My last solo challenge had me taking on the stealthy ways (and weak attacks) of the solo Thief, which was quite a struggle to complete. For my next game, I wanted to do something a bit more relaxing, and so I decided to take up the mantle of another one of the game's oddities, the Chemist class. Now Chemists are a very strange bunch, their signature ability causing them to mix together various ingredients to produce a wide variety of different effects. Put together the right stuff and you can make yourself ridiculously powerful, to the point that even a solo character can waltz through the game while barely breaking a sweat! Of course you have to know what ingredients do what, plus where to find them, so this is not a job for the Final Fantasy 5 newcomer.
Going into a little bit more detail, the Chemist's default ability is "Drink", which allows them to drink the Chemist-only items like Giant Drinks and Protect Drinks. This is unfortunately kind of a waste, since nearly all of these drinks can be mimicked using the Chemist's primary ability Mix, and you can never remove Drink from an ability slot. The aforementioned Mix is the bread and butter of the Chemist job: he/she selects two items from your inventory and then selects a target in battle. Assuming you've picked a valid combination, the resulting mixture will have some kind of effect... with a very wide range of possibilities! I won't go through the full list of possibilities here, but Mix can produce powerful White magic (Armor/Shell), Time magic (Haste/Regen), remove or inflict status effects, revive other party members, dish out extremely powerful attack magic, or even increase your level! Chemists can do just about everything, and do it very well indeed. (Just to avoid confusion, the FF5e translation actually calls this ability "Combine", but every other translation uses "Mix", and that seems to be the better rendition. And I'd like to avoid confusion with the Cannoneer's Combine ability from Final Fantasy 5 Advance.)
One special Chemist mix deserves mention here. "Kiss of Blessing" is infamous in this game, as it inflicts Berserk, Image, and Haste status on the target. Why does that matter? Well, this mix is bugged because the berserk status will override monster immunities, leading to some very weird results. A monster that's berserked will ignore its AI script and do nothing but attack endlessly, so you can break the game against tough bosses this way. And messing with the AI script does funny things to the programming - if you use Kiss of Blessing against the Exdeath Tree form, the battle won't ever proceed to Neo Exdeath! For obvious reasons, I would not be using Kiss of Blessing at any time during my solo game.
The other Chemist abilities are much less useful for a solo game. The Chemist has an innate ability called Medicine (also translated sometimes as Pharmacology) which causes Potions and Ethers to heal back double the normal amount. Instead of 50 HP, Potions heal 100 HP. While that's nothing to write home about, it's a minor boost in the early stages of the game. Chemists later learn an ability called Pray, which essentially cures all allies of all status ailments for free. Not bad, except that it takes up an ability slot, which then means you can't equip Mix, and there's a Mix called Panacea which will do the exact same thing for an individual character. For a solo venture, therefore, this one is useless. You're much better off just using Mix. The final ability is called Revive, which will bring all dead party members back to life for free; it's like casting Life 1 on everyone else. Obvious this one is completely and utterly pointless for a solo game! My Chemist learned the Mix ability early on and never swapped to anything else.
I needed a name for my Chemist, however there aren't really that many famous Chemists. I was looking at the Nobel prize list, and most of them were very obscure, not to mention having names that were much longer than six characters! Instead, I thought it would be more fun to name my Chemist after possibly the greatest physicist in history, Sir Issac Newton. Google was actually running a little animated graphic on their homepage for his birthday right when I started this venture. And while physics and chemisty obviously aren't the same field, Newton did have a very real interest in alchemy, which probably led to his death from mercury poisoning. We also know that Newton was an extremely petty and quarellsome individual, who went to great lengths to discredit his academic rivals. It's fun to imagine Issac Newton brewing up some kind of crazy potion and tossing it in the faces of his enemies while laughing in maniacal mad scientist fashion. Fun for me, at least!
Here's Newton after switching jobs at the end of the Wind Shrine as usual. In terms of stats, the Chemist is a very balanced class, with no particular strengths or weaknesses. The Strength stat is right between the extremes of the melee and casting jobs, as are the very average Agility and Vitality numbers. Magic Power is the only stat that lies on the low end of the spectrum, and unfortunately this does matter, because some of the Chemist's best mixes use Magic Power to calculate the attack multiplier. Then again, if you drink enough mixes, the base stats don't even matter all that much...
