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?
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.
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 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?
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?
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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? 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?
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!
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.
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!
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 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.
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?
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!
Part 47: Something Something Freya
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.