View Full Version : The Tower Saga: A tribute to Final Fantasy Legend in story form (2 chapters up)

2011-09-17, 01:40 AM
Final Fantasy Legend (known as Makai Toushi SaGa in Japan. I know, terrible name translation there) was, I believe, the first RPG game that I played. Back then, I was very young and did not have the skills that I would require to finish the game. And it stayed as an oddly-appealing game that was nonetheless too hard for me to finish. Years later, I gave it another try. And finally quite understood the basics. It wasn't exactly easy. But this time I got farther. And then I tried again. And finally I beat the game. The game is one of those love it or hate it games. I am among those that love it. So not too long ago, I got the inspiration to write. But I didn't know what to write. And then, for my enjoyment (and to share with a friend), I came up with an idea. I would do a kind of a Let'sPlay/story hybrid using Final Fantasy Legend. No need to make a totally new plot with this. There's enough spaces to fill in to turn this specific RPG into a story, so I can just use the game's normal plot. It works better that way because I find that the atmosphere that plot creates is... very unique. And it is the reason that I have found myself constantly replaying that game despite some rather glaring design flaws the game has. This Let's Play works as a story in part because the characters you play are really... not there. They're generic characters with very few lines of dialogue. Generic dialogue. In fact, who says what is determined by their position in the party. I honestly don't think this is the kind of game most people would play. And yet, I think it deserves a little more love than it gets. Thus this little tribute.

The way I wrote it is in small "chapters" representing small bits of the gameplay. And before each "chapter" there is a metagame section, where I write comments on the part of the game I'm writing about from a player/writer perspective. The meta-game comments are not necessarily written all before I write the chapter. More like I write the general comments before the chapter and then add as I write.

I've written a few chapters, but I think it's best if I present them one by one and wait a little in-between. That way I don't totally abandon the thread while I write in between bouts of being ill (or busy as will soon likely be the case. Compounded by very ill). I'm enjoying writing this, so I hope people enjoy reading it. Comments about my writing and how to make it better are HIGHLY appreciated. I've been very lacking in constructive criticism of my writing throughout my life and as a result, I think I'm dreadful! But I'm willing to get better.

Anyways, here goes.

The Tower Saga

Chapter 1 - The Tower

The Metagame:

I always start with the Female Mutant. Always. The first time I played it was just that I liked that sprite better. But that first time taught me to just go with that all the time. Humans start with better HP, that is true. A human protagonist will start with 60 HP. This is a huge amount for the earliest parts of the game. A Mutant protagonist starts with 40. This is decent, but not amazing. Normal (non-protagonist) humans start with 40, and normal mutants with 20 (ouch. 2-hit kills. 1-hit kills sometimes!). BUT! (and here is the huge difference), the Mutant Female is the ONLY character that starts with the best weapon available at this stage- the Saber. The Saber comes with 50 uses and is by far the most powerful weapon you will find in this entire first world (it is only until level 5 that you will be able to buy sabers, too, so it must be carefully used, mostly for bosses only).* Humans and the male mutant start with very standard equipment and the Monsters, while very powerful for starters, can easily be evolved into these forms from normal ones. So that's why this story starts with Iria. A female mutant. I was going to go with Iris, but Iria sounds better. I mean... Ira is ire in Spanish. So it just sounds better and more fitting for the crazy mutant girl that is going to brave the Tower. This is just an introductory chapter, no real action yet. It just introduces the Tower, and a slight introduction to Iria. Without further ado...

The Chapter:

She'd heard about the tower many years ago. After all, who hadn't? Located in the center of the world, the Tower had stood there from time immemorial. Perhaps this was the reason that there were so many legends surrounding it. But it was one of these legends that really held sway over the people. It was said that the Tower was connected to Paradise, and that if you were to enter it and climb to the top, you would find mountains of riches... and then Paradise. This legend had led many people to disregard the very real and tangible threat that the Tower posed and they had gone inside in a wild attempt to chase their dreams. No one knew for certain what had become of these arguably insane people. But the fact that the Tower was the source of all the monsters in the world did nothing to reassure the people of Continent as to the fate of those idealistic dreamers.

