I did it! I finally did it! I beat the strongest enemy in Final Fantasy IX – Ozma. It wasn’t easy, though, and there’s definitely a story to it, so here goes…
Last time, I beat the final area of the game and saw the ending. This was the easy part and I’ve done it with three of my characters being in the high 40s/low 50s. Final Fantasy IX at no point makes you grind, at all. In fact, with the proper items, which were easily obtainable, I could have probably done it in the 30s.
EDIT: Ok, Johnny got me in the comments. As with any JRPG, if you want to do the optional stuff, you’ll grind. To beat the story, though, you can just go through it the regular way. No grinding required.
In any case, while the game was beaten, some of the goals I’ve set for the game haven’t been accomplished. I’ve done all the side quests I wanted, but I haven’t gotten all the ultimate equipment, I haven’t learned all the abilities, nor have I beaten the optional boss. As I previously wrote, I decided to skip the optional boss of Final Fantasy VIII, simply because he seemed not at all interesting, and I haven’t even tried beating the optional bosses of Final Fantasy VII because I’ve actually done it as a kid, so didn’t feel the need to do it again this time.
For this one, I decided to go for it, since it just seemed like a hard battle, not an especially long one, or one that requires a lot of preparation. In fact, I was convinced it was doable right after I beat the game, so I decided to go for it immediately.
Well, not immediately. First, I wanted to learn all the abilities on all of my characters. For that, I needed to do several things. First, I needed to go back to Hades’ synthesis shop and synthesize a Pumice from the two Pumice Pieces I had. This was costly, but didn’t involve any challenge, since Hades was already beaten. Second, I had to learn the two remaining blue magics for Quina, both of which could be obtained from the “fake” guardians in the final, crystal area of Memoria. This didn’t take to long either.
Lastly, I had to grind for a bit to learn all the remaining abilities. Luckily, the fake guardians were worth 7 AP each, which adds up to 14 points per battle, when combined with Ability Up. I didn’t time myself, but it probably took me about an hour to learn most of the remaining abilities that way. I got impatient, though, so I decided to go back outside, gathering all the remaining weapons I missed on my way in and make an attempt at Ozma now, thinking 60 000 health can’t be that hard to take away.
Boy was I wrong. On my first attempt, Ozma outright killed my party with one move – Meteor. On my second attempt, I tried the Auto-Life ability, but all that got me was that after his Meteor, Ozma used Curse to kill my recently revived characters all over again. I tried it another few times, but I didn’t have a chance. Sure, with some luck, I might have been able to do it, but that wouldn’t have felt like an accomplishment then.
I didn’t feel like going back to Memoria, so I trained on Grand Dragons for a bit, until everyone but Dagger learned all of their abilities. This got my main party, now consisting of Zidane, Dagger, Steiner and Freya to their mid 50s. It also maxed out Freya’s Dragon’s Crest ability, so this was now my second character able to reliably do 9999 HP of damage. In case I haven’t mentioned it, the first one was Steiner, with his Shock! ability and he was able to do it ages ago.
By the time Zidane got to the low 70s, leveling on Grand Dragons was really started to get slow, so I decided to take my chances with Yans on Vile Island. These guys are tough, really tough. They are fast as hell and counter every action directed at them with either Float or Snort, regardless of the action hitting or doing damage. Snort removes the targeted character from battle and if everyone gets snorted out, this means Game Over. In addition to that, their most common attack is Comet, which can do all the way up to 9999 points of damage, determined randomly. Luckily, Comet misses often, but when it hits, it hurts badly. Lastly, they also use an attack which causes the Virus status effect, though that isn’t completely bad, since the experience is never wasted, as long as at least one character is able to receive it.
They have close to 20000 health and they give over 40000 experience each, shared among the party members. Since they attack in groups up to three at a time, this is definitely the best enemy to train on, once you’re able to do it.
Final Fantasy IX – Yan Strategy
The problem was, I didn’t feel I was able to do it. I persisted, though, in spite of the Game Over screens, so I eventually figured out the proper strategy. I put Auto-Regen and Auto-Potion on all of my characters. Chemist wasn’t needed here, because it doesn’t matter how much the used potion heals for. What matters is that there’s an animation during which no one is attacking, but Auto-Regen is doing its thing. Next up, I added Auto-Life on top of that, just to make things a bit easier when a Yan manages to get an instant kill with Comet. Lastly, I added HP +10/20% and Gamble Defense to cut the chance of an instant kill, Restore HP to add a buffer on top of that and Distraction/Awareness to further nudge things into my favor.
Once I got inside the battle, it all depended on how many Yans I was fighting. With one or two, Zidane had to act first. Soul Blade with a Masamune equipped meant I was able to cast Doom on one of the Yans. This meant that Zidane was out of the battle after this, because the Yan usually retailiates with Float, meaning the next retailation would Snort Zidane out of the battle. After Doom, Steiner and Freya do their thing with Shock! and Dragon’s Crest, killing the second Yan. Throughout all of this, both Yans usually get to act at least once, so there’s a good chance someone will die. If that happens, either they get revived after the fight, or during it, by Dagger or Zidane. Of course, this is only the cause if Auto-Life already got depleted, which rarely happens.
If the battle is against three Yans, then Dagger acts first, with Odin. Odin is an eidolon with a Death attack. The chance of it directly depends on the number of Ores the party has in their inventory and maxes out at 50% with 99 Ores. This means that with 3 Yans, one or two are usually dead immediately. With that out of the way, the three other characters could do their usual routine with Soul Blade, Shock! and Dragon’s Crest.
I used this strategy for about 30 minutes, which got Zidane to level 78 and the rest of the group to somewhere around 65. I got confident, so I decided to try my luck with Ozma again and this time, it worked. Ozma started out with Meteor, but the party survived and, thanks to Auto-Potion and Auto-Regen, almost completely recovered before anyone could make another move. After that, Freya and Steiner did their 9999 damage moves, with Dagger throwing a 7000 Ark on top of it. That was 27000 out of 55000 HP gone right there. Ozma then tried using Mini, which got reflected back at him, meaning he wasted a turn. I got a chance to do another Shock!, but Freya didn’t get a chance to act before Ozma’s next move. This one killed both Stiener and Freya, but Auto-Life brought them back and Zidane and Dagger’s Auto-Potion gave them a chance to recover with Auto-Regen.
Finally, Ozma used Curse, which killed Zidane, causing him to come back with Auto-Life, while causing various status effects on the rest of the party. Freya managed to Squeeze in another Dragon’s Crest, with another Ark from Dagger, bringing me to a total of about 53-54000 damage. Then Ozma threw another Curse, casting Stop on anyone but Zidane. That was all I needed, though, because one last pysical hit from Zidane was the final killing blow.
Final Fantasy IX – 100% Completed
With the optional boss defeated, all the interesting side quests solved, and all the abilities learned, I can now put this game on the 100% completed list. It took a surprisingly small amount of grinding to get to this point, but the game was no less fun because of it. In fact, I’d consider this a strength. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good JRPG grind, but I love it even more when there’s a point to it, without any boring filler.
Now I have to decide what to play next. I’m thinking one of my other JRPGs from the era, perhaps Grandia. I also have Koudelka, which I never properly played. Heck, I even have Final Fantasy VI, which is another game people consider a classic. Maybe Vagrant Story? Or I might just buy another one from the PSN. Who knows…