Fighting Final Fantasy IX - Parts 38-49: Will The "Real" Final Fantasy IX Please Stand Up?

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Episode Guide

  1. Episode #1 (Parts 1-13)
  2. Episode #2 (Parts 14-26)
  3. Episode #3 (Parts 27-37)

Part 38: Oh God… Why Is This Happening?

We ended our previous episode with the primary cast at its lowest point. Zidane and company were defeated with relative ease in their tussle against Beatrix. The narrative finally injected some much-needed grit to the otherwise saccharine story of Final Fantasy IX and developed a clear sense of “stakes.” Players finally have a visual image of the consequences of Zidane’s swashbuckling ways. With the game having established our party as unprepared for their quest, what could it possibly do to complement such a dower tone?

This has to be a Monty Python joke. I'm not crazy for thinking that, right?
This has to be a Monty Python joke. I'm not crazy for thinking that, right?

I know… I know. I have honestly been bellyaching about transitions and juxtapositions in the Final Fantasy franchise for the past year, and it has gotten me nowhere. As I suggested in my previous episode, the “ebbs” and “flows” of Final Fantasy IX are not even the worst I have seen in the Final Fantasy franchise or the entire JRPG genre. These ebbs and flows exist, and I am a stubborn man dead set in honoring my old ways of thinking. Even if I’m stuck in this existential crisis of shouting at a game that was developed over a decade ago it is something I need to do. It’s an admittedly cathartic practice I have grown fond of.

Let’s start out by assessing Garnet and Steiner’s “moment” at Summit Station with no regard for what preceded it. Garnet and Steiner are heading back to Alexandria to accomplish something via means we are never made clear of even AFTER they reach Alexandria. There’s this tenuous suggestion that Garnet wishes to convince her mother to see the ills of her ways, but the hows and whys are left ambiguous. The “how” in this case would be how Garnet plans on convincing her mother to “right her own ship.” The “why” would pertain to why Garnet feels so confident she can accomplish this. Lacking this clarifying information, the plot feels as if it is playing out for the sake of it. Characters meet up because they have to, and the direction of the adventure plays out as pedantically as you could imagine in a fifty-hour epic.

YES! Yes I am! I WAS THE VILLAIN ALL ALONG!
YES! Yes I am! I WAS THE VILLAIN ALL ALONG!

Garnet has lived with her mother for countless hours. Why does she NOW feel convinced that she can accomplish what she has failed to do before? How does she plan on approaching this cataclysmic issue from a new perspective? What is Garnet’s new perspective if she has one? Why is she so confident in her abilities to prevent untold death and destruction? The game’s justification for all of these looming issues is to characterize Garnet as being “naïve.” Now many of you have expressed that this is a sufficient enough justification for what we are about to be subjected to for the next four hours. I agree with this sentiment mostly, but there is one pressing qualm I have with this.

THIS IS FUCKING LAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY STORYTELLING!

There is nothing mechanically wrong with Garnet as a character. Her characterization is relatively consistent, and at no point did I feel off-put by her swagger or conduct. However, there’s no shaking that what the game accomplishes with Garnet for 50% of the story is the narrative equivalent of taking the “path of least resistance.” Having your hapless princess be an idealistic and naïve altruist is the lowest of all hanging fruit. There’s nothing wrong with Garnet, but she’s essentially a pretzel. She has a crunch here and there but mostly, she’s a bland and predictable tour de force. Despite what the special packaging may say, all pretzels are the same, and likewise, all naïve princesses are alike.

Part 39: It’s Time For The Game To Defeat You With Inane Bullshit

Oh and this is the most pointless game map I have ever seen since Final Fantasy VIII’s labyrinth map
Oh and this is the most pointless game map I have ever seen since Final Fantasy VIII’s labyrinth map

Oh hey will you look at that, I went on another narrative rant without discussing the actual content of the scene at hand. Ain’t I a stinker? Princess Dagger and Steiner talk for a bit at the station stop. Does anything of consequence happen here? NOT REALLY! Do you still have to stomach through this scene, regardless? YUP! Now that’s harsh considering you meet up with Cinna and Marcus from the thieving acting troupe from earlier. After a comical reunion of sorts, Garnet learns that the couple is off to the town of Treno to find a cure for Blank’s petrification. Because Garnet has developed a semi-maternal instinct that motivates her to help people, she decides that she must assist Marcus no matter what. The ultimate question I have is why. Why does Garnet suddenly have this strong desire to help every helpless civilian she sees? What is Garnet’s pathos, ethos, or logos? Lacking this basic building block to her character makes Garnet feel like an artificial artifice that struggles to stand above her tropes.

For reasons that are not entirely known, Garnet has traded her responsibilities of saving the world from a global war; to curing one person from being frozen to a tree. Well isn’t that just dandy? If we had seen orphan children on the streets would Garnet have adopted them? Or if we had seen some injured dog, would Garnet have spent hours trying to rehabilitate the mangy mutt? Yes, perhaps Garnet feels compelled to assist Marcus as she feels guilt in being the source of Blank’s petrification. HOWEVER, let’s not lose sight of the whole reason Garnet wanted to break out of Lindblum in the first place! Garnet is trying to convince her maniacally evil mother from taking over the world! How does curing Blank of his petrification take precedent over this?

Here we go again....
Here we go again....

What I find more insulting is how much of a hindrance Garnet ends up being on Marcus’s quest. I can hear many of you typing away that this may well be the whole point of the scene. To that, I respond with loud fart sounds directly at my computer screen. Marcus already has a clear idea where the “Supersoft,” which will cure Blank of his pertification, can be found. Not only that, but Marcus does not ask for our help. Instead, Garnet insists that she make amends by traveling to Treno with Marcus. So honestly, why are we helping him and delaying our quest to stop a war? Why can’t this all be conveyed via an ATE instead of being a playable scene in the game? OH MY GOD! Did I inadvertently defend the ATE system? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING ANYMORE?!

So we stomached through the air taxi sequence. Listened to Steiner and Garnet droll on about their inane life problems. Conveniently crossed paths with Cinna and Marcus. All in the name of having ANOTHER fight with Black Waltz 3…. That’s my climax?

 Are you fucking kidding me?
Are you fucking kidding me?

Right then. This game repeats its boss battles way too often. At this point we have fought the Black Waltzes four times; eventually we will clash with Beatrix three times; finally, don’t get me started on the number of times we fight derivatives of dragons in this game. If you are going to have boss battles in your game, you should use them as cinematic transitions between story moments. When you repeat a boss that isn’t the primary antagonist it cheapens the whole point of boss battles. Boss battles are cinematic set pieces that provide the game with extra visual “flair” as you master the mechanics of the game. The final Black Waltz battle comes across as needless padding that serves no greater purpose other than to elongate the scene where it takes place.

Part 40: Where’s Ross Perot? Because I Can Hear A Giant Sucking Sound!

I'm sorry but who are you? Are you a clone of Garnet from a different dimension?
I'm sorry but who are you? Are you a clone of Garnet from a different dimension?

Once the battle has concluded we witness another scene wherein Marcus theorizes the origin of the attack on Burmecia. As to be expected, Steiner steadfastly denies the growing mountain of evidence that the attack is connected to Alexandria. Good on the game for having Marcus call out Steiner for his bullshit. Bad on the game for rehashing a debate we have been subjected to dozens of times prior to this. As I have mentioned time and time again, my issue is not that Steiner is behaving like a doofus. My issue is that Steiner is a singular character trope extended for hours upon end, and the game takes its time to remind you of this… on multiple occasions. This eventually compounds the abruptness of his “change of heart,” and weakens the emotional impact of that moment. After Garnet and company boards the air taxi she exclaims her desire to assist Marcus in locating the supersoft. The sense of resignation by Marcus is impalpable:

I'm right there with you Marcus. Join the brotherhood of disappointment. We hold group sessions every Tuesday.
I'm right there with you Marcus. Join the brotherhood of disappointment. We hold group sessions every Tuesday.

As you might expect, I have an issue with this. First, Garnet’s attitude during this scene feels wrong. She talks about exploring Treno as if it is a game to her. Her naiveté this time around is counter-intuitive towards building her character. Rather than developing her as she gains more experiences, the game continues to have her extol her initial character trope of being naïve. This results in me feeling a great amount of disaffection towards her reactions to the world. When Garnet provides assessments of Treno, it’s groan-inducing. My second issue is a more fundamental issue. Garnet is not interesting to listen to for most of our time in Treno. We have no reason to feel invested in seeing her accomplish her goal because it feels disconnected with the main plot. Now I’m not saying that saving Blank will not pay dividends down the road, but as it stands, the game does a horrible job at articulating why performing this task is so critical to the story. Instead, we are whisked away on what we initially think is a “side quest” with no choice on the matter.

Before we discuss what you accomplish in Treno, let’s talk about its design, and why I never want to come back to this location ever again. Treno is an unmitigated nightmare to navigate through. The cluttered town has multiple levels and is oblique about its foreground. There were entire screens where I was stuck trying to determine if there was an exit to a story related location or not. Discerning where you need to go in Treno is made all the more difficult considering that the game provides little direction when you enter the town. This all results in Treno feeling like a jumbled mess. Buildings lead to new story beats unrelated to your main quest, and my effort to get back on track felt like a fever dream.

Part 41: Everything In Treno Is Boring Shlock

If first impressions are everything, then Treno sure has no hope of finding a partner. On top of the town being a nightmare to navigate through the level inundates you with ATE after ATE. As I have mentioned before, the ATE system is novel but the game really needs to prioritize the information it wants the player to witness. Sometimes I felt as if I only took a dozen steps to the next screen before being prompted with a new batch of ATEs. The result is that our introduction to Treno comes across as herky-jerky, with the exposition having a brutal “stop and go” feel.

