FF9A Part 16 – Through the Spyglass
Last time on FF9 Analysis we fought our way through the Festival of the Hunt (a strange town turned dungeon scenario) and got drugged. Now, it’s time to head out towards Burmecia and the runaway Dagger. Well, it would be, but that’s not entirely how I play the game.
This time, we wrap up things in Lindblum, head through the valley, check out a marsh, a forest, and at long last arrive at Gizamaluke’s Grotto. Be prepared for yet another off kilter entry before we finally dive back into proper progression.
To keep things simple, lets label it out by section again, taking a look at the different things that are tied up on the way to the Grotto.
At this point, you likely have a decent collection of equipment, each sporting various abilities. There’s also all of the new gear that can be made in the Synthesis Shop. Really, there’s a lot to get, equip, and learn. Combine that with the need to earn money to buy all of this equipment, the lack of a healer (necessitating the purchase of a large supply of potions and a few tents), and the impending entry into a new and unknown area, and this is prime time to grind a little outside Lindblum.
Once you’ve satisfactorily gained levels, learned abilities, and bought equipment, it’s time to head out of Lindblum a different way. The lower level grants access to the Serpent’s Gate (an unused sea dock, seeing as airships are a thing) and the Dragon’s Gate (which at least two characters have mentioned in colored text by now, so it’s pretty obvious that’s the one you want). In case it was previously unclear that potential danger lies ahead, even though you’re still in Lindblum, they give you a merchant selling items (such as the all important potions and tents) and a Moogle you can save at. Onec you stock up and save, it’s out to the world map.
Outside the Dragon’s Gate
This trip out into the world is a bit different from previous ones – your look through the telescope atop Lindblum has added locations to your map/minimap, and given you a preview of this area. Nearly straight ahead from the Gate is a marsh of some sort, and to the West lies a Chocobo forest. Other than that, there’s just the Grotto, so how about that march and forest?
Initially marked as ?, the marsh is home to a new character (well, a new optional character – you don’t have to enter the marsh) and a couple of old friends. On your way in, you’re likely to run into Mogster of required ATE tutorial fame (haven’t had an ATE in a bit, come to think of it). You might also bump into Quina having no luck at frog catching. In a shack in the heart of the marsh is a Qu that insists on not knowing Vivi’s grandfather (maybe?).
Help Quina catch a frog, and you’re treated to the Qu demanding that you take her/him along on your journey so that s/he can sample food all over the world. It’s a flimsy excuse, but hey, it’s an RPG. Quina is a fascinating character, learning only passive abilities from equipment. S/he comes with one inherent skill, and learns others by using that one. By Eating weakened enemies, Quina learns how to use their abilities, adding to her/his Blue Magic spells. Blue Magic has shown up in previous Final Fantasy titles, usually involving being hit by the monster’s magic in order to learn it. Quina has the advantage in consuming enemies to gain their power – it actually makes a ton of sense.
One last odd tidbit about Quina – one of her spells, Frog Drop, is powered by eating additional frogs. Eat more frogs, deal more damage. It’s an odd minigame, and I can’t say I’ve ever got into it, but it is worth mentioning at least. There are several Qu marshes in the world, all of which contain Frog Drop boosting frogs.
Alright, it’s about time: battle free transportation. All you have to do is use Greens to summon the chocobo out on the world map (while standing on chocobo tracks). You can ride around without fear of enemy encounter, move fester than normal, and most important of all – enjoy the adorable chocobo. Oh, and you gain access to a couple more minigames.
First, there’s Chocobo Hot and Cold. It’s exactly like it sounds. You pay a negligible sum of gil and get to dig for random items in the forest for one minute. The items found earn you points, upgrade the chocobo’s beak, and potentially include Chocograph pieces. What’s a Chocograph piece, you ask? It’s the key bit of the other minigame.
Unlike the Hot and Cold, which is played in chocobo forests all over the world (strange that they’d introduce two world spanning but zone-centric minigames right in the same area and at the same time), Chocographs are part of the world map. Each piece has a picture on it. Get your screen looking the same as a piece, and you’re likely standing on top of some treasure. It’s a fun minigame that gets you poking your head all over the map, enjoying the scenery and just looking about. Oh, and all the treasure. There is that.
After getting the Chocograph piece in the area and obtaining a way to move fast and fight-free, there’s not much else to do. Well, there’s Gizamaluke’s Grotto, but I think we’re best off saving that fun for next time. Next time on FF9 Analysis: plot progression instead of minigame appearances.