I’m not going to mince words: I want to be done with Final Fantasy IX. Don’t get me wrong, I am still enjoying it – incredibly so, in fact. I’m just disappointed that I have now officially passed my 24-day deadline with the game. This has only happened once previously, with Final Fantasy IV. From completing other games under my 24-day limit, I had built up a spare 11 days of wiggle room for future titles as they get longer and longer. Ideally I didn’t want to have to use any of them until Final Fantasy X at the earliest, but now I’ve gone and used up 3 of those days, and will probably use up 4 more before I’ve wrapped up this game. Honestly, I would love to keep playing Final Fantasy IX, moreso than any of the other games in the marathon so far. But alas, time runs short. C’est la vie.
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Anyway, this week showed the battle of Alexandria happen, with Kuja’s Bahamut facing off against the holy-powered Alexander. The cutscenes throughout this battle are some of my favorite throughout the entire Final Fantasy series, right up there with Final Fantasy VIII’s intro. It gets me every time. The graphics were groundbreaking when the game first came out, and still look amazing today. It makes me wonder if Final Fantasy IX will get the touched up Steam release that FFVII and FFVIII got. It would be excellent to watch that eidolon battle in 1080p.
Moving on, after the battle Dagger loses her voice. Whether she just can’t bring herself to talk after the tragedy and destruction to her family and homeland, or if she was properly injured during the battle, I can’t recall/haven’t found out yet. All I know for sure is that this segment of the game is a right pain in the ass. You see, it’s not just that she can’t speak – she also can’t activate Trance, and she often “can’t concentrate” in battle, thus essentially skipping her turn more often than not. Like I said, it’s a right pain.
I mean, I get it. Dagger is going through some pretty emotional turmoil, and doesn’t know how to cope. On one hand having her mood affect the game outside of cutscenes and plot progression adds to the game’s depth and the gravity of her situation. But then, almost the entire game shows Vivi going through rough times, emotionally and psychologically, yet he perseveres and continues to fight effectively the whole ride through. Dagger is one of the best female leads seen in the Final Fantasy franchise, – she’s got a sense of purpose, is determined to accomplish her mission, and gets things done both on her own and in a team. But this inability to focus in battle is so frustratingly stupid. They would be better off just not allowing her to battle for a while.
— Final Fantasy Zak X (@zacharyplyons) August 17, 2015
Now I know what you’re saying, “Just take her out of your party! You’ve got seven other players to choose from!” Aha, but that’s where you would be wrong, my friend. It just so happens that this chapter of Final Fantasy IX requires you to split into two parties, battling in separate areas. Zidane’s crew must search for an item in a location that has a magic barrier, meaning no healing spells or summoning from Dagger. The back-up crew, on the other hand, must work their way through a maze of a castle with some heavy-hitting adversaries. Magic is allowed there, luckily, but one or two well-placed hits takes down even my stronger party members. Wasting turns with “Dagger couldn’t focus!” are anything but helpful. There is no right party to put her in – you just have to deal with it.
Put simply, Dagger losing her voice is worst part about Final Fantasy IX, and I am SO over this segment.
But let’s jump back to that bit about Vivi. I touched on him last week too, expressing how deep and amazing a character he is, and I’d like to accentuate that opinion. I see Vivi’s journey as more emotional and moving than any other story in Final Fantasy, full stop. He’s such a kind and gentle being, yet suffers great hardships all the time.
When Vivi learns that Black Mages are being artificially produced in mass quantities, he looks for a reason why. When Vivi sees those Black Mages attacking his teammates, he fights back. When Vivi finds out the Black Mages were being controlled and ordered around and aren’t harmful by nature, he seeks them out. When Vivi finds their hidden village where they have taken refuge from Kuja, he reaches out to them. Vivi is still a child, and doesn’t understand where he came from or who he is, but he never stops searching for answers, and he grows more confident in his abilities as the game progresses.
At first he feels alone and uncertain, but a close friendship grows between him and Zidane, and Dagger, and Quina, and the rest. Steiner even respect’s Vivi’s abilities so much right from the start the he insists on calling him “Master Vivi,” no matter how much Vivi protests. The team becomes a foster family of sorts for the confused young mage, and he ends up teaching them just as much as they teach him, though he likely doesn’t realize it. There are usually one or two characters in each Final Fantasy title that are the glue holding everyone together. Final Fantasy IX is much more an ensemble cast, but I feel like Vivi is the true main character throughout, and deservedly so.
With that I’ll wrap this up as I always do. Final Fantasy IX WILL be finished this week, come hell or high water. To follow as I wrap it up, follow me on Twitter @zacharyplyons, and search for the hashtag #RoadtoXVin15. Oh, and go check out the recent episode of Super Nerd Pals podcast. I was a guest last week to chat about my marathon! They discuss comics, movies, and other video games as well, so give them a follow if you’re a fan of such things. Check back next week for my closing thoughts on Final Fantasy IX!