Last time on FF9 Analysis, we finished our tour of Lindblum and got ready for the Festival of the Hunt. It’s a good thing we got familiar with the layout of the city, since the Festival turns previously safe zones into something between a dungeon and a minigame.
This entry will take us up through the Festival, the aftermath, and the final preparations before leaving Lindblum (didn’t think we were staying here forever, did you?).
The Hunt is a fairly simple segment – you run around town, encountering monsters. You have only 12 minutes to do it (turn battle speed all the way up, by the way), and you earn points for each kill. The character with the most points becomes the Master Hunter and gets an item of their choice. Though other hunters can take the lead temporarily, only Zidane, Freya, or Vivi can actually win the competition.
Once again, it makes sense to tackle this district by district. Zidane starts out in the castle, and the only available air cab goes straight to the Theatre District, Zidane’s starting zone. While the gang does battle, Steiner and Dagger watch from above, mainly cheering on Vivi (who apparently does as much running away as fighting, not that his score reflects that while you play).
Because the Festival started before all preparations were made, not everyone is hiding safely away from the monsters on the loose in the city. This becomes apparent the moment the hunt starts – a poor old man has a Mu running circles around him. A trip past the Tantalus Hideout gives you a chance to encounter a Trick Sparrow, and the theatre entrance lets you watch a Fang chase someone behind a barricade, after which it leaps out and you can fight it.
It’s important to note that something happens here that has not happened up to this point in the game – every encounter is visible and must be physically contacted prior to battle starting. This has two amazing benefits: you can avoid low point encounters a lot of the time (saving some of that precious 12 minutes), and you can see enemies actually interacting with the world around them prior to encountering them. I guess the FF9 team took some hints from the brilliance of Chrono Trigger, even if it is only for this single segment.
Anyways, when you get bored of the Theatre District, you can head out to the Industrial District or the Business District. Let’s go in that order.
This is purely an encounter zone. You have a few battles you can enter into (saving a cat and protecting an engineer’s residence and the pub), and you can see spectators cheering from walkways above the dangerous street. It really is that simple. Once you’re satisfied with the points you’ve wracked up, it’s time to head to the Business District.
This is where all the fun really happens. In addition to the encounters, you get to see Vivi being chased by a Fang (which you can kill for points, of course). If you’re there around the 4 minute or less mark, the Zaghnol can be found preparing to snack on the kids Zidane met in the Hideout earlier. When starting the battle, Freya hops in to help (which is pretty darn handy, as this beast hits hard, often, and takes a fair bit to go down). The Zaghnol is worth a lot of points, and using Zidane or Freya to strike the last blow is the best way to control which one wins the Hunt.
Whichever you choose (Freya is recommended, Cards are a dime a dozen and Gil can be earned by fighting anything), when you finish out the hunt there’s a short award ceremony in the throne room. Cid awards the winner with the item of their choice, and then the game suddenly remembers that there’s a rich setting out there and things should be going on.
A Burmecia soldier appears, informing the group that Burmecia is under attack from an unknown force of pointy-hatted mages (which comes as a surprise to just about no one). The soldier is able to pass on this message before he does the same, and immediately the gang (plus Freya and minus Dagger and Steiner) decides to head for Burmecia. Cid initially wants to send a large portion of the air fleet, but this would take his eyes and guns off of Alexandria. The Dragon Gate has to be opened so that the trip to Burmecia can happen, so while waiting for that (must be one heck of a gate) the gang is treated to a no-utensils post-hunt feast by Cid.
Less than pleased with being kicked out of the gang to stay behind, Dagger uses sleeping weed to drug everyone. Her and Steiner head out for Burmecia themselves to see what’s going on and do something about it. Upon waking up, the rest of the gang hurries to catch up while it’s still possible. Or they would, if I wasn’t playing.
Since this is obviously the last chance to do things in Lindblum for a bit, it’s a good opportunity to wrap things up. Monsters can be fought outside (accessed from the Business District, which also has the shops), gil stored up, abilities learned from equipment, levels gained, and items synthesized. Once all that is done to satisfaction, it’s time to head out for Burmecia. Or at least it will be next time on FF9 Analysis.