Because the Chemist doesn't start with the Mix skill, I had to fight around for a bit with Newton to earn some ability points. Since he would also need a few more levels to take on Karlabos, this worked out very well. Soon enough, I reached the desired goal:
There's Newton learning the Mix skill, which as I said before is called Combine in this translation. So now it was time to smite the enemies with some awesome mixes, right? Eh, not so much. To create the mixes you need the right ingredients, and Newton was sorely lacking in that regard! All that he had were Potions, a couple Phoenix Downs, one Ether, and a few Elixirs. Those are all mixing ingredients, but they don't combine into anything terribly helpful. The other key ingredients would be Antidotes/Eyedrops/Maiden's Kisses (which could be bought starting in Carwen), Revivifies (bought starting in the second world), and three monster-only drops. These three were Turtle Shells (obtainable starting at Karnak), Dragon Fangs (obtainable starting in the Hiryuu Valley), and Dark Matter, the last one being difficult to obtain until the third world. Thus as the game progressed, Newton would gain access to more and more of his possible mixtures, unlocking new combinations as he went. This was a fun concept, but it meant he was stuck to his physical attack for the moment.
Since I've taken much weaker magely classes past Karlabos with nothing but dagger attack, Newton didn't have too much problems downing the big red lobster. I believe he was Level 13 at the time, with 6 Elixirs accumulated in stock and 2 of them used during the battle. In the Ship Graveyard there's a basement room with two Antidotes in treasure chests, which gave Newton a very slight supply of another mixing ingredient. I actually made use of this during the battle with Siren:
Here's the first mixture I used in this variant, Potion + Antidote = Neutralize, a drink that both removes Poison status and heals the user at the same time. The extra health was pretty noteworthy for so early in the game, 150 HP added onto the removal of poison. Actually, getting double value for Potions truly helped out here in the first stages of this variant, so Newton was thankful indeed for his Medicine innate ability. I was able to kill Siren without needing to resort to Elixir usage.
Newton purchased two dozen each of Antidotes, Eyedrops, and Maiden's Kisses in Carwen, straining my funds. That's the one weakness of the Chemist job, having to rely on having those mixing ingredients for virtually everything. Without them, the Chemist is just a weakish fighter with some wacky innates. (If you can see that this job will require some serious grinding for ingredients ahead, kudos to you!) I refrained from using any mixing stuff on North Mountain, as Newton was strong enough to defeat the enemies with his normal attack. But the bosses at the end meant it was time to dig into the stash for more goodies:
Maiden's Kiss + Eyedrop = Lamia's Kiss, a mixture that inflicts Charm status on the target. Magisa is immune to Charm status, but not Forza! Newton kept Charming him over and over again, directing Forza's attacks back at his own team. Eventually Forza killed off Magisa (ha!), then slowly wore himself down until he prompted his own demise. This was much easier than trying to defeat them with physical attacks.
What those pictures didn't show was that Newton had been using the Flail as his weapon of choice, after finding it in the Ship Graveyard. To my own surprise I found that Chemists can equip staves, which allowed use of the Flail. While I hated the random damage of that weapon, it was nice to be able to sit in the back row, reducing the damage taken significantly. Once past North Mountain, Newton could then go to Tycoon and pick up the Healing Staff, which would be instrumental in getting through much of the first world. Did you know that any solo character that can equip the Healing Staff can grab the Elf Cape in the basement of Worus Castle immediately? Here's how to do it: move into the front row (since the Garkimasra characters always attack from behind) and keep using the Healing Staff every single round of combat, while holding down L and R to run when not selecting a command. The Healing Staff will keep you alive indefinitely, and eventually you'll successfully run away from the battle - although it might take a while. I used this process with Newton to claim the Elf Cape at the first opportunity.
Galura was easy to defeat; Newton sat in the back row using the Flail, Elf Cape, and healing as necessary with the Healing Staff. More interesting was going up against Shiva:
Another mixture made this battle a laugher. Phoenix Down + Antidote = Resist Ice, which allows the target to absorb all ice magic. Instead of posing a threat Shiva was Newton's protector in this fight, healing him over and over again with Ice 2 from the physical damage done by the Commanders. I just held down the attack button and that was that. Fun battle!
On his way to Karnak, Newton came across Grass Turtles in a random encounter for the first time:
These are the first enemies that drop Turtle Shells, an extremely important mixing ingredient. I wanted a nice supply of those items, so after going to Karnak to purchase a Mythril Dagger and some slightly better armor, Newton came back to the plains and fought random battles for a while. I wanted a decent supply of about 30 Turtle Shells for the moment, which took Newton up to Level 21 in the process. Suitably prepared, he was able to proceed to the Steamship and clean out the dungeon. The enemies inside didn't pose any real difficulties, and I had the Healing Staff for emergencies plus some nasty mixes in case things went sour. Mostly though, Newton got by with his regular melee attack.
