Tag Archives: Garnet

Press select to witness other events in Final Fantasy IX

ff9 ate no yummies impressions

As expected, I drifted away from Final Fantasy IX on disc two, like I always do, though I partially have a good reason: I moved. Like, physically, from one abode to another. That meant, for a few days or so, my PlayStation 2 was not hooked up to a television, packed away in some box that sat in a family of cluttered boxes, unable to differentiate itself to me. Hands down, that is a solid reason why I stopped playing; however, after hooking everything up, I still didn’t give it my undivided love and attention for over two months, mostly because I got stuck on the Soulcage boss at the Iifa Tree, and I was never seemingly in the mood to grind everyone up three or four levels.

The good news is that I finally showed the Soulcage who is the true boss, thanks to grinding while listening to a podcast and then spamming Bio and summoning Ramuh a few times. Now I can continue on in this fifteen-year-old RPG that I’ve never beaten. If you’re curious, I’m at the beginning of disc three currently, and it’s actually a miracle I made the leap from disc two. I may have talked about this before, but another common reason I often walked away from Final Fantasy IX as a young gaming lad was because my disc two is scratched or damaged internally, which causes the FMV to glitch out and, occasionally, freeze. The clips after you clear away the Mist from the Iifa Tree and Kaju and Garnet’s second mother duke it out certainly skipped and stuttered, but thankfully never locked up.

Anyways, originally, I opened this post with paragraph below, but it’s been in my drafts folder for so long I felt like I needed to explain–more to myself than y’all–why I’ve been so quiet on my quest to beat Final Fantasy IX in 2015.

This might be a bold claim, but I feel pretty safe in my assumptions: the stories told in Final Fantasy IX‘s Active Time Events are more enthralling than the main plot. The even crazier thing? They are entirely miss-able, though I do not suggest you miss any of ’em.

Commonly abbreviated to ATE in the same fashion that Active Time Battle is also referred to as ATB in any roleplaying game forum, Active Time Events is a system that gives the player the ability to view short, optional scenes in Final Fantasy IX that are happening at the same time, either nearby the main cast or elsewhere in the Mist-shrouded world. The system was created by Hiroyuki Ito, the game’s director, and, possibly next to the mechanic where you level up passive and active abilities to earn them permanently, this is my favorite aspect from 2000’s throw-back entry to the Final Fantasy series.

Unlike a number of other RPGs, when you often arrive in a town, the party splits up instead of walking around together in one long line like a bunch of children in school heading out for recess. This makes logical sense in a fantasy world where there is so much to see–Vivi wants to explore, Quina is in search of new cuisine to try, and Steiner must ensure there is no danger for the princess-in-hiding up ahead. So on and so on. You’ll mostly be in control of Zidane, moving from screen to screen, and as you do, ATE will activate, prompting you to view a side story scene by title only. These titles are generally a few words long, but intriguing nonetheless, such as “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” “Dagger Tries,” and, of course, “No Yummy-Yummies!” Watch the scene and then get back to doing what you were originally doing.

Honestly, I can’t imagine someone playing Final Fantasy IX and not viewing these additional scenes. Sure, a few are goofy and less than vital, like the ones involving Moogles or NPCs you don’t really interact with much, but the majority are staggering in the amount of info and details they reveal. Such as when Dagger tries to learn how to speak like a commoner or Vivi’s quizzical time in the Black Mage Village. Without these moments, the greater impact of the main plotline, which is not all that moving, would be lost.

Final Fantasy IX‘s ATE scenes help reveal more about the game’s story and characters, especially its villains. Another bonus from watching these events unfold is that you’ll occasionally obtain items afterwards or see locations before you visit them. All you have to do is press select, and you’re in. I know I’m going to keep doing it until the credits roll.

I wish to be kidnapped right away by Final Fantasy IX

final fantasy ix square in alexandria

Over the weekend, as we creep closer to finishing off the first two months of 2015–two absolutely frigid and skin-cracking cold months at that–I realized I needed to start doing something about my promise to finally play, with the intent to complete too, Final Fantasy IX, Radiant Historia, and Silent Hill 3. Now, I’m naturally not crazy enough to juggle all of those at once, and so I picked the one that called to me most, that has always called to me, fifteen years after its release in November 2000, and that’s how we’re here now, with a save entry in Final Fantasy IX around the six-hour mark. Six hours, ten minutes, and thirty-five seconds, with 3,181 Gil to spend if I’m to be exact.

I’m not going to wax nostalgia too much, but Final Fantasy IX, despite me only ever getting as far as the second disc (of four discs in total) made a big impression on me as a sixteen-year-old gamer kid. Much more than Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII ever did–sorry, Cloud and Squall, respectively. There are a number of elements here that I think about constantly, such as Active Time Events, Triple Triad, how the plot bounces between a Game of Thrones-esque cast of characters, the jaunty pacing, that orchestral soundtrack, kupos and the noises they make when receiving mail, and more. Truly, I’ve never understood why I haven’t completed it sooner, but I feel like a part of me always got distracted by something else, especially on disc two, when things slow down, but much like previous goals wherein I remained on the path to complete games like Chrono Cross and Metal Gear, I’m hopeful this is my chance.

