The Gargant Roo was traversed even faster this time. In fact, it all went a bit too fast. As before, the gargant got attacked by a monster, but this time a stronger one. It was easy enough to kill it, but once we got back into the cart, it came back and the gargant started running like crazy.

We passed Treno and crashed at some mountains near Lindblum. Now, the queen extracted Dagger’s eidolons before we got to her, so she was a bit shaken up. Not all hope was lost, though. We met an old man in the hills, who turned out to be the eidolon Ramuh. He offered to give her his powers if we get all the pieces of a story his five copies scattered around the hills have and create a complete story out of those pieces.

Final Fantasy IX, Ramuh

Every Final Fantasy fan knows Ramuh.

As we were leaving the hills, a sequence started where the group noticed the Alexandrian army attacking Lindblum. Everyone ran towards the castle, hoping to get there in time, but one of Dagger’s former eidolons, Atomos, I think, got summoned and did a huge amount of damage to the whole city.The random battles slowed me down a bit and I had some difficulty getting the final piece of the story, but eventually, I got all five. I had to eliminate one piece and figure out the order of the remaining four to complete it. It was extremely easy if you understand the language, so I didn’t have any issues. Which of the two duplicate entries I picked didn’t matter either. It was more about how I feel about it than what the correct one is, which Zidane noted before we left the hills. In any case, we got a Peridot, which Dagger can wear as an accessory to learn summoning Ramuh.

Final Fantasy IX, Atomos

I think this is the first time Atomos appeared on the PlayStation.

Luckily, there’s a possibility of a tunnel in the Qu’s Marsh, leading all the way to the Outer Continent. This will be my next destination.When I regained control and entered Lindblum, it was under Alexandrian occupation. I went to the business district and met the minister there, who took me to see Cid. Cid had a plan. Since Kuja was supplying Alexandria with weapons, we need to destroy him. Cid’s intel tells him Kuja’s base is somewhere on the Outer Continent, north of the Mist Continent. Since we had no ships, air or naval, I had to find another way to get there.

Zidane and his group are teleported to the Red Rose, the queen’s ship. After a few cutscenes, they discover the queen intends to kill Dagger, so they use a teleporter pad to get to Alexandria before that happens.

I was put in control of the other group after that. I had to swing the cage Steiner and Markus were trapped in, in order to crash into the side walkway and get out. I was getting attacked by Alexandrian soldiers for a while here, so I decided to train for a bit, since they were easy to deal with.

Final Fantasy IX, Stairs

Every little detail in this game is amazing.

I got a 30 minute time limit to get to the princess now, so I had to get through the same a castle area I familiarized myself with at the start of the game. I remembered from my first playthrough that there was an optional boss here, so I gave it a shot this time to, but it basically killed most of my group in a single attack, so I gave up on that one.Eventually, I climbed to the top of the area, where Marcus ditched me to go and help Blank. A moment after that, Zidane and his group teleported into the room, but without Quina, who decided not to use the teleport at Cleyra. I had a full group again now, and Steiner was actually relatively close to their level, thanks to the training in the area below.

Final Fantasy IX, Zorn and Thorn

I finally got to fight these idiots.

One she saw Dagger was unconscious, she changed her position and decided to try and help her. She cast a healing spell on her to wake her up and then the group split again. Freya and Beatrix reminded behind to hold the enemy back, while the rest ran downstairs to escape via the gargant tunnels. Halfway down, Steiner decided to go back and help Beatrix and Freya.I eventually got to the queen’s room and found a secret passage to the area below, where I found Dagger and had to fight Zorn and Thorn. Once one of them was beaten, the battle ended and I could finally help Dagger. We got her back to the queen’s room, where Beatrix was waiting.

I got to the area where Dagger’s group got trapped before and it happened again. Luckily, Marcus and Blank managed to get back in time to deal with Zorn and Thorn and free us.

Cleyra is different city of rat people, which separated from Burmecia for some reason. Now that Burmecia was mostly destroyed, the king and his subjects fled there. The town was hidden behind a huge sandstorm, so the only way to approach is was by foot.