One thing I noticed here was that Newton could equip both the "light armor" of the medium classes like Monk or Ninja and the "casting armor" of the magely classes. Having a selection of both was very useful, letting him use great Agility-boosting armor like the Green Beret for now and still switch over to equipment that increased Magic Power later on.
Liquid Flame meant using another Chemist mix:
Ether + Eyedrop = Resist Fire, the elemental twin of the Resist Ice mixture Newton employed against Shiva. (As you've probably guessed, there's also a Resist Thunder mixture too.) This turned the whole battle into a complete joke, as every Flame and Fire 2 spell from Liquid Flame wound up healing Newton! There were actually other Chemist mixes I could have used here, but the battle was so laughably easy, there was no need. I decided to save the ingredients and go with melee attack. Seriously, I have never had an easier time against Liquid Flame. Newton was already starting to flex the muscles of the Chemist job and show off its potential.
Newton escaped from burning Karnak Castle on the first try, grabbing all the Elixirs and the Guardian dagger without problems. Now I had the oft-used Guardian + Elf Cape combo, plus the Healing Staff, plus about a dozen useful Chemist mixes to play around with... Needless to say, I wasn't anticipating much trouble for the upcoming areas of the game.
I paused here for a little while to rustle up some more Turtle Shells from the Grass Turtles before moving on, amassing the full 99 in stock. Then it was off to the Ancient Library to face the pair of bosses inside, Ifrit and Byblos. A dosing with Resist Fire nullified all of Ifrit's fire attacks, turning the fight into a snooze fest for Newton. Normally at this point I will leave the Library and go back to restock items, however Newton was strong enough that he could move right on to Byblos. I started out by using a Haste Drink (Turtle Shell + Eyedrop) to enable Haste status, and a Protect Drink (Turtle Shell + Turtle Shell) for Armor/Shell buffs. Then it was time to break out the big guns:
Here's one of the most broken Chemist mixes: Turtle Shell + Maiden's Kiss = Drain Kiss, an extremely powerful draining spell that leeches life from the target and restores it to the caster. You can see above how amazingly effective this mixture proved to be! The damage formula for Drain Kiss is exactly the same as the Black magic spell Drain, with one notable exception. The "spell attack" rating of Drain is 45; the same spell attack rating for Drain Kiss is 255! Yeah, I don't know if that was an accident or what, but Drain Kiss is therefore about 5.5 times stronger. The only thing that holds back Drain Kiss from utterly destroying the game is the low Magic Power stat of the Chemist. If you give a Summoner or another magely class the Mix ability, things can get really ugly...
Drain Kiss was so strong, I preferred not to use it with Newton unless absolutely necessary. I enjoyed using it against Byblos though, since he usually employs Drain himself when low on health. Payback's a cruel mistress!
After restocking some Turtle Shells, Newton sailed the Steamship to Istory and bought an Angel Ring. I actually didn't need a Flame Ring for this variant thanks to Resist Fire, but I would still need protection against Aging status. From there Newton proceeded to Crescent, then back to the Quicksand Desert, following along with the story progression. The Sandworm was defeated with nothing but a Haste Drink and the Healing Staff; if you take your time to hit the right Hole, and have some means of healing yourself, the Sandworm is a really easy boss. I didn't want to fool with Crayclaw's Tailscrew nonsense, so a pair of Drain Kisses finished him off.
I used a more unorthodox mixture against the Adamantium Turtle. After setting up the standard Haste/Armor/Shell buffs (kinda like playing a Time Mage again!), Newton began using Split Shell (Turtle Shell + Antidote) mixtures. The Split Shells cut Defense and Magic Defense of the target in half, a very useful thing against foes with high Defense values like Adamantium. This boss starts with 25 Defense, and three Split Shells cut that down to 6 Defense, which allowed Newton's dagger to inflict much higher damage. The Healing Staff made sure that Newton was never in danger. I suppose I could have just Drain Kissed everything into submission, but that would have been really boring!
Resist Fire tamed the Flameguns, while Drain Kiss and equipping the Healing Staff protected against the confusion attacks of the Rockets. For Sol Cannon, Newton equipped the Angel Ring and started the battle by Hasting up. I killed off the two Launchers and then began the slow process of whittling down the main cannon. Newton could attack three times, then had to pause two rounds to restore health with the Healing Staff; rinse and repeat after each Surge Beam. Although it may have been slow work, it got the job done with no problems!
