded, boom, I'm right there with the proper Item to cure them.

And I still fret over the fact that I might be doing something wrong. Did I just sell the wrong stone back to Miguelo? Are those rat pelts worth a few gil more to the shop keeper in the desert? Should I have kept that weapon known as a Mage Masher?

Hell, man. I don't know.

I'm trying not to worry too much about those things, per Teti's sage advice.

Instead, I'm trying to make Vaan into more of a brute (this, despite his constant insistence to pose during conversations with his arms on top of his head) (please stop doing that, Vaan) (PLEASE). I'm buying him licenses that permit him to wear heavier armor and to wield bigger swords and such. You're going to become a brute, Vaan, whether you like it or not! I'm trying to make Balthier into more of a long-range handguns/shooter guy. And Fran, oh my beloved Fran, I'm trying to make into the spell-casting vixen that I'm certain she is.

As of this morning, I'm a newly minted Level 10 and growing.

Feeling my oats, I went back to that patrolling Saurian in the Eastern desert. I had Balthier and Fran and Bashe with me. Man, I was slicing/dicing my way across the lands! I was unstoppable!

It was time for that annoying Saurian to eat dust.

The results: He KOed Vaan with one strike.

Then he KOed Bashe. Then KOed a fleeing Balthier.

Fran--oh Fran!--her health dipping into the teens, barely escaped with her cute rabbit ears intact.

Which means there's apparently more--much more--leveling up that needs to happen.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, or lack thereof.

Meanwhile, enjoy this menacing picture of Fran.