For once I agree and respect something that came out of Steiner's mouth
For once I agree and respect something that came out of Steiner's mouth

This issue compounds my earlier complaint of Treno feeling directionless. With a multitude of layers to every screen, it’s easy to lose track of where you are going. Interjecting every screen with an ATE just worsens this problem. Yes, it’s HILARIOUS that Garnet gets robbed. It is equally humorous that you can follow up this plot beat by locating the robber and gaining the item they bought from the money they stole. However, there’s a consequence to performing this task. Now you get to look forward to retracing your steps to figure out where the fuck you need to go.

Can we talk about how much of the combat has been excised in disc two? Take out the random encounters and I think you have to admit that the second disc of Final Fantasy IX is devoid of action and conflict. Not that the story is lacking in strife, but it feels like our fight with Black Waltz 3 is the only significant battle for the next three hours. While I have not been having the best of time with the combat in Final Fantasy IX, the lack of it in the first half of disc two results in the game having an even slower burn than the first disc.

But hey, at least I got to listen to a communist plot to overtake the bugiouse
But hey, at least I got to listen to a communist plot to overtake the bugiouse

So what does the game replace combat set pieces with? Why more situational and character humor! For example, you have the auction house in Treno which is a Final Fantasy reference factory! Luckily when you reconnect Steiner and Garnet, they expeditiously find Marcus. Here the party meets up with Baku who informs them that the supersoft they are looking for is at a noble's house. As you might expect, Steiner is nonplussed about this development and continually endeavors to convince Garnet to not involve herself in this act of thievery. His dialogue plays out exactly as you might expect, and I honestly thought I had magically been transported back to the first disc as this played out.

Part 42: At Least This Game Knows How To Do Framing

It’s not all doom and gloom at Treno. When you finally board the gondola you end up witnessing one of the greatest examples of blocking and framing in a video game. Each of the characters is found on separate corners of the ship, and that allows the game to pan to each character to provide them with a brief soliloquy. It is also worth noting how each soliloquy establishes each character’s motivations and logos up to this point.

Steiner is finally showing signs of his facade breaking apart. He openly questions the decision making of the queen, and if his blind obedience to the queen’s rule is correct. While I would normally question why Steiner does not confront these facts earlier, “it’s better late than never” as some people say. It’s at this point my bile levels directed towards our hapless knight subsided. Steiner is slowly starting morph into something I can at least respect from a distant vantage point. Well… mostly.

BECAUSE YOU ACT LIKE A CHILD! HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THIS?
BECAUSE YOU ACT LIKE A CHILD! HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THIS?

There you go, it’s about fucking time. After two hours of farting around, Garnet finally extrapolates what’s been on her mind all this time. Yes, she’s childish, but I don’t care! I wanted this game to articulate the thought process behind its characters in a clear and cohesive manner. This way the actions of the characters would cease feeling questionable. Why does Garnet want to prove that she can accomplish things on her own like an adult? Was her mother abusive? Why does she want to leave the castle in the first place? Fucking whatever, I’ll take whatever I can get at this point. Is the narrative’s answers for my questions low hanging fruit? ABSOLUTELY! Does going for the low hanging fruit at least prevent the story from experiencing cognitive dissonance? A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Sometimes it is all about the “small victories” instead of the decisive victories.

If anything the act of gaining the supersoft is an anti-climax, but I think that is the point. As the party peruses through the belongings of the noble, they are caught red-handed. However, Garnet immediately identifies the person who catches them as a former professor of hers. This saves the party from unnecessary conflict and allows them to gain the supersoft peacefully. I found this to be an interesting and effective way to establish that Garnet has her own talents and connections that will prove helpful to the party. If you want to establish a character as being necessary why not have them save the party from a pending disaster? I think this scene works wonders for the story. The scene with Doctor Tot at his observatory was decidedly less so.

This scene is so exciting that the game's own characters cannot remain awake during it.
This scene is so exciting that the game's own characters cannot remain awake during it.

I will not take up too much time, but the exposition dump that occurs at Doctor Tot’s observatory is exactly that. It conveys a deluge of information in a relatively short amount of time, and overall I glossed over most of it. My main takeaways are: 1.) there’s magical shit called “e-dildos/Eidolons,” and 2.) Garnet spent most of her childhood with professors like Doctor Tot instead of her parents. That’s about all I got. However, if one of you wish to send me an abbreviated version of this scene, then understand that you would be forever in my debt. Feel free to send me an e-mail at idontgiveashit@comcast.net

Part 43: Can We Talk About How TERRIBLE The Music Is For Gargan Roo?

Some of you may have noticed that I rarely talk about music on these blogs. To be honest, a soundtrack is usually window dressing to me. It’s nice to have a good soundtrack to set up a new location or set piece, but it is not the only piece to the puzzle. There’s that, and the fact I am a post-modern minimalist that has championed the works of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman. To say my taste in music is “eccentric” would be an understatement. All of these supporting facts have motivated me to avoid talking about music and sound design on my blogs. Well, unless we count the time Final Fantasy VIII snuck K-pop into a game, but to my defense, that’s an extreme case.

That aside, I think the music in Gargan Roo is trash. It is so bad I ended up muting my computer as I trudged through the location. The music is discordant in a way that would make Igor Stravinsky cringe.

Stop, stop, I confess! The melody for the track is disconnected with the main beat, and the result feels dissonant. I honestly think the music is taunting the player. After spending hours running around in circles, the music’s grunts become cackling laughs. You are stuck. The game knows you are stuck so here’s some shitty music to hold you over. As I grew increasingly frustrated with navigating Gargan Roo, I had to continue to listen to this fever dream of a track. The only reason I bring this up is because of how inconsistent I feel the music is in Final Fantasy IX. Melodic tracks are tied to downbeat locations and story moments, and downbeat tracks are associated with chipper locations. What’s going on here? Can one of you explain why this upbeat techno music is the main track for the Black Mage Village? You know… the same village where SHIT GETS REAL WITH VIVI!

This sounds like music you could listen to while celebrating Christmas with a bunch of children! Gather round kids and get your hot chocolate as I level with you about the fragility of life and our own morality!

Part 44: Everything Involving The Gargans Is Bullshit

Glory, glory, hallelujah! This bullshit is marching on!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! This bullshit is marching on!

Defend the Gargan transportation system. I dare you. I double dog dare you. I mean it. Defend this entire sequence. Explain how this builds the world of Final Fantasy IX. Extrapolate how it’s a wonderful set piece where Steiner and Garnet shine as characters. Write a dissertation pertaining to how the Gargan Roo is a great use of time and resources. I DARE YOU!

I guess the game made me feel sympathetic towards a bunch of monsters that look like giant spiders. That’s an accomplishment I guess…. Otherwise, WHAT THE FUCK WERE THE DEVELOPERS THINKING? WHY IS THIS HERE? WHO THOUGHT THIS NEEDED TO HAPPEN? Fucking just have Steiner, Garnet, and Marcus hitch a ride on a boat like any normal person instead of subjecting me to this asinine bullshit! Worse yet, the game forces the player to control an under-leveled party, AND there’s a high encounter rate in the Gargan cave system. What a wonderful idea! If you are going to screw over the player why not crush their will to live as well?

You have never dreamed of being transported in a basket carried by a giant spider? That's weird, I have that dream once a week!
You have never dreamed of being transported in a basket carried by a giant spider? That's weird, I have that dream once a week!

For those that do not understand what I have been ranting about the past three or four paragraphs, there’s an underground mass transit system that the world of Final Fantasy IX used to use. It so happens that this transportation system involves riding on the backs of giant insects, and these insects are called “Gargans.” Whelp, I know I have been almost entirely negative on this edition of my blog, but I think it’s time for me to call this a “wrap.” There’s only so much vomit in one person. Congratulations Final Fantasy IX, you have officially broken my excitement in playing more of you! I swear sometimes… wait. You know what? FUCK IT! I will keep playing this game until it gives me something good! This game can’t “beat” me! I’m a grown man! I’m not about to let a bullshit filler sequence suck my soul!

I AM THE GREATEST FINAL FANTASY NITPICKER IN ALL THE INTERNET!

I WILL HAVE MY SATISFYING PLOT TWIST ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!

Part 45: Some Bullshit Happens And Garnet Gets Captured

We enter the Queen’s palace basement, and the party is immediately captured by Zorn and Thorn.

All right then. I think I have exceeded my
All right then. I think I have exceeded my "Bullshit Character Quota (BCQ)!"

That almost makes everything we accomplished at Treno and the Gargan Roo feel utterly pointless. Might I add I think Zorn and Thorn are shit characters? Okay, MOVING ON THEN!

NO FUCK YOU, I SAID “MOVING ON THEN!”
NO FUCK YOU, I SAID “MOVING ON THEN!”

Fine, let’s talk about why I dislike Zorn and Thorn! I want a fucking clear villain in this game! I want to be able to follow what the thought process behind one villain in this game is. Is that too much to ask for? I’M TWENTY HOURS DEEP AND HAVE NO IDEA WHO I AM FIGHTING AND WHY! I want a villain that has a motive and clear vision in terms of what they wish to accomplish in the story. Zorn and Thorn have none of these qualities. Worse yet, the two jesters poison what goodwill I still have for the story. They may be jesters but their villainy is played to such a comical degree that their actions and mannerisms hurt the tone of the game.

Every… single… Final… Fantasy… game… has… this… problem.