Newton raced through the Lonka Ruins, fighting the easy opponents and running away from the tough ones. I used the widest array of mixtures yet when facing off against ArcheaoAvis:
Haste Drink to start, then Protect Drink for Armor/Shell status, then three straight elemental mixtures for Resist Fire, Resist Ice, and Resist Thunder. The first form of ArchaeoAvis was actually the toughest, since it used Breath Wind (air element) that didn't have a corresponding mixture. The next three used Blaze (ice), Flame (fire), and Thunder (lightning), all of which Newton was protected against and actually healed him rather than causing damage. During the first part of the battle, I used an X-Potion (Potion + Ether) to restore HP. X-Potions completely restore health (without restoring magic points), so this is another cheap mixture that can substitute for Elixir usage. Given all his various protections, Newton had no difficulty defeating ArchaeoAvis on the first go.
Against the meteor miniboss trio, Resist Ice was enough to defend against the Blaze spells of the Chimera Brain. I had an obscure mixture ready for Titan:
One of only two times in the whole game this mixture was useful, Levitate (Maiden's Kiss + Antidote) allowed Newton to float over Titan's Earth Shaker move. Without that, he couldn't do much.
The Puroboros required a little bit more thought. I had Newton drink his usual Haste and Protect mixtures, then used a Giant Drink, which doubles the max HP of the user. This took Newton from ~1000 to ~2000 total health, and made it so that he could survive one 1500 damage Exploder without being killed. Drain Kiss could take out one of the Puroboros, but since it did well over 1600 damage, it would take out each Puroboros instantly. That meant I could only kill one of them, or they would revive each other endlessly with Life 2! Instead, Newton attacked the remaining five Purorbos with his dagger, weakening them to the point of death where their Exploder move wouldn't cause much injury. This took a little bit of luck to line up properly (not having a bunch of Exploders go off immediately), and Newton got through on his fourth attempt.
Newton was Level 30 when entering the second world, on the low side for a solo character. He was more than strong enough, however, and could have been quite a bit lower if I had been of a mind to skip fights and really go hog wild with Drain Kiss.
After getting out of Exdeath's Castle, Newton squared off against Gilgamesh on the Big Bridge. I used the standard Speed/Protect Drink combination for Haste, Armor, and Shell status, and then began making use of the mixture you see in the picture above. Lillith's Kiss (Ether + Maiden's Kiss) duplicates the Black magic spell Psych, draining away magic points and restoring them to the caster. However, just like Drain Kiss functions as a super-powerful Drain spell, Lillith's Kiss acts as a super-powerful Psych spell, stealing tons more MP than the normal spell would do. (Psych has a spell attack rating of 8, while Lillith's Kiss has a spell attack rating of 45, making it some five times more powerful!) Once all of Gilgamesh's magic points were drained away, which only took four Lillith Kisses, he couldn't cast his own Haste/Armor/Shell buffs late in the battle, making the whole thing a walk in the park.
Newton found that he was running extremely short on gold in Rugor village, lacking enough to buy all of the supplies I wanted. Unlike your typical character, he needed to stock up on large amounts of mixing ingredients (Antidotes, Eyedrops, Maiden's Kisses) as well as the typical Potions and Hi Potions. Here in the second world, Newton could also add Revivifies and the five Chemist drinks (Speed Drink, Protect Drink, Giant Drink, Power Drink, and Hero Drink). And that wasn't even counting the very expensive Phoenix Down and Ether items! I balanced out purchases of these items to make sure Newton would always have at least some of everything he needed, but I wouldn't get a full stock of all these ingredients until reaching the third world.
Newton had to be careful with his mixtures in the early parts of the second world, since he had no place to restock his collection of Turtle Shells. I ran from some of the battle when the going got tough rather than waste precious Drain Kisses on random encounters. The Moogle Village made things a lot easier by serving up the Dancing Dirk, an excellent weapon for a weak melee fighter like Newton. There was another treasure in Bal Castle:
The Angel Suit can only be equipped by the Chemist, and has the unusual ability of absorbing Poison damage. Unfortunately, very few enemies in this game use Poison-element attacks... It was overshadowed in this playthrough by the arrival of the Bone Mail a short while later, but for a non-variant game employing a Chemist, this would be a pretty good armor to pick up, especially since it can be found for free in a chest!
