Wednesday, April 12, 2017

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation, 2000, Square-Enix): Issue #025: Galuf Village

Because he's County Line Gaming's resident Black Mage.

I'm sure a few of those out there who read this will notice that I didn't put in my usual link to the CLG website above the jump this time. As it happens, the site is down at the moment, and has been for awhile now, as of this writing. Or, that's what my research and efforts have told me. I've got a few theories and such about that, but they'll be the subject of at least one other post to come later. With all that in mind, I figured I'd just forgo the link this time, if only because all the broken and dead links that have shown up in these things over the last five years or so are almost as much a hallmark of the series as my half-assed attempts at humor.

In the meantime, there's an actual storyline to this game to talk about here. The first thing we've gotta do is get into the Black Mage Village. I left off at the entrance to that particular area last time. When we get into the place, we see the Black Mage who made like Sonic the Hedgehog out of Conde Pettie heading in just ahead of the party. There's a right path and a left path. Zidane says we're getting close because it looks like we're in a place where no owls are likely to want to live. It kind of obscures where Sonic the Black Mage goes, but it is somewhat possible to see him go down the right path. It takes a quick eye and a little foreknowledge to see it, but it's there.

Also there are three owls sitting on some branches above the right path as well. That's the one we want to go down, since that's where all the clues seem to be leading us. I'm sure there's an easier way to do this than the way I do it, but the way I did this time, and the way I usually do, as I recall, is to go down the right path twice, then down the left once, and then the right again. This is because the path kind of loops around to the left after the second time, and the Black Mage we're following comes back to see if we're still following when we go left. Each time, one of the three owls flies away, and when all three are gone, we're finally treated to the real entrance to the village we're looking for.

Gotta say, this makes better use of the whole magical cloaking holo-filter fence thingamajigger that was surrounding the whole Eshtar area in Final Fantasy 8. If we're to believe the story in FF8, the characters knew that both the continent and the city of Eshtar were there the whole time, and yet we didn't get to see any of that technology or magic or whatever in use until we needed to go there for the plot and have it all decloak in front of the party as needed. In this case, when we're ready to hit the village, the party sees the Black Mage cast a spell that seems to make reality ripple and warp as the tragically dead-looking forest changes to one that's very much alive for just long enough for the mage and the party to make it through to the village before everything goes back to the way it was before.

Once the party catches up to the mage they were following, his friends who were waiting for him at the entrance to the town freak the hell out and run away, screaming about how the humans have finally come for them. The party splits up to explore. Vivi runs in first, because he wants to talk to others of his kind who have become conscious in hopes they can help him understand what it all means. The ones he catches up to are at the village burial grounds paying their respects to the handful of residents who have passed since the founding of the village. They do know a few things Vivi didn't know before, and between conversations with Vivi and Zidane, we find that the Mages all call themselves “mister” whatever their unit numbers were when they were made, and that they can and do seem to die of natural causes more or less a year after they were first activated.

When Zidane gets his share of this information, it's because he asked the mage who knew about it how he attained consciousness and sentience, and the mage explains that it was similar to Zidane's own perspective on being born in that it just seemed to happen one day without any real explanation. When it happened to this particular mage, there was a dead human in close proximity, and the mage had this uncontrollable urge to get the hell out of Dodge, as it were, now that he was aware of things, and the village is where he felt compelled to go.

Meanwhile, Garnet is trying to explain to the mages that she, Vivi, and Zidane, at any rate, are there to try to put right what Alexandria was doing wrong to the mages and the rest of the world. Naturally, the mages she's trying to explain all this to are having trouble believing her for all the crap that's been done to them thus far. When Zidane catches up to her, she's almost got them convinced, and Zidane helps get them that last little bit to at least get them to help them with the main quest a little bit.

Once Vivi learned that not only could he actually die, but that there was a very real chance of him doing it soon regardless of if he wanted to, he ran off to the Inn to think things over. Garnet went to see how he was doing while Zidane looked around some more. In the course of this looking around, I found the synth shop and the items shop. Could have sworn there was a weapons shop there as well, but it seems I was wrong.

While all this is going on, Quina's still looking around for his precious noms in the village. Quina finds a pair of Black Mages who are trying to hatch a Chocobo egg and tries to hork the damned thing from them so s/he can eat it. The mages do everything they can to keep that from happening, and manage to pull it off for long enough for Zidane to come along and convince Quina to go looking elsewhere for the new fudz they're supposed to try.

Once all that's done, it's time to call it a night at the Inn. In the middle of the night, Vivi goes out to talk to the other mages again, and Zidane explains why that might be a good thing by telling her part of his backstory. It seems that Zidane doesn't remember his biological parents and went looking for them soon as he could, but in the process, he learned that having a place to call home may be the more important thing in all of this. His reasoning is that when he went back to his adoptive home with Tantalus, Baku beat the crap out of him before accepting him back into the group with open arms and a smile. He thinks that Vivi may be learning the same thing here.

In the morning, the Black Mages tell the party they saw Kuja heading to a place in the northeastern part of the continent after overhearing something about a place called the Sanctuary. The jumping off point for that quest is actually going to be Conde Pettie, which is fine, because there's some stuff there I'm gong to need to get before I go on with the main story anyway. I'd complain about the need to hike back there, but I need the gold, XP and AP anyhow.

I don't know if I'll include that in the next issue or not, since it's probably not going to be that big a deal either way. Until then, though, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!

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