In Final Fantasy IX’s case, the gleeful terror of Zorn and Thorn is made all the intolerable because you do not understand who they are working for and why. Sure, perhaps they work for the Queen, but when her “condition” changes they continue to work for the antagonist. Why? Because the game wants to provide a crazy boss battle with a couple jesters later down the road. That’s basically it. Someone wanted to put Hellish jesters in this game, and I guess that’s something we are just going to have to deal with.

Part 46: Before Things Get “Good” It’s Time For MORE BULLSHIT PUZZLES

We finally transition back to “A-Team” moments after their disastrous encounter with Beatrix. Knowing the Queen’s army is headed for Cleyra our intrepid explorers set out to beat the army at their own game. As our motley crew finds their way to Cleyra, they discover that the city is surrounded by a sandstorm. To reach the city itself, we must first trudge through countless sand based environmental puzzles and traps.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK THIS!
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK THIS!

In one of these “puzzles”, you have to smash on the X-button to break free from sand whirlpools. What an absolutely riveting minigame. To be honest, ascending the trunk of Cleyra isn’t nearly as bad as the Gargan Roo, or any of the platforming bits from Final Fantasy VII. However, it is yet another highlight of how slow the second disc is. After the story finally got its act together and put its world building practices into action everything kind of stopped in terms of the storytelling. Yeah, maybe Garnet had a slight coming of age moment, but that’s pennies compared to the hours we have already sunk into disc two! How does anything we have done up to this point honor the high note that disc one ended on?

Even entering the tree is a treat!
Even entering the tree is a treat!

At the least, Cleyra is one of the more visually stunning locations you will ever witness in the game. While your time there may be short, every part of Cleyra firmly establishes how distinct the culture of its citizens is. In fact, the locations each showcasing a distinct culture has been one of my favorite aspects of Final Fantasy IX’s art design. Now I may not enjoy every location we grace our presence with, but you have to hand it to the developers that the world feels livable and organic. As you ascend the trunk of Cleyra, you already have a firm understanding that the people here are more in-tune with nature than any of the other cultures found in the Mist continent. Not only that, but Final Fantasy IX accomplishes setting the mood and tone of Cleyra without having to utter a single word.

When you reach the top of Cleyra, you are again astounded by the settlement’s art design. Its intricate pathways each lead to beautifully ornate buildings and monuments. Such beauty makes what happens later in the story all the more tragic, and it is this tactical use of beauty I find incredibly enamoring in hindsight. Holy shit! Using a location’s art design to reinforce a tragedy later in the game? It’s like the magic of storytelling in practice!

To be honest parts of Cleyra looked like an old matte painting, and I mean that as a compliment.
To be honest parts of Cleyra looked like an old matte painting, and I mean that as a compliment.

Part 47: Something Something Freya

No Caption Provided

Cleyra provides a multifaceted role for the game’s story. First, it is a location that provides multiple opportunities for Freya to get some much-needed characterization. Freya has been a quiet but consummate member of the party I honestly was interested in learning about. Freya showcased the audience a wide spectrum of emotions when we first entered the gates of Burmecia after the full breadth of the massacre there was witnessed. At Cleyra, Freya receives a more in-depth character moment. This moment was much needed, but that said, it wasn’t nearly as emotionally effective as I would have hoped.

In the previous episode, I touched upon my biggest issue regarding Freya. Freya’s character arc revolves around her courting her male “soul mate,” and her quest to cure his amnesia. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, but this game really goes for the low hanging fruit for some its characters. It’s as if the writers at Square really ran out of possible character stories and ultimately fused the two most generic character arcs into one: amnesia AND star-crossed lovers! It’s a “buy one, get one free” exercise of pure mediocrity. Freya is a warrior knight, and she is relegated to this schlock.

At least Freya can bust a nice Texas two-step.
At least Freya can bust a nice Texas two-step.

I do not understand how this character arc will develop, but my anxiety is already cropping up. Does Square even know how to write a strong and independent female character? I like Freya from a vantage point. She has been strong-willed, and earlier she was the only character willing to engage the other cast members dogmatically. I'm scared everyone, I’m scared because I can see “it” happening. I know what they will do… they will have this garbage date sequence where Freya tries to “jolt” Fratley’s memories. Then at some point, she will drop to her knees and beg him to remember who she is. Then his memories will be restored and they fall madly in love with one another. Despite the game having done a stellar job in depicting Freya as a strong and independent character, I can feel this evaporating for the sake of rehashing the same old “a woman needs a man” story arc. FUCK THAT! FUCK LIFE! What a waste of a perfectly interesting character.

At least the depictions of Burmecian and Cleyran culture were good. Both races greet Zidane with open arms, and when you finally gain entry to the cathedral in Cleyra you are treated with a crash course on their beliefs and practices. It is exposition and world building I welcomed wholeheartedly. Not only do the later portions of the story highlight a dire need to understand and appreciate each race’s distinct culture, but there’s a clear sense that both races are under attack. For all we know this could be the last time anyone learns about the Cleyran harp or dancing practices of the Burmecians. That it is, makes this scene all the most impactful in hindsight.

But then Quina has to remind you that Quina is a character in this story.

Oh isn’t this just “dandy”.
Oh isn’t this just “dandy”.

Oh, and if you explore the environment and locate Quina near the sandpit by the edge of town, Quina ends up throwing you into the sand whirlpool which transports you to the base of the trunk of Cleyra.

Fuck Quina, and fuck video games forever.
Fuck Quina, and fuck video games forever.

Part 48: The Story Stops Making Sense

Before the story really kicks back into high gear, we end up saving Vivi’s old friend from earlier, Puck, from a horrible Antlion monster.

Let’s all forget Puck originally wanted to make Vivi into his “slave.”
Let’s all forget Puck originally wanted to make Vivi into his “slave.”

It turns out that Puck is actually the heir to the Burmecian throne because OF COURSE HE IS! After Freya busts her groove tragedy besets the story. The sandstorm that protects Cleyra stops entirely after a harp snaps apart. I don’t know... a wizard did it. I will guess we will never entirely understand why the sandstorm stopped. One thing is for certain, everyone understands that an impending invasion is about to play out before our eyes.

The game then transitions back to Garnet and company, and I almost wish it hadn’t. Marcus and Steiner are locked away in a prison hanging in a chandelier. Why? Because “video games,” that's why! The more important scene of our recent juxtaposition is when Garnet finally confronts her mother. In the scene the game has been building up to for hours upon end, Garnet ends up blowing her chance to get a rhyme or reason out of the Queen. Thus, we still do not understand why the queen is on a quest to conquer the entire continent.

What a complete crock of shit!
What a complete crock of shit!

So what do we get instead of a clear motivation for our villain? Why some confusing nonsense about eidolons and needing to excise the devil from Garnet! Then Kuja plays a bigger role in the story because he can. He’s a weapons' dealer that likes to wear a thong I guess. He looks Garnet directly in the eyes and she immediately falls asleep because I guess he can do that. I don’t know, maybe I should have paid more attention to Doctor Tot’s lecture from earlier.

She has the devil inside her!
She has the devil inside her!

I don’t feel entirely at fault here. The game is setting up this plotline about Garnet’s intrinsic summoning abilities, but there’s no real hook to attach yourself to. The game has done no foreshadowing of an innate special ability to Garnet, and overall this comes across as “plot by convenience.” That Garnet has eidolons is happening now is because the story needs her to, and future scenes depend on Garnet being in a knocked out state. It’s a nakedly transparent asspull.

Part 49: The Proverbial Shit Hits The Proverbial Fan

After the sandstorm that has been protecting Cleyra for thousands of years ceases Freya has the bright idea they should depart and look for Queen Brahne. Hey don’t look at me, those are her words and not mine! The moment the party reaches the base of Cleyra we are informed the city is under attack.

I hate to break it to you Freya, but you are a character in a Final fantasy game. You life is only going to be a series of disappointments.
I hate to break it to you Freya, but you are a character in a Final fantasy game. You life is only going to be a series of disappointments.

After our ragtag group returns to the main town of Cleyra, we find it swarming with Black Mages. There are several scenes in Cleyra I found especially poignant. As you make your way to the cathedral, you rescue members of the town’s citizenry. When I failed to rescue several refugees, it was a failure that stayed with me. As their character sprites evaporated before my eyes I truly understood the gravity of my mistake. There’s another scene where you watch an adult male Burmecian get murdered by a deluge of Black Mages, and when you encounter his family you are prompted with this:

I know that I may sound like a monster, but I REALLY wish I could have informed the family about
I know that I may sound like a monster, but I REALLY wish I could have informed the family about
I also wish that there were bodies at Cleyra to hit home the devestation inflicted upon the city.
I also wish that there were bodies at Cleyra to hit home the devestation inflicted upon the city.

I wanted to save this character. I wanted that to happen. However, the game wants you to understand what the true costs of war are. Even if I had been successful in transporting all the refugees, people would have still died. The idyllic state of Cleyra is practically being ripped apart before your very own eyes. While I wanted to feel emotional about this; the amateur writer inside me watched this play out with enthusiastic respect. The attack of Cleyra is built up spectacularly and the ultimate payoff of that build up is masterfully done. Every step you make is graced with a decision or battle against swarms of Black Mages. You truly feel you have to earn your progress and this is the one time when I feel that the gameplay and story melded together perfectly. I was excited about what would ensue once I reached the cathedral, but when Sir Fratley showed up, it’s almost like the game farted in my face.

The ass band will play a song of farts to celebrate your failure.
The ass band will play a song of farts to celebrate your failure.

