Saturday, November 26, 2016

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation, 2000, Square-Enix): Issue #009: North to the Grotto

So this is going to be a multi-session issue here. It's mostly because I'm still in the bad habit of playing way too late.

The first one was mostly trying to get the last couple blue magic spells for Quina. At first, I did a little running around outside the mid-level of Lindblum, and got one called Limit Glove from a monster with a giant beak. This one supposedly does non-elemental damage when Quina uses it with just one HP left. This seems a bit limited in usefulness, and at least a little bit difficult to use, but I've got it anyway.

The other one I got was from the beast I thought would give me White Wind but wound up giving me Mighty Guard instead. It'll come in handy against Gizamaluke when we go through the Grotto. Thing is, it takes 64 MP to use, and that's about all Quina's got right now. For as sure as I was that I got it before the boss fight that'll come later in this chapter, for the moment, I'm thinking not, as I seem to have run out of new monsters to fight. So, I ended the first part of this by going to the entrance of the Grotto and saving.

One interesting thing about Gizamaluke Grotto is that it expands on a theme from the Famicom version of Final Fantasy II, which was only released in Japan. I'm playing through the Origins version of it again just to amuse myself when I'm not in the mood for this game, and I'm just about there again. There's a part of the original Final Fantasy II where the heroes have to get into a place called Kas'ion Castle for a critical item in their war effort against the game's demon king. The way in requires another item called the Goddess Bell, found in the Ice Cave that I referenced a few issues back.

In this case, though, the dungeon requires several bells, this time called Gizamaluke Bells, to open the various doors that allow access through the dungeon. There's one or two that come from Burmecian soldiers, and one that comes from an enemy along the way.

This is also our first head-on encounter with Black Mages. Zorn and Thorn are here as well, supervising the action. When they see the party enter, they sic a group of the mages on us. After handing the mages their asses and taking their bell, it's time to get on with the dungeon, and Zorn and Thorn wuss out. The dungeon proper has some interesting monsters in it. The three main types I saw were Skeletons, a bug creature that tends to cast berserk spells, and a giant Naga type thing that uses confusion. I know I got some Blue Magic for Quina from it, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was, and by the end of this, the party had changed to Steiner and Dagger. I'll try to remember to look when I get Quina back again.

Before we can get on to the boss fight with Gizamaluke, there's one more party of Black Mages to fight for another bell, and a scene with a newly married moogle couple. The wife runs the save point, but we can't use it until we help her get her husband out from under the giant bell that Zorn and Thorn and their Black Mages dropped on him in their escape. Fortunately, Vivi still had his Kupo Nut from the shop in Lindblum. The husband goes nuts for it and Hulks the bell off himself to get to it. Because I'm a nice guy like that I let him keep it. The pair goes running off to where the save point actually is. The husband asks if the party likes Kupo Nuts, too, and I tell the guy yes just because I'm that kind of guy, too. Not sure if there's any consequence to either choice, really. The husband asks for more Kupo Nuts if we see him again, though I'm not sure if we do or not. There's a letter for the wife, who was expecting her friend to send a congratulations note, but it was a reminder about who won the Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum instead.

There's a vine the party can climb up in the chamber where the save point is that I honestly didn't know was there until I accidentally went up it. It leads to an outside place above the Mist. My first thought on this little discovery was “Why do I get the feeling I don't want to be here right now?” Turns out, that instinct was correct, as the only fight I got into up there was with a giant dragon that took out Freya with a hit that did about double her max HP. Even before that, though my reaction was to say, out loud, “Well, I just fucked myself...,” but fortunately, Zidane's “Flee” ability was enough to get the rest of the party away so I could go back to the main Grotto.

On the way back to the room with the big bell, the husband moogle will open up a statue and give you an item called the Holy Bell, which is the key to the area where the boss fight with Gizamaluke itself is. There's a Burmecian solder there who tells you that Zorn and Thorn came through and that Gizamaluke is acting very our of sorts as a result.

This is never an easy fight, but I'm glad I had Mighty Guard in Quina's Blue Magic list and enough ethers to keep his MP up enough to use it repeatedly, since it pretty much drained it every time it got cast, and I had to use it multiple times to get through the battle without having everybody die way too often. Gizamaluke had several decent items, as most bosses in this game do. I had wanted to get the Ice Staff for Vivi, but that was the only one I didn't. At least I did manage to get the Magus Hat for him which has the Slow spell.

After the battle, Freya takes a moment to contemplate the situation then hurries the party along, as she remembers that the king of Burmecia is in danger from what's going on, and we switch parties to Steiner and Dagger as they cross South Gate on their way back to Alexandria, specifically the town of Treno.

For once in this game Steiner acts like he's actually halfway competent at his job and passes himself off as a construction worker as he smuggles Dagger through the gate in a giant sack filled with gysal pickles. The pickels are a good deterrent to keep the guards, one short and one tall, from looking at his pack too closely, and they let him by. After examining the situation inside the gate, Steiner finds a place to let his princess out of the pack, but first must distract some bystanders who would see what's going on. One requires having a supervisor go get his worker to actually do his job right, which I suspect is something that may come in handy later in the game. The other involves hooking up the owner of the lift station's shop up with his former employee because the shop as it had been went out of business while she was away.

One last thing that happens before Steiner can finally put his pack down is that the short guard needs to give him the official entry pass so he can cross the border without being detained. Once that's taken care of, Dagger finally gets out and changes her clothes so she doesn't smell so much like the pickles she was buried under. There's a chance to have Steiner accidentally peep, but I missed it. There's also a chance to stock up on potions and other consumables before heading up the lift. I'll have to see if there's any ethers at the shop. And if there's mail for the moogle at the save point. But that's for next time. Until then, stay safe, keep gaming, have fun, and DFTBA!

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