BlueSmoke - Guide : A History of Final Fantasy - Part V

 Date  : Oct 10th, 2002
 Genre  : RPG
 Developer   : Squaresoft
 Author  : Jin-Ning Tioh

Today, we take yet another astounding jump back in history for Square. Parting from its technologically advanced momentum for a brief period, Square decided to satisfy its loyal fans with a return to its roots of ancient castles, crystals and airships with Final Fantasy IX. Nostalgia is readily apparent from every facet of this title... Whether it's musical cues, items, locations, character names - You name it. Instead, it is content to be hurled back through time to explore where the series has been. So join us and a whole group of cute, furry little moogles as we take a strong look into Square's past. Kupo!

 

Final Fantasy IX
Released :
 14th November 2000
 7th July 2000
Systems :
PlayStation
PC Emulators

The Story

Four great nations dominate the Mist Continent - Lindblum, headed by the honorable and trustworthy Regent Cid; Alexandria, under the command of the ruthless Queen Brahne; Burmecia, home to the honorable dragoon knights; and Cleyra, a peaceful kingdom protected by a magical sandstorm.

However, dark times have spread over the world of Gaia. The four nations are battling on and off in a deadly game for power. Worst of these is the nation of Alexandria, who has been attacking the other peaceful nations with an onslaught of warriors and powerful black mages. Deciding to make a stand before all is lost, Regent Cid decides to enlist the aid of the bandit group Tantalus, to kidnap Princess Garnet from the heavily guarded castle of Alexandria.

Thus begins an epic struggle by one young thief and his party of brave adventurers to stop something far more sinister than mere political standoffs from consuming not only their respective nations, but the world of Gaia itself...

The Heroes ( Good Guys )

The characters found in Final Fantasy IX are truly intriguing case studies. Zidane is a thief who lives in the present, not knowing his past or true purpose. The young black mage, Vivi, must find out if he is truly without a soul and was meant to be just a weapon of war. Steiner, an honor-bound knight, must find if his oath of service to the queen forces him to do the unthinkable. These are just a few of the characters to be found in this rich world of summoners and monsters. And moogles as well. Kupo!

Zidane Tribal - Living from moment to moment with nothing to lose, Zidane lives his life as a thief in Tantalus with no memory of his past. Optimistic and endearing, Zidane is also skilled and deft, possessing several flashy moves and commands, such as his steal ability. A relentless womanizer, Zidane focuses his premature appeal for girls onto Princess Garnet shortly after her kidnapping. However, the more he begins to discover who he is, the more his radiant personality begins to fade away...
 
Princess Garnet Til Alexandros The 17th - Young and beautiful, Princess Garnet is the daughter of the wicked Queen Brahne, living her entire life confined within the castle walls. Suspecting her mother is under an evil spell, Garnet finds the perfect opportunity to flee the kingdom of Alexandria with the thief band Tantalus, her mother in white-hot pursuit. To remain incognito, she changes her name to Dagger after eyeing Zidane's preferred weapon. Uncomfortable among the unwashed masses, Zidane goes through an entire lecture with her, teaching her to speak and act like a commoner would. However she is far from helpless in battle, possessing the ability to summon spectacular Eidolions, such as Shiva, Ifrit and Bahamut, to aid her in her quest. She is also a powerful white mage, providing vital support to the party.
 

Vivi Orunitia - Although a powerful and feared black mage, Vivi is innocent and pure at heart, discontented by the mystery of his existence and determined to find himself among the shrouded emptiness and loneliness that plagues his soul. Being the only black mage who's not a mindlessly devoted servant to Queen Brahne, Vivi lends his extensive knowledge of black magic to the party. Setting out to uncover his dark past to ensure his existence and future, this young mage will stop at nothing to succeed in his quest.
 

