As a consequence of the fixed party throughout the game, the developers always know exactly which classes will be available to fight through a particular area. This is obvious even early on in the game, where the difficulty of each segment increases based on your party composition vs the enemies nearby. The game starts with two level 10 fighter-types, with simple abilities(Fight, Jump, Item, and Dark Wave if you are playing the japanese version). It pits you against level 1-2 monsters like imps and swordrats. Then the enemies get a little harder and you lose the level 10 companion in return for a level 1 child, but now the enemies have easily exploitable weak points (ice out in the desert, and lightning in the watery cave). Note that Rydia can't cast fire, and you don't encounter any weak-to-fire enemies (Zombies, Jellies) until after you have obtained Tellah. Finally, enemies are dialed back a bit in the Antlion cave, as you trade Tellah for the much weaker Edward. Finally you ascend Mt. Hobs and get your first taste of a full, balanced, party to face the strongest boss yet, MombBomb.

ACT I ends with the Leviathan attack, and you wind up alone and occasionally encounter Ravens with lots of HP that just so happen to be vulnerable to the special power of the Black/Hades sword. Though, shortly you'll frequently face enemies where your sword is completely worthless. Then you wind up with a magic-heavy party (Palom/Porom/Tellah), and Cecil will transofrm into a Paladin who is basically a fighter with some low-level healing spells you probably won't use much as you sneak into Baron Castle to confront Kainiazzo. But as it turns out, the next major challenge is to venture into a dungeon where metal equipment doesn't work, with only Cid, Yang, and Tellah (with his measly 90 MP). Cid has a wooden hammer and Yang fights barehanded, but Cecil will be limited to staves or bow&arrow. More importantly, no one will be able to wear metal armor, so you're going to be taking more damage, which means you'll need all the healing you can get given Tellah's measily 90 HP. Cecil's healing contribution suddenly seems much more valuable. The challenge is ramping up. Up next is the Tower of Zot with the same party, and here you begin to face some more serious foes. Tellah's offensive magic is valuable here, but it's increasingly difficult to work within his MP limitation.

Thus ends ACT II, and shortly you'll have the core party that you'll have for the rest of the game (Cecil/Rosa/Rydia). But the tailored gameplay doesn't end there. There's still Edge (replacing Yang), who is extremely useful but a bit more challenging to play. There's a segment where you have only 4 members. There are a number of optional dungeons and encounters that can be tackled with a few (slightly) different party configurations depending on what stage of the game you choose to attempt them. Imagine that, being able to choose your party even in a game where you're not allowed to choose your party! Then of course, there's the boss of the Giant, where you have a party with lots of powerful offensive magic, and a pesky wall and counter-attack combination that discourages its use.

For the final assault in the Lunar Subterrain, you have a full, well-balanced party of all the most powerful and interesting characters.


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