When I got there, it was revealed that Cleyra is actually a huge tree, which I had to climb in order to get to the town on top. The climb was long, but mostly uneventful, so I’ll keep it short. I got a few items, missed another few and learned White Wind with Quina, which is a great healing spell.

Final Fantasy IX, Cleyra Settlement

How can a single game have so many amazing locations!?

I ran to the area where the ant lion was kept and entered the fight. The fight was relatively easy and again, I probably didn’t manage to steal all the items I could from the boss. The kid turned out to be Puck, Vivi’s friend from the start of the game. He also happens to be the vagabond crown prince of Burmecia.Once I got to the top, we split up again, so I was about to watch some ATE’s. As usual, Vivi got in trouble for his appearance, but got to safety in time. Eventually, I stumbled into a panicked Burmecian soldier who was running to the cathedral to let people know a kid was being mauled by the local ant lion.

Once that was over, a ceremony was held to keep the sandstorm going, but failed. Soon after, the first black mages attacked. I started going back down the tree trunk to fight them off and managed to collect most of the leftover items along the way. Once I got about halfway to the bottom, the group realized they were being distracted and decided to rush back to the top.

Final Fantasy IX, Freya's Sweetheart

Amnesia really is a trope!

We all entered the cathedral, where Beatrix barged in and took the magical crystal which kept the sandstorm going. She fled using one of the mages to teleport her, so Zidane and the rest of the group decided to follow using the same method. Of course, all that was after Beatrix beat them to a pulp for the second time.As expected, the actual attack was taking place in the city. Zidane decided to try and save as many as he could, so he eventually led the group to the cathedral, where they got surrounded. Luckily, a dragon knight arrived just in time to save everyone. It turned out it was Freya’s long lost love, but he had amnesia, so the reunion was bittersweet.

After the fight in Burmecia, I actually had to change discs. Disc two started with Dagger and Steiner again. The tram ride to the top was over and we now had to wait for the next tram to arrive. We decided to wait that the local rest station, where we soon met Markus and Cinna of Tantalus.

They’re on a mission to help Blank, who was still petrified in the Evil Forest. They heard a rumor of an item called “Supersoft” being in possession of a noble in Treno. Since she felt she owed blank, Dagger decided to help them out with the item.

Final Fantasy IX, Black Waltz #3

Black Waltz #3 was the must stubborn one of the bunch. He just refused to die.

We all got on the same tram, but the ride was soon interrupted by an old friend, Black Waltz #3. He was badly damaged and near death, but he could still pack quite a punch, especially considering Dagger and Steiner were still level 6. Eventually, I got through the battle and we moved on to Treno.

I remembered I got the coffee from the South Gate, so I tried going to Dali first, but I couldn’t give it to the old man yet, which actually makes sense, since Zidane’s group was the one that found the item.

I entered Treno and the group split up again, leaving me with Steiner. A bunch of ATE’s later, we all regrouped and decided to break into the noble’s mansion to get the Supersoft. At the mansion, we met professor Tot, who knew Dagger and decided to help her.

I met up with the professor at his house later, where he gave me the Supersoft and opened up a secret passage to Alexandria for us – The Gargan Roo.

Gargan Roo is an old system of tunnels which used a giant insect called a gargant as a method of transportation. Before I could activate the system, I had to figure out a simple switch puzzle which professor Tot explained to me. It was really simple, so I don’t really consider it an actual puzzle.

Final Fantasy IX, Garant ride

I forgot to take screenshots, so this is the only one I have, sadly.

Once it was over, the gargant continued to move. Soon, the group got to Alexandria where they get captured by Zorn and Thorn. Steiner and Marcus are put in a cage, while Dagger is taken away from them.The ride started fast, but was stopped even faster, because the gargant got attacked by another monster. It wasn’t to hard too deal with, in spite of the low level of all my characters, so the fight was over relatively soon. The only strong attack the monster had was Blizzara and even that didn’t do too much damage.

