I’m back from my holiday! I may not have gotten around to those film reviews I teased in July (yet…) due to actually relaxing and not opening my laptop while away, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost the passion. My holiday is over, and I’ve jumped right back into Final Fantasy IX. It’s only been half a week since my return, however, so you can expect this to be half an update as well.
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Right off the bat after jumping back into it I gained my sixth playable character of eight, the odd creature with an appetite known as Quina Quen. S/he (this is the Final Fantasy IX’s actual choice of pronoun for Quina, as opposed to ‘it’) is certainly a unique and very different character from your standard Final Fantasy cast members, and honestly reminds me quite frequently of Dragon Ball Z’s Majin Buu; the fat version, at least. They both have insatiable hunger, and share similar speech patterns. I mean seriously, let’s have a quick pop quiz. Which of these was said by Quina, and which came from Buu?
“You called me an idiot! I’ll turn you into pudding and eat you up!”
“I do what I want! You have problem?”
“Bad man kill best friend!”
“…got no yummy yummies anywhere!”
“World only have two things: Things you can eat and things you no can eat.”
How do you think you did? Yeah, they’re pretty indistinguishable. Incidentally, both characters are generally fall under the love ‘em or hate ‘em categories among fans, too. They’re either funny and charming, or straight-up obnoxious. As for Quina, I think s/he is entertaining enough, but I never really main him/her. That said, I do love me a blue mage, and eating weakened monsters to learn their abilities is pretty fun.
You know what’s not fun at all? Trances. The powered up abilities you have access to once achieving Trance are great, but unlike limit breaks in Final Fantasy VII, you can’t hold onto a Trance until you want to use it. The upside is that your Trance bar doesn’t reset upon death, but the power-up is near useless when it activates immediately when the bar fills up. At least nine times out of ten, Trance activates during a standard battle that you don’t need any help winning. Few and far between are the serendipitous moments when you get to use your Trance in a boss fight, when you actually want the help. It’s an awful, awful oversight that makes the entire mechanic feel pretty useless.
Aside from that, I’ve started noticing a definite amount of linearity to Final Fantasy IX so far. People harp on FFXIII for essentially being a corridor simulator for the first 20-30 hours of the game, only really opening up when you’re close to the final chapter. Yet they remember FFIX so fondly, when it almost does the same thing. Now before I get flogged for saying so, obviously the game is more open-ended than FFXIII, but only just. Sure, I can wander around the world map occasionally and grind, but there are often only two destinations. Where I’ve come from, and where I’m going to. Other routes are notably closed off until later in the game.
Of course there are also cities and towns to freely explore, which FFXIII lacks, but once you move on from a town you can’t come back to it until later on when you acquire more free-roam vehicle access. I am nearly 15 hours into Final Fantasy IX at this point, in the middle of disc 2 of 4, and I still haven’t had a say in who my party members are. There’s a steadily moving plot to keep up with, and much like FFXIII, I need predetermined characters with me to progress and the story makes sure to split my team up and join them with certain others as necessary. I mean, I didn’t mind it so much in Final Fantasy XIII, and I don’t mind it in Final Fantasy IX. It’s simply a thing that is, and an observation I felt worthy of mentioning.
One more thing worth mentioning is how many kick-ass women there are in this game. Princess Garnet is a strong, intelligent protagonist who flees her comfortable life of royalty to seek answers to her concerns of corruption and disloyalty in her kingdom. She accepts help where she needs it, but is also brave enough to set out on her own and take matters into her own hands. While ladies like Tifa and Rinoa have their ups and downs, Dagger (she even picks a badass alias for herself!) is consistently such a cool ally. Freya, another party member, is also noteworthy as she is the first female dragoon in the series. She is full of pride for her country and love for her lost companion, and will fight to the end to protect that which she holds dear. Freya is fierce and loyal, and makes an incredible addition to the team.
Obviously I can’t discuss the awesome women of Final Fantasy IX without mentioning Alexandria’s General, Beatrix the badass. Taking Fujin’s eyepatch and slapping it over her other eye, it’s obvious she has seen her fair share of battles in her day. She attacks with speed and grace, and is known throughout Gaia for her feats of power. On top of that she leads an army of soldiers with not a single man in the lot of them save for the bumbling Steiner. Alexandria has a Queen, a Princess, a lady General, and a female army. Truly, this is one powerful nation built on the strength of the double X chromosome.
Now that I’m pushing 1000 words, I’d say it’s time to wrap up this “half an update”. I hope to be nearing the end of Final Fantasy IX by next week’s update, so remember to keep tabs on my progress over on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #RoadtoXVin15.