The key mixing ingredient in the first world had been Turtle Shells, obtained from fighting all those Grass Turtles near Karnak. In the second world, the new desirable mixing ingredient was Dragon Fangs, which could be picked up in the Hiryuu Valley near Kelb village:
The Zombie Dragons are one of the very few enemies in the game that always drop these things, and they cannot be bought in stores. Even most other dragons in this game don't drop Dragon Fangs! You also never fight more than one Zombie Dragon at a time, so accumulating an appropriate stack for a Chemist involves a lot of grinding here. These fights against the dragons were semi-comical in nature: Newton was using the Dancing Dirk, which would often roll "Jitterbug Duet" and end up healing the undead Zombie Dragons while hurting him. Meanwhile, the Zombie Dragons would often use "Poison Breath", which conversely would heal Newton because he was wearing the Bone Mail armor! Quite a comedy of errors to watch, as each side wasted turns healing the other. Fortunately when Newton rolled Sword Dances instead of Jitterbug Duets, the Zombie Dragons died in a hurry.
I fought until Newton had about 20 of the Dragon Fangs, then went off to face the boss:
One of the major weaknesses of the Hiryuu Plant is its lack of immunity against instant death spells or abilities. Newton had exactly one Dark Matter item in his inventory (dropped by Sol Cannon earlier), which he could use to mix a Death Potion (Dark Matter + Phoenix Down) and cast the Doom spell, killing the boss in one go. The flowers could be mopped up easily from there.
With the boss out of the way, Newton went back and fought more Zombie Dragons until his inventory was nearly full. This was by far the best place in the whole game to grind out Dragon Fangs, so I took advantage of the opportunity to get a complete stockpile right now. The other reason for doing so was to increase Newton's level a bit for the upcoming Atmos fight, which I was confident I could beat "normally" without having to leave any of the other characters alive. All that Newton needed was a little more max HP, to survive castings of Comet without fear.
Gilgamesh and Enkidou were handled pretty easily, thanks to Newton loading up on about a half-dozen different buffing spells already outlined. When Newton got into trouble, he simply Drain Kissed life back from the bosses, allowing him to wear the Bone Mail without fear. Then it was on to the Barrier Tower, where Newton fought around a bit until he obtained a Wall Ring, and then took on Atmos at Level 41:
Newton started out the battle by using his normal assortment of buffing drinks and mixtures: Speed Drink for Haste, Protect Drink for Armor/Shell (the latter being super important here), and a Giant Drink to double his total health. That took him into the 4000+ range for max HP, and combined with Shell status and Haste speed, Atmos wasn't going to be killing Newton unless I made some kind of drastic mistake! Then I started laying on the Dragon Power mixes (Potion + Dragon Fang), each of which adds 20 to the Chemist's level. Five drinks added 100 levels to Newton, taking him up to Level 141 total!
Now you might ask why this was necessary, since it seems pointless to go beyond Level 99. The answer is that many of the game's damage formulas use the level number, and the higher the level, the greater the damage. You can go all the way up to 255 with your level in battle, increasing the damage output to huge results. At a level well over 100, that meant Newton's Drain Kisses would have tremendous punch:
3000 or so damage with each Drain Kiss, which simultaneously healed Newton and weakened Atmos. That made things really, really easy, and the battle was over in a hurry. This is the textbook formula for how to play as a Chemist, laying down so many mixtures that the enemy boss has no chance to do much of anything. You can neutralize almost every attack in the game with proper planning. The real difficulty comes from finding all of the right ingredients ahead of time!
Newton breezed through Guido's Cave and the Forest of Mua, relying mostly on physical attacks with the Dancing Dirk from the back row and breaking out Drain Kiss if real danger threatened. Towards the end of the forest Newton came across the Morning Star, the updgraded version of the Flail from earlier in the game, and as one of the few classes that could use staves, he got some good value out of it. I used the Morning Star against the Crystals, for example:
This was after the gazillion buffing mixtures detailed above had already been put in place, along with a Resist Fire mixture to absorb the Fire 3 spells from the Fire Crystal. Once he was safe, Newton drank about ten Hero Drinks (which are similar to Dragon Power, although increasing level by 10 instead of 20) and then went medieval style with his pointy doom stick. Why use Hero Drinks instead of mixing Dragon Powers? They're a lot easier to replace, since they can be bought in stores instead of requiring those rare Dragon Fangs!
