Final Fantasy IX [22] – Marathon

This weekend, my Internet was down, meaning there was almost nothing productive I could do. Well, there was something productive. We got snowed in, so I’ve spent a couple of hours yesterday and today shoveling snow. Other than that, I was free to game and free to spend hours playing Final Fantasy IX. Since a lot has happened during this “marathon”, I’ll try to keep it short.

The Story

There was some story building in Alexandria, where Kuja attacks and destroys most of the city with Bahamut, in a battle against Alexander, who gets summoned by Eiko and Dagger. These events do psychological damage to Dagger, which causes her to lose her voice for a period on the story. In the process, a new villain is revealed. His name is Garland and he’s working against Kuja, but that definitely doesn’t make him a friend. Not much is revealed about him, though.

Final Fantasy IX, Alexander

This is the coolest version of Alexander ever.

The party escapes to Lindblum, where Cid develops a plan to track down and defeat Kuja. Before that, there’s a realization the black mages are working for Kuja again, so the group decided to go back to their village and see what’s happening. One of the remaining mages there tells them where Kuja’s base of operations is.

We enter the base, but it’s a trap and the group gets captured. Kuja sends Zidane and three other people to an area on the Forgotten Continent to the west, to get an item. The place has an anti-magic barrier so he can’t get it himself.

While one group is getting the item, the rest of the party manages to escape on their own. Zidane and his group returns and everyone faces Kuja, but in the whole mess of it, Zorn and Thorn managed to kidnap Eiko. They take her to the Lost Continent to the northwest and the group follows them to Esto Gaza.

Final Fantasy IX, Gaia and Terra

Oeil Vert was the place for backstory.

From Esto Gaza, they take the route to Mount Gulug, where, just as the group is about to engage with Zorn and Thorn, Mog intervenes and reveals that he’s an eidolon meant to protect Eiko. She saves Eiko and stops the eidolon extraction, but sacrifices herself in the process. Kuja flees, but there’s a positive.

It turns out, Kuja was keeping Cid’s wife prisoner at mount Gulug, so she’s free now. She turns Cid back into a human and is able to tell the group everything about Kuja’s plans. Apparently, there are two worlds. One is Gaia, where everyone is now. The other is Terra and it somehow exists in parallel to Gaia. That’s where Kuja is from. He wants to destroy Gaia and get an incredible amount of power that way, all in order to get rid of Garland.

The plan now is to somehow get to Terra and get more information there. Instructions on how to get there are at a castle on the Forgotten Continent – Ipsen’s Castle.

The Game

Alexandria was mostly storytelling, with a couple of minor side quests mixed in. During the attack, Steiner and Beatrix were kicking some serious but as a team and I definitely loved that part, especially the music, but that was about it. Same goes for Lindblum – lots of interesting story telling, but little actual gameplay.

Before I got to the mage village, I used the ship I now had to train my chocobo more. It took me a couple of hours, but I got him to the point where he was able to climb mountains. Then I got to the mage village and Kuja’s palace, which got finally got me access to the Forgotten Continent. I used my chocobo to explore around for a bit, but eventually entered Oeil Vert and got the item I needed.

The escape part with the other group allowed me to play as Cid for a bit. It was funny, and involved some skill based challenges, as well as a puzzle, but it didn’t take long. The group that was left behind was also behind in levels, so for the first dozen or so random battles, I basically gained levels after every victory.

Final Fantasy IX, Desert Palace Boss

The more thoroughly you explore the desert palace, the less “enhancing” the boss can do.

When I finally went after Eiko, I was already familiar with Esto Gaza, because I got there a bit earlier, while treasure hunting with Choco. However, the store had much better items this time, including a staff for Vivi, which taught him the *ga spells (Blizzaga, Firaga, Thundaga). Mount Gulug was tough, but I didn’t stay there long, so I managed to get through it without to many issues.

After I finally got everyone back together, I also got the airship, meaning I now had access to most of the world. I got to Daguerrero, which is a sort of a “bonus” city of this game. It contains some puzzles and high level shops, so I made use of that. I also tried to train on the grand dragons in an area nearby, but, although I get a lot of experience, I don’t think the difficulty makes it worth it.

I decided to complete the rest of the chocobo treasure hunting side quest, so the next several hours were devoted to that. I upgraded chocobo all the way and got all the chocograph treasures apart from the one in the middle of the ocean. I hope I’ll stumble into that one eventually, but for now, it seems ridiculously hard to find. In any case, I got some nice items from all of that, as well as access to the optional boss of this game. I won’t even try to defeat him at this point.

Final Fantasy IX, Chocobo's Air Garden

Besides digging for treasure, you can also fight a difficult optional boss at the Air Garden.

From my first play through, I remembered there was something important at one of the islands in the center of the map, but I immediately regretted going there. The only enemies there are some extremely dangerous sheep. I’m sure the rewards for beating them are great, but for now, I don’t stand a chance.

In any case, that was about all I did during these two days. It’s a lot, but there’s still a long way to go. For now, I need to go to Ipsen’s Castle.