Today, we won't be dealing with Zidane's adventures.
Instead, we're gonna hang out with the pluckish little black mage we saw in that last FMV.
Welcome to Alexandria!
Here! You dwopped your ticket. Bye-bye!
This black mage is actually another of the eight main playable characters, though we won't know his name until the end of the update (unless you look at the Tindeck link).
The Wrist we stole from Baku earlier gives this fella some nice evasion boosts.
Don't worry, I'll get into the gameplay mechanics in due time.
We can also take a look at our ticket. Something seems a bit off...
We can go south from the starting screen and find this large area with lots of people to talk to.
Most of Alexandria's populace is lower-to-middle class. There's actually a nearby city where the elite live.
Our character's a bit odd, as you might have guessed. He's clearly a black mage, but by all accounts he's a kid. He's also not a very talkative sort.
Funnily enough, all the kids in town are excited to see the nobles, while the nobles don't really want much to do with them.
I don't know why these guards feel compelled to switch positions. Also, we can't leave the city.
Alexandria has a predominantly female military. It's very reminiscent of Troia from FF4 with its exclusively-woman government and guard. And much like Troia, the male residents are all too happy to enjoy the sights.
There's also four different pieces of treasure in this area alone. Alexandria's pretty big and has a ton of treasure.
We also got our first card. More on those later.
The other treasures here are a Potion, a Lizard Man card, and a Sahagin card.
How can you not love this.
Back to this screen. There's a couple of Potions hidden around here.
As I said, kids are just crazy about nobles.
It's a jRPG, let's commence with the breaking and entering.
I'm not done with Ilia's dress yet. Come back later.
Rahaha. Every year, it's always the same. You're spoilin' them grandkids, I say!
Ilia is the name of that nice girl that picked up our ticket for us. It also could be a re-use of the name "Elia" from FF3 but nothing really suggests a connection there.
Of course, we can loot a Potion and Fang Card from this place.
I feel terrible taking this from a senile old woman so I load state to give it back.
He even has a fancy trumpet.
There's more gil and another Goblin card here.
This is Hippaul. He's a lot like the other kids except he's a hippo-boy.
Sadly, I don't think our little friend is of drinking age.
But I feel he's content to chase birds instead anyway.
But it'll also be the last time we'll be so busy.
We don't get any red mages in our party sadly, but a few of them do exist in this world.
We can loot a Potion, Flan card, and some more gil from this bar. We're not even close to done with all this treasure!
You better head straight to the ticket booth in the square. You have to get your ticket stamped there before you can enter the castle.
No treasure here, but there is a pretty nice and helpful guy. The actual people of Alexandria are pretty nice and friendly for the most part.
The item store is the only shop open right now. I've been finding so much stuff that I don't really need to buy anything.
And that includes cash.
Right in front of us is the ticket booth, but before we go see the show we've still got a good bit to explore.
To the southeast, there's a florist selling flowers to a noble couple. Play season must bring in a lot of commerce for this nation.
These two stores are the weapon and synthesis stores. I'll explain synthesis once we visit a shop that's actually open.
I'm so happy...
There is an Ether here. I imagine that will be handy for a black mage.
Have you tried looking on the ground? Our buddy's already accumulated a small fortune just picking up things off the streets from those clumsy nobles.
Heck, right in this shop there's a Remedy.
Hippaul's a doof.
We can't visit the castle at this time.
This is a better version of a Phoenix Down. More on these later though.
Next up, the inn.
What!? I don't believe this!!! I have a reservation, dammit!!!
(City people are so scary.)
To be fair, I don't know if this place even has any rooms.
Apparently fish man can breathe just fine.
OH MY GOD
DON'T KILL ME
This game takes a page from FF7 by having a huge variety of minigames. Some are pretty fun, while others...are like the Jump Rope minigame.
It's pretty simple. Hit the button to jump the rope. If you miss, you're done.
The catch is the tempo changes the longer you play. The other catch is the only rewards are cards and a key item to prove to your friends and family that you actually wasted time playing this minigame. You get this by jumping one thousand times without failing.
Next screen has this guy.
He's kinda rude.
We've finally nearly explored every area of Alexandria. Just got another home to loot.
This is Ilia's home and thus this is probably her money.
I tried that last year. But them guards, they caught me lickety-split! Gwahaha!
The people hanging out at the docks are less-than-pleasant to talk to.
Sure, we've got some good will already from cleaning up Alexandria's garbage, but what's one more nice deed? Sure thing.
The last area we can visit is this church. Or rather half a church really. Surprising that the stained glass is still intact for the standing walls.
There's a Tent and Potion here.
We can also steal Hippaul's cards and never use them.
As for the cat, it's all the way back next to the statue dedicated to stupid teenager.
It's a cat.
Were you expecting a reward from a poor kid?
Because he simply forgot to give it to us.
I'm gonna watch the play from the rooftop with Mittens!
I'm sorry I stole your money and you don't even realize it yet.
We've done everything there is to do besides jump rope until I go unconscious from bashing my head against a wall. Let's go see this play already.
We can just show our ticket, but instead let's get some background information.
What's showing today?
This year's performance is the masterpiece "I Want to Be Your Canary." The Tantalus Company is performing.
What kind of troupe is Tantalus?
They're star performers from Lindblum, the regency to the west, with accompaniment by Lav Layderce!
What's "I Want to Be Your Canary" about?
This play is a tale of romance between a noble and a peasant! You really must see it!
Tell me about Alexandria!
The Kingdom of Alexandria is a fine country, ruled by Queen Brahne.
Who's Queen Brahne?
Did you know Queen Brahne has a beautiful daughter, Princess Garnet?
Tell me about Queen Brahne!
Unfortunately, I've heard strange things about Queen Brahne recently.
Who's Princess Garnet?
Today is Princess Garnet's sixteenth birthday, you know!
Tell me about Princess Garnet!
Her Highness is a beautiful princess, and everyone in Alexandria loves her!
Is Princess Garnet really that pretty?
Why, she's the most beautiful princess in the history of Alexandria!
Anyway, we've got all the info we're gonna get out of the guy. Let's show our ticket and see the show already.
What's this? There's something odd about this ticket...
...Welp. Poor kid.
Now, now. Don't cry. I know how you must feel. Here, I'll give you these. Do try to cheer up now, hmm?
He then gives us Goblin, Fang, and Skeleton cards.
So we're kind of screwed out of going to a show now, but at least we can learn this game's card game! That's a worthy consolation prize, right?
You've been hammering the same spot for hours. Maybe you're just not good at your job.
And then Dante the whatever he is wanders off to the bar.
Wait...this guy is in an alley. Surely he's Alleyway Jack?
But I'll let you in to see the show if you become my slave!
Well, we did come all this way... Sure.
Awesome! Now for your first assignment! You go stand over there and see if anyone's comin'!
Looks clear to me.
Awesome! Engage according to mission parameters!
Like we have any moral quandaries about stealing at this point.
If you know who I am, you probably wanna challenge me to a card game, huh?
Well... Why not? I finished one job already. Follow me, kid!
And so the young boy followed the shifty-looking man who hung out in alleys to a seedy bar.
So he goes into a big tutorial about the card game before playing with you. I'll skip all this for your benefit. Instead, we'll play a quick game.
That's my job!
First, you pick your cards. We've got thirteen just from looting Alexandria. You can have multiples of the same type, and they can even have different stats and arrow lay-outs.
You pick five, your opponent picks five, and the first player is chosen randomly.
Tetra Master is a significantly worse version of Triple Triad. First off, if you play a card against an opponent, if you have an arrow pointing at them and they don't have an arrow on your card, you convert that card to their side immediately.
The stats refer to attack, defenses, and type of attack. It doesn't really matter because there's a large amount of arbitrary randomness added to rob any strategy out of this game.
Which is a shame, because this could be pretty cool if they didn't screw up how card fights work. If you have arrow vs. arrow, the two cards fight, which is where the stats come into play. Then comes a big chunk of randomness that can lead to a weaker card defeating a much stronger card. Whoever wins converts the losing card and any other cards its arrows are pointing at. You can have some pretty big swings that way.
I still lost and end up losing a card. I don't care because I don't plan to ever play this again besides the one time it comes up in the story.
You see, there's no incentive to play. In FF8, you could convert your cards into items and spells which you could then use to break the game in half twice-over. You can't do that here, there's not even any tournaments or anything besides a one-time deal. The only incentive is to up a card rank thing where you have 100 unique cards all with different arrow patterns and even if you get that the game glitches up anyway.
Tetra Master sucks and let's stop talking about this terrible card game.
This is the only town where I'm called Alleyway Jack. I go by other names elsewhere. They're also just aliases, of course. You wanna know my real name? I'll tell you when you get better.
You learn his name by getting a lot of treasure.
What kind of jerk would sell a fake ticket to a little kid!?
Anyway, the rat kid's probably still waiting for us, so let's catch up with him.
It's very dangerous. You go first.
If you insist...
That's Kupo. He's a moogle.
And this is slave number one! Try to get along, okay?
Kupo! Pleased to meet you!
Moogles have been a thing since FF3, made another appearance in FF5, and then became pretty popular in FF6 when we got a playable one who could dance and jump like a total boss. They were pretty much gone besides minor cameos here and there in FF7 and FF8, but they are back full-force for FF9. This game is full of moogle goodness.
And you can regain health if you have a Tent, kupo!
That's because moogles are this game's save points. Even in the overworld you'll be calling upon a moogle to save for you.
Glad I can help, kupo!
We've got just one more matter of business before we finally see the play.
Kupo! Stiltzkin! Why that getup? You leaving, kupo?
Yeah, and this time I might be away for a long time.
I'll miss you, kupo.
Now, don't you worry. I'll write.
Well, I'm off. Take care! Oh, and say hi to Mosh in the castle for me.
Was that a friend of yours?
Yes, kupo. A very special one, kupo!!!
Before we do that, let's go ahead and save.
Tent lets us restore HP and MP, of course. No need to do that yet.
Save lets us save the game.
And every time we get this nice animation.
Mognet is a lengthy sidequest that there's no reason not to pursue since it usually follows along directly with the main plot.
Mognet is a mail delivery system between moogles! We can send and receive letters to and from moogles in other locations! Kupo! But delivery has been very sporadic lately! So I want you to help us deliver mail! Kupo!
As I said, no reason not to.
I have a favor to ask, kupo!
Doing Mognet is very simple. Just go to each and every save moogle you encounter and select Mognet until they won't do Mognet stuff anymore. Now we have a letter on the backburner that we don't need to worry about for the time being.
Now, I'd say with the busy day we had so far we've definitely earned a nice relaxing view of the play, right?
Alright, the play's gonna start if we don't hurry!
Lemme guess... You're afraid of heights, aren't you? It's okay! Just pretend you're on the ground!
Come on, already! We're runnin' outta time!
Don't worry! It won't fall!
No point in worrying now, right?
We can steal money from three different bird nests up here.
I don't even know your name!
As the music suggested, it's Vivi.
So your name's Vivi, huh? Kinda funny name...
Puck's likely a Shakespeare reference. There's a ton of those this game, it seems. I'll let people more knowledgable than I point those out, though.
C'mon, let's go!
Next time, we'll finally watch the play.