Check out the intro to Final Fantasy 9!
Last time, we barely managed to rescue Garnet before the entire Evil Forest became petrified. Now the group heads south to an Ice Cavern to get out of the valley, so let’s head there now.
The group enters the Ice Cavern and begins to explore around.
It is here I realize just how slow this game is as a whole, but especially combat.
If the hi-speed option wasn’t so fast, it probably would be tolerable, but it’s just too fast, so you can’t use it all of the time.
Even battle animations are somewhat slow. It doesn’t seem like the encounter rate is that high yet, but I already have my finger hovering over the no-encounter button, even at this early stage in the game!
In fact, I am half tempted to turn on the cheat that automatically allows your characters to learn abilities and skills as soon as they equip a piece of gear that has something they can learn on it.
With that, I wouldn’t have to grind to learn abilities. It could just be this early stage of the game, of course, but enemies are still giving me only 1 AP per enemy, so the learning process is slow, especially when abilities cost like 30 or 40 AP to learn.
And I am sure that number is only going to get higher as the game goes on and we get more powerful abilities.
As the group presses forward, they spot a blizzard rushing out from one of the cavern ways.
Suddenly, one by one, they all pass out.
Zidane hears a bell sound, which wakes him up, so he goes to investigate.
Upon moving further into the cavern, they spots some sort of mage that is conjuring the blizzard and put the party to sleep!
This fight wasn’t that hard, but I did get a game over my first try.
Black Waltz only spams a few low level spells, and the sealion he summons doesn’t do anything too dangerous, except for when you kill the Black Waltz, that is.
It then busts out Tsunami, dealing quite a chunk of damage. My first try, Zidane was low health and I didn’t see it coming, so it wiped him out.
Second try, I healed up before killing Black Waltz.
The good news about this fight, since it’s two against one, Zidane’s Trance gauge fills very quickly, which let’s him bust out some of his “dyne” moves.
Namely, Tidal Flame, which can one shot Black Waltz and two shot the sealion.
After the fight, a voice rings out and tells us that the Princess won’t be safe…
With the rest of the party now awake, Zidane opts to not tell them what happened, for some strange reason.
As they exit, Zidane and Steiner get into an argument about Garnet. Zidane thinks she needs to be discreet, since everyone will be looking for her, but Steiner is a bit of an idiot and can’t comprehend that fact.
Garnet agrees, and we get the chance to re-name her.
We keep the default, Dagger, and continue on to a nearby village.
The group also met this friendly fellow. By giving him an item he wants, he leaves us alone!
Side note, I turned off the beginning battle camera pan in the options menu, which cut down like 5-6 seconds per battle without hi-speed, so that helped speed up battles some.
The gang arrives in the town and Zidane mentions how they should stay at the inn and get some rest.
Zidane asks Garnet, or Dagger, rather, why exactly she left.
Of course, she plays coy for now.
They all rest and Zidane is awoken by singing from someone, possibly Dagger?
We buy some equipment from the shops and find Vivi. Zidane asks him to head back to the inn so they can discuss what they are going to do, but when Zidane leaves, someone grabs Vivi!
Zidane, unaware of what just happened to Vivi heads off to find Dagger and Steiner.
We also get a scene of Steiner helping the young lady who runs the local pub. She tells him about an observatory outside of town. There, a man named Morrid runs a cargo ship that he can use to possibly head back to Alexandria in.
Back to Zidane and Dagger, after a while of waiting, they start to worry about Vivi and they head off to find him.
They had back to the last spot Zidane talked to him and hear him crying underground through an air pipe!
He tells them they told him to stay there, and thankfully, he isn’t hurt. Zidane and Dagger then try to quickly find a way underground to Vivi.
Heading underground from the windmill, Zidane and Dagger overhear a conversation and see Vivi being brought further in, but Dagger stops him.
She tells him that the barrels that are littered everywhere have the same symbol on some barrels from Alexandria Castle, so she has to know what is going on down here. For the time being, Zidane agrees to lay low.
We find Vivi, who is stuffed in a box! He says the men were going to put him on the next shipment out of town, but he didn’t understand what they were talking about, so he just kept quiet.
Pressing on, the group finds out this is some sort of underground facility making… Vivi clones!?
They end up hiding in a barrel, as more workers were on their way.
Steiner bursts on the scene as the gang finds themselves popping out of a barrel outside of the facility.
A moment passes and Steiner lies to the group, telling them that the cargo ship is headed for Lindblum, when in fact, it is heading back to Alexandria!
But before they can board, another Black Waltz rears it’s ugly head and attempts to kidnap the princess!
This guy wasn’t that bad. With Steiner and Vivi using Magic Sword every turn, he went down fairly quick.
