Final Fantasy VI: The Air Blade Trap

My last session ended at a wall: a confrontation with a trick boss. I haven’t yet got its measure down completely, but it cycles between two forms with different attacks and different weaknesses. I’m going to have to do some probing, then probably go back to the last save point (located conveniently outside its lair) and pick out more specialized equipment.

At this stage of the game, bosses of this sort are the only fights that present any difficulty at all. In particular, Sabin has a move called “Air Blade” that’s basically the “win fight” button, doing at least a thousand points of damage, and usually substantially more, to all enemies. Since it’s one of his moves that requires a hadouken-like rotating sweep of the D-pad, I don’t always execute it successfully, but that just means I endure one round of attacks before I get to try again. The rest of my party is basically just there to absorb damage, and sometimes to reduce the enemy’s ability to dish it out. Most of my characters have learned most of the spells available in the game, but the only ones I really use are the healing spells. Only the bosses force me to exercise my options more fully.

But then, I suppose that abusing Sabin isn’t my only choice. For example, I could probably do just as well through power-spellcasting. I got used to conserving mana in the early parts of the game, but that isn’t really a necessity now: my characters are rolling in the stuff, and pulling in enough cash to maintain a wagonload of mana restorative items. Ordinary melee attacks plus damage-enhancing items is also probably a valid approach; as it is, I’m keeping my characters mainly equipped with stuff to ward off status effects, which makes success in combat more certain, but reduces the variety of the experience. As I once said about Diablo, it’s important to have a strategy, but it doesn’t really matter what it is.

But personally, I find that once I hit on one approach that works, I tend to stick with it until it stops working. This may mean I’m the wrong sort of player for this sort of game, but if so, a lot of other players are in the same category. I remember this being a particular problem in Final Fantasy VIII. Summonables become available extremely early there, and were unusually cheap to cast, and for much of the game were as good a battle-ender as Sabin’s Air Blade. So a lot of players, it seemed, just used a summon in every fight, until they either got tired of watching the summon animations over and over and quit the game, or finally hit a battle where summoning alone didn’t cut it and abruptly had to learn to use the rest of the combat system. FF8 is usually considered one of the weakest of the series, partly (though not entirely) because of this problem. And I can see the same thing happening on a smaller scale here.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mark on 7 May 2010

    There’s an interesting combination of (mis)features of Sabin’s blitz commands that can make things easier for you:

    First, for the diagonal entries, it will accept either of the adjacent horizontal or vertical directions.

    Second, there is no time limit except that implied by the ATB system itself when you’re playing in Active mode, and a neutral input will not disrupt your timing.

    If it’s been bugging you, it’s possible to perform an Air Blade easily by pressing Up, Up, Right, Right, Down, Down, Left at your leisure. Or Up, Right, Right, Down, Down, Left, Left. Or any of a number of other combinations.

    However, I will caution you that, although the game never really becomes difficult, Air Blade is nearing the end of its usefulness. FFVI is a game that doesn’t really have a single dominant strategy that lasts for the whole time.

Leave a reply