This was not, Iria knew, the only reason people ever had tried to challenge the Tower. Her kind had another legend to go with the one about Paradise. The monsters that had poured out of the Tower for many centuries were a curse. And if someone managed to get to Paradise, then the curse would be lifted, the lands would return to their former glory and the monsters that had not been assimilated into society would vanish forever. A few had entered the Tower with this more noble intention. But they had vanished just the same.

The caravan stopped at Base Town, the settlement that had been built around the Tower. Originally a fort to protect other towns from the monsters that had come from the Tower, it was now a large centre where adventurers gathered and traded goods. She had seen the Tower from the ship before she had travelled with the caravan and it had looked huge enough, but she couldn't help having her jaw open slightly in awe as she stared at the Tower from so close. It was an absolutely impressive sight. Built of grey, old stone, it was as big as the island town from where she had come and it stretched to the heavens. There was no end to it in sight, it seemed to go on forever. Some clouds were around it, very high up and though alone they would have seemed rather large, next to the Tower, they looked quite puny. The clouds cast a shadow on the Tower, making it look more ominous than the legends made it sound. She could feel a sort of chill emanating from it. A strange, unnatural chill that had nothing to do with the temperature around her. Almost instinctively, she wrapped her cloak more tightly around herself and walked towards the stairs that led to the business area of Base Town. Before reaching the long stairway, however, she saw one of the town's guards. It was her first time here. It would be best to ask for directions.

She didn't have to even speak. Apparently just one look at her told the guard that she was a newcomer.

- Clean clothes, no wounds, carrying a weapon. Another lamb headed for the slaughter, huh? They must be getting desperate with so many monsters breeding like flies all over the place. I hope they offered you lots of money, kid. But I warn you... you're not likely to live to see any rewards - the guard said.

- Is the infestation that bad, then? - Iria asked.

- It's bad, alright. How did you get here? Caravan?-


- Did'ja notice how many people were guarding that caravan that brings people to Continent from overseas?-

-Not really, no.-

-It takes two whole parties of four to keep that caravan safe during the journey! Two! That's eight people making sure new recruits like you get here safe and sound. And that's also what it takes to get anywhere else with less probability of getting killed. So if you want to do your part, you can stay here, live off the Inn and slay monsters around here. Make the world a little bit safer. Become rich while at it. That's all anyone comes here for nowadays. But there's no way you're going to make it on your own, kid. So if you're going to make yourself useful, don't head out alone. Last thing we need is to give them monsters a free meal.-

- Of course. Where can I find traveling partners?-

- Head up to the business area through the long stairway there. You'll see the Inn straight ahead, but that's not where you're going. What you do is you head to the right, as if going to the damned Tower. Just passing the Inn, there's the place known as the Guild. It's where adventurers go and register. You should register there too, so we know we have another fighter out to curb the monster infestation. Once you're registered, you enter the Guild... and you can meet other people there, looking for partners. Maybe someone will want to join you... maybe you go and join someone more experienced than you. It's up to you, really.-

Iria thanked the guard and then set towards the stairway that led to the business area. She knew, from what she had studied before coming here, that Base Town was centuries old. But even the stone that the fort and the stairs that led inside it were made of, worn as they were from the feet, hands, claws and horns of the many denizens of the place, looked new next to the ancient Tower. She wondered, as she walked up the stairway and past a sign advertising the town's inn, how the Tower had come to be. Perhaps she would find out. She had, after all, not traveled this far in order to not give her best try to solving this mystery.

Chapter 2- Allies for the Journey

The Metagame:

Forming a party is one of my favorite aspects of this game. Technically, you can do a solo adventure with a Human or with a Mutant. The Human is the best choice, of course, because you can raise their stats above the max (99 for all stats, except for HP which is 999). It won't show and you DO have to be very careful, since going above 255 or something means that the stat drops back to 0. The Human's 8 item slots do wonders for armor, too. If you're patient and don't mind a gamble, you can also try a Mutant, and it's possible, but not easy. And, due to a bug in the game, there are a very few Monster classes that can actually go through the game alone. Monster classes have the most trouble out of all classes because of how very limited their attacks are in number. So the problem isn't that they don't have the stats to do this. It's that, though they do have the stats, they run out of attacks. And when they do, they're toast because they can do nothing in battle until the enemy kills them. What the bug in the game does is that one attack, an instant-kill, instead of killing enemies with less agility(or was it strength?) than you (as it should!) it kills enemies with more agility(or strength). I will not be using this exploit during this play-through. There is another exploit when it comes to Mutants: the random number generator does NOT work correctly in anything from the Gameboy Color up. Or in emulators. This means that, if you turn off the system and then start, the battles from Base Town are practically scripted. And the first few of them raise your stats in a predictable manner. So you can technically wander around Base Town until all your stats are raised to max. I have not used this exploit, but I have confirmed that stat changes happen as advertised. I will also not be using this exploit during this play-through. In fact, I am using a Gameboy Pocket to play the game, so as to play it as it was originally meant to be played. I'd prefer an original Gameboy, but mine isn't working for some reason. And the Gameboy Pocket does not display the issue with the random number generator, so it will have to do.