It is a thing that happens and ends up setting up a woefully disappointing character arc. Freya deserves better. Moving on, Beatrix has gained the magical stone from the harp in the cathedral. This brazen act of thievery sets us up for our second confrontation with Beatrix. This confrontation plays out as well as the last one, and Beatrix is able to run away with the magical stone in tow.

Defeated and dejected the party runs after Beatrix hoping to reacquire the magical McGuffin whose importance we are not entirely clear on. The scene that ensues next is one of the most overt anti-war messages I have seen in a video game. In what I assume is an exercise of “shock and awe,” Queen Brahne summons Odin to level the entire city of Cleyra.

When did this game become the Infiniti Gauntlet?
When did this game become the Infiniti Gauntlet?
I mean he did kill all of the frost giants on the planet....
I mean he did kill all of the frost giants on the planet....
And this is why you don't build your city in a tree. Now if only someone had told James Cameron that.
And this is why you don't build your city in a tree. Now if only someone had told James Cameron that.

For all of my previous nitpicks it is praiseworthy that Final Fantasy IX not only sets up its story for tragedy but fully commits to depicting said tragedy. Time and time again we watch games ask players to engage in practical total war, with no opportunities to pontificate upon your actions. Final Fantasy IX does and, while no one will certainly argue that it does so inconspicuously, this is laudable nonetheless. I also want to give kudos for the game creating a “forced loss” scenario that does not come across as contrived or forced. The destruction of Cleyra felt like a true shock whose consequences were immediately felt. My attempts to rescue all of those innocent civilians was for naught, and that more than any other plot beat resonated with me. I want to be the hero in Final Fantasy IX, and when I failed to be the hero it really hit me.

A plot point such as this establishes the party at their lowest point, and thus their succeeding moments shall elevate them beyond the precipice of despair. Even the smallest of victories now feel rewarding as we attempt to honor the lives and innocence lost. It is on that note we call a close to this episode. Stay safe and sound my friends.

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Yay, now I have something to read on the train.

[glances through]

oh...

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You hate all the good parts.

Also, doesn't the game show Garnet with the "summon" ability grayed out for the first part of the game? Isn't that nearly 30 hours of foreshadowing? I think that one's on you, homie.

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#3  Edited By Jesus_Phish

I can't wait until you play World of Final Fantasy aka legit probably the best Final Fantasy in years aka probably better than it has any right to be.

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#4  Edited By TwoLines

The sandstorm stopped because it was a summon, summoned by the people of Cleyra using the crystal in the harp by performing that ritual with the dancing and whatnot. So, no crystal, no summon, no sandstorm. It's a stretch, but they tried.

@jesna

Also, doesn't the game show Garnet with the "summon" ability grayed out for the first part of the game? Isn't that nearly 30 hours of foreshadowing? I think that one's on you, homie.

Yeah, I thought that whole thing was kinda neat.

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Yep. Garnet with the grayed out summons was a neat way of using the game's menu interface to make it clear she had hidden powers. I liked that a lot.

Also, I will always love Treno because of how great its music is. I agree that the Gargan Roo is pretty terrible though, both for gameplay and world-building.

I'm not sure if there's any evidence of this, but I assumed that Clerya's sandstorm was brought down by the Invincible.

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#6  Edited By thatpinguino  Moderator

@zombiepie: I don’t feel entirely at fault here. The game is setting up this plotline about Garnet’s intrinsic summoning abilities, but there’s no real hook to attach yourself to. The game has done no foreshadowing of an innate special ability to Garnet, and overall this comes across as “plot by convenience.” That Garnet has eidolons is happening now is because the story needs her to, and future scenes depend on Garnet being in a knocked out state. It’s a nakedly transparent asspull.

As multiple people have said already, Garnet has a summon command on her combat menu for the entire game and up until this point you couldn't summon anything because her MP pool was too low. She had summons the whole time and, in a gameplay as metaphor way, she wasn't strong enough to summon them yet.

She also gets sidetracked by saving Blank because she feels that Blank sacrificed himself to save her. Yeah she should prioritize stopping her mom, but as I've told you dozens of times... she's naive. She does not fully grasp the stakes of what she's involved in and as a result she allows herself to get sidetracked.

As for Gargant Roo, it's a dungeon location full of that combat that you were criticizing the game for not having in the first part of disc 2. It's not the best dungeon, but it is full of enemies that give tons of EXP relative to their difficulty. They allow your under-leveled characters to catch up to the rest of the party and get ready for the boss you fight in Gargant Roo. It's a pacing shift and a leveling boost wrapped into a very short segment.

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#7 ZombiePie  Staff

Yay, now I have something to read on the train.

[glances through]

oh...

So here's a bit of a story. This blog series almost didn't happen. I was close to announcing an indefinite hiatus from blogging about Final Fantasy.

This blog ended up becoming longer than I wanted. I look at the calendar, and I noticed that even if I publish these once a week, there's no way I'm finishing this series before the end of the month. At least these are still more readable than the thirty-page monstrosities I use to publish. No joke, I almost thought about stopping this blog series because of how much the thirty-page blogs were taking out of me. It would require an entire weekend just to write the blogs, and then the rest of the week to review, revise, and edit the blogs before publishing them. Selecting the best images for the blogs would take a day as well. That's what resulted in me publishing only one blog per month, and occasionally not being able to meet that publishing schedule. At one point I was going to ask @thatpinguino if we could just use his podcasts as the replacement of my blogs.

This format, even though it is still a bit long, has been a godsend. I guess you could say this was my final...fantasy.

@jesna said:

You hate all the good parts.

Also, doesn't the game show Garnet with the "summon" ability grayed out for the first part of the game? Isn't that nearly 30 hours of foreshadowing? I think that one's on you, homie.

What are these good points because I'm curious to learn what exactly is the disconnect for this episode. As always I have fun with the conversations we have here even if we are between two oceans.

I can't wait until you play World of Final Fantasy aka legit probably the best Final Fantasy in years aka probably better than it has any right to be.

............

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play. Are the Legends games on my list? How about Final Fantasy Tactics, or Advance? Am I going to have to figure out a way to play Adventure and those terrible mobile FFVII spin-off games?

I thought we agreed that I wouldn't have to play Dirge of Cerebus!

@twolines said:

The sandstorm stopped because it was a summon, summoned by the people of Cleyra using the crystal in the harp by performing that ritual with the dancing and whatnot. So, no crystal, no summon, no sandstorm. It's a stretch, but they tried.

That entire scene is a "stretch." It goes on for way too long, and the transition to Garnet at the castle getting exorcised should have taken place AFTER the destruction of Cleyra. Having it break up the action at Cleyra was awkward, and unnecessary. The game's use of multiple casts results in the story having a "stop and go" feel lacking of flow. I'm not decrying the inclusion of multiple parties, but how the game transitions to its parties. This game almost reaches Final Fantasy VIII levels of laziness. You could say that it was deep... HURTING!

Loading Video...
@fezrock said:

Also, I will always love Treno because of how great its music is. I agree that the Gargan Roo is pretty terrible though, both for gameplay and world-building.

I'm not sure if there's any evidence of this, but I assumed that Clerya's sandstorm was brought down by the Invincible.

I have nothing against Treno in terms of its art design. My issues stem from how directionless the introduction to the Treno feels. The game practically tosses you into the world and expects you to figure out what to do and where to go. You don't even know who you are intended to speak to. The fact that the levels are multilayered just adds to this problem. Overall I found the town to be wasted potential because I found the idea of a seedy town with an active undergound to be incredibly interesting.

What is the Invincible?

@zombiepie: I don’t feel entirely at fault here. The game is setting up this plotline about Garnet’s intrinsic summoning abilities, but there’s no real hook to attach yourself to. The game has done no foreshadowing of an innate special ability to Garnet, and overall this comes across as “plot by convenience.” That Garnet has eidolons is happening now is because the story needs her to, and future scenes depend on Garnet being in a knocked out state. It’s a nakedly transparent asspull.

As multiple people have said already, Garnet has a summon command on her combat menu for the entire game and up until this point you couldn't summon anything because her MP pool was too low. She had summons the whole time and, in a gameplay as metaphor way, she wasn't strong enough to summon them yet.

Wait time out now... the eidolons ARE the summons in combat? They are the same thing? Why does the game have two names for the same exact thing? I thought they were two completely different things!

Oh and fun story, I used a tent for the first time and it BLEW MY MIND that tents are actual camping tents. I thought that the term "tent" was just a term that came out funny because of translation weirdness. I didn't connect the dots that they would be real tents that the characters slept in. In fact, @mikelemmer and @shodan2020 can testify how gobstruck I was that tents were tents.

Fucking madness I tell you!

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#8  Edited By Zeik

@zombiepie: Eidolons are the things you "summon" in combat. You can summon an Eidolon. You can't Eidolon a summon. They aren't quite interchangeable terms.

Even if you didn't get it at first, I would think the encounter with Ramuh would have made it obvious. You have like a whole conversation with him about it.

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Wait time out now... the eidolons ARE the summons in combat? They are the same thing? Why does the game have two names for the same exact thing? I thought they were two completely different things!

I always thought it was referred to "Summon" on the combat menu because that's the "action" you're doing. So like, you choose "attack" because you're telling the character to attack, and you choose "summon" because you're telling the character to summon an eidolon. That, and people generally just refer to this mechanic across the series as "summons". World of Final Fantasy just came out and it lets you summon characters under the combat option of "Champions", but in the promotional stuff going around they just call the preorder bonus a "summon" because everyone who's played an FF game knows what that means.

Can one of you explain why this upbeat techno music is the main track for the Black Mage Village?