Burmecia was basically more of the same I got in the Grotto. A couple more enemies got introduced, but none of them had any new blue magic, so they weren’t that important. The extra levels I got from training before the Grotto were still helping here, so I didn’t have a hard time getting through the area.

Final Fantasy IX, Burmecia, Realm of Eternal Rain

It really is constantly raining. I wouldn’t want to live in Burmecia.

The first part of the town involved another bell I needed to find to open the door blocking the way forward. Sadly, it also involved a missable item. A section of the walkway on the right side of the top floor colapsed when I tried to run over it. I probably should have walked to get to the chest beyond, so now I’ll never know what was inside.

The second area was more straightforward. One of the buildings contained a new spear for Freya, while another housed Stilzkin as well as another moogle. I used a tent there and saved my game before I entered the castle.

At the castle, the real villain, or at least one of them, was finally introduced. Brahne was there with general Beatrix. They were discussing their plans when a man walked in. His name was Kuja and he’s revealed to be the one supplying Brahne with her black mage army. The funny thing is, back when I was a kid, I thought Kuja was a woman, which is ridiculous, since he’s referred to as “mystery man” at the start.

Final Fantasy IX, First Encounter With Kuja

He’s still the mistery man here, but I know his name. As a kid, though, I didn’t even know he was a man.

He was revealing some of his plans when a Burmecian soldier charged all three of them. To save his life, Freya and the rest jumped in and the fight against Beatrix started. Beatrix was tough and had an attack which could kill one of my party members with a single hit. This fight, as far as I know, is not winnable. Eventually, Beatrix uses an attack which gets everyone down to 1HP and the fight is over. I kept using Phoenix Downs with Quina, doing damage with Freya and Vivi while continuing to steal with Zidane until it finally happened.

The villains revealed they were going for Cleyra next and left the group for dead.

While I was getting to Burmecia, the game took me to a different route to show me what Dagger and Steiner have been doing. Apparently, thanks to an idea Dagger had, Steiner managed to smuggle her through the South Gate in a bag of smelly cucumbers.

Final Fantasy IX, South Gate

The Active Time Events make even short areas like the South Gate interesting and viable.

I got inside the gate area and then had to tell on some lazy engineer to his supervisor in order to get him out of the way. I also managed to give relationship advice to a girl to send her away to. Once both were gone, Dagger could get out of her bag and change into clothes that didn’t smell as bad.

We got through the next gate and entered the tram that took us to the next checkpoint. That’s it, nothing else happened today.

Final Fantasy IX, Chocobo's Dream World

The first upgrade is mine!

I forgot one really important thing yesterday, though. Remember that chest on the beach? It contained the first upgrade for my chocobo! Now, Choco can walk over rivers and shallow seas. Of course, since the Mist Continent is surrounded by mountains, the upgrade didn’t really open up new places for me yet, but it does mean I’ll be able to get to the lagoon, which is the next area for finding Chocographs, as soon as possible.

The Grotto was to the north of the marsh, so I didn’t have trouble getting to it. The place was already under attack by the mages, led by Zorn and Thorn. This meant I was involved in a couple of unavoidable fights, but thanks to my previous training, I didn’t have any trouble here, whatsoever.

Final Fantasy IX, Gizamaluke's Grotto

The Grotto was dark and moody.

Once again, I’ve spent some time learning new spells with Quina, before I started to actually move forward through the area. I think blue magic is way more fun to collect in this game than in Final Fantasy VII, for the simple reason that I get to chose when and if I want to learn it. Additionally, most of the enemies I’ve encountered since I got Quina had a spell to teach me, so there’s no guessing or randomness involved. You find a new enemy and you try to eat it. You either learn something, or it tastes bad. In both cases, you aren’t interested in that enemy any more.

The area was mostly a large key puzzle. I had to gather bells, each of which I could use to open a single door. Sadly, there are some areas I skipped because of this, partly because I wasn’t able to figure out which route is correct and which is optional, but partly also because I was to lazy to go back at one point.