Anyways, back to forming the party. The game's manual gives you some pointers in this direction. They recommend 3 parties. The first and most recommended party is a 4-human party. The manual says it's the most versatile group, but very expensive to raise in strength. This is true. With 8 item slots per character, you are looking at 24 items that can be equipped. This is a LOT of items and it lets you be prepared for almost anything. Armor will be using some of these slots, that is true. And humans never get natural defense, so armor is a MUST. Humans also raise stats only with special potions that must be purchased at an Item shop. Between these and armor and weapons, this does get extremely expensive. In my opinion, unless you're the kind of person who loves grinding, the expense offsets the benefit of the Humans' extended item-carrying prowess. But this is indeed, in potential, the most powerful party available.

The second party is 2 humans and 2 mutants. This party is great because it takes advantage of the human versatility without proving too expensive, and because, due to the addition of Mutants, you now get access to magic. You won't need to spend so much equipping the Mutants- just one armor slot, possibly one healing slot (cure magic is especially wonderful!), and maybe one weapon and one magic spell. If you're really lucky, maybe your Mutants will develop natural defense and you won't even need armor anymore. And since you will be using the Mutants' natural abilities, you will also not require to replace weapons as often. All in all, an excellent situation. The Humans will make sure you're never defenseless because the Mutants can sometimes lose their abilities randomly or get useless ones instead of good ones and other things that could be very troublesome in some areas.

The third recommended party is 2 humans, one mutant and one Monster. This has less carrying capacity than the other parties because the Monster can carry no items. However, Monsters can be formidable characters, as they have 8 slots that can have all sorts of amazing capacities as well as immunities to some forms of attack (… and vulnerabilities, too, sadly. Then again, Mutants can also get these, just rarely). Monsters have great stats, too, including natural defense. In my opinion, this is the second most powerful party in theory and the most powerful party in practice. After all, it takes a lot of grinding to get the items to strengthen Humans, and that is having just 2 of them! The Monster will evolve with meats from other monsters (best to get a FAQ on how this works, otherwise you can easily devolve your monster!) and needs no items save for occasional healing. The Mutant needs few items. The Humans have enough wealth left over to actually grow to decent levels with much less grinding.

The manual goes further, though, and also includes two parties that they recommend that you do NOT use. They even write it in caps “WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THESE PARTIES”. 4 Mutants or 4 Monsters. The problem with the Monsters is obvious: no items. Their abilities also have less uses than weapons and when you're long enough out of an inn, you WILL run out of attacks. Very long boss fights will do the same. And because of no items, there is little to no healing in-battle (some Monsters do have healing abilities). It IS possible to beat the game with 4 Monsters, but there are few ways to do this, and, like the solo Monster, you will most likely have to rely on the game's bug to do it. The 4 Mutant party may look like a much better idea. The manual says they can't use items, but this is not accurate. They can. Only they're not nearly as dependent on them as Humans (nor can they carry as many). You will have some trouble keeping a good stock of weapons, which you will definitely need as you progress. You'll have to leave treasures behind, too, since you won't be able to carry them all. And you're likely to depend on the Mutants' abilities more than on weapons (which is the accurate statement regarding Mutants and items, not that they can't use them), and when they change on a whim of the game or become useless, well, you'll probably find yourself in a lot of trouble. Because Mutants start with such low HP, they're also easily killed in the first few encounters. Monsters also will have this problem. So yes, the manual is right in saying these are really not great choices when it comes to parties. Possible to work with, but by no means a wonderful choice, especially not for a first-timer.

Now that the basics of the party-making process have been explained (I don't think any more comment sections will ever be this long again!) on to the party I will choose for this play-through.

