So, I've been doing a lot of travelling recently and I needed something to play in Airports and on the plane. I feel like a comfort game is best for this sort of deal, something that I know a lot about, something a bit nostalgic that won't require too much brain power. Final Fantasy 7 or 9 would be my go to choices, but I literally just played both of them recently and didn't feel ready to play them again, as much as I love them.
So, I decided to download FF8 onto my Vita and play that instead. The problem I always had with FF8, besides the fact the story is all over the place and nonsensical, was how easily broken the gameplay was. I know off by heart how to get the very strongest magics to junction and use as early as possible, and it takes away all the challenge. It would be fine if the story entertained me as much as IX or the gameplay had some semblance of blalance like VII, but VIII has neither.
But, perhaps this complete freedom in the gameplay can be saved by a few custom made rules. And so, that's what I did. Class Challenges aren't anything new. You assign a class to a character and they are limited to magics, stats, abilities and passives that would suit that class. I look around on the internet for some ideas, but ultimately I decided I could give myself the right amount of challenge while still keeping the fun of getting to progress your characters.
I'm currently on the end of disc 2 and I'm having the most fun doing it, it might even redeem FF8 for me, knowing I can always do this if I wanted.
So here are my rules. The rules are in place not to take away fun, but to give every character a purpose and create interesting choices within the gameplay which otherwise don't exist.
No playing Triple Triad. Ever. (Explained: The biggest casualty of this really is the card game, playing it gave you access to far too powerful items too early in the game if you do it right. I could have either banned Card Modding, meaning you could play minigame as nothing more than a minigame or I could have banned playing the game, meaning you can still aquire and mod cards from either Battles or the Card command. I chose the latter because I felt like card modding itself wasn't as issue if you didn't have easy access to an unlimited amount of high level cards, and I think I was right. The most rediculous thing you can do with cards in the early game is manage to give every character 100 Quakes and 100 Demi's through Modding Diablos and Brothers (or Sacreds I can't remember) card and use Time-Mag Refine on the items you get. However, only one character has access to actually using those spells, and while every character can junction them, the boost is just enough to make the characters more distict in their roles instead of breaking the game. I'll explain more on this in a bit)
No grinding. (Explained: This ones so vague it's hard for me to even describe, but essentially you have to go from Point A to Point B as directly as possible. Point B doesn't have to be the next story block, it can be a treasure or a GF or something else, but no running in circles looking for random battles to Card or grind AP on. You have to ask yourself "Am I doing this just so I can get more random battles?" If yes, skip it and go to the next story point.)
No using GFs. (Explained: They are just too strong. No one will be able to equip the GF command, but everyone can still equip as many GF's as they want for the Stat-junctions or abilities they provide)
No Drawing in Battle. (Explained: You can draw from Draw-points, and refine spells from items. You cannot ever draw spells from an enemy in battle. This is to stop you filling your coffers with high level spells and stalling out battles to get them. Battles should be quick and decisive. There are only 2 exceptions. You may draw GF's from a boss, since they are unique, but only GF's. The second exception regards Quistis and I'll get to that in her section.
I did this because this magic system SHOULD actually feel like a resource, but instead it's far too easy to get 100 of the best spells apart from maybe aura and ultima. So your higher level spells should actually feel special and make you think when you are going to use them.)
No refining items that can be bought. (Explained: This is more of an addition rule to the one above, but no refining your Tents into Curagas. High level magic is a crucial resource.)
No Meltdown. Ever. (Explained: Meltdown is a cheap and overpowered spell, as such I've put a blanket ban on using it any any form, either spell, draw-casting or item.)
Characters are banned from certain abilities depending on their class. each character is also only allowed to Junction magic to 5 stats, and initially only 2 stats, with an extra stat unlocked at each disc change. Most characters Limit Breaks have extra restrictions put on them to make them less abusable, I'll list those below as well. The classes and characters are as follows.
Squall - Paladin
Limit Break Restriction: Limit Trigger must be set to "Auto" (Explanation: Meaning you pressing R1 does nothing, the computer gods decide whether or not you hit 15 times.)
