Game Log
+ Prologue
+ Pirate actors
+ Alexandria 1
+ Alexandria 2
+ The Woods
+ Cleyra
+ A pause
+ The Castle
+ The Iifa Tree
+ Fossil Roo
+ Conde Petie
+ Madain Sari
+ The Desert
+ The Desert Palace
+ Ipsen's Castle

+ Everything I never needed to know I learned from FF9
+ FF9 is a family game...

+ Zidane Tribal
+ Tantalus
+ Vivi Ornithopter
+ Garnet
+ Kuja
+ Garland


Pirate Actors
In which many cutscenes take place

Opening scene: A tiny ship, a big wave, two scared hooded people! It's The Perfect Storm with CGI! —Oh, no, wait, it's a dream. The dreamer, a languishing brunette in an ill-fitting princess dress, sits up and looks out the window. This symbolizes her yearning to be free. V. interesting. It's never been done before, a princess who wants to leave her royal duties behind and live the wild, footloose life of a commoner—I wonder where they'll go with it?

Cut to a ship, which has—Sizer-sama as the masthead? Oh, no, it's a mermaid. But it was promising for a moment. A tailed blond boy bounces about the ship like a monkey doing choreography by Ballantine. From the back, of course, since that's the direction we'll be seeing him from for most of the game. It amuses me that FF9's idea of a good character introduction is giving the player a long look at the character's butt.

It's a nice butt.

Sudden switch from cutscene graphics to regular graphics. I'm gonna have to get used to that; I can't make a damn thing out about the characters' faces in regular mode. Monkey-boy steps into a dark room, announces that it's dark, then lights a match and turns the controls over to the player.

I make him shuffle about the room briefly, until he passes by a little table and an exclamation point appears above his head. I press the button that the manual says to press, and the boy lights the candle on the table. The room brightens. Ah—this is the player tutorial! It's vaguely insulting that the game designers think their audience needs to be taught how to poke single buttons and light candles, but at the same time, um... I do need to be taught how to poke single buttons and light candles.

Three piratey sorts run into the room as though Gilbert and Sullivan just gave them their cue, and babble for a bit about how the captain's not here. Ah, it's the conversation tutorial.

A bizarre creature with the body of Santa Claus, the wardrobe of a Gilbert and Sullivan pirate, and the head of a blue metal dragon leaps into the room and roars. COMBAT! The camera whizzes around the little room dramatically. Surprisingly, it is dramatic. Beams and chairs zoom by in an exciting, dynamic way. Then the camera gets ahold of itself and shows the dragon-pirate facing off against the monkey boy and the three pirates, all five combatants doing the Combat Hula.

This sets off a flurry of panic and page-turning for me, because I didn't bother reading the combat section of the manual. Those things never make sense until you've been in combat, anyway. So here's combat, and I don't even know how to pause to read the manual. I poke at buttons frantically, reading snatches of the manual when it looks like a have a second. One by one the pirates bound forward and take a swipe at the dragon-pirate. They're all feeble, except for the monkey boy, but that's okay—the dragon-pirate keeps tripping and falling down when it tries to bound forward.

Finally, one of the pirates deals the killing blow. The dragon-head splits open to reveal--the captain, clutching his head and complaining that his men hit too hard.


After some mandatory belly-laughing, all of the pirates run into the anteroom and take up dramatic, languid poses. The captain picks up puppets and announces the plan: The bandits (they're not pirates, they're bandits—get it straight) will sail into Alexandria and, under cover of putting on a play, steal the delectable Princess Garnet. NOT Queen Brahne, who's greebly. Princess Garnet. She's a babe. Got that? Princess Garnet = Babe-raham Lincoln = stealable. Queen Brahne = troll = leave her be.

The bandit captain repeats this as though there's an off chance that one of the two designated kidnappers—monkey boy, who turns out to be called Zidane—might accidentally run off with Queen Brahne instead. This sounds interesting. Remove the Queen, leave a wet adolescent dreamer in control of the kingdom, destabilize the country, take control, marry monk—Zidane to the Princess as a figurehead, RULE THE WORLD! But no, all they want to do is... er... Actually, they never say. But presumably it's just a ransom racket.

So. Garnet = good. Queen = bad.

I stick my hand up Zidane's ass, and like a good little puppet, he agrees to the plan.

Cut to more credits. The bandit ship—a truly impressive Tudor confection—rolls through the clouds, sails past the palace, and docks in Alexandria.

In the streets of Alexandria, a pile of laundry in a pointy hat watches the ship with wonder. But that's a matter for another chapter.

On to the next chapter...