Four Mutants.

Yes, I'm well-aware that I will have trouble managing items because I can't carry too few lest I run out of them, and if I carry too many I will not be able to hold the important treasures. Having 3/4ths of my party at 20 HP at first is going to make me become very friendly with the Reset function (to add challenge, I will not be resetting after I am ready to leave Base Town for good though wipe-outs will result in re-doing that part). At the same time, I like the gamble that Mutants represent. It seems that being played on the original system makes the Mutants truly mature randomly. I have actually already managed to finish the game with 4 mutants before, but only in a Gameboy Advance. So I guess it doesn't really count, does it? So here is my first attempt at the dreaded 4-mutant party in the original system. This should be the final introductory chapter before the gaming really starts.

The Chapter:

She could see the Base Town Inn just as she finished climbing the stairway. Ignoring it for now, she walked to the right of it, as the guard had instructed. Right after the Inn was a large desk. It was full of papers, its occupant apparently busy sorting them out. Iria had to blink several times upon seeing the person behind the desk: it was, aside from colour, the splitting image of her. Instead of long green robes and cloak, she wore deep purple ones, but they were just the same: the loose form, the neckline somewhat low due to the tropical weather where she came from. She was even wearing the same circlet of vines she always wore. Even the hair (though the copied look had blonde hair rather than the reddish brown Iria had) was the same shoulder length and just as casually brushed back as hers. This could only be a Monster: one of the friendly, civilized Monsters that lived in Continent. Some of them were ancient races of the world, but not all of them. Some were newcomers from the Tower. Unlike most of the Monsters, though, they were friendly and had learned the ways and language of Men. And some Monsters, she had heard back in her childhood, had the power to cast an illusion around them that made them look like a mirrored version of whoever was looking at them. Presumably, they could also turn this ability off, but no one she knew was really sure. Walking over to the desk, she was greeted with a smile by the Monster in the Mutant illusion.

-Oh hello, newcomer! Are you here to register in Continent's Guild of Adventurers? We offer great services, such as introducing you to strong leaders, or to people who would want to travel with you. We have good food and drinks and we only ask that you adventure out in Continent and kill savage Monsters. You can also volunteer, if you have a traveling party, to protect merchants as they make their way from Base Town to other towns. The pay is great and most people make it back alive. And as a registration bonus, we do offer three heart charms. For free! You can't get a better deal than that.-

-Heart charms?-

-Oh yes. They're an old magic. They tether your soul to your body, so if you die, some people possess special powers that can use the magic in the charms to bring you back to life. They used to be very rare. Now that Base Town has grown, we can give three of them to each adventurer. You can even buy some in some places. But they're very expensive. Goodness, yes. There's no way you'll be able to afford one unless you spend years adventuring around here. And well, by then, you'll likely have been killed at least once. So unless you register with us... I think you should maybe stay in town!-

Charms that could protect from permanent death? Well, that sounded absolutely wonderful. It would make her task easier. She had to admit she had been worried about this. Her Mutant heritage meant that she was descended from Humans as well as some of the older races of Continent. She thus possessed some of the Human strength, as well as magic powers from the old races. Her Human strength was not as great as it would be for a pure-blooded Human, but it was there. And her non-human heritage meant that she had powers that were locked deep into her genetic code. But the key word here was locked. She had led an easy life and thus, these powers had not been unlocked at all. She was, all in all, pretty much the same as an average human, except for her ability to use magic scrolls. And she was physically strong by Mutant standards!

- Okay, then. I'll register.-

The Guild attendant was all smiles as he or she wrote down Iria's name on a list, as well as her race. Then she was pointed towards the area in the back, where she was told she would be able to meet other adventurers that had registered in the Guild as well. She thanked the Guild attendant and headed inside.

The Guild's meeting area was little more than a tent with simple chairs and tables all over, like a makeshift pub. There were already some adventurers there, talking and drinking and sharing stories. It was exactly as she imagined it would be. She could hear small parts of conversations, mostly about the adventurers comparing their exploits and telling tales of epic battles against savage monsters.

There were Humans and Mutants and Lizards, and Skeletons and Albatrosses and Goblins and even a few Clippers, Redbulls, Wererats and a Zombie or two. It was quite a sight to behold. Her home had never had such a huge variety of people. There were a few humans (humans seemed to be almost everywhere) and the community of Mutants she had been raised it. She had seen friendly Monsters a few times, but never so many as there were here. Now all she needed to do was to find a few people to join her in her quest to find out about the Tower. But there were so many options that it seemed hard to decide who to even approach. So she walked around first, listening to the bits of conversation, wondering who seemed trustworthy enough.

- So are you looking for traveling partners?-

She had seen the Mutant man just before he had spoken to her. He was tall and slender, well-muscled, though nowhere near as buff as a Human would be. He seemed to have come from a tropical climate, for he was wearing only a sort of long, green loincloth and some metal armbands on his upper arms. His hair and eyes were brown.

-Actually, yes, I am.-

-And not for a short, common quest, are you?-

-Why do you ask that?-

-You did not head towards the strongest-looking people. You're walking around, listening. You want to know a little more about potential partners before you try to recruit them. Am I right?-

Iria had the feeling that it was the Mutant's not-so-latent powers that had given him that impression, rather than just his observations. Nevertheless, she nodded.

-Come. I have friends. We may perhaps be able to assist you.-

He led her to a table where two other Mutants, another man and a woman, were already sitting. The two of them seemed to have come from colder places. The woman was blonde and wore a metal circlet. She had fairly thick robes that were black in color and the neckline was quite high. The robes had a hood on them, possibly for rainy weather. Next to her sat the other man. He had long hair, unlike the Mutant that had led her here, and it was a strange, murky, greenish-blue. He too wore a circlet. For clothes he had a tunic tightened with a rope around his waist, and loose pants that were tied at the end by some rope, so as to make sure he wouldn't lose any warmth. Both Mutants looked at Iria with curiosity.

-She is looking for partners. Perhaps her quest will be akin to ours.- the Mutant man told the two that were sitting down. Then he turned back to Iria. -Please, do feel free to introduce yourself. We will do likewise.-

-I'm Iria, from an island in the north. Since I was a child, I have been hearing legends about the Tower. So I have come now.-

-Pleased to meet you, Iria.- the other Mutant woman said. -I am Miyu. I come from the far north islands, along with Ari.-

At the mention of the name Ari, the long-haired Mutant man nodded.

-I am Kyan- the sparsely-clothed man said. -Now that we know our names, perhaps we can share our reasons to be here. It could be that we can help each other.-

So it was that Iria found herself explaining to them how she, just like most people in the world, had heard about the Tower and how it was connected to Paradise. She had heard, too, about how, from the open doors of the Tower, monsters had begun to appear in great numbers, throwing the world into chaos, and it was only through the impressive strength of arms of the Humans, the special powers of Mutants and the friendly help of Monsters that the people had not been wiped out and had instead managed to wrestle much of the land from savage monsters. But the world had never been the same. There still was chaos and suffering. Even trading between towns had to be carefully controlled and protected from the savage monsters. And all this, the old races had said for generations, was due to the Tower. It was a curse that emanated from it. And only climbing to the top of the seemingly-endless Tower could break the curse. And those who broke the curse would receive Paradise.

Miyu pointed out how it was mostly the promise of Paradise that drew people to the Tower. Some people didn't even consider the hordes of savage monsters a curse that was brought by the Tower. But driven by greed to reach Paradise- and the mountains of riches in the way- or perhaps despair to escape the brutality that the land of Continent was engulfed in, many people had entered. But what had become of them? Ari pointed out, in his soft, whispering voice, that there could be no doubt that they were all dead, and that the Tower could only be a very normal building, full to the brim with monsters. There was no way anyone could possibly reach the top.

-It may be true- Iria said. - But I, for one, cannot stand to see anymore the fear and the suffering of people. The community that I come from is a small town besieged by savage monsters. Little by little, we lose ground to them. If nothing is done, my people and I will die anyways. There is a curse on that Tower, can't you feel it? And it's the source of the brutality the savage monsters display, I am sure of it! If I am to die, whatever I do, I'd rather die trying to do something about this than to just roll over and wait for the monsters to destroy the town, and then move on to the rest of the world.-

-Well said. I like that attitude.- Miyu said. - I will join you.-

-We will surely die... but Continent holds nothing for me. I'll go too.- Ari said quietly, and then turned to Kyan. -What about you, my friend?-

-You need to ask? I'm in from the start.-