We’re finally on the road to the end of Final Fantasy IX folks! At the end of last weeks post, we were stood at the bottom of a staircase/cobblestone pathway after Garland had named this new location “Memoria”.
We begin by climbing the staircase towards a castle where we find a glowing orb that I can use to save, use a Tent or change my party. Initially, Chimera’s prove to be quite challenging, they seem to easily hit for 2000 and cast both Virus and Venom, Thankfully I have quite a few Vaccine’s for curing the Virus (which saps MP) and once I’m out of my first encounter with one of them I equip all my party members with Antibody which guards against Venom and Poison. Having Locomotion equipped also proves to be a good idea for some of the creatures I encounter in Memoria.
Hidden away in a nook is a new weapon for Freya, whom I have in my party, it’s called Kain’s Lance, in a nod to Final Fantasy IV (which I’m also currently playing. I also find a weapon called The Tower that Zidane can equip which increases his Attack stat from 71 to 86!
Before long I come up against one of the Chaos Guardians, a snake-like creature with four arms, each holding a sword, “we meet again” it says, though I don’t recall it from this game I do know that it bears a resemblance to one of the Four Fiends in the original Final Fantasy, though here it is called Maliris. It’s not a particularly difficult battle but Maliris does end the fight by castle “Running Swords” which causes a lot of damage but doesn’t wipe anybody out.
the group continue to climb the walkways of the castle, passing through towers and past weather vanes. We come to a room that appears to overlook Alexandria Castle and Garnet is forced to watch as her home is destroyed by Bahamut again, however, Quina doesn’t seem to have been able to see it. Zidane ponders aloud that s/he wasn’t with them at the time Alexandria was attacked and so this wasn’t part of their memories which is why they couldn’t see the destruction a “second time”.
“In a bid to defy me, Kuja tried to acquire Alexander…
An incident, 10 years ago, started everything…”
Near the ruin of the castle, I pick up an Angels Flute for Eiko.
As Zidane crosses a bridge he sees a hooded figure out in the pouring rain, they put their child into a boa, as he looks up to see Garnet approaching, the figure and child disappear, leaving the boat. Zidane wonders if this was his imagination, but Garnet confirms it to be her memory, but why could Zidane see it too? He demands Garland answer him.
“I feared Gaia’s eidolons more…
However, I decided to decided to deal with them before they became a major problem.”
The next location is another staircase, this one leads into a giant red eye amongst the clouds, the same red-eye that was beneath the Invincible.
G: “Zidane, can you hear me?
What you saw was from your memory and not from Garnet’s.”
Z: “What!? I don’t remember ever being in a storm at sea.”
G: “You still don’t understand.
You will find out soon enough…”
Z: “What do you mean?
Can other people’s memories become a part of my own?
G: “Once you accept everything, the answer will appear before you.
A tremendous force was summoned to Gaia during the age of the war…
However, the Gaian’s weren’t read to harness so great a power…
They were terrifed and broke the jewel into 4 pieces…
and they prayed never to see it again.”
Before ascending the staircase I find a pair of Rune Claws for Amarant, then Tiamat appears and attacks, mocking Maliris’ failure. I actually have to do this fight twice, resorting to loading a save file up, as I’d previously had Auto-Float equipped to Zidane and Quina, which when they attacked would result in Tiamat expelling them from the battle, going back in without Auto-Float equipped means that Tiamat’s wind attacks are the only ones that cause me any real challenge, which I could have nullified if I had the equipment to hand that would reduce its potency, but I don’t. So I spend the battle balancing recovering from those attacks with Zidane and Freya’s offensive abilities., surprisingly I have to revive Zidane and Dagger a couple of times each, even so, the battle isn’t a prolonged one. Fight over, Zidane climbs the staircase and into the eye.
Memoria is basically a set path; there’s very little exploration. There’s the odd nook and cranny that hides either an item or a save point, there’s some hidden Tetra Master matches that I don’t bother with as I’m just here for the story now, random battles are, as ever, thrown at me and they’re of a difficulty where I can breeze through them but can also get over-confident and find myself in trouble, which is honestly how I like my games to be, and before long I come to a room where the staircase corkscrews to a castle that his, for want of a better description, on its side. floating nearby is the image of Terra and Gaia merging together.
Z: What is this…?
Two moons colliding…?
No, They look more like planets. Why does this look so familiar…?”