Only problem, he could occasionally bust out Fira, which dealt a ton of damage to everyone, even knocking out Vivi.
After healing everyone back up, we continue to wail on him until he goes down.
I am not sure how much it raises the Steal rate, but ANYTHING helps. Stealing in this game can be extremely frustrating from what I remember, so even a small help is still something.
Heading back to the cargo ship, the gang barely manages to get on before it takes off.
They then discover that the ship is being operated by the Vivi look-alikes!
Vivi tries to communicate with them, but they don’t even acknowledge him, or anyone, for that matter.
Steiner finally spills the beans and tells us that the ship isn’t going to Lindblum, but Zidane has a plan to turn the ship around to Lindblum.
He takes the wheel from the driver and turns the ship to Lindblum.
On the way, we see another Black Waltz approach!
Zidane instructs Dagger to fly the ship, either back to Alexandria or to South Gate near Lindblum, her choice.
Vivi, seeing all those lives perish, flips out and attacks Black Waltz 3, and trances in the process!
The group fights Black Waltz, without Dagger, so let’s see how this goes!
Vivi’s trance allows him to cast two black magic spells in one turn. Simple, but effective.
It’s also fitting that shortly after the fight, Steiner tranced as well.
Steiner’s trance I think just increases his stats? No idea, it didn’t seem to do anything. But it didn’t help that he had to be constantly throwing Potions, anyway.
This fight wasn’t that bad. Except for the fact that I spent like 20 minutes trying to steal the last item, using up nearly all of my Potion reserve. Even with Bandit, it took forever.
In the future, I might seriously just reset if I start to use up too many items/MP.
He hits decently hard with magic, especially when he rises in the air about the halfway mark, allowing him to target the entire party.
We finally manage to get all of the items and very quickly trounce him.
We see the two clown twins, who appear to be flying near our airship, checking out Black Waltz 3, but bail when he suddenly takes control of their ship, apparently “damaged” from our fight, who is now heading full speed towards us.
Zidane tells Dagger to gun it to South Gate, so she does.
Vivi, still stunned from the destruction, even fires off a spell at Black Waltz, giving the gang some breathing room.
Black Waltz 3 prepares a lightning spell at us, but luckily for us, his spell back-fires and it blows his ship, giving the group a chance to escape.
The group barely manages to get away as the gates close.
They touchdown in Lindblum and Dagger asks to see Regent Cid. She shows the pendant that she took from her mother, and her uncle shows up to lead the way.
The group makes their way to Cid, who turns out to be an oglop!?
Apparently, someone broke into the castle, abducted Hilda, his wife and turned him into an oglop!
We get a few cutscenes in rapid succession, but we meet another potential party member, Freya!
She and Zidane know each other, but it looks like their relationship is a bit awkward, as it would be, being friends with Zidane…
Cid vowed to protect Dagger, and when he heard news that the Queen was acting odd, he sprung into action to “rescue” Dagger.
If he tried to do it by force, Alexandria and Lindblum would most likely go to war, so he had to be covert.
We also learn that Cid was turned into an oglop by his own wife after she caught him having an affair! She also stole a major airship, the Hilda Garde and hasn’t been back since.
With all that information now dropped on us, we regain control of Zidane, with everyone else doing their own thing in town.
We explore around town, pick up some items, buy some stuff, but we also run across the synthesis shop.
Synthesis is pretty simple, you take some equipment, put it together and create a new piece of gear, which is usually pretty good.
That is why I haven’t been selling any gear, you never know when you might need a specific piece of equipment to craft that really good weapon/armor!
Continuing on, we travel through some of the districts before making a stop at the castle to see what Dagger is up to.
Zidane finds out from Steiner that she has gone missing, so he runs off to find her.
Zidane, hearing that same song from before investigates and finds Dagger on the roof of the castle after sneaking past some guards.
Here, we find out how Dagger has some feelings of guilt from all of the things that have happened. She blames herself for what has transpired to everyone around her.
Zidane asks her about the song, but Dagger has no idea where it came from, but it helps her when she is feeling sad.
We also see a short scene of Freya speaking of a Sir Fratley before jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
Everyone congregates back in the castle and we find out the Festival of the Hunt is about to begin.
The participants have 12 minutes to kill as many monsters as possible, which have been set loose in the city.
As dangerous and stupid as that sounds, everyone loves it.
Zidane takes out a few monsters, helping some trapped people as he goes through the districts.
I have no idea what happened, but a Mu took out Zidane with one shot. I was literally looking away from my screen for two seconds when I heard the Mu cast something. When I looked back, Zidane was on the floor. Oh well!
Freya wins (which is what I wanted anyway), and she gets a Coral Ring (which goes to our inventory, anyway. Hehe).
