|Trial Mode Treasures|
|Diamond Armlet • Longsword (Steal from Flowering Cactoid) • Mythril Blade (Steal from Flowering Cactoid) • Karkata (Steal from Flowering Cactoid)|
Trial Mode Basics
The Zodiac Age version of Final Fantasy XII has many changes, the greatest change of which is arguably the job system. Right behind that, however, is Trial Mode, which pits your party (simply load up whichever saved game you prefer) against multiple rounds of enemies. Clear ten stages and you'll recieve a reward, and there are one hundred stages in total. Suffice to say, you're nowhere near capable of making significant progress in Trial Mode right now, but you don't need to in order to obtain some fantastic loot. The goal in this "Trial Mode Treasures" section, of course, isn't to get you through Trial Mode - for that check out the Trial Mode section of the guide - but rather to opportunistically visit Trial Mode and grab choice loot.
There are no significant commitments required to try this out, either. As stated before, you just load up a saved game (preferrably a hard save - don't use auto saves for this) by selecting Trial Mode from the game's main menu. Every time you clear a stage in Trial Mode an auto save will be made recording your progress, but this does nothing to otherwise affect the original hard save you loaded. Items expended and obtained, LP gained, and your HP/MP status will be recorded in the Trial Mode auto save, but these need not be permanent, as any auto save will overwrite this one. The fact that you can choose to make this permanent, however, is what makes Trial Mode interesting as far as obtaining loot for your story campaign goes, however. Say you get an item you really wish to keep in Trial Mode - simply complete the Trial Mode stage after obtaining it, quit trial mode (press [Options] to enter the Pause Menu, the press [Square] to return to the game's title screen) and load that auto save by picking the Load option - not the Trial Mode option. This will reload that save in the same area as the original hard save, but with the aforementioned Trial Mode changes (HP/MP status, LP gained, items expended, equipment obtained).
Let's get a very easy item as a proof of concept. Find any old Save Crystal and make a hard save, then quit to the main menu and load that save via the Trial Mode option. When it loads you'll find yourself in the Garamsythe Waterway, where Vaan originally plied his ratsbane trade, where you'll naturally be facing six Dire Rats as your first foes in Trial Mode. Fitting, no? When you're in control, turn left and head upstairs to find a crystal, which is the Trial Mode version of a lootable. This particular lootable will yield a Diamond Armlet (Accessories 3) every time you loot it. This is by far the earliest you can grab this item, in addition to being the easiest and cheapest way to obtain it. When a character equipped with this item plunders a lootable you'll have access to a different selection (often higher quality) of treasure. This will henceforth be pointed out when such discrepencies are noteworthy.
Note : Whatever party you last had selected, with the weapons, armor and Gambits you saved with will be put into play, so keep this in mind - it's not important right now, but it will be later. You can change these as normal via the Party Menu during Trial Mode.
Now that you have this item, you need only kill the Dire Rats in this area to keep it. When you kill the Dire Rats, the stage will automatically end, so be sure to get this item before you kill the last enemy. Upon reaching stage two (where you'll be facing Thextera, an Alpha Wolf and Alpha Hyena) simply return to the main menu and load the Trial Mode auto save via the Load option (not the Trial Mode option) and you'll be back in the story where you left off but richer one Diamond Armlet. Now simply save the game (make a hard save) properly with a Save Crystal - perhaps overwriting the original hard save you made and used to tackle Trial Mode. Once done, simply return to the main menu and load this save to restart Trial Mode and collect as many Diamond Armlets you wish.
More significant loot will require a bit more work, but with a bit of time and bother it's not too hard to gain a weapon that's absurdly powerful for this stage of the game. Now that you know how things works, make a hard save and load that save up in Trial Mode and advance to stage three. In this stage you'll be facing off against a Flowering Cactoid, four Cactites, two Cactoids and a Ripe Rampager. The only beast here worth paying attention to is the Flowering Cactoid, from which you can steal a Longsword (55%), Mythril Blade (10%) or a Karkata (3%).
The last item is the real prize, but being the rare steal it may take a few tries to get, and plowing through the first two stages of Trial Mode, while easy, can be a chore with repetition. Fortunately, you don't have to! Simply steal what you can, and if it's not the Karkata, quit to the main menu and use the Trial Mode option to load the Trial Mode auto save, which should have automatically saved at the beginning of stage three. This puts you back at the start of the fight with the Flowering Cactoid (and friends), with a fresh chance to steal. Rinse and repeat until you get what you want. To make this process quicker and easier, set your Gambits up ahead of time to "Foe: status = Haste -> Steal", which will direct your party to steal exclusively from the Flowering Cactoid, as it has the Haste status applied automatically. Naturally Vaan, Fran and Balthier, all of whom have the Steal ability are ideal for this, and the process can be further sped up with Speed Mode.
When you obtain the Karkata, slow the game back down, change your Gambits to whatever normal fighting Gambits you'd need to win the fight and defeat the Cactoids. When you're victorious you'll move to stage four, which pits you against Razorfin and several Ichthons. You need not bother with this battle, just let the stage load up (and the auto save finish!), quit to the main menu, then use the Load option (not the Trial Mode option) to load the Stage 4 auto save. Again, this will put you back in story mode where you made the original hard save. Check your inventory to ensure you still have the Karkata and if so, make another hard save. Congrats, you have yourself a high-end one-handed sword with 92 Attack Power that can inflict Confuse on hit. It can be equipped by the Knight class if you buy the (Karkata) license for 80 LP.
Note : While Trial Mode items are indeed useful and may be mentioned in the walkthrough from time to time, they will not be considered required for main story progress, and will not factor into any strategies. If you can't reasonably accomplish a task without Trial Mode gear, you won't be expected to do so until it's feasible with main story gear and progress alone.