Let me share with y’all Final Fantasy IX‘s concomitantly light and heavy plot, at least for the opening hours of the game. The adventure begins with Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe kidnapping Princess Garnet during her sixteenth birthday celebration. As it turns out, Garnet actually wanted to be kidnapped, not knowing what to do over Queen Brahne’s increasingly erratic behavior. Along the way, Zidane and Garnet are joined by Vivi, a black mage who is troubled by the idea that soulless black mages are being sweatshop created for nefarious purposes, and Steiner, a soldier sworn to protect the princess. The group travels to Lindblum to speak with Regent Cid over what to do next. Things go from there, but I won’t go into every detail; just know that the group is being pursued, Mist is a problem, Garnet is discovering everyone is holding her back, and Zidane is not quite the ladies monkey he believes himself to be.

I suspect I’ll go into other elements in separate posts later, so for now I’ll write a bit about the combat and combat-related mechanics. Battles are active and turn-based, coined as Active Time Battles, meaning you get to select an action for whoever once their meter fills up, but the enemy’s turn meter is also filling up simultaneously. Depending on party members, your commands are pretty standard: attack, steal, black magic, skills, items, flee, and so on. After taking enough hits, characters can enter a “Trance” mode, which is activated for a short duration and not too far off from Final Fantasy VII‘s Limit Breaks used in Final Fantasy VII. Trance grants special attack commands; I’m actually not a huge fan as one often enters Trance during non-boss battles, making them anticlimactic and not very useful, unless you time your Trance meter “pop” just right.

Here’s one of my favorite things about Final Fantasy IX‘s relatively straightforward combat. Weapons and armor include special character abilities, which can be equipped so long as the ability matches their class. For instance, Vivi should focus on items that come packaged with spells. Anyways, through battles, ability points are applied to all items currently equipped by a character, and once each item has been maximized, the character no longer needs to wear that gear to use that ability. It is much clearer in the game than how I just wrote it, but basically, it makes grinding purposeful, as you are always working towards filling up an item’s ability meter. I’m so crazy about this stuff that, right now, Zidane is equipped with a less powerful dagger so that he can learn an ability to up his thieving skills, despite a stronger dagger sitting unused in my inventory.

Well, I’ll be back to write more. Currently, Zidane, Viva, and Freya–real quick side note, I decided to be an adult and leave all their original names as is when prompted–are working their way through Gizamaluke’s Grotto, in pursuit of a runaway Garnet. Unfortunately, remember when I mentioned earlier about always getting distracted by shinier thingswell, it seems like Giant Bomb‘s Dan and Drew are heading back into Metal Gear Scanlon soon, and I like to be one step ahead of them before watching, so I might run into a snag where I have to juggle this and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Hmm.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is one earworm of a 3DS game

In case you’re not up to snuff with your urban dictionary terms, an earworm is “a song that sticks in your mind, and will not leave no matter how much you try.” This can be either a good or bad thing, depending on who you are. For me and for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, it’s a delightful problem to have right now. To hammer home this point, let me inform you that I haven’t missed a single daily Rhythmia bonus–extra points alloted to those that play every consecutive day–since I bought it on release day, way back on July 3, 2012. Mm-hmm.

But what is Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy? It’s a good question, and one nobody should be afraid to ask. The answer is both simple and strange: it is a music rhythm game à la Elite Beat Agents, as well as a “thank you” to fans of the Final Fantasy series.

For the rhythm part, you tap the touchscreen via three different on-screen prompts to the beat of a song: a single tap, a tap and hold, or a directional swipe. Sequences vary in difficulty, and you play them across three different types of scenarios. The most enjoyable for me are Field Music Scenarios (FMS), which has the leader of your party of four strolling across the screen from right to left while you handle all the prompts. The other two are Battle Music Scenarios (BMS) and Event Music Scenarios (EMS), both of which are enjoyable, but can be distracting due to too much happening outside of the button prompts. For the EMS, you’re basically tapping over a movie playing, and it can be hard to not focus on Zidane chasing after Garnet, especially for a fanboy like myself.

Speaking of that, the other half of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is all about the fans. Whether you think Final Fantasy IV is the best or still can’t get over your nostalgia and claim that nothing beats Final Fantasy VII or are somehow head over heels with the latest hall-walker Final Fantasy XIII…all the mainstay games from the series are represented here. Each game seems to get three songs (with each song getting three different difficulty ranks), and for your party of four, you can pick some recognizable people, all with their own skill sets. And this is where rhythm game and RPG fuse, letting your team level up, earn items, and unlock spells to cast during events. My team of four–all now around level 50 or so–has been like so since the get-go: Zidane (leader), Squall, Vaan, and Terra.