Juxtaposition? No I honestly have no idea, but the Black mages (other than that one guy and Vivi) are all childish and the music is kind of fitting as a theme for those guys. If I recall, they also cut the music in the graveyard area where those darker conversations happen, so they're not completely tone deaf.

It’s as if the writers at Square really ran out of possible character stories and ultimately fused the two most generic character arcs into one: amnesia AND star-crossed lovers! It’s a “buy one, get one free” exercise of pure mediocrity. Freya is a warrior knight, and she is relegated to this schlock.

They could've portrayed the question they were asking with this setup way better than they ever do. They never give it the time it deserves, either. In regards to your thoughts on how they wrap up that storyline... this game is better than that.

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play.

No Caption Provided

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#10  Edited By soimadeanaccount

The exorcise scene has to come before because the eidolons come from Garnet. I think you lose the ability to summon them after this part of the game until you relearn them, and you relearn them by having an associated gem, much like a crystal they had in Cleyra. They are also initially usable if you have the mp. I managed to cast Shiva in Gargan Roo :p after getting the reflect ring and excessive grinding in Treno.

Oh when you sober you summon, when you Trance you Eidolon.

The side track to get supersoft is a bit more than just fluff. First this side venture eventually lead to an info dump which for better or worse does serve the story. Not having your characters involve in acquiring the item would make the impact of Blank showing up later less powerful or feels forced, although you can then argue if the sacrifice of Blank was needed to begin with, or does it also play into the deus ex machina trope.

I don't think Garnet being naive is the only thing at display in this part, it is to show she is also an inept leader. She is of royalty and ruling class but rather than focusing on the larger matter at hand she tries to do the helpful littler things. While coming from a good place (a benevolent monarchy) she ultimately isn't all that helpful although she tries, at times too hard. These are also parts of her character. The dialog with Marcus and Garnet saying she is much stronger now, but rants on about the nobilities of Treno, and Marcus essentially calls her out on it (to the audience) I think perfectly summarizes what is happening. Even though she is ever so slightly different than before and she is actively trying to change, yet part of her remains the same as before. That, in theory, is how to utilize long form story telling. Characters should be changing every so slightly, nearly unnoticeable even, however if you were to go back and spot check how a character is at various point in the story there should be differences. A set up and resolutions combo with children TV like "moments of realization" and forced progression, although functional, I think is much less organic. Does FF9 succeed?...meh ok I guess.

As for the game going after low hanging fruit, star crossed lover, fate and destiny, are some of the most common and popular trope in plays since ancient times. Knocking it would be same as knocking all of literature history (which I am totally ok with and will gladly join!) On the other hand doing something zany and far out in the left field...well you get FF7 and 8 :p

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@twolines said:

The sandstorm stopped because it was a summon, summoned by the people of Cleyra using the crystal in the harp by performing that ritual with the dancing and whatnot. So, no crystal, no summon, no sandstorm. It's a stretch, but they tried.

That entire scene is a "stretch." It goes on for way too long, and the transition to Garnet at the castle getting exorcised should have taken place AFTER the destruction of Cleyra. Having it break up the action at Cleyra was awkward, and unnecessary. The game's use of multiple casts results in the story having a "stop and go" feel lacking of flow. I'm not decrying the inclusion of multiple parties, but how the game transitions to its parties. This game almost reaches Final Fantasy VIII levels of laziness. You could say that it was deep... HURTING!

But the summons come from Garnet, so... it had to be like that. And they're directly correlated. The Garnet scenes could be trimmed a bit, but other than that I don't see the issue here.

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Summons aside, I want to talk about one other thing Zeep brings up about Garnet being a fantasy trope in that she's a naive princess with a will to save the world. He's absolutely right in that regard - see Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Game of Thrones (at least initially - those characters go places), etc.

That said, I do disagree that it makes Garnet a bad character. I mean... she kind of is when you stack her up againast any other medium's mediocre offerings, but that's kind of games writing in general, isn't it? Within this very specific medium, though, I think she's delightful. Being a good-hearted person might not make her the most three-dimensional or original character, but that doesn't change the fact that she's fundamentally decent, and seeing her journey from naivety to an awakening of the world around her is part of the draw of Final Fantasy IX for me - is it is kind of in FFX, when the script is flipped for the male protagonist learning just how the world works.

I also disagree that she needs a reason to want to save people. With the very specific case of the theater troupe, that seemed to be to be largely because of her association with Zidane, but honestly, if she was just the kind of person to simply take on the needs of the people around her, I say more power to a character like that. They don't need to all be Holden Caulfields. In fact, I almost kind of prefer the romanticized characteristics of a Garnet to a more bitter, realistic individual who would be looking for reasons to help.

Does any of that make sense? I think Zeep's certainly entitled to his opinion on all of this. I just happen to disagree with him.

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I seem to remember liking Garnet, Freya and Lani.

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@zombiepie I've always loved Garnets side-plot with Marcus. Made the rest of Tantalus feel like more fully fleshed-out characters. I also enjoy the Freya-Sir Fratley and Vivi-Puck parts of Cleyra. I will say that I have no particularly fond feelings about Gargan Roo, and kinda dislike Zorn and Thorn outside of their (admittedly nonsensical) boss fight.

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#15  Edited By Gee_rad

@zombiepie said:

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play. Are the Legends games on my list? How about Final Fantasy Tactics, or Advance? Am I going to have to figure out a way to play Adventure and those terrible mobile FFVII spin-off games?

The thing is, a lot of those aren't even spin-offs. Square tacked the Final Fantasy name onto other games in the US for marketing purposes. Final Fantasy Legend games are actually the SaGa series. Final Fantasy Adventure is the first of the Seiken Densetsu series (i.e., the predecessor of Secret of Mana), and was later remade as Sword of Mana. As such, they are outside the remit of this blog series! Some people remember them kindly, but in my opinion, they are more interesting from a historical perspective than for their own sake.

(Frankly, Final Fantasies I, II, and III, aren't all that interesting apart from a historical perspective either, but maybe the remakes fix some of that?)

There's probably no need to play Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, either. It was made as an introductory RPG to ease US players into the real RPGs like Final Fantasy IV. It's mostly uninteresting.

You're probably better off skipping X-2, the FFVII spin-offs, and the sequel to IV, but you were probably better off skipping VIII, so...

On the other hand, Final Fantasy Tactics is actually a good game. (Final Fantasy XII takes place in the same world as Tactics, although they aren't closely connected.) Tactics Advance is okay too.

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#16 ZombiePie  Staff

Well then... I sure as heck have NOT been doing my best to respond to user criticism on this blog of mine. In fact, I have not even begun drafting the next episode. So much has happened in the last week since this was published. Extra Life catapulted this community to new heights as we raised thousands of dollars for children's charities across this country. Then real personal problems cropped up. The last couple of days for this middle school 8th Grade U.S. History teacher, in a primarily low-income community, have been beyond my comprehension. However, more than ever I need this game as well as the bullshit insanity, as well as inanity, of Final Fantasy IX. Anyways, I hope to have the next episode done by Saturday or Sunday. I'll even give you a spoiler in terms of the headline for the next blog: "If I Want To Set The Protagonist On Fire, Is That My Fault?" OH, YOU BET I HAVE SOME STUFF TO SAY ABOUT CONDE PETITE!

So let's get back to me responding to my user criticism!

@zeik said:

@zombiepie: Eidolons are the things you "summon" in combat. You can summon an Eidolon. You can't Eidolon a summon. They aren't quite interchangeable terms.

Even if you didn't get it at first, I would think the encounter with Ramuh would have made it obvious. You have like a whole conversation with him about it.

OKAY! So let me get this straight... if I was Garnet, and I summoned a foot long subway sandwich, the sandwich would be the eidolon, and the process of getting the sandwich is called a "summon." I'm starving right now so food metaphors are the only thing speaking to the three working synapses in my brain.

So these eidolons are just random bozos just hanging out... ready to be used to cause untold destruction whenever they deem a person worthy. That seems totally safe.

@teddie said:

Can one of you explain why this upbeat techno music is the main track for the Black Mage Village?

Juxtaposition? No I honestly have no idea, but the Black mages (other than that one guy and Vivi) are all childish and the music is kind of fitting as a theme for those guys. If I recall, they also cut the music in the graveyard area where those darker conversations happen, so they're not completely tone deaf.

It’s as if the writers at Square really ran out of possible character stories and ultimately fused the two most generic character arcs into one: amnesia AND star-crossed lovers! It’s a “buy one, get one free” exercise of pure mediocrity. Freya is a warrior knight, and she is relegated to this schlock.

They could've portrayed the question they were asking with this setup way better than they ever do. They never give it the time it deserves, either. In regards to your thoughts on how they wrap up that storyline... this game is better than that.

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play.

No Caption Provided
  1. The summoning system is a bore to use and I feel like I am getting by fine without having to use them. If I want to watch a cool visual cutscene then I guess it makes sense to use them, but otherwise they seem entirely inconsequential. At least that's my impression from a game that I have been slopping through without being able to fully grasp its deeper mechanics. Is it okay if I say that Final Fantasy IX is "easy?" Will I be forced to eat humble pie?
  2. The music in Final Fantasy IX is all over the place. On one hand, it has old-timey musical tracks that build up the mood and tone of the game's medieval setting. Then there are odd synthetic tracks that immediately unpin this. I know that the composer behind this soundtrack is widely regarded as being one of the greatest composers of all time, and I'm not denying that, but it really seems as if the soundtrack is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. ALSO, PLEASE TELL ME THAT I AM NOT CRAZY THINKING THAT KUJA'S THEME SOUNDS LIKE QUEEN'S "WE WILL ROCK YOU!" THIS IS HONESTLY DRIVING ME INSANE!
  3. Her whole character arc revolving around her needing to get her man in order to have a fulfilling life, and said man has amnesia is the most generic possible story they could have given her. She deserves so much better and it is a DAMN SHAME that no one realized this. Finally... I THINK I ONLY LIKE VIVI IN THIS GAME! Everyone else feels half-baked in comparison.

  4. I swear... if I end up playing any of those bullshit mobile Final Fantasy VII games... I'm GONNA DIE!

Oh when you sober you summon, when you Trance you Eidolon.

The side track to get supersoft is a bit more than just fluff. First this side venture eventually lead to an info dump which for better or worse does serve the story. Not having your characters involve in acquiring the item would make the impact of Blank showing up later less powerful or feels forced, although you can then argue if the sacrifice of Blank was needed to begin with, or does it also play into the deus ex machina trope.

I don't think Garnet being naive is the only thing at display in this part, it is to show she is also an inept leader. She is of royalty and ruling class but rather than focusing on the larger matter at hand she tries to do the helpful littler things. While coming from a good place (a benevolent monarchy) she ultimately isn't all that helpful although she tries, at times too hard. These are also parts of her character. The dialog with Marcus and Garnet saying she is much stronger now, but rants on about the nobilities of Treno, and Marcus essentially calls her out on it (to the audience) I think perfectly summarizes what is happening. Even though she is ever so slightly different than before and she is actively trying to change, yet part of her remains the same as before. That, in theory, is how to utilize long form story telling. Characters should be changing every so slightly, nearly unnoticeable even, however if you were to go back and spot check how a character is at various point in the story there should be differences. A set up and resolutions combo with children TV like "moments of realization" and forced progression, although functional, I think is much less organic. Does FF9 succeed?...meh ok I guess.

As for the game going after low hanging fruit, star crossed lover, fate and destiny, are some of the most common and popular trope in plays since ancient times. Knocking it would be same as knocking all of literature history (which I am totally ok with and will gladly join!) On the other hand doing something zany and far out in the left field...well you get FF7 and 8 :p

Let's find out what Garnet's Trance ability is:

Dagger will gain the ‘Eidolon’ command in place of the ‘Summon’ command. This will give an added opportunity for her Summons to have a stronger attack (which happens when the longer Summon animation plays). The Trance state for Dagger also adds a chance that any summoned Eidolon will return randomly during the battle.

EFF THAT NOISE!Do you know what I really do not want Trance abilities to revolve around high MP abilities that you can only practically use once in a battle, and would only reasonably use during boss battles! What's the honest to goodness practical applications of Garnet's Trance?

The issue with depicting Garnet as inept and naive is not that it is not a valid establishing character trait, but instead that the game waits a whole two-thirds into the story to progress this character arc. There are multiple opportunities where Garnet assumes leadership roles in the story. From these opportunities, it is implicit that Garnet is maturing, BUT the moment her scenes are over she immediately goes back to her bumbling ways. This cheapens her final maturation in the story as it happens well after any "natural" moment prior would have sufficed. Worse yet, the scene where Garnet does visibly mature before the audiences eyes feels incredibly forced. It's a fine scene, that could have been more impactful if the story had properly scaffolded towards that event.

Star-crossed lovers is not "low hanging" fruit for Shakespeare because Romeo and Juliet defined that story type and added new twists and turns to the formula. Final Fantasy IX does not bring enough novel and new takes to an otherwise tired and true story type. They essentially grafted a story outline from Cliff Notes to some of the characters in this game, and that's what I have an issue with.

@twolines said:
@twolines said:
@zombiepie said:
@twolines said:

The sandstorm stopped because it was a summon, summoned by the people of Cleyra using the crystal in the harp by performing that ritual with the dancing and whatnot. So, no crystal, no summon, no sandstorm. It's a stretch, but they tried.

That entire scene is a "stretch." It goes on for way too long, and the transition to Garnet at the castle getting exorcised should have taken place AFTER the destruction of Cleyra. Having it break up the action at Cleyra was awkward, and unnecessary. The game's use of multiple casts results in the story having a "stop and go" feel lacking of flow. I'm not decrying the inclusion of multiple parties, but how the game transitions to its parties. This game almost reaches Final Fantasy VIII levels of laziness. You could say that it was deep... HURTING!

But the summons come from Garnet, so... it had to be like that. And they're directly correlated. The Garnet scenes could be trimmed a bit, but other than that I don't see the issue here.

I don't know... the ttone of Garnet's scenes felt different from the tone of the scenes at Cleyra. Then as we watched her have an exorcism performed on her it further highlighted how vapid and trite the Queen was. We have no context as to why she's doing anything other than she has to for the story to work. I honestly just wanted one or two justifications as to why the Queen wants to invade the countries on her continent in explicit detail.

Summons aside, I want to talk about one other thing Zeep brings up about Garnet being a fantasy trope in that she's a naive princess with a will to save the world. He's absolutely right in that regard - see Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Game of Thrones (at least initially - those characters go places), etc.

That said, I do disagree that it makes Garnet a bad character. I mean... she kind of is when you stack her up againast any other medium's mediocre offerings, but that's kind of games writing in general, isn't it? Within this very specific medium, though, I think she's delightful. Being a good-hearted person might not make her the most three-dimensional or original character, but that doesn't change the fact that she's fundamentally decent, and seeing her journey from naivety to an awakening of the world around her is part of the draw of Final Fantasy IX for me - is it is kind of in FFX, when the script is flipped for the male protagonist learning just how the world works.

I also disagree that she needs a reason to want to save people. With the very specific case of the theater troupe, that seemed to be to be largely because of her association with Zidane, but honestly, if she was just the kind of person to simply take on the needs of the people around her, I say more power to a character like that. They don't need to all be Holden Caulfields. In fact, I almost kind of prefer the romanticized characteristics of a Garnet to a more bitter, realistic individual who would be looking for reasons to help.

Does any of that make sense? I think Zeep's certainly entitled to his opinion on all of this. I just happen to disagree with him.

Personally, I felt no investment in Garnet as a character, and that is where my criticism is coming from. Zidane's party had a real reason for being: They had to prevent Cleyra from being destroyed. Garnet was trying to convince her mother to stop invading other countries... by talking to her... when she probably could have done that before.... The game transitions from a gripping action sequence to a moribund character melodrama at the drop of the hat. The game could have avoided this issue by just providing the Queen with a clear motivation, or at least contextualizing why she's invading all of these countries in the first place. Lacking this building block result in your moments with garnet feeling empty and without a sense of tension.

Maybe asking for her to have a reason for saving people isn't the right course of action, but she doesn't have a reason for doing ANYTHING in the story.

@hassun said:

I seem to remember liking Garnet, Freya and Lani.

Garnet is... okay. She's just okay. She has a couple of scenes that I think "redeem" here earlier problems, but it all happens too quick and sudden to feel entirely natural. At the very least it works on an entirely superficial level. Garnet's "moment" on disc three works by sheer brute force. It's sentimentality is incredibly heavy-handed, but it is well-intentioned and genuine.

Other than that... I like Vivi, and I think that's about it. And who the Hell is Lani?

@jesna said:

@zombiepie I've always loved Garnets side-plot with Marcus. Made the rest of Tantalus feel like more fully fleshed-out characters. I also enjoy the Freya-Sir Fratley and Vivi-Puck parts of Cleyra. I will say that I have no particularly fond feelings about Gargan Roo, and kinda dislike Zorn and Thorn outside of their (admittedly nonsensical) boss fight.

Marcus is the best part of that, and I was incredibly happy to see at least one character in the story actively recognize how ridiculous the situation at Treno was. OH THAT WAS SO GOOD! Beyond that, Zorn and Thorn are garbage characters, and everything about the Gargans is terrible.

I do mean everything.

LIKE WHY DO I HAVE TO FIGHT MULTIPLE EVIL WORM MONSTERS WHEN ON THE GARGANS! WHY? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PALETTE SWAP BOSS BATTLES?

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@zombiepie: Don't worry, you barely meet her and she gets almost no character development. Just like most characters in this game. ¬_¬

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@zombiepie:

  1. The summoning system is a bore to use and I feel like I am getting by fine without having to use them. If I want to watch a cool visual cutscene then I guess it makes sense to use them, but otherwise they seem entirely inconsequential. At least that's my impression from a game that I have been slopping through without being able to fully grasp its deeper mechanics. Is it okay if I say that Final Fantasy IX is "easy?" Will I be forced to eat humble pie?
  2. The music in Final Fantasy IX is all over the place. On one hand, it has old-timey musical tracks that build up the mood and tone of the game's medieval setting. Then there are odd synthetic tracks that immediately unpin this. I know that the composer behind this soundtrack is widely regarded as being one of the greatest composers of all time, and I'm not denying that, but it really seems as if the soundtrack is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. ALSO, PLEASE TELL ME THAT I AM NOT CRAZY THINKING THAT KUJA'S THEME SOUNDS LIKE QUEEN'S "WE WILL ROCK YOU!" THIS IS HONESTLY DRIVING ME INSANE!
  3. Her whole character arc revolving around her needing to get her man in order to have a fulfilling life, and said man has amnesia is the most generic possible story they could have given her. She deserves so much better and it is a DAMN SHAME that no one realized this. Finally... I THINK I ONLY LIKE VIVI IN THIS GAME! Everyone else feels half-baked in comparison.

FFIX is easy. You never really need to grind, at least. I got into a grand total of 2 random encounters in both Cleyra and Gargan Roo (or maybe it was the other Roo), and never felt unprepared, in any case.

Re: Summons, they at least shorten the cutscene the majority of the time, and when they do the full cutscene it means the summon's going to do more damage, so at least you're getting that out of it. The shorter scenes are about the same length as the -aga spells (if not shorter), so Garnet essentially can become a replacement for Vivi if you wanted to, for some reason. Also, the items that you learn the summons from (the gemstones), boost that summon based on the amount you have. If you're still not really sold though, just replace Garnet with Eiko because she has way more white magic at the cost of having only a couple of summons.

I think some of the music strangeness may be because some of it is referencing older music (dunno if you've made it to Mt Gulug yet, but that's literally just an updated version of a track from the first FF, also from a place called Mt Gulug). Otherwise I never had any issues with the music, if anything the different styles help define the different locations/continents.

Yeah, Kuja's theme definitely has "We Will Rock You" going on in the background. I still do a double-take when it starts up.

Freya's character arc isn't necessarily about needing a man, but audience interpretation and all that, and I'm not going to try and tell you that it doesn't totally come across as her needing a man. I'm not gonna go into any more detail about her until you're done with the game, but I think the wrap up to her story is neat, even if I don't particularly care about her character.

I really only love the main 4 (Zidane, Vivi, Garnet, Steiner), and enjoy the existence of the rest of the party members but don't necessarily feel much attachment to them (because of the half-baked thing, like you say). Again though, it's really all the small stuff like Blind Grandma that makes me love this game and its characters, they all kinda have their moments even if some don't have many, and even if they're just some random NPC in a gutter somewhere.

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My spoiler was spoiler-tagged for a reason! You'll find out soon enough.

I'm honestly not sure if I've ever summoned in this game. I think I've only ever used Garnet and Eiko for their white magic. I know I've never seen Garnet trance. My experience has always been that Zidane will trance a lot, so much so that it'll pop up in boss battles fairly regularly, whereas the other characters will combine for maybe a dozen trances over the entire game. That's without crazy grinding though.

I'd highly recommend eventually getting around to Final Fantasy Tactics. I love that game. Then again, I love FFIX too, and that doesn't seem to be going great for you. But even if you end up thinking the FFT story is bullshit, you should get a kick out of the gameplay; especially if you start breaking it, which is so easy to do.

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#20  Edited By ZombiePie  Staff

@gee_rad said:

@zombiepie said:

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play. Are the Legends games on my list? How about Final Fantasy Tactics, or Advance? Am I going to have to figure out a way to play Adventure and those terrible mobile FFVII spin-off games?

The thing is, a lot of those aren't even spin-offs. Square tacked the Final Fantasy name onto other games in the US for marketing purposes. Final Fantasy Legend games are actually the SaGa series. Final Fantasy Adventure is the first of the Seiken Densetsu series (i.e., the predecessor of Secret of Mana), and was later remade as Sword of Mana. As such, they are outside the remit of this blog series! Some people remember them kindly, but in my opinion, they are more interesting from a historical perspective than for their own sake.

(Frankly, Final Fantasies I, II, and III, aren't all that interesting apart from a historical perspective either, but maybe the remakes fix some of that?)

There's probably no need to play Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, either. It was made as an introductory RPG to ease US players into the real RPGs like Final Fantasy IV. It's mostly uninteresting.

You're probably better off skipping X-2, the FFVII spin-offs, and the sequel to IV, but you were probably better off skipping VIII, so...

On the other hand, Final Fantasy Tactics is actually a good game. (Final Fantasy XII takes place in the same world as Tactics, although they aren't closely connected.) Tactics Advance is okay too.

  1. Okay... I'm playing any portable nonsense. They are just going to be a nightmare to wrap my brain around, and I have never been the best at getting emulation to work. No idea how active the GameBoy emulation community is anyways.
  2. I think I'm going to buy a NES Classic Edition, and that purchase is entirely unrelated to this blog series. However, if I do buy one Final Fantasy I may just end up getting played before Final Fantasy X or VI.
  3. So Mystic Quest is a no, but you also mentioned IV. Where should I rank that in terms of my triage list?
  4. X-2 will be played in tandem to X. @thatpinguino has demanded it.
  5. I have a couple of issues regarding the Tactics games. First off there are dozens of versions of the first and second game, and thus I have no idea where to start with the franchise. Secondly, one of the games is well known for requiring players complete hundreds of missions before unlocking the "good" ending, and that just sounds like the worst... THE WORST!
@hassun said:

@zombiepie: Don't worry, you barely meet her and she gets almost no character development. Just like most characters in this game. ¬_¬

OH SHIT! She's the weird mercenary lady! You meet her again? Also, I am right there with you about 90% of the characters not meaning shit to the story.

@teddie said:

@zombiepie:

  1. The summoning system is a bore to use and I feel like I am getting by fine without having to use them. If I want to watch a cool visual cutscene then I guess it makes sense to use them, but otherwise they seem entirely inconsequential. At least that's my impression from a game that I have been slopping through without being able to fully grasp its deeper mechanics. Is it okay if I say that Final Fantasy IX is "easy?" Will I be forced to eat humble pie?
  2. The music in Final Fantasy IX is all over the place. On one hand, it has old-timey musical tracks that build up the mood and tone of the game's medieval setting. Then there are odd synthetic tracks that immediately unpin this. I know that the composer behind this soundtrack is widely regarded as being one of the greatest composers of all time, and I'm not denying that, but it really seems as if the soundtrack is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. ALSO, PLEASE TELL ME THAT I AM NOT CRAZY THINKING THAT KUJA'S THEME SOUNDS LIKE QUEEN'S "WE WILL ROCK YOU!" THIS IS HONESTLY DRIVING ME INSANE!
  3. Her whole character arc revolving around her needing to get her man in order to have a fulfilling life, and said man has amnesia is the most generic possible story they could have given her. She deserves so much better and it is a DAMN SHAME that no one realized this. Finally... I THINK I ONLY LIKE VIVI IN THIS GAME! Everyone else feels half-baked in comparison.

FFIX is easy. You never really need to grind, at least. I got into a grand total of 2 random encounters in both Cleyra and Gargan Roo (or maybe it was the other Roo), and never felt unprepared, in any case.

Re: Summons, they at least shorten the cutscene the majority of the time, and when they do the full cutscene it means the summon's going to do more damage, so at least you're getting that out of it. The shorter scenes are about the same length as the -aga spells (if not shorter), so Garnet essentially can become a replacement for Vivi if you wanted to, for some reason. Also, the items that you learn the summons from (the gemstones), boost that summon based on the amount you have. If you're still not really sold though, just replace Garnet with Eiko because she has way more white magic at the cost of having only a couple of summons.

I think some of the music strangeness may be because some of it is referencing older music (dunno if you've made it to Mt Gulug yet, but that's literally just an updated version of a track from the first FF, also from a place called Mt Gulug). Otherwise I never had any issues with the music, if anything the different styles help define the different locations/continents.

Yeah, Kuja's theme definitely has "We Will Rock You" going on in the background. I still do a double-take when it starts up.

Freya's character arc isn't necessarily about needing a man, but audience interpretation and all that, and I'm not going to try and tell you that it doesn't totally come across as her needing a man. I'm not gonna go into any more detail about her until you're done with the game, but I think the wrap up to her story is neat, even if I don't particularly care about her character.

I really only love the main 4 (Zidane, Vivi, Garnet, Steiner), and enjoy the existence of the rest of the party members but don't necessarily feel much attachment to them (because of the half-baked thing, like you say). Again though, it's really all the small stuff like Blind Grandma that makes me love this game and its characters, they all kinda have their moments even if some don't have many, and even if they're just some random NPC in a gutter somewhere.

I don't know... I think I am back to hating this game. The bullcrap that everyone warned me about is total bullcrap. 80% of the cast of characters ended up coming across as poorly developed or wasted potential. Worse of all the twists and turns of the story are no better than some of the ridiculous moments from Final Fantasy VIII. At least VIII was always stupid. IX tries to convince you that it is grounded in some semblance of reality and then completely inverts that reality right before your face. What fun is that? Anyways, let's get back to your main points:

  1. The lack of difficulty in Final Fantasy IX has an unintended consequence. There's a lack of "stakes" whenever the game puts you into a major confrontation or story set piece. Entire boss battles and action scenes feel breezy rather than gripping or tense. This deprives me of the ability to enjoy some of the game's more flamboyant moments.
  2. I do not like Final Fantasy IX's summoning system. It's long and requires a great deal of patience from the player. This patience is not entirely rewarded considering that there are already plenty of valid combat directions that the game already provides you.
  3. Pandemonium sounds like the theme from Koyaanisqatsi.
  4. We'll discuss this more when we get there, but I honestly still feel like the game had the opportunity to provide Freya with a more novel or original character arc, but did not. Freya is such a refreshing character that truly feels like a breath of fresh air when she first graces your party. Then the game provides her with the absolute most generic story arc, and that does not meld with her characterization from the onset.
  5. I find it very difficult to get re-invested in characters that honestly were annoying and abrasive to me for so long. As such, when I was supposed to laugh and feel excited when Steiner got him a woman, I just couldn't... I couldn't. That was the worst. That entire storyline was so bad. OH MY GOD, IT WAS SO BAD!
@fezrock said:

My spoiler was spoiler-tagged for a reason! You'll find out soon enough.

I'm honestly not sure if I've ever summoned in this game. I think I've only ever used Garnet and Eiko for their white magic. I know I've never seen Garnet trance. My experience has always been that Zidane will trance a lot, so much so that it'll pop up in boss battles fairly regularly, whereas the other characters will combine for maybe a dozen trances over the entire game. That's without crazy grinding though.

