I've spent the past few weeks going through some personal turmoil, but nothing that could distract me from my goals here. Having just mentioned that I was finding it tough to marathon Final Fantasy IX, I ended up doing a 180 and making a lot of progress on the game this week. Thankfully, Square Enix has saved me from my indecision as to what to play next and is holding another Return Home to Vana’diel Campaign for Final Fantasy XI starting next week. Now I have a couple weeks to get try and make progress in the final two expansions for that game. For now, I just have more FFIX to talk about.
If you want to catch up on my prior pieces, here's a link to last week's Issue 17.
Final Fantasy IX (PSP, PS1 Classic)
While the past few issues of this journey have had a strong focus on walking through the plot of Final Fantasy IX, I don't feel like doing another straight recap this week. This is mainly because I have worked through the rest of the third disc this past week, so instead of doing a point by point breakdown let me try this instead. I dealt with the aftermath of the attack on Alexandria, the annoyance of Dagger not being able to speak and therefore being useless in combat, getting to sail around the world's oceans before deciding that I didn't need much of the optional content that offered. After that I spent more time working through the tiring Desert Palace with my off-team, toughing out the status effect heavy Mount Gulug, venturing through the reversed power Ipsen's Castle where weak weapons deal more damage than the powerful ones, and eventually I made my way into Terra to learn the truth of Zidane's past. As I hit the end of disc four, I started to piece together more of my feelings about this game.
There are certain things I tend to hate in RPGs and status effects are one of them. FFIX is full of these, but the game does a great job of mitigation in this area by giving you tons of abilities to equip your characters with to guard against these. The only issue with this is the unpredictability of what you're likely to get hit with. If you use a guide, it's easy to read up and protect yourself. If not, you just have to wait and see what you are up against, as there are a lot of status effects to avoid. It doesn't do away with my annoyance at these, but at least I felt like I could do more to avoid them instead of just having to stock a ton of items to cure them.
I have also found that I'm enjoying the latter half of the game much more than the early parts due to having more access to physical attackers. While I loved the initial party juggling in concept, I often felt hamstrung by my teams, so kicking out the mages in favor of heavy hitters makes me happy: It's just how I play. The ability system also helps a great deal with this, as I have auto-regen on everyone to minimize the need for healing. I wish more games had evolved this system, as it takes out some of the tedium of micromanagement, much like Final Fantasy XII does for me. I love this. FFIX is just such a mixed bag of greatness alongside things that just slide off my memory. My replay has absolutely been a blast, but that's mainly because the irritations haven't lasted long enough to become a problem. Now just to decide what's after my brief return to FFXI. Right now it looks like FFX HD will be the next victim, but we shall see.