G: “This is a picture of Gaia being assimilated by Terra.
Five thousand years ago, Terra, already an old planet, sought to assimilate Gaia. Terra needed to merge with a younger planet to survive. However, there was already life on Gaia. And so, the story began…”
Z: “Oh yeah, I saw this in Oeilvet.”
G “Life on Terra was coming to an end…
We had no choice but to proceed with the fusion, which tragically destroyed Terra’s native civilizations. Terra was too old to assimilate everything. Then I created the Iifa Trtee to regulate the flow of souls back to Terra.”
Garland’s little speech over, Zidane heads for the castle. In one “room” Quina is swimming and is impressed by all the fish, they begin to panic when they can’t breathe, but Zidane informs them that this is all in their imagination, they’re not underwater and thus able to walk and to breathe. It’s around here I stumble across an optional battle, there’s nothing to indicate it’s there but pressing X in exactly the right spot results in a voice claiming to be “the bringer of death” or some such, to boom overhead, it gives me the option to stay or leave, and after choosing the former I’m pitched into a fight against Hades. This is the first time in Memoria I feel truly challenged, he has me on the ropes a few times and there are periods where I’m literally reviving and healing constant, but Zidane enters Trance and his Dyne ability Solution 9 aids me in defeating Hades.
Hades: “I commend you for overcoming me. I shall reward you for your impressive feat. Bring 2 Pumice Pieces here and I will synthesise them for you. The end product is something only I can create”
Annoyingly, I only have one and I’m at a stage now where I don’t really want to go back, like I said, I’m just here for the story now and I’m certainly not willing to do any more Chocobo Hot and Cold. So, in hindsight, that fight was pretty pointless, but at least it proved a good challenge and has my expectations set for things to come.
Zidane, rather randomly, tells the others that Gaia used to be just an ocean, when Garnet asks how he knows this, he says he doesn’t know how he knows this he just does somehow. But it shouldn’t be in his memory as it’s from before he was born and he anyway he was born on Terra, not Gaia. Vivi says this “fact” is in his memory too, Freya confirms she feels the same which leads Zidane to wonder if all existence can be traced back to a single source.
Shortly after, another Chaos Guardian, Kraken, attacks, it introduces itself as a “water type”. The challenge here comes from its counters, which see it using Ink, which both hits for roughly 1000hp and causes Darkness, so I have Quina using Eye Drops whilst Garnet heals, Freya and Zidane continue with their offensive duties.
Funnily enough, the one creature, other than Hades, that’s causing me the most bother, certainly more so than the bosses have done, are the Behemoths. It’s Meteor Counter in particular means that I just have Dagger acting as a healer throughout any encounter with them.
Soon we find ourselves in a room with a giant red fireball overlooking it. Steiner wonders if it could be a moon.
G: “This it the birth of Gaia. Over 5000 years ago…”
Z: “What’s above that ladder?”
G: “See for yourself.
Terra reached the peak of it’s prosperity at this time. The people believed that their future was secure. Unfortunately, that very hubris led to Terra’s demise. Then I was creatged to deal with our plight.”
After climbing the ladder I find a Mace of Zeus which is a staff for Vivi. The weapons I’ve picked up so far all make me wonder if my party make-up is wrong as I now have new weapons for Zidane, Freya, Amarant, Eiko and Vivi whilst I only have Zidane and Freya in my current party. However, I quite like the way it functions, so I’m sticking with it and we’ll see how that pans out. Zidane climbs the second half of the ladder and finds a room with three doors. However, before we can choose one to enter they all disappear, the room turns green and a starry sky appears all around. The boss fight music kicks in and I have to fight the fourth Chaos Guardian, Lich.
It’s Lv. 5 Death causes me the most grief, Zidane, Freya and Quina’s levels are all multiples of 5 and thus succumb to instadeath when Lich uses this ability so Garnet is constantly both healing and reviving with Quina helping out when alive and the other two getting hits in whenever they can, Freya’s Jump command comes in pretty useful here as it “removes” her from the battle for a turn.
When the fight is over, Zidane is faced with an archway, as he walks through it, Zidane almost falls into nothingness.
G: “This is space”
G: “Your journey is not over. Do not fear. Step forward, and you will be closer to the truth. Go, Zidane…”
Z: “That’s easy for you to say”
Zidane does indeed step forward though and he finds himself spiralling through space towards a white light in the distance.