The gang then sees a Burmecian messenger burst into the room, gravely wounded, who tells them that mages are attacking their city. He then falls over, dead.
Freya immediately springs into action, but Zidane stops her and says he is going. Even Vivi chimes in, saying he wants to find out about the mages.
Dagger wishes to go, but everyone shuts her down, telling her if it is Alexandria, it’s too dangerous.
Cid offers to open the Dragon Gate so they can all leave, but offers a meal first, since it takes time for the gates to open.
They all eat, but everyone falls unconscious!?
Dagger spiked everyone’s food with Sleeping Weed, minus Steiner, so she could run to Burmecia!
Eventually, she will be able to offer minor healing, support and even call down the fury of the dragons on her foes!
Her trance allows her to stay in the air when she jumps, raining down spears onto her foes. Not super great, just meh.
Freya is probably my favorite party member in FF9. Now, I will admit, I haven’t played the game all the way through, but she always stuck out to me. She is awesome.
The group makes their way north and find Qu’s Marsh. There, they find an odd creature who is trying to capture frogs to eat.
Zidane catches one for it, who introduces itself as Quina. Quina leads him and the gang to Quale, a mentor of sorts.
Quale demands that Quina that he go out and discover more foods… Then he joins us!
We also see Vivi tell Zidane that Quale looks just like his uncle Quan, but Quale, while from the same tribe, “doesn’t know him.” Hmm… Poor Vivi.
So, Quina is the blue mage of the game, but learns his blue magic in a different way… By eating his enemies!
Yep, once an enemy is weakened, Quina can eat them and possibly gain a blue magic spell.
Quina’s trance allows him to “cook” an enemy, so you don’t have to lower their hit points down so much before you can eat them. Somewhat handy, but unreliable.
It sounds crazy, but Quina can end up being very strong, like most blue mages in the Final Fantasy games, if you take the time to have them learn the best spells.
Which we do just that and grind up a bit. Everyone is about level 12 and knows most of their abilities from the equipment we have.
Quina now has almost every blue magic spell he can learn at this point. I never really liked Quina, but I may use him this playthrough when I can, just for something different.
I always used Zidane, Steiner/Freya, Vivi and Dagger. I may try and switch it up this time.
One thing I have noticed so far, the damage going out from my party and the enemies is farily high.
Freya can deal almost 300 damage, while the enemies can 3-4 shot each party member, or two shot if they use a certain move, like Flame from Ironmites.
I will also say that with four party members, turning the battle intros off and me using the speed-up function in short bursts, battles go by a lot quicker.
In any case, the group, now leveled, heads to the grotto to hopefully catch up with Dagger and get to Burmecia.
The group enters the grotto and finds it under attack by the black mages, led by Thorn and Zorn!
They sic their mages on us, but we take them out no problem.
This place is pretty short, but eventually, we end up in a central chamber, where the apparent “master” of the grotto resides!
But, it appears Gizamaluke has gone crazy and attacks us!
This guy is actually really simple, mostly resorting to water and physical attacks. He can also counter spells with Silence, which is annoying. However…
I SPENT A SOLID 20 MINUTES JUST STEALING FROM HIM!!!
Oh my, I knew that Stealing in FF9 was annoying, but boy did I forget how bad it was. I went through my entire stock of potions, plus a few Phoenix Downs and Hi-Potions!
I am going to be completely honest. If there was a cheat that allowed Zidane to steal 100%, I would pretty much always have it active, at least for boss fights.
Eventually, I got all of the items, which included the Ice Staff, which is what took so long.
Even though it can be bought really soon, so I am not even sure why I bothered. Oh well.
I did some research on stealing, apparently every enemy can have up to three items, a common, an uncommon and a rare.
The rare is about 1/256 chance of stealing. I thought Bandit increases your chance to steal, but actually, it just makes your “Steal” not miss, i.e. you won’t whiff, but it can still say you didn’t steal anything. There is another ability that actually increases your chances later on.
Anyway, after that annoying experience, we cut back to Steiner and Dagger.
Steiner is attempting to cross a large gate, but they have to check his person to make sure he is legal.
Dagger is hidden in a bag filled with Ghysahl Pickles, which stink, so the guards who go to check Steiner’s bag (with Dagger inside), decide to just skip it since the stench is overwhelming.
Dagger and Steiner manage to safely board the train that is headed to Treno, putting them almost to Alexandria when they arrive.
After that, we cut back to the Zidane and the others, who continue their journey to Burmecia.
A short walk takes the group to a closed gate, where they see fire and Freya mentions the scent of blood. They leave, with their hearts heavy, especially Freya.
A brisk journey reveals Burmecia looming over the gang!
What awaits the group at Burmecia? Join me next time to find out!