A Thought on Final Fantasy IX

Spoiler Warning: for those who haven’t played it.

I very much enjoy the Final Fantasy series, so much so that I can pick holes in it as easily as a voodoo doll, one full of love of course. To me there is a moment of staggering gameplay and story segregation in Final Fantasy IX at a heightened point of the games plot.

Some context:

Birdwatching was more dangerous than Kuja realised.

Birdwatching was more dangerous than Kuja realised.

During the course of the game Queen Brahne is given various destructive magical weapons by the antagonist Kuja. She quickly becomes power mad and on acquiring the usage of the summoned eidolons she targets Kuja as her next victim. Amassing an armada of ships she tracks him down and orders the summoning of Bahamut, King of Dragons. Kuja, unphased, calls upon the Invincible to gain control of Bahamut and sets the dragon to demolishing Brahne’s fleet. While all this is happening it is implied Brahne’s fleet is under attack by, unseen, waves of monsters.

The Queen's organic oven was not successful.

The Queen’s organic oven was not successful.

Meanwhile, and nearby, Princess Garnet and her companions see the battle. Wanting to save her mother Garnet senses an eidolon nearby she can use but discovers it is Leviathan. As she then explains, this eidolon destroys its enemies with a tidal wave. Not particularly useful in saving a fleet of ships against a flying foe.

I have two thoughts on this situation. First and mainly is the usage of Leviathan. Here Garnet doesn’t want to risk harm to others with the summon’s total destruction method. It uses the tidal wave attack in battle, conveniently disappearing Garnet’s allies, summoning a tidal wave to batter the monsters with the water draining away rapidly and the environment and anyone else around is unaffected. So Leviathan avoids hurting the party, but not the ships he would be summoned to protect? Or vice versa, if he is all destructive how is the party and nearby civilians unharmed whenever he is summoned in battle?

FF9 Leviathan Seal

“A fish against a dragon? Maybe I should rethink this.”

Also could Leviathan not use other methods of attack? Perhaps not but we do see in the cut scenes Bahamut attacking with small target fireballs and flying manoeuvres and his trademark Megaflare.

The other thought is on Garnet’s self-defeat at finding Leviathan unusable for the situation. Has she forgotten that she earlier acquired Ramuh? Perhaps she thinks his thunderstorm methods would be equally as problematic. What about her other summons? (I can’t recall what she has access to at this point but Shiva, Ifrit and Atomos would seem likely.)

One of the best things about liking something so much is coming up with ways to explain away and point out the plot holes and necessary suspensions of disbelief. So tell me, what do you think?

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4 thoughts on “A Thought on Final Fantasy IX

  1. There’s two types of criticism for Final Fantasy. The first type comes from those that missed out, the outsiders who cannot see the appeal of the series and so they pick on their numerous faults.
    And then there is the second kind, which yours falls in to. The second kind of criticism comes from those who love Final Fantasy games so much that even their faults do not deter them. They talk about them with a faint smile on their faces. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that part of why we love these games is because of their faults.

    • L.P. Mergle says:

      Absolutely. I think the main reason this moment even occurred to me the first time I played the game was because I was desperate to see Leviathan in glorious CGI cutscenes and couldn’t believe she wasn’t going to summon it!

      • Me too! It’s like the materia that falls from Aeris’ hair in FF7, I wanted that materia so bad but you couldn’t get it.

      • L.P. Mergle says:

        That and the black materia, both reserved for sole use by the plot. Ultima only for Kuja in FF9 and I would have enjoyed using Griever in FF8, there’s more but it’ll be a long list if I go on. Of course there are reasons why you couldn’t use them, but it would’ve have been nice as some kind of post game reward perhaps.

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