While I am certainly no master of video game challenge runs, I do have a few under my belt. This week, I would like to do something I should have done long ago: give a brief writeup of one such challenge. A while back, I did a Black Belt solo run of the original Final Fantasy, with somewhat unexpected results.
In an average Final Fantasy playthrough, one can expect two major roadblocks. The first of these, the Marsh Cave, is a relatively long dungeon with enemies that are significantly tougher than many of those the player has faced up to that point. The other roadblock is the notorious Ice Cave, which is long and has enemies with instant-death attacks. A solo Black Belt faces roadblocks of his own. The first and surprisingly the toughest of these is the very beginning of the game. The Black Belt class in the original Final Fantasy has horrendous damage output early in the game, and relies upon level gains for usefulness perhaps more than any other class in the game. This, combined with my stubborn refusal to use any form of weapon in the game besides punching, meant that fighting imps outside of Coneria wound up being the most difficult part of the playthrough. Remarkably, the game became easier and easier the further along I got. The nine pirates fought in Provoka also proved tough, since a Black Belt has to take them out one at a time. Still, the Black Belt solo is frequently ranked among the easier Final Fantasy solos, and for good reason. In single-enemy fights, the Black Belt utterly dominated; boss fights were never even really a threat.
Another reason why the Black Belt solo wound up becoming easy was items. The Defense sword, with its ability to stack RUSE, meant that my Black Belt took no damage from physical attacks after a few turns of combat. The Heal helmet combined with the huge heap of healing items I could afford meant that HP was never really an issue, and the Zeus gauntlet allowed for multi-target damage. For kicks and giggles, I decided to grind to 50, the level cap, before taking on the final dungeon. This proved a hilariously brilliant idea, because of the Black Belt’s damage scaling. A level-capped Black Belt is essentially guaranteed to do over one thousand damage with his physical attack. Since no enemy besides Chaos has more than a thousand HP, this meant my max-level Black Belt could one-shot every single enemy besides the final boss, which took a whopping two attacks to bring down. The conclusion I reached as a result of this solo stomp-through is that every single non-challenge run party I bring through the original Final Fantasy will have a Black Belt/Monk in it. I forget the exact numbers, but after about level twenty or so (22 if I am not mistaken), Black Belt has the highest damage output in the game and even a fully-equipped Knight cannot keep up. The gap only grows larger, with a max-level Black Belt or Master having the aforementioned four-digit attacking capabilities.
So it turned out that solo Black Belt was actually a far, far easier run than I had expected. I doubt I will ever take on one of the more extreme solo, non-class change challenges in Final Fantasy, I will leave the solo White Mage and solo Thief runs to people who are far more dedicated and insane than I am. Join me next week, readers, where I will share some of my Pokemon-related challenge run exploits with you all. Until then, I am Daniel “Deimosion” Flink and I approve this article. Before I leave, however, I would like to take the time to extend congratulations to Lusipurr and Ashley, who will be married in but a few days now. Congratulations, Lusipurr and Thea, and I hope your wedding, honeymoon, and marriage are all excellent!