Before going into Exdeath's Castle, Newton paused to restock his Turtle Shells and Dragon Fangs, getting the maximum 99 of each. I found inside that Newton could kill the various dragon enemies pretty easily, absorbing their various elemental attacks with Resist Fire, Ice, or Thunder as needed. It was the physical opponents that were tougher, since I couldn't exactly afford to use Drain Kiss for health restoration in every random encounter! I fought where I could, and ran Newton away from battles that looked unpromising. (I usually fight nearly every single enemy, so this was unusual for me.)
Unlike every other job class in the game, Newton had a mixture to counter Exdeath's Condemn move:
Dragon's Kiss (Dragon Fang + Maiden's Kiss) sets the target to Dragon and Heavy status; that is, effectively the drinker becomes a "dragon" themselves! Nearly all of the instant-death spells in this game don't work against Heavy targets - which include most bosses - so Newton blocked most of the truly nasty attacks by giving himself Heavy status. Condemn is one such spell, as it won't function against Heavy targets. And with that one horrible Exdeath attack out of the way, the battle was a cinch!
I gave Newton the following mixtures/drinks for this battle:
Speed Drink (Haste)
Protect Drink (Armor/Shell)
Giant Drink (double max HP)
Resist Fire/Ice/Thunder (absorb all three elements)
Dragon's Kiss ("Heavy" status)
Life Shield (immune to Death spells)
15 Hero Drinks (+10 levels each)
With all that stuff in place, Newton was basically invincible to anything Exdeath could do. His physical attack did little damage, cut in 3/4 by back row status and Armor protection. (Plus, I was actually using the Guardian dagger/Elf Cape combo to block 50% of all attacks!) Exdeath's elemental spells were mostly absorbed, and healed Newton. Exdeath's status-ailment spells had essentially nil chance to succeed, thanks to Shell status and Newton now being some 100+ levels higher than Exdeath himself! There was nothing left to do but start Drain Kissing away:
And that ended the battle in short order; Newton was Level 46 at the time. I could have won with much less offense and at a much lower level. As I said above, with the right mixtures in place, the Chemist attains godlike powers - he can't even be scratched!
Upon entering the third world, Newton immediately went and picked up the Chicken Knife in standard solo game fare; he had already run away from enough battles that the weapon had max power. Nice. I used a Speed Drink for Haste status against the Gargoyles, and that was enough to beat them with the Chicken Knife's melee attack alone. This new weapon was more than sufficient to deal with most of the random foes inside the Pyramid, however the undead opponents guarding the treasure chests required a little more ingenuity. They couldn't be drained due to their undead status, and attacking with the Chicken Knife would usually result in a retreat without getting the goods inside the chest. Instead, I had Newton down the dual combo of Speed and Protect Drinks, then attack with the Morning Star from the back row, which worked out very well. For the first time ever, getting those "Dark Matter" ingredients inside some of the chests actually meant something!
Newton mixed Resist Fire/Ice/Thunder drinks against Merugene, so that all of her spells were healing him instead of doing damage. Sucked to be her!
I picked up the Running Shoes in Mirage village, the standard accessory for virtually all possible encounters, and then went to Kuzar Castle to grab the Assassin Dagger and Sage Staff, the only two Legendary weapons Newton could use. Instead of leaving the castle, Newton stuck around to fight some Exdeath Souls:
These enemies give no experience or gold (only ability points), however they always drop Dark Matter when defeated. This was therefore another place for Newton to stock up on mixing ingredients, and I fought innumerable battles until he had acquired 99 Dark Matters to go along with his Turtle Shells and Dragon Fangs. The Exdeath Souls are rather tough opponents, with a bunch of instant-death spells. Fortunately most of them are blocked by the Bone Mail, although there remains a slight chance to get destroyed by X-Zone. To attack these enemies, Newton relied on his new Sage's Staff, which did Holy damage and therefore ignored the defense of the Exdeath Souls. While all of this wasn't particularly fun, it was necessary to continue building up the strength of Newton's mixing powers.
