The game forces you to allow Tao, Ken, Lowe, Hans, and Luke to join the party before the first battle of the game. There is a way to avoid getting these characters in your party. To do this, when in town at the opening of the game there is a gate but two guards will stop you if you try to leave. There is a blond man in a purple vest near the gate and if you stand one space above him, you will eventually force him to step in the path of one of the guards. At this time you can run past and exit the gate and the guard will not be able to block you. This will send you to the first battle with only Max, making the game quite difficult. Also, even though you avoid taking these characters in your party, they will still speak during some of the cut scenes.