Junctionable Stats: HP - STR - VIT - SPR - Ailment Defense (Explanation: Squall ends up pretty tanky, with High defenses and a way to deal reasonable damage on his basic attack. He will be soaking up a lot of hits and defending the more glass-cannony characters like Rinoa. Being able to Junction Ailment Defense can apply to more than one, so if you have St-Defx2 or more, then you can Junction them all.)
Usable Magic - Cure - Cura - Protect - Shell - Life - Regen - Esuna - Dispel. (Explained: Not quite as good as our true White Mage, Selphie, as he only has access to the lower end of the White Magic spells, but having access to healing spells allows Squall to fill a support role in a damage heavy team without Selphie)
Abilities: Magic,HP+ 20/40/80%, Vit+ 20/40/60%, Spr+ 20/40/60%, Cover, Defend, Move HP-up, Auto-Protect, Return Damage (Explained: Squalls defenses can be boosted through the roof, and along with Cover and Defend, he can pass that along to his allies too. HP-Move Up and Auto-Protect keep him trucking along, while Return Damage gives him a unique way to hurt foolish enemies.)
Zell - Monk
Limit Break Restriction - Limit set to Auto (Explained: Set his limit to automatic and don't input any buttons and let the AI decide what gets used.)
Junctionable Stats - HP, Str, Spd, Vit, Elem-Atk (Explained: Zell hits hard and fast. Mostly you will be using him for his basic attacks and powerful limit break, but has greater potential for damage still if you know the elemental weakness of an upcoming boss or such. He has a weakness to magic attacks, so casting Shell on him could be good.)
Usable Magic - None (Explained: Zell is one of the two characters who are completely without the Magic command. He can still junction whichever spells he likes, but he has no way of casting them in battle.)
Abilities: Str 20/40/60%, Spd+20%, HP+20/40%, Counter, Darkside, Kamikaze, Mad Rush (Explained: Darkside really buffs Zells damage even further, but at the cost of his HP. Having Selphie and Squall around to keep him topped up isn't a bad idea at all. He's able to boost his Strength a lot and even a bit of his HP, but not as far as Squall. Mad Rush is a niche skill, but has its uses if your team has good Strength such as a Zell/Squall/Quistis team. Counter is a staple Monk ability and Kamikaze is a Risk-it-for-the-biscuit gambit.)
Selphie - White Mage
Limit Break Restriction: Must cast first Slot magic. (Explained: If you choose to use Selphie's slots, you must cast whatever first spell comes up. No re-roll, and no backing out of the screen to do a regular spell if you don't like what you got. Hoping for The End and all you got was Thunder x1? Tough titties, you gotta cast it.)
Junctionable Stats: Spr, Mag, Spd, Lck, Status Def (Explained: Selphie is a pretty vulnerable character stat-wise, she is resistant to magic to a degree thanks to being able to junction Spirit, but is relying on other forms of protection from physical attacks. She is also resistant to status ailment, and is actually the only character able to learn the Ribbon ability.
Usable Magic: Cure - Cura - Curaga - Life - Full-Life - Holy - Regen - Esuna - Dispel - Protect - Shell - Reflect - Float - Scan (Explained: Basically an upgraded version of Squalls magic pool, as fitting of a white mage. Nothing special to note really, apart from Holy. Holy is Selphie's only way to deal damage apart from her Limit which while it has potential is totally random. )
Abilities: Magic, Recover, Revive, Spr+ 20/40/60, Mag+20%, Ribbon, Auto-Reflect, Auto-Shell (Recover and Revive are good if you are running low of Curaga and Full-Life, but aren't able to be Double-Tripled. Ribbon makes her completely immune to status effects and is unique to Selphie, but this makes her 5th junction slot pointless. Auto-Reflect is risky business, but Auto-Shell is pretty reliable. )
Quistis - Blue Mage
Limit Restrictions - None (Explained: There are two things that define Quistis as a Blue Mage, the first is her limit break. It can be powerful, but as she has no defensive junctions, staying at low HP to continue using it is a risk in and of itself. So she may use it freely.)
Junctionable Stats: Str, Mag, Hit, Eva, Lck (Explained: Quistis has high offensive capabilities but lacks any sort of defense, so pairing her with Selphie or Squall is usually a good idea. That being said she is probably the most versitile of all the characters thanks to her unique Draw command, but i'll talk about that later. Her low defensive stats are to keep her Limit in check, but she does have access to Luck, so perhaps a few lucky dodges on Physical attacks can keep her standing.)
Magic: None. (What, a blue mage without access to ANY magic? Well, yeah, her Limit is her magic. But don't worry, technically Quistis has the broadest spell pool of any character we have. Why? Because of the fact that only she has the Draw command. No character can draw from enemies in battle, technically not even Quistis, but she is able to use the Draw-> Cast ability. Meaning she can use the enemies spells against them in a very Blue Mage fashion. This of course makes her a bit of a random character, dependent on what enemies allow you to Draw->Cast from them, but honestly that makes her a tonne of fun. She's always a bit different, pulling some clutch moves when you need them. She can cast some higher level support spells that you don't have access to yet through refining in the early game.)
Abilities: Draw, Card, Str+ 20/40%, Mag+ 20/40%, Luck+ 50%, Alert, Lv Down, Lv Up, Absorb (Explained: Draw is essential to her kit, while Card is a good way to aquire cards to mod for spells and items, though the no-grinding rule still applies. She can top up her offensive stats to keep her relevant in fights where the enemy has no support spells to draw, and she is able to influence the enemies levels up and down to grant access to the higher or lower levels up enemy spells.)
Rinoa - Black Mage
Limit Break Restriction - None (Explained: Angelo is so random it's a restriction in and of itself. Rinoa's Limit Angel Wing is strong, it's undeniable, but as she is such a glass cannon stat-wise and Aura isn't as abusable in this challenge, keeping her alive while she casts can be tough.)
Junctionable Stats: Mag, Spr, Eva, Elem Def, Luck (Explained: The same rule that applies to Status Def applies to Elem Def, so technically she can have up to 4 spells equipped to Elem Def, making her very resistant to magic when paired with her Spirit Junction. Having a High magic stat on Rinoa is key. Rinoa has access to both Evasion and Luck which can make her quite hard to hit, but not totally reliable. Rinoa is the queen of overkill when casting her High level Black Magics, but these spells are harder to come by.)
Usable Magic: Fire, Fira, Firage, Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaga, Thunder, Thundara, Thundaga, Water, Aero, Quake, Tornado, Demi, Drain, Death, Meteor, Flare, Ultima (Explained: Yeah, Rinoa can lay on the pain. Give her Haste and Triple and watch her go.)
Abilities: Magic, Mag+ 20/40/60%, Spr+ 20/40%, Eva+30%, Expend x2-1, Expend x3-1, Doom. (Rinoa doesn't have much in the way of abilities, but of note her Expend abilities help if you are planning to keep her Double-Trippled, and the increase in her much needed stats are nice. Doom is useful early, but loses power as the game goes on.)
Irvine - Ranger
Limit Break Restriction - None (Irvines limit is hampered by his low offensive stats to begin with.)
Junctionable Stats: Spd, Hit, Eva, Lck, Status Attack (Explained: Irvine is a strange character, he is good neither defensively or offensively. Irvine however is another high-versitlity character thanks to his unique ability "Item" and access to some of the most powerful status-attacks and support magics.)
Magic: Haste, Slow, Stop, Double, Triple, Aura, Bio, Break, Silence, Blind, Berserk, Sleep, Pain, Confuse. (Explained: Irvine is a bit Time Mage-y and a bit Green Mage-y. He synergizes really well with Rinoa and Selphie as he is the only character able to cast Double and Triple, as well as Haste.)
Abilities: Item, Magic, Treatment, Spd+ 20/40%, Eva+ 30%, Luck+ 50%, Mug, Initiative, Med Data, Auto-Potion, Move-Find, Rare Item (Explained: Mug is a great choice for Irvine. He doesn't need Str for his basic attacks to be useful, as Mug augmented with a Status-inflicting junction like Pain give him plenty reason to keep shootin once he is done buffing the other characters. He is also able to heal reliably thanks to Item, and can even use some of the high-level magics in the form of Stones. With Med-Data he can even double his effectiveness with healing items.)
So that's my self-designed challenge guys, I've been having a lot of fun with it, and I'm glad I did it. :)