From there it was on to the Solitary Island temple, where the Chicken Knife continued to be the main offensive weapon for Newton. I could have busted out the mixing formulas, but Chemist ingredients took too much trouble to round up for me to go wasting them on random encounters. Bosses, of course, were another story:
Haste/Armor/Shell/Heavy status blocked just about everything Stalker could do, and a Giant Drink gave Newton 5000+ HP to work with. Then I downed ten Hero Drinks for an extra 100 levels, and the ass-kicking was well and truly underway. Pictured above is an attack with the Chicken Knife; I should mention that the Chicken Knife works particularly well with Hero Drinks and Dragon Power mixes that add to level. Recall that unlike normal attack or normal magical damage (where the attack multiplier is based on Strength or Magic Power times Level), the Chicken Knife gets a bonus attack multipler for both Strength and Agility. Therefore increasing one's level counts DOUBLE when using the Chicken Knife! If Newton had had some way to counter the Flee effect of the weapon, I would have probably gone over to melee attack exclusively.
In Fork Tower, the Minotaur was very easily beaten because the prohibition agains magic doesn't preclude you from using Chemist mixes. Whoops! Bad news for him. In contrast, Omniscient will indeed cast Reset if you try to hit him with mixes, so that battle was a lot less fun and very prolonged, waiting until all of his magic points were drained away. Newton could tough it out just fine though, with Bone Mail and Wall Ring for total immunity from Omni's spells.
The undead enemies in the Great Trench posed a bad matchup for Newton. I could kill them with ease using Holy Breath (Dragon Fang + Revivify), which did Holy damage equal to Newton's current health... and since all of the enemies down here were weak against Holy, it would do 2721 * 2 = 5442 damage in the picture above! However, I couldn't exactly afford to waste a Dragon Fang against every single random enemy, especially since Dragon Fangs are very difficult to acquire in the third world. So I ended up running from most of the battles down here, and skipping ahead to the bosses. In all honesty there was no reason to come down here at all, and I'm sure it cost me more gold than Newton made from chests and defeated enemies. What can I say, I'm a bit of a completionist with these games!
There were no similar problems in Istory, which is definitely the easiest of the four "tablet" dungeons. I have no idea why it's the last one you're supposed to do in sequence. Newton could equip a Coral Ring and still buff up afterwards in battle, making Leviathan a very easy encounter, even without any form of lightning damage.
The one thing that remained to do was stock up on items in Mirage before entering the Cleft of Dimension:
How's that for a nice item screen? Newton had 99 of every mixing ingredient aside from Elixirs, and 50 of each of the Chemist drinks. That's not counting the Power Drinks, which are bugged in this game and do nothing. (They are supposed to increase the Attack value of your equipped weapon, but due to the way the damage formulas are programmed they don't actually increase anything!) Newton also had 99 Hero Drinks, because unlike the Speed/Protect/Giant drinks, which can only be used once per battle, it was very common for me to use 10 or more Hero Drinks in a single encounter. The need to buy so many items meant that Newton was the poorest solo character I have ever had; he never cracked 200k gold at any point in time, and barely managed to fill out the inventory seen above!
Once again I found myself skipping a lot of random encounters with Newton in the Cleft of Dimension. He certainly could have killed everything he met, but... that would have involved wasting mixing ingredients. And I definitely didn't need any more levels than what he already had to beat the game. Instead, I concentrated on taking down the final boss gauntlet, something that the Chemist job excels at doing. Wood Sprite died without using a single mixture; she's helpless if you just equip the Bone Mail. Newton drank Protect and Giant Drinks against Apanda, which was plenty to finish him off using the Chicken Knife.
Apocalypse was a little more interesting. I had Newton mix a Dragon's Kiss for Heavy status, which ruled out some of the nasty Blue spells like Condemn from working. The real offensive here was carried out by the combination of a Giant Drink (double max HP) and Dragon Breath (Dragon Fang + Dragon Fang). Dragon Breath is essentially the same as Holy Breath, doing damage equal to current health, however it carries fire, ice, and lightning elements instead of holy element. Five such attacks at 5686 damage each was enough to do in Apocalypse.
The rest of the Dimensional Castle bosses were easy. I could break out the old Levitate mixing formula to defeat Catastrophe's Earth Shaker move; he tries to ground you with "Gravity 100", but that will never hit if you're wearing a Wall Ring! He he. The Wall Ring was used again versus Halicarnassus to defeat her Holy spell, although Newton actually could have survived it with Shell status + Giant Drink. No reason to take that risk, of course. Twin Tania's Tidal Waves were defeated through equipping a Coral Ring, and even though nothing could be done to stop his Giga Flares (which penetrate magical defenses), Newton had 5600 life with a Giant Drink, meaning he could shake off 3000 damage Giga Flares with no worry. Drain Kiss restored any life lost.
