#throwbackthursday, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IX, Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday Final Fantasy IX playthrough part 18

Yes, I know, it’s not Thursday any longer, the title is merely there for continuity, this should have gone up yesterday but I time got away from me and I was watching Rise of Skywalker last night, my opinions on that will go live tomorrow, making this the first of 12 consecutive posts as Sunday is the start of my Albums of the 2019 countdown.

Last week Zidane had to rescue Eiko from one of Brahnes bounty hunters, then fight the other to recover the stone that had been stolen from her home, the latter bounty hunter was called Amarant and, through shame at losing to Zidane, has now joined the party.

On the way back to the Iifa Tree the group bump into a Yeti, who rather than fighting us, demands some Ore. Vivi throws this to it and the creature demands more, which Dagger hands over, the “battle” then ends with the Yeti asking us to say hi to Nymph.

In my first proper battle with Amarant in the party, I check out what he can do. His key skill appears to be throwing items from my inventory at enemies (this is in addition to his normal physical attack), I’m not sure how I’d use this as I don’t think the item set is similar to that in Final Fantasy X where Rikku’s similar ability can come in handy. He also has a skill called Chakra that allows him to heal an allies HP & MP, which could come in really useful as things progress. He’s not as physically strong as I’d hoped, standing below Zidane and thus making him only the fourth-strongest potential party member (with Steiner first, then Freya, Zidane, Amarant) for physical attacks, but with that Chakra skill it means I don’t always have to have both Eiko and Dagger in the party.

As expected, Kuja arrives at the Iifa Tree on the back of his silver dragon, he delivers some kind of monologue, though I think he’s talking to himself, saying that its finally time to reveal his true self, stating his plan is to “watch the drama unfold from the trunk of Iifa” as he expects no one will interrupt him there.

The group head to the Iifa Tree to confront Kuja, I’m given a chance to change my party, but stick with the line up I mentioned last week of Zidane, Dagger, Vivi and Amarant, though I do wonder if it would be better to have two healers if I do have to fight Kuja as I’ve not used Amarants Chakra yet so have no idea how powerful it is and the two healers are also summoners so they have some extra power there if I’m in a bit of a pinch.

Zidane and co need to climb the tree, rather than descend into it like they did previously, but there’s no obvious path and Dagger, Vivi and Eiko say they can’t climb it. Amarant thinks Zidane should go it alone, though Zidane says they all stick together and instructs the newcomer to find a Gargant as he’d spotted some Gargant Grass around, instead of doing this though, Amarant picks up “the kids” and carries them to the top of the tree himself, leaving Zidane to give Dagger a piggyback.

Kuja notices the ragtag bunch climbing and decides that they’ll be the perfect warm-up, he’s waiting for the “elephant-lady” to show up. I’m given one last chance to change my party, but again stick with Zidane and Amarant in the front row with Dagger and Vivi taking up the back row, but I do make sure everyone is fully healed before continuing.

The party have a lot of questions for Kuha, but his answers are either cryptic or absolving himself of the majority of the blame, for example, Vivi asks what about the Black Mages and is told that he “only provided the recipe. He tells Dagger that Brahne is greedy and that she always wanted war because she has to have everything, he just gave her a push.

His dragon suddenly lets out a roar and Kuja notices that Brahne, along with her new navy, are arriving. The queen herself is at the command of a gunship and it seems she may have chosen to turn on Kuja as she believes he is all that stands between her and domination. She orders her navy to open fire on him and has her Black Mages instructed to focus all of their energy into one combined spell.

Despite the Iifa Tree not producing Mist, Kuja says he can still create monsters, after all, there is still Mist lying dormant in some areas, such as caves, that he can harness and he then sets a pair of Mistodons on Zidane and friends.

Brahne hasn’t quite opened fire yet so Amarant suggests leaving whilst she’s getting everything into position, thinking it would be best if both of Zidane’s adversaries fight things about between themselves, especially as Kuja has now taken to goading Brahne, Zidane agrees and the group begin their escape from the battle. However, Dagger wants to save her mother, despite everything she has done. Dagger doesn’t want her to die and her plan is to try and summon the Eidolon that the summoners had imprisoned in the Iifa Tree.

At the base of the tree, Dagger finds a statue and preys to it, it begins to glow and she receives an Aquamarine stone. This is no good, the stone holds the power of Leviathan inside it and if Dagger uses this then her Mothers navy will be destroyed by the great tidal wave that Leviathan will unleash.

Whilst Dagger and Eiko have been discussing this, Kuja has obviously been fighting with the fleet, leaving the latter in a bad shape as smoke and fire cover the decks of the ships. They’ve used up all of their ammunition in fighting off Kuja’s monsters, however, the Black Mages have finished combining their power and manage to summon Bahamut, who is instructed to attack Kuja, though the effect it has is minimal, with Kuja only taking on a small head wound.

Then it gets weird, Kuja summons some kind of giant eye in the sky. It’s huge and red and manages to kill the Black Mages, not only that but it turns Bahamut back onto Brahnes navy, the screen fades to black and next, we know Vivi, Eiko, Zidane and Dagger have found Brahne washed up on a beach. An inner-monologue suggests one of the party, I think its Vivi, wanted this to happen to the queen, they say they should be happy as they hate her so much, but then they say Dagger crying and didn’t know what to feel any more.

Brahne is still alive, just about, she tells Dagger she is free of her greed now, she says she hasn’t felt like this for a long time, not since she “saw that play with you and your father”, she realises that she has let Alexandria down a path of ruin, but believes the people will be happier with Dagger on the throne. The group decide they must return to Alexandria, bringing the queen’s body with them.

In Alexandria, Garnet is reunited with Steiner and Beatrix, they both dutifully try to take some blame for all that has happened. However Garnet asks them both to help her rule over Alexandria, the three then join Doctor Tot in laying a wreath of roses that the townspeople had sent as an offering for Queen Brahnes grave, Garnet promises her she will become a great queen and with that, we (finally) reach the end of Disc Two.

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