Friday, December 2, 2016

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation, 2000, Square-Enix): Issue #011: Changes

Perspectives and disks both.

There really wasn't much actual play time this issue, but quite a few important story items happened this time around. Most of it is finishing up in Burmecia, but there's some that goes on along the tram between Lindblum and Alexandria as well.

Picking up at the save point at the Burmecian palace, there's a box with a Lightning Staff for Vivi. When we get that, Stiltzkin shows up and sells us an elixer and a couple other decent restorative items for 333 gold. Those will certainly come in handy before long.

In the other vault, because the save point was on the right, and there was one on the left as well, there was a Mythril Spear for Freya. It's as good an upgrade for her as the staff was for Vivi. Freya also comments on wanting to kick some Black Mage ass, which kind of worries Vivi, which is understandable. From there, there's a stairway that heads up to the main castle itself. At first, there's some concern that Burmecia is toast as a kingdom because it looks as though the king got whacked in the attack. After some conversation along those lines and also suggesting that Dagger and Steiner hadn't come that way, Zidane and Vivi decide to give Freya some space.

The two don't make it very far, though, before Freya does one of her space jumps to the top of a nearby statue, from where she says she can see people in the courtyard and that the party should go see who it is. Zidane can handle the climb, and Vivi's at least willing to make an attempt, but there's no way in hell that Quina can do it. And I'm saying that out of personal familiarity with Quina's body type rather than to make fun.

While Zidane and Freya wait on the others, they look in on the courtyard and see Queen Brahne and her head knight General Beatrix. They're discussing their pretty-much victory over Burmecia when a weird looking guy shows up and joins the conversation. This fellow is Kuja, the “real” main villain of the game. He's the man behind the Black Mages, having created them from the Mist somehow. After taking a compliment about how easy the Mages made taking Burmecia, he tells Beatrix not to waste her time looking for the king there, as he seems to have survived after all. Instead, he suggests going to a place called Cleyra instead.

As the baddies talk, Freya thinks on how her long-lost boyfriend, a male dragoon named Sir Fratley, went out to see how things were in the rest of the world and never came back in spite of a promise that he would once he finished his trip around the world. Thing is, I can sort of understand why he might have been gone so long. This game is supposed to be taking place in a time very much like the 1780s here on Earth, when going even a distance of a mile or two from home was an all-day affair, which means that covering an area even the size of the Mist Continent could be a years-long thing even without the attempts to learn things that Fratley was making in his journey. Still, I must admire Freya for her dedication to this guy, spending five years looking for the guy like that.

After all of this, a Burmecian soldier shows up and threatens the villains, not realizing that one of them is the legendary Beatrix of Alexandria. Zidane and Freya go in to rescue him, and fortunately, it's just in time for Vivi and Quina to show back up as well, which means we have access to Quina's Mighty Guard spell. I'm not sure how much help it really is, though, as this is a scripted battle that seems to have a certain length of time it needs to go for before Beatrix hits the party with a Shock Break or Soul Crush sort of attack, which takes everybody's HP down to one before heading off to Cleyra with the Alexandrian forces.

We also get a nice close look at Kuja before he hops on his dragon and flies off to join Beatrix and Brahne at Cleyra. I had honestly forgotten how androgynous Kuja's character design was since last time I paid much attention to the visuals in this game. There's plot points that I'll get into later that indicate that Kuja and Zidane are supposed to be sort of a point-counterpoint sort of thing in that they've both got light builds and what one might call fine features as well as similar backstories. It's just that they gave Kuja a creep factor to him since it's difficult to tell exactly what he's supposed to be. Given that he's pretty much the main villain of the game from here on, though, that may be exactly the point.

When Kuja flies off, the heroes are face down in the rain, all but defeated, and the first disk ends, which means, at least in this case, changing to the second disk.

The game picks back up at the tram station on the border between Lindblum and Alexandria. Steiner tries to figure out just where his loyalties are, since he suspects the queen is up to no good but is sworn to follow her orders as well as protect Dagger, who seems to think otherwise. There's shops and a save point in the station. The shop has much needed upgrades for Dagger's equipment especially.

From here, there's a bit more plot stuff to get on with before we get back to the real fun, so this is as good a place as any to call it a night, since I'm working on this way too late at night again. There are a few other things I'd probably benefit from putting this into as well, but that's it's own issue. For now, it's time to call this a night. See you next time. Until then, stay safe, keep gaming, have fun, and DFTBA!

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