Adelbert Steiner - Burly, square-jawed, brimming with honor and sworn to the Queen of Alexandria, Steiner is the captain of the Knights of Pluto, the lone troop of elite male guards in Alexandria's entirely female army. However, his devotion to protect Princess Garnet is just about as rich as his clumsiness. Despite his extremely naive nature, Steiner will stop at nothing to ensure her safety and is, simply put, a tank. He wears the heaviest armor and wields swords that can cut enemies down in one slash. He'll also learn special abilities such as "Crime Hazard", a spectacular attack that slashes 9,999 hits points from all enemies. As you can imagine, Steiner ain't to keen on young Zidane and the lad's romantic adventures on Garnet, especially since Zidane insists on calling him Rusty. The knight and thief make powerful but reluctant allies.
 

Freya Crescent - Once an honorable Dragoon Knight, Freya left her homeland of Bromecia in search of her lost love, who mysteriously disappeared during a mission long ago. Spending years seeking around the globe with little success, Freya is compelled to join Zidane after learning of a horrible threat against the people she left behind so many years ago. Leading the charge in many a battle, Freya is skilled with the spear and is capable of dealing awe-inspiring attacks, pouncing on her enemies without mercy.
 
Amarant Coral - With his scaly bluish skin, flaming metal-band coif and massive bulk, Amarant is an intimidating element from Zidane's past. Deciding to join the party out of grudging respect for your abilities after being defeated in a personal skirmish, Amarant was originally a bounty hunter hired by Queen Brahne to hunt down Zidane and his crew. He is rash and quick to judge, with a total disregard for authority, acting on his own will. However, although it doesn't seem to be enough for him to detach from the group he so effortlessly despises, he is still a powerful ninja, hurling weapons and attacking viciously with his powerful claws.
 

Eiko Carol - The only survivor of a once proud race of Summoners, Eiko has been alone most of her life and is under the care of a village of moogles, which gives her a unique view on life. After meeting Zidane, her attention instantly latches onto him, elevating the emptiness and solitude that has been with her all her life. Proving to be skilled at summoning powerful Eidolions and wielding white magic, she vows to never be left alone again.
 
Quina Quen - Socially primitive, but always thinking with an appetite, this oddball Blue Mage and avid cook is part of the Qu Clan. Quina joins Zidane in order to travel around the world and flavor the different foods or "yummy-yummies" it has to offer. Somewhat unorthodox and with no other real intent or purpose in mind, Quina simply follows as a tag along. Nonetheless, Quina is still a handy mage to have around, wielding a massive fork and chomping down on enemies to acquire their various abilities in the form of Blue Magic.
 
Tantalus - A daring group of bandits, Tantalus' ranks consists of Marcus, Blank, Cinna and their leader Baku. Working well together as a team, they often watch out for their own, willing to go through great hardship to help each other. As a trusted friend of Regent Cid, Baku and his team of misfits were hired to carry out the kidnapping of Princess Garnet. Little did they realize what troubles they would have to endure in this particular venture...
 
General Beatrix - A world renowned warrior and leader, General Beatrix is the head of Queen Brahne's troops. With her Seiken sword skills and her command of white magic, she is a deadly foe to her enemies and a powerful ally to her friends. Although she is constantly in conflict with your party at first, she soon joins your cause when she realizes the error of her ways.

The Villains ( Bad Guys )

A rather small cast of villains can be found here. With her plump figure, grotesque face, beady eyes, and pallid skin, Queen Brahne seems to be destined for villainy. Her two annoying jester henchmen, Zorn and Thorn, hound the party at every turn, repeating and reversing each other's phrases. Kuja, riding a silver dragon in his tight-fitting garments, cuts a more shapely figure rather than an imposing one. Garland fares far better in this regard. With his intimidating bearing and black exoskeleton, he inspires more fear and respect than his creation could ever possibly muster.

Queen Brahne - Supreme ruler of Alexandria, Queen Brahne used to be a caring and gentle soul. Recently however, her obsession for power has grown, and her manufactured black mage army has begun laying waste to the neighboring nations of Burmecia, Cleyra and Lindblum. With a mysterious source supplying Queen Brahne with weapons of mass destruction for the war effort, Zidane and his group must find and stop this source before things can get any worse.
 