Necrophobia is the bane of many solo variants, but not for Newton! Shell status from a Protect Drink along with yet another Giant Drink meant that the Barriers couldn't possibly kill him. I waited until they ran out of magic points, healing with X-Potions as needed, then used the free time to consume tons of Hero Drinks. Newton could then kill the four Barriers in complete safety, move into the back row, and start using Holy Breath against Necrophobia. He is weak to all elements, meaning that the Holy Breaths did 5686 * 2 = 9999 damage each! And with a Dragon's Kiss already in place for Heavy status, the dreaded Maelstrom attack would never hit Newton. I could not be killed in this fight! What a nice change from the usual tough battle with Necro.
The whole final dungeon had been pretty easy thus far, and I had every expectation that the last battle would go smoothly as well. It was finally time to break out the last mixture I had been saving in reserve for Exdeath:
Shadow Flare (Dark Matter + Dark Matter) is essentially identical to the Black spell Flare, doing a large amount of non-elemental damage that pierces enemy Magic Defense. Somewhat to my surprise, however, the damage was rather unimpressive: roughly 3500 per use of the mixture. Since Newton could do 5600 damage just by using Holy Breath, I swapped over to the alternate mix.
Nevertheless, the real story of the battle against Exdeath was not the offensive mixtures that Newton used, but the various buffing and protective mixtures that he employed before going on the attack. I still equipped the Running Shoes (because Neo Exdeath will cast Dispel, and you never want to lose Haste status) and added on to them with Dragon Armor (Armor, Shell, Regen) + Dragon's Kiss (Heavy status) + Giant Drink + ten Dragon Powers (200 extra levels). Once everything was in place, Newton was effectively invincible; the only attack that could conceivably kill him was petrification from White Hole, but with his level maxed out at 255, there was only a 1% chance that White Hole would hit him. Newton was able to move onto the Neo Exdeath battle very quickly...
...which was equally simple, to be honest. The Magic Lamp took out Part #4, and then I started working down Part #1 with a series of Holy Breath mixtures. Whenever Newton's health dropped below 4000, I used Drain Kiss to take him back up to maximum (as seen above). Part #1 was only able to get off two Grand Crosses before biting it, and when they resulted in Charm status and Mute status, Newton was in the clear. You should know from my other solo reports that the other two Neo Exdeath parts (#2 and #3) really aren't very tough to defeat if you know what you're doing. Crushing them was even more facile than normal this time, as Part #2's Almagest did no more than 700 damage, while Part #3's normal attack did 350 damage and Vacuum Waves did 700 damage. All of this against a target with 5600 life and virtually infinite healing power... Needless to say, I wasn't going to lose under those conditions! Game, set, and match to Newton:
The only way that Newton could have been killed would have been getting hit with White Hole early on (before buffing Newton's level made the attack virtually impossible to hit) or rolling something unlucky out of Grand Cross. As it turns out, Newton did get killed instantly on my first attempt by White Hole, and then I won out successfully on my second try. Therefore this was pretty much a perfect run, falling just short due to a bad dice roll on the initial attempt. Newton didn't have the easiest time out of all my solo characters against Neo Exdeath (I don't think anything is going to top Kambei the Samurai using GilToss to wipe the floor with all of the parts!), but it wasn't exactly challenging either. With the right mixtures, this game simply isn't very difficult.
Sir Issac Newton finished the game at Level 50, well below any of my other solo characters. I surely could have done it even lower by running from more enemies or skipping various sections of the game; this report should make it clear how the Chemist's nominal level really doesn't matter that much. Overall, the Chemist was just as powerful as all of the word of mouth led me to believe. It actually wasn't my favorite character to play though, since Newton required a lot of grinding of mixing ingredients. And I usually didn't want to use Newton's mixing ability outside of major boss fights, as any ingredient he consumed would then have to be replaced later! In other words, while the Chemist is extremely mighty, it's not the most entertaining job to play.
Is the Chemist the easiest class for a solo game? I would actually say no; I think that the Samurai is easier to use, because you have the advantage of stronger armors, the Aegis Shield, the broken Slash ability for random encounters, and you can kill pretty much anything in the game by using GilToss on it. The Chemist is more powerful than the Samurai, and can do things that the Samurai can't, but the job requires so much preparation and planning that I hesistate to call it "easier". Nothing could be easier than hitting up GilToss in every single boss battle!
However, as I just said, the Chemist is the most POWERFUL job class in the game, and can do things that no one else can. Thus I give you this special addendum section about the game's two option super-bosses, Omega and Shinryuu...
|Special Section: Omega and Shinryuu|