I'd highly recommend eventually getting around to Final Fantasy Tactics. I love that game. Then again, I love FFIX too, and that doesn't seem to be going great for you. But even if you end up thinking the FFT story is bullshit, you should get a kick out of the gameplay; especially if you start breaking it, which is so easy to do.

I hate Eiko, I'm so done with her nonsense. Her interactions with Zidane and Garnet are just... they are beyond stupid. If I don't "like" a character in the story I usually avoid using them in combat. Then again... that would mean I should only be playing two or three characters in this game.

I'm not against the idea of playing Tactics, It is just a matter of deciding which version, and platform, to play the game on. It looks like the game is the Chrono Trigger of the Final Fantasy franchise.

I don't know everyone... maybe I don't like fun? I think playing highly flawed games is my wheelhouse, and where my area of expertise is. Maybe I was never meant to play a "good" Final Fantasy game?

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#21  Edited By Jesna
@zombiepie said:

I don't know everyone... maybe I don't like fun? I think playing highly flawed games is my wheelhouse, and where my area of expertise is. Maybe I was never meant to play a "good" Final Fantasy game?

After having read this entire blog series, this is is the only conclusion that makes sense to me. Obviously you should play FFXIII, it'll be right up your alley. Avoid Chrono Trigger, you'll hate it.

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#22  Edited By hassun


@hassun said:

@zombiepie: Don't worry, you barely meet her and she gets almost no character development. Just like most characters in this game. ¬_¬

OH SHIT! She's the weird mercenary lady! You meet her again? Also, I am right there with you about 90% of the characters not meaning shit to the story.

You do and yeah that's one of my biggest complaints about FFIX.

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I don't know everyone... maybe I don't like fun? I think playing highly flawed games is my wheelhouse, and where my area of expertise is. Maybe I was never meant to play a "good" Final Fantasy game?

Technically, FFIX is better game than it's predecessors and it goes through it's story with much more even pace and stumbling less frequently along the way. Unfortunately, aside from few scenes, it also doesn't really stand out or grab you in the same way FFVII or FFVIII do and it just feels like a much smaller game. I think it is a good game but that doesn't necessarily make it a good Final Fantasy game.

It is also starting to sound like you're putting yourself under a pressure to get through these games quick as possible and you're already looking at few games ahead, so maybe a small break after FFIX wouldn't hurt.

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FF9 is a "good" one because it is safe, it hits all the check boxes, and at the time technically impressive. It is kind of the age old general vs specific audience deal. It also did things in terms of story telling techniques that games during that time and its predecessor didn't do. Plus I think old games are rarely good going back.

Asking for a "good" FF game, or any game for that matter, is difficult if you really get into it. From a general approach we can rely on hearsay, consensus, aggregated review, but if we really want to get down to it...is any game ever truly "good" and what metric is it we are using to judge it by? Pick a game that you find good and why? pick one that you think has good story (or any work of fiction for that matter) and why? There's most likely people out there who hates it and hates it for the exact same reason why you find it good.

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#25  Edited By Gee_rad

@zombiepie said:
@gee_rad said:

@zombiepie said:

OKAY! We need to have a talk at one point which of the Final fantasy spin-off games I need to actually play. Are the Legends games on my list? How about Final Fantasy Tactics, or Advance? Am I going to have to figure out a way to play Adventure and those terrible mobile FFVII spin-off games?

The thing is, a lot of those aren't even spin-offs. Square tacked the Final Fantasy name onto other games in the US for marketing purposes. Final Fantasy Legend games are actually the SaGa series. Final Fantasy Adventure is the first of the Seiken Densetsu series (i.e., the predecessor of Secret of Mana), and was later remade as Sword of Mana. As such, they are outside the remit of this blog series! Some people remember them kindly, but in my opinion, they are more interesting from a historical perspective than for their own sake.

(Frankly, Final Fantasies I, II, and III, aren't all that interesting apart from a historical perspective either, but maybe the remakes fix some of that?)

There's probably no need to play Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, either. It was made as an introductory RPG to ease US players into the real RPGs like Final Fantasy IV. It's mostly uninteresting.

You're probably better off skipping X-2, the FFVII spin-offs, and the sequel to IV, but you were probably better off skipping VIII, so...

On the other hand, Final Fantasy Tactics is actually a good game. (Final Fantasy XII takes place in the same world as Tactics, although they aren't closely connected.) Tactics Advance is okay too.

  1. Okay... I'm playing any portable nonsense. They are just going to be a nightmare to wrap my brain around, and I have never been the best at getting emulation to work. No idea how active the GameBoy emulation community is anyways.
  2. I think I'm going to buy a NES Classic Edition, and that purchase is entirely unrelated to this blog series. However, if I do buy one Final Fantasy I may just end up getting played before Final Fantasy X or VI.
  3. So Mystic Quest is a no, but you also mentioned IV. Where should I rank that in terms of my triage list?
  4. X-2 will be played in tandem to X. @thatpinguino has demanded it.
  5. I have a couple of issues regarding the Tactics games. First off there are dozens of versions of the first and second game, and thus I have no idea where to start with the franchise. Secondly, one of the games is well known for requiring players complete hundreds of missions before unlocking the "good" ending, and that just sounds like the worst... THE WORST!

1. For what it's worth, I played the Gameboy ones emulated ages ago, with no difficulty, but, yeah, just skip them.

3. I would say VI, V, and IV are the top three numbered Final Fantasies, but that may be partly nostalgia. (I would say VI > V > IV > IX > X > VII > I > II > III > VIII > XII. I never played XIII or the MMOs.) If you're having issues with the fantasy tropes in IX, IV is the sort of game it's harking back to. I think you may find it bland, but it won't come close to destroying you like VIII. (Though the final act is a mess.)

5. There are only two versions of the first Final Fantasy Tactics game: the original PS1 version and the War of the Lions PSP re-release. All later releases are straight ports of the PSP, as far as I am aware. The War of the Lions version is easier to come by, so I suspect you'll end up playing that, if you play it. Compared to the original, War of the Lions replaces some in-engine cutscenes with anime; has a less messy translation, but in a pseudo-medieval style that many people find off-putting; slows down horribly every time some uses a special ability; has a new optional dungeon and classes; and has some balance changes.

The alternate ending thing is in Tactics Advance; the original game has one ending.

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#26 ZombiePie  Staff

@zeik: @sparky_buzzsaw: @twolines: @teddie: @dudeglove: @fezrock: @jesna: @hassun: @crommi: @soimadeanaccount: @gee_rad: @drdarkstryfe@encephalon@beforet@onemanarmyy@geraltitude@jasonr86@shindig@amiga1200 Is penguinman here? No? Okay cool because he would kill me if he heard about this. So let's have a little chat for a bit.

OH BOLLOCKS I FUCKED IT ALL UP! GUESS WHO HIT THE "POINT OF NO RETURN" AND DID NOT COMPLETE ANY OF THE SIDEQUESTS! OH FUCK ME, I JUST JEOPARDIZED MY ENTIRE PLAY-THROUGH!

Okay... this is the worst thing that could have happened. Oh my God what have I done? For those of you that don't know I believe in having a single save for an entire play-through of a game. Now when it comes to Final Fantasy I break this tradition, but barely. As it stands I have a save file back to the very beginning of Disc Three, and one where we are doing the "thing" in that super spoilery place where the "stuff" happens. I have some other save files, but they are in the middle portions of Disc Three.

Which of these two save files should I do. Option One involves me playing Disc Three ALL OVER AGAIN! Option Two results in me not being able to complete a good number of side quests. That leads me to Option Three. Name a good place for me to start.

Otherwise I'm just going to replay Disc Three, and probably hate myself, but at least I'll be able to get grandpa some coffee.

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@zombiepie:but at least I'll be able to get grandpa some coffee.

Not without going back to disc 2 for the coffee that everyone misses.

Unless you're at the very end of the final dungeon (like, right before the door to the final boss), you should be fine on all the sidequests that you didn't miss ages ago. That's when I did all the sidequests in my recent playthrough anyway, and I think the only important thing I missed was the coffee quest (which doesn't even give you a good reward, by the way).

I'd say just keep going, none of the missable stuff is worth playing through an entire disc again.

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Forge ahead, man, don't torture yourself by replaying an entire disc. I want your hate-fueled rants to be 100% organic.

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#29  Edited By thatpinguino  Moderator

@zombiepie: Let me repeat what I said when you asked me this same question: DO NOT REPLAY ANYTHING! YOU DID NOT MISS ANY IMPORTANT SIDEQUESTS! EVERYTHING IMPORTANT IS STILL DO-ABLE! DO NOT REVERSE COURSE JUST TO FIND SOME COFFEE!

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#30  Edited By Jesna

@zombiepie: Don't bother replaying a ton of content. Most of the sidequests worth doing should still be available. Did you see Daguerro? Do that. Do you care about the Chocobo stuff? If so, do that. The others are fun but non-essential.

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Well clearly your game is unsalvageable at this point, the only recourse is delete all your saves and start over from the beginning!

...since you are this far already I say you can probably skip most of the side quests that offers only weapon/armor as reward I don't think you need it, and yes you can still return from the seeming point of no return, however if I recall correctly it is a pain since you have to run through the final dungeon again nearly in its entirety. It isn't the optimal way through, but the PC version let you turn off random encounters right?

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@zombiepie: The side-quests you missed are entirely unimportant. You can do all of the worthwhile ones in disc 4.

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