At first, the game seems to be limited on things to do, but after just a bit you’ll have opened up new levels of difficulty, as well as Dark Notes and CollectaCards and music not tied to a specific game. And those Dark Notes…oh man. They are basically randomly generated levels, each containing a FMS and a BMS, but you won’t know which ones until you try it out. Often, they are extremely tough and really challenge your response time, but clearing them successfully is an exhilarating feeling. When you beat one, you unlock another, which is always a higher difficulty. However, there is plenty of reason to replay Dark Notes as you fight one of three potential bosses, and they all have a chance to drop rare items or colored shards, which you use to unlock new characters. Right now, I’m working my way towards getting Vivi on my team–see ya, Squall! I know, you’re surprised.

So, it’s a surprising game, and might not be for everyone, but I’m enjoying it a lot. Not enough to consider buying DLC at $1.00 a song though, as I think there’s plenty of tunes here for my enjoyment, but yeah. For those curious, my favorite songs to play are “Mambo de Chocobo”, “Terra’s Theme”, and “Over the Hills”. What’s your favorite Final Fantasy song? You are not allowed to answer with “One-Winged Angel” by the way.

All right, back to it. The music, it’s a-calling…

Five things make a post, and eff you up button

Well, it’s been a busy few days at Grimmauld Place in terms of videogaming. Good thing I have this bloggy blog of mine to put all these random happenings and thoughts. Otherwise, the world might never know what it’s like to play a dancing game on a breaking pad or how deep my love for all things LOTR goes. Anyway, let’s get to the Heading 3s and text below them…

Moar Used Games

After the great success of my first trip to the local GameStop near our new abode, I decided to head back and see if I could find any other titles off my “desired PS2 games” list. Alas, nope. I mean, yeah, some of the bigger titles are there, like Bully and Kingdom Hearts, but those are still around the $20+ mark, and I’d rather find the rarer titles first and wait for those numbers to eventually drop. Instead, I got Mega Man X7, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ($1.99 ha!), and Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA (for my wife, I swears). Haven’t tried the first two yet, but a good portion of my weekend was spent watching Tara put DDR SuperNOVA to the test; if you’re my friend on Facebook, there’s a video of her going through the song selection while two dogs look heavily uninterested. Also, the UP button on her DDR mat isn’t as responsive as the other buttons, leading us to scream “Eff you up button!” a whole bunch. Not “Eff you, up button!” but “Eff you up button!” The missing comma is important.

Pre-order Hoarder

Generally, I’m not a pre-order kinda gamer. There was that one time eons ago when putting down a few bucks on Final Fantasy VII not only nabbed you a guaranteed copy of the game, but also a t-shirt. I like t-shirts, and this liking of t-shirts strikes again. I also pre-ordered Radiant Historia to get a bonus CD, but other than that…nothing else has made me feel the need for lockdown. Well, until 11/11/11, I guess. Yup, I pre-ordered Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7. Why LEGO would come out on the same day as Skyrim is beyond me, but both games feature dragons, and so that’s a-okay. Also, I believe I am getting a t-shirt with my LEGO Harry Potter pre-order; something about Dumbledore’s Army, but I wasn’t asked for a shirt size so it’s probably one of those XXL or a child’s small. Time will tell.

There’s a midnight release party too, which is just another reason I should schedule to not work that Friday. Too tempting to pick up the game and then not play it for 7.5 hours.

Informed about games

I also decided that I was tired of constantly being asked if I wanted to upgrade from a regular GameStop Power Playa thingy to a silver account. So I did that. Bonuses include coupons for “buy two used games, get one free,” which is fine by me as that’s mostly how I shop, as well as a subscription to Game Informer. I haven’t subscribed to a gaming magazine since the PSM days, and I do miss it despite everything now being available on the Interwebz; still, the magazine is put together rather nicely. Hopefully it’ll fit in our mailbox, let alone reach it.

Ass Neglect Zoo

I’ve been putting this off for a long, long time, but I finally bought a copy of Mass Effect 2.

A new copy, too, which means I got some kind of activation number for the Cerberus Network. Not sure what that means, but it looks like I get a new dude for my team. I’m sure I’ll find out eventually. The reason I’ve waited so long is that I was hoping for a “Game of the Year” or “Master” or “Super Space Marine” edition, which then collected all the DLC and little add-ons the game’s been harvesting since its debut back in…oh my, the beginning of 2010. I’m sure a month before Mass Effect 3 comes out, some special edition will be released. Oh well.

Garnet Tries Harder and I am Trying to Finish This Comic

Zac Groman of Magical Game Time is putting together a zine all about Final Fantasy IX and is asking for submissions. Despite it not being a paying gig, I can’t resist and am working on a little comic about my favorite scene from he game, where Garnet is trying to blend in with the common-folk of Dali. Gotta complete it before the month’s end, but here’s a little preview for y’all:

Okay, that’s five things, which is good enough for a post. Expect plenty more content this week though as I’ve only skimmed the surfaces here. Didn’t even get into the horribleness that is Monster Rancher EVO. Just you wait. Just you wait…