Garland - Guardian of the world of Terra, Garland stands constant guard over the souls of his world in his polished black exoskeleton. Seeking to combine Gaia and Terra into one, Garland is the driving force behind the disputes between the four nations. Creating Kuja to serve this role, little does he know that his creation would prove to be his downfall...
 
Kuja - With a rather shapely figure, Kuja is one of the "genomes" Garland created - Servants to serve the needs of the world of Terra. The mysterious figure which supplies Queen Brahne with weapons, Kuja can often be found instigating civil wars between peaceful nations atop his mighty silver dragon. Though he was created to serve Terra, his agenda has been warped by his personality - Making predicting his next moves difficult. A strange relationship also exists between Zidane and this mysterious figure...

 

Additional Hints & Tips

Hint #1

Amplify black magic attacks by Vivi by equipping auto-reflect on everyone. Once done, simply fire off an offensive spell at all your party members and it will all bounce at your enemies. In other words, four attacks for the price of one. Heh heh...

Hint #2

Try not to sell off old armor, weapons and accessories as they can usually be used by other party members to learn new abilities. Or, you could always keep them around to combine or "Synth" up new and better stuff at certain stores.

Hint #3

In Treno, Queen Stella is collecting precious stones called the Stellazzio. There is a total 13 of them scattered around the world. Collect and bring them to her for a big fat reward. This is a list of their respective locations.

Capricorn - In the first screen at Daguerreo, search to the right and you’ll find it in the water.
Aquarius - In the first room of Ipsen’s Castle.
Pisces - In the core area of the Invincible.
Aries - Behind the windmill inside the house to the north of the Mayor’s House at Dali.
Taurus - Behind the Item Shop at Treno.
Gemini - At the entrance into Treno, drop 10 gil into the pond to the left. Do so 11 times.
Cancer - On the second screen in Burmecia behind the debris on the left side of the screen.
Leo - Upper right corner of the Neptune Room in the west tower of Alexandria Castle.
Virgo - In the Black Mage Village Inn.
Libra - Behind the fountain in Madain Sari.
Scorpio - Lower level at Quan’s Dwelling, near the Recovery Spring.
Sagittarius - House of Card Freak Gon at Lindblum. Search only after Brahne destroys Lindblum.
Opiuchus - Deliver all twelve coins to Queen Stella. Then tell her there is another coin before searching where the Scorpio Stellazzio was.

Historical Facts

Although the production values remain as high as ever, Final Fantasy IX is a throwback to the aesthetics and gameplay of the older Final Fantasy titles. Developed concurrently with Final Fantasy VIII, it's hard to imagine two more different games. While Final Fantasy VIII was cutting-edge, Final Fantasy IX is intentionally old-fashioned. Whether it's musical cues and graphical asides or item, location and character names, nostalgia permeates every facet of the title. If Final Fantasy VIII was a strong look at what the future of the genre might hold, then Final Fantasy IX is an equally strong look back at where the genre has been. It absolutely doesn't try to innovate; instead, it is content to be a highly polished game crammed full of traditional RPG elements and Final Fantasy series traditions. It is rumored that there was an internal debate at Square as to whether Final Fantasy IX should be released as a main series title or as a "gaiden", otherwise known as a side story.

The gameplay eschews the entirely free systems of the past few Final Fantasy titles for the more tightly regimented class systems of the older games in the series. Each of the eight party members has skills and techniques that only he or she can use and learn. Zidane is a daring Thief, Vivi is a feared Black Mage, Garnet and Eiko are both White Mages as well as Summoners, and so on and so forth. Abilities are learned or acquired from armor, weapons and other equipment. The same piece of equipment can teach different characters different abilities, and weaker equipment sometimes teaches powerful abilities. This division makes every character and every piece of equipment valuable and makes for a more carefully balanced game than titles with a more open-ended party structure.

Some gamers feel that because it focuses on gameplay and presentation over unnecessary innovations, Final Fantasy IX is the pinnacle of PlayStation RPGs. However, others feel that while Final Fantasy IX is a truly excellent RPG, it lacks the cutting-edge creativity that has always defined the Final Fantasy series. Nevertheless, Square's following two sequels appears to have both feet planted very firmly in the future.



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