Before I could leave the area, I had to fight against Gizamaluke, of course. I used Quina’s Mighty Guard to make the first half of the fight extremely easy and, as usual, kept stealing with Zidane, while Freya and Vivi did the damage. Stealing is getting a lot more difficult now, with most of my attempts failing. I’m not even sure if I got all the items I could before the fight was over, but Zidane definitely didn’t get a chance to attack at all. I think I’m gonna have to start using the Detect skill, which tells me which items the boss has.

Final Fantasy IX, Gizamaluke Fight

This one gave me a lot of trouble when I was a kid.

In any case, I was out and I could get to Burmecia, finally. My memory served me well, though, so before I went there, I remembered there’s another treasure I could get with my chocobo now. I’ve found the bird tracks nearby, so I used Chocobo to get to the only beach in the area and dig out the treasure.

The Qu’s Marsh was a place I probably should have visited as soon as I left Lindblum, but for some reason, I decided to skip it. It’s the home of a peculiar race called the Qu, but it’s also the home of the two moogles who have been providing tutorials since the start of the game.

I got in, went to the right and got all the way to the hut in the back, where one of the Qu’s was. He didn’t have much to say, so I returned, but using a different route this time. The route took me to a pound full of frogs and another Qu trying to catch them. Apparently, Qu’s consider frogs extremely delicious.

Final Fantasy IX, Quina

Yummier everything, actually!

Quina is a blue mage, meaning she learns magic from enemies. In this game, the magic is learned by eating the enemy, and for that, the enemy needs to be weakened enough. Now, on my first play through, back when I was a kid, I didn’t really like Quina. Her regular damage varied a lot, making her unpredictable, and I considered learning all the blue magic a huge drag, so I never really did it.I caught a frog and offered it to the Qu, called Quina. When he or she (not sure) took it, the Qu from the hut arrived, telling Quina about all the food from all over the world that she’s missing, urging her to go out and discover all of it. He asked me to take Quina with me, so I agreed. I needed a fourth character anyway.

Using Quistis in Final Fantasy VIII made me rethink this. I decided to spend some time eating the various enemies in the Marsh and on the overworld map and I think it was more than worth it. Among others, I’ve learned Mighty Guard, Aqua Breath, Angel’s Snack, Pumpkin head and some others, but Mighty Guard alone was worth the trouble.

With all of this, I was done in the area, so it was finally time to get to Gizamaluke’s Grotto.

I left Lindblum via the Dragon Gate. I was supposed to get through Girzamaluke’s Grotto next, in order to get to Burmecia, but the next area was quite open and allowed me to explore for a bit and do some side quests.

The first thing I did was to train for a bit, since I was quite under-leveled by now. The dragons in this area could have easily killed my party in the first few battles, but somehow, I managed to survive and after I got some experience, it all became much easier. I was training until about level 13 before I moved on.

Final Fantasy IX, Healing Fountain

This stream can heal you, so it’s a great place to train on the dragons outside.

After that, I finally went to the Chocobo Forest. Like in most games in the series, you get to ride these birds in Final Fantasy IX to. However, not many games ¬†in the series make them as useful, apart from Final Fantasy VII, of course. In this one, you get to upgrade your chocobo to the point where it can actually fly.Next up, I went to the South Gate area. I’ve already seen this place through an ATE which involved the Tantalus gang, so I explored it for a bit and found Mocha coffee, which Cinna left here, I think. This is probably something that old man at the lighthouse would want.

In order to do this, I had to play a mini game in the forest which consists of digging for treasures. One of the treasures you can get is a Chocograph, which is a card that shows the location of more treasure on the world map. I’ve spent well over an hour digging here, until I was told there were no more cards to get.

Final Fantasy IX, Chocobo's Forest

You can start the huge Chocobo side quest as early as right now.

Next up, Qu’s Marsh.After that, I used my chocobo to explore the rest of the area and actually find two of the treasures. Although the other Chocograph treasures could also be reached with the regular chocobo, I couldn’t get to those locations from here, so I had to forget about those for now. Of course, there are other locations in the world where I can find more maps, so I’m nowhere near being done, but I’m getting there, and quite early in the game to.