Sunday, October 2, 2016

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation, 2000, Square-Enix): Issue #000: Prologue

Man, I need something to keep my mind off some of my bad habits, and this is the only one I can really get anything like hyped about right now.

If you're following me on County Line Gaming, you may have read my post in the forums about how I'd really like to get back into PC gaming and possibly doing Let's Plays. I've been meaning to get on that, but it seems like I've had about three million things going on since then and really haven't had a decent chance to have a look-see at any of it. While all of this has been going on, I've been engaging a little in some of the bad habits that have left me in something of a poor way, healthwise.

As a result, I think I kind of need to get another one of these going again, just so I have something to keep my mind occupied in what little down time I've had lately. Since I want to give my Super Nintendo a rest for awhile and I don't have anything to really work with on my computer right now, that leaves me with my PlayStation collection. Considering my list of prime contenders there, I'm not really as familiar with Breath of Fire III as I'd like, and while Saga Frontier's a cool game for a lot of the same reasons Legend of Mana is, it's also got a lot of the same complexity, and I'm really not in the mood for that right now. That leaves me Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX.

It was kind of a coin toss between the two, but I ultimately decided on Nine, simply because I like the fantasy setting a little better than the more sci-fi/cyberpunk sorta theme in Seven. I've made it about equally far in both games, maybe two-thirds to three quarters of the way through, even though the one I'm doing here is four disks rather than three like Seven.

Now, my playing history with this game is a little odd. I've mentioned in various places that this is the last of the games in the Final Fantasy series that I really gave much of a damn about. Something I may not have mentioned to any real extent before now is that I didn't play it straight away when it came out. In 2000, I was trying to finish off my bachelors degree, or at least I was supposed to be, and wasn't really putting time or money into gaming at the time. I wasn't exactly giving my studies the attention they needed, either, but beyond saying that it's one of the more major demonstrations of my tenancy to procrastinate and goof around getting the better of me, I think I'd better just call that a story for another time that I may never get to.

I did finally get around to it, some time after, and I really enjoyed it. By then, of course, this game and its immediate predecessor, Final Fantasy VIII, had been out for a good three, four years each anyway, and I'm pretty sure I wound up playing this one first. Of course, all this is a minimum of twelve years ago now, and probably more than that.

There are a few things I like about this game aside from the high fantasy setting. It's really the only one I've got that makes what I'd call decent use of the game mechanic that allowed for upgrading weapons, armor, and other items by combining them with other such things. Legend of Mana at least had an interesting way of doing it, even if it did seem way too labor intensive. The good news with LoM, of course, is that at least it was relatively optional. I think I made mention of that in my Text Play of that game back in 2011 or 2012 or whenever that was. Been meaning to get back to that at some point, and I may do just that at some point. That same mechanic was pretty much mandatory in FF8, which, while certainly interesting, made upgrading weapons way more difficult than needed.

I'm also somewhat partial to the card game in this one, though I think I'll skip it just like I did in Eight, as well. It's a lot easier to understand and play in this game, but aside from one time when it actually factors into the plot, it's still largely optional, far as I can tell. I might play it a little more this time, just so I can stand half a chance of getting the good ending in the part of the game where the cards are actually a factor in the story.

Another thing I quite enjoy about this game is that there are quite a few bits of armor and accessories are actually worth hanging onto for awhile, simply because there's only one or two of them in the game, typically, and they have abilities, boosts, and bonuses for multiple characters, perhaps even most of them, depending on the item.

Yet another cool thing about this game is the characters I like the fact that they actually gave the characters good and proper classes this one last time, to my knowledge. Vivi's my favorite character in this one, mostly because he's the party's black mage, and he's a pretty bad ass one, at that. Zidane's probably my favorite main hero of the PlayStation era, though Cloud's a close second. I also like the idea of having two characters who dual-class as white mages and summoners. I'll probably get more into that as things go along.

But yeah, as for the games in the series that I've actually, which is actually most of the first nine by now, this is my second favorite one after four. Not sure how close a contest it is, but there you go.

As for the series after this, well, I've just had no real interest in playing any of the newer games, starting with Final Fantasy 10. There are a few reasons I could give, ranging from not having time or funds to not having a PlayStation 2. It's been a good ten years, almost, since any of that's been terribly much of an excuse, so I'm going to just go with the no real interest explanation.

I guess one last thing I should mention before getting into the game proper is the voice-acted playthrough that my good buddies at CLG did some years back now, since I mentioned them at the top of the article. I've watched bits and pieces here and there, but still haven't made it through the whole thing in the five years or so it's been out. Gotta say, though, they did good work on this one.


See you soon with the start of the game, and with any luck, I'll be able to see it through to the end for a change. I like doing that kind of thing.

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