Today we will traverse Memoria, the final dungeon of Final Fantasy IX. As far as final dungeons go, it stands out a good bit and is pretty cool.
First big thing other than the exit is this. Since there are no moogles in Memoria, we save with these weird orbs. They also let us use tents and switch out party members.
I forget to show it, but Freya's second best weapon is hidden here. It's Kain's Lance, which teaches Cherry Blossom, Dragon's Crest, and White Draw, with a 15% chance of inflicting Confuse. The name is a reference to FF4's Kain Highwind, perhaps the most famous dragoon in the series.
I stick with Zidane/Dagger/Freya/Amarant to top off some abilities, especially since inflicting petrification through Soul Blade is very useful. The enemies here can be a pain.
For instance, here's the Chimera. It's as annoying as it is in other games in this series, throwing out Firaga and Lightning, but also laying on the nasty status effects like Freeze, Venom, and Virus.
Occasionally there are these areas where you can interact but nothing happens. If you press whatever button the "challenge someone to a card battle" button is...
...you get challenged to a card battle! These guys have some great cards, and of course I'm not bothering with this shit because fuck Tetra Master.
Thanks to Hobgoblin2099 for making nice avatars for these guys that I ended up not using since these guys are pretty brief anyway. Feel free to show them off, though!
This is Ash.
It can use Snowstorm for decent ice damage, but usually opts to cast Reflect on itself to throw nasty attacks on you like Stop, Doom, and Death.
Next room has us climbing slowly up this area. Memoria is incredibly linear and very long.
Next up is Iron Man, which is likely a missed reference to the Iