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  3. FF Hard-Type first time playthrough (spoilers all)
hexagon_hero 4 months ago#1
Hi all. I'm not a great FF player, but I have done a solo RW run. I've played a couple of other hacks too; restored and ultra championship edition. Really enjoyed both, fwiw.

Years ago, I played a little of hard-type, but didn't make it past marsh cave. Well, I've got that itch again and I think it's probably time. Let's go!

For my starting party I chose Fighter, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage. Last time I tried this hack was hard enough, no reason to use some unbalanced party too. I went ahead and applied the "no sprite change on class change" patch overtop hard-type. Hopefully they play well together.

I've always been a fan of over-leveling in RPGs and decided to do no different here. Grinded up level 4 before I tried for Garland and had no real problems. I did actually die to an undead stunlock in the ToF, but I had used a tent outside so it didn't matter much.

The walk to Matoya's cave and Pravoka was fraught with peril, actually had a party wipe there too. In the end though, we rolled up to the costal city without much stress, and were very happy to add some level 2 spells to the list. Sleep and Confuse rocking enemy groups lets me feel powerful for the first time, which is nice.

Even in base game, the space between Pravoka and the marsh cave is a bit of a grind- level 8 or so is my typical target. This time around I went with "until I've bought everything I want from the stores" which took a couple of levels longer. For my first few delves into the marsh cave I brought a full stack of potions didn't have much trouble. A dark wizard random encounter killed my thief and hyena / g. ogre packs nabbed a couple of kills too, but it was nothing so bad a couple of hasty trips back to town couldn't handle. All in all, the cave was looted in about 5 or 6 trips. Playing it safe, running where I can, and sparing no expense on tents and potions seems to be enough so far.

Then the Astros fight took a half dozen tries. The one that we finally won felt cheap- he just happened to miss the instant death and two hasted up brutes beat him to death. I almost re-loaded to try to beat him in a normal fight, but then you know, didn't.

Mystic Key treasure collecting was fun and rewarding as always. The dream staff is my new favorite thing. I tend to use frame skip in speed up combat and having an item to use instead of auto-attacking kind of gets in the way of that, but the utility is well worth the price in convivence. Earth cave up next!


I stopped counting deaths in Earth cave. 4 Zom-Bulls waiting at the end of the hall of giants? FOUR? Although the Atlas glove is a pretty nice treasure. On my third try I get back out with it. It's just in and out. That's the key. Get a few treasure boxes, get away. Rinse and repeat. Level 5 black magic is warp, warp, or warp. Sometimes if you're feeling crazy, instead of warp you can save the spell slot for warp. My new favorite spell! At one point I tried to head to Crescent Lake for my new spell level, but I couldn't get close thanks to the crazy monsters in the overworld there. The guy in town said it was a waste of time anyways, so I didn't try very hard. The vampire fight was a joke compared to getting to him in the first place, which was just as well. Ruby in hand!

On the way I make an accidental discovery: pure potion cures mute!? Does it do that in base game?? If not, maybe a townsfolk should tell you. Actually, I haven't even been talking to all of them. Maybe one does? ANYWAYS

The titan's tunnel was the first time I felt like the game was a bit too much of a slog. I'm about level 20 at this point (I know, I know, but it isn't all grinding, it's trips in and out for treasure!) So many of the encounters there were non-runnable and non-threatening. Just as I'm about to make an angry forum post, the Fire staff is such a nice reward that I chill right out. Time to hunt the Lich!

Sure, there's a couple of trips in and out to get the boxes from the deeper floors, but they go pretty smoothly. I'm starting to worry that I've over leveled, which wouldn't bother me so much except that I think class change grants better stat gains. Don't want to limit my final power level with sub-optimal level ups. Guess we'll see how it goes.

The Lich fight actually kicks me around quite a bit. Despite being level 24 I experience two party wipes before he falls. Then wouldn't you know it, a random encounter wipes me in between killing him and getting outside. It happened right in front of one chest, so I mistakenly thought it was a spike square. I use a few words I'm not proud of, and make the trek back in again.

This time Lich falls and only my Black Mage is standing. Still believing the chests to be spiked, I run straight into the portal. It takes about four tents and twice as many reloads to get back to town alone, but the Earth isn't rotting anymore, we have time. One more trip back in for some ultimately skippable treasure boxes, and we learn that the chests aren't spiked after all. Pausing to say goodbye to the Earth Cave forever, it's onward to Crescent Lake.

The item shop sells houses. The item shop sells houses! FINALLY. In the forty years I spent excavating the Earth Cave, it was a matter of going in as deep as possible until all 99 potions were consumed, then walking back to town and buying more. Over and over again. Now the volcano can be much more enjoyable. Our white mage gets demoted to item user and out of combat healer- which isn't a bad gig to be honest, with the OP spell items we're starting to collect. Sleep and Mute are both GREAT staffs. Fire is fine too.

The loop becomes get as deep into the volcano as possible without using any potions, warp out, sleep in a house. It might not sound exciting but it's so much more efficient than what we did in the Lich hunt that I have no complaints. I don't have a level 2 heal spell and regret it. If / when I play again with a White Mage, Mute loses its spot. Not a big deal but it would be nice to be able to dump all of my spell charges into HP during the treasure trips. Potions are saved for the last couple of runs and I managed to finish the Volcano at level 26, just 2 higher than before. This is great, because if there was ever a time to stop over-leveling to maximize class change gains it is now.

The treasures in the volcano are AMAZING. Snow staff and Holy Mace make a pretty powerful combo for trash groups. Being able to use Wizard Staff with Dream Staff is a solid play as well. Mix in some Pro Rings plus Axis and Shadow gear and I'm feeling good. If I was going to complain about anything it might be that Kary was kind of a pushover. White mage cast XBar and Heal3 (and move occasionally), Black mage cast haste and temper (and free staff occasionally), Fighter / Thief just wailed away and she went down. After the game throw so many tricks, having such a vanilla boss fight seems out of place. Maybe it has to be this way- my party is so balanced, if the game is going to be beatable with something like two Thieves and two Black Mages maybe your standard DPS check bosses can't be over tuned? Or maybe the Volcano is just a breather level to help me come to terms with the terror that lies before me: The Ice Cave.

We head back to town for supplies, use a house just outside, and begin.

Actually, I go to bed. Even in base game Ice Cave wipes parties. We'll pick this back up later.
beege_man 4 months ago#2
Pure does not cure mute in base game, and I do think a townsperson early on might tell you about the change. Pure potions actually cure everything but stone and death I believe. Which can be nice if everyone gets blinded or paralyzed early on.

Kary can be easy or hard depending on how her AI chooses actions. She has some very nasty spells/abilities that can end your day if she chooses right. Also part of it might be that you're slightly over-leveled with a solid party, that certainly speeds up the fight and doesn't allow her to pull out her good tricks.

Good luck and enjoy the game!
L44 482/482 9/9/9/8/8/8/8/7 Int/MDef: 58/106
HDCEA: 116-111-106/51-53-46/3-4-6.5/83/43(37) Resist: Ice/(Fire)/(Lit)/Death AtkElem: Ice-Fire-Coral
hexagon_hero 4 months ago#3
Whelp, the ice cave is atrocious. Despicable. Terrifying.

For real, we're talking 10+ party wipes before I got to the first treasure box. (Another Holy Mace, nice!) I even drew a paper map of the maze on the second floor just to make sure I didn't go the wrong way and face an extra encounter. I can't remember the last time I've had to do that! Good times.

Run after run, I felt myself getting more and more frustrated with my mage's spells- note even just the selection, but the order. On level 1, cure is in the first slot. But on level 3, cure is in the second slot. On level 1, fire is first. But on level 3, Lit 2 is first. Madness!

I went ahead and started over with the same party. This time, I'm committed to sensible spell order. This means not learning any level 4 white magic until after we get past the starting sea so Heal 3 can be in the first slot, but that's no great loss. Interestingly enough, the first half of the game was much easier this time. I was able to get back to the ice cave a few levels earlier. In particular, knowing about the exit in the earth cave and that the extra path titan tunnel doesn't contain anything saved me all kinds of time. The first because I could spend my level 5 charges on Fire 3, and the second because I we able to face like 5 less encounters in what was the slogiest part last time.

Of course, this presents a new problem: The ice cave was kicking my face in before, and now I'm there two / three levels lower. (Depending on which part member you ask.) Not sure how to progress aside from grinding to true over-leveled status, but I'll think it over for a bit before doing so.

My 2 Pro Rings are among my greatest resources. Who deserves them? White Mage to be sure, since he casts Life. The Fighter makes a decent argument for the other, since instant death costs us the most HP when it hits him, but I've been leaving it on Thief for now, just because he's got less XP and I don't want him getting too far behind. That, and Fighter has the Atlas Glove so the party overall has a higher Def with a good glove on Thief too.

I'm not certain yet if I should be taking the shortcut on the 3rd floor. Fighting an eye is terrible, but the ~4 extra encounters going around costs usually has something else that causes instant death.

Maybe I should be casting XDeath more often? Surely the way people are beating this cave isn't just rolling the dice over and over until they don't get deathed by dark elves / sorcerers for 20 encounters in a row. Hard to say.

I'll give it a few more tries before I just grind up, I guess. Still having fun, just not sure if there's something obvious I'm missing. I've avoided save states so far, but might change my tune if I find myself more than halfway though the long weekend without progress.

Time will tell!
(edited 4 months ago)
hexagon_hero 4 months ago#4
Okay, ice cave down! Not gonna lie, that was tough.

Ended up not using the shortcut with the eye fight on the 3rd floor, committing 99 potions and a trip back to town to every excursion, and just taking my lumps and dying to sorcerers over and over. Leveled up a couple of times in the various treasure runs, sitting at 28 now.

Full confession, I did make a save state right before the boss fight, and I'm not sorry. The Eye ended up taking a few tries and I don't think I would have been able to tolerate wiping in the cave for an hour and a half between each attempt. Not sure how many people who've played this hack are likely to check this board, but if any of you do and have thoughts on what I was doing wrong in the ice cave, I'd love to hear them. There must be some strat I just didn't discover because it was so much harder than anything else I've seen so far. Moving on!

I don't have a lot to say about the Castle of Ordeals, other than it felt perfectly tuned. I went in at 28, came out at 30, every fight felt fair and fun. Big damage and scary dragons are just what the genera is all about, I guess. Getting the heal staff feels even better than it did in the base game somehow. Every unhappy moment in the ice cave paid itself off there. I should have expected the pillar maze to get mixed up, haha, and did die a few times while exploring... but once I had my route perfected I was able to get all of the treasures in a single trip.

After that I got my class change, and now began traveling all over the world gathering spells and items from the northern towns. With a stack of houses in the bag and Nuke and Fade in the spell book pretty much nothing I encountered on the overworld is a threat while collecting money and looking for the caravan was a threat.

The caravan hunt was actually really cool, the need to test each space in the desert was a fun way to flex all my new powers. And the best new power of all? One of the shops sells Pro Rings, and fear of instant death is now a thing of the past! I even dropped my Knight's Atlas Glove for one. I might go back to the ice cave and murder its inhabitants a few times just as some low grade therapy, but I'll probably just end up getting petrified instead. Maybe after we find some ribbons.

I'm ready for the sea shrine, but will probably check out the waterfall first. I wonder if the defender sword is still there and as OP as it was in base game? Can't wait to see!
(message deleted)
beege_man 4 months ago#6
hexagon_hero posted...
I even dropped my Knight's Atlas Glove for one.
Yikes. That is one of the most powerful spell casting items in the game. I can't imagine ever giving up the Atlas Gloves.

It's been too long since I played to really weigh in on the Ice Cave. I know it was tough, but I don't remember it being as tough as you described. Though that Eye fight at the chest is definitely brutal and I can't fault you for save stating there. It remember it taking forever to figure out a way to win that fight.

Perhaps @Zzonkmiles can weigh in on Ice Cave strategies? I'm sure he'll be interested in this topic regardless in case he hasn't seen it.
L44 482/482 9/9/9/8/8/8/8/7 Int/MDef: 58/106
HDCEA: 116-111-106/51-53-46/3-4-6.5/83/43(37) Resist: Ice/(Fire)/(Lit)/Death AtkElem: Ice-Fire-Coral
Zzonkmiles 4 months ago#7
Thanks for tagging me, @beege_man . I am not as active on this board as I used to be.

Hello, Hexagon Hero! Welcome to Final Fantasy Zz! Congratulations on sticking it out this far! Which version are you playing? I hope it's the most recent version--2.3. A lot of websites list version 1.51 as the final version, which is most unfortunate.

Regarding Ice Cave strategies, I would tend to do the following:

1. Go into the Volcano first to get the two ProRings.

2. On the bottom floor of the Ice Cave (B3), I would give one ProRing to my WM (if I have one) and the other ProRing to my lead character. If I don't have a WM (who can cast LIFE), then I would give the two ProRings to the characters in the top two positions. This way I'd have the best possible protection in case there's a group of Mages/Dark Elves.

3. For the Evil Eye fight, the WM should cast XDTH, of course. But if you don't have this spell, then the ProRings should be equipped by the characters whose max HP is below 300 or is easy to fall below 300. This is a tricky fight because of the Ghosts.

4. If you have the BM, you can WARP out fairly easily after getting the Floater. You'd still have to survive one runnable spiked square and hope that the encounters on B1 are not cruel to you.

It is possible to use WARP to take a "shortcut" to the Floater without dealing with all the crazy random encounters in there. The tradeoff is that you'll have to suffer through a bunch of miserable spiked squares to do so. This is certainly doable, but it's definitely miserable.

Regarding the Titan's Tunnel, it was purposely designed to drain your resources since you'll have to travel through it twice. There is a House in Sarda's Cave to restore your magic. But if you are a bit too liberal with your potion consumption, you could really be in trouble.

The Sea Shrine is probably my favorite dungeon in FFZz. I had a lot of fun redesigning that place. But be careful! The monsters in there are dreadful. It may help if you make a map. If you'd like to venture into the Waterfall first, you certainly could. But that's not an easy errand either.

At this point, you should not worry so much about your levels. You WILL be at Level 50 when you beat the game. I've had a few teams that were in the upper 40s when they made it to the TOFR, but that's rare.

Also, your inventory is more important than your levels. You need to start thinking carefully about what weapons and armor you want to keep and what you're willing to throw away. This will result in some tough decisions about some of the enchanted items you've been carrying around with you. It can be hard to say goodbye, but I made sure to put a few duplicate items in some random chests in case a player has buyer's remorse.

Thanks again for playing Final Fantasy Zz. Good luck! You'll need it!
PSN/YouTube/Twitch: Zzonkmiles (Don't listen to Ondore's lies!)
Download Final Fantasy Zz Hard-Type at
hexagon_hero 3 months ago#8
beege_man posted...
Yikes. That is one of the most powerful spell casting items in the game. I can't imagine ever giving up the Atlas Gloves.

Ack! Now I'm feeling some regret... but honestly, there's so little room for extra armor, maybe not. Time will tell I guess.

Zzonkmiles posted...
Which version are you playing?

2.3, the version I found on That's the top result on google when searching for hacks, at least for me. Glad I've got the up-to-date one!

Zzonkmiles posted...
and the other ProRing to my lead character.

I had it on characters 2 and 3 for all of my Ice Cave delves. (Thief and white mage.) I guess I wasn't thinking that spells would follow the same targeting rules as melee attacks but in hindsight, I don't know why I assumed it wouldn't for the entire time I was dying in there. Fighter in 1 was clearly getting killed more than Black Mage in 4, and now that I think about it, Astros usually killed him too. I should rename the poor guy Dan. (I assume references to the speed run jokes will land here, idk)

Even if I had realized I might still have tried to make glove on Thief work as his XP was so much lower than everyone else's I really wanted to let him catch up a bit. Maybe I should have just put him in first.

I was able to get through the waterfall without too much trouble, but the White Sword wasn't much of a thrill compared to the vanilla Defender. S'okay, there's been so much good treasure in the past few dungeons, they can't all be the best. Maybe it's better than I think it is, but skipping a Fighter Attack is a big investment for a cure spell. Stat wise I like the Light Axe on him better anyways. It was still a really enjoyable crawl, and a nice pace break between the Castle of Ordeals and the Sea Shrine.

I've started the Sea Shrine, but haven't made a ton of progress yet. (It's not a slog or anything, I just haven't played as much the past few days.) Having access to exit magic really makes the early explorations feel less stressful. The fights aren't too bad in there so far except perhaps the Evil Eyes, one of which scored a Glance instant death attack through my Pro Ring. I didn't think that was possible, but I guess I should expect those kinds of surprises since "Hard" is literally in the name.

I actually groaned when I hit a chest with the Opal Glove, there's no room for all these armor options! I actually just left it in the chest. I can come back later if I decide it's worth lugging around. I kind of dislike Monks but it might be worth having one just for the storage.

Don't tell me now, but after I finish / get as far as I can, I will ask to hear your thoughts on the ideal equipment kits for various teams.

Zzonkmiles posted...
Thanks again for playing Final Fantasy Zz.

What, are you kidding? Thanks for making a super entertaining mod and putting it up for free.
beege_man 3 months ago#9
hexagon_hero posted...
one of which scored a Glance instant death attack through my Pro Ring.
Two possibilities here... either Glance is a different element than Death (perhaps Poison, Petrification or Time?), or you got hit by the unlucky 1/201 chance of something bypassing protection. Due to the way the RNG works in this game there is always a tiny chance of something working. Kind of annoying, but can be exploited against Chaos and other bosses in extreme challenges.
L44 482/482 9/9/9/8/8/8/8/7 Int/MDef: 58/106
HDCEA: 116-111-106/51-53-46/3-4-6.5/83/43(37) Resist: Ice/(Fire)/(Lit)/Death AtkElem: Ice-Fire-Coral
(edited 3 months ago)
madspunky 3 months ago#10
Great writeup!! Found myself involved in your story!
Final Fantasy Ultra Champion Edition, my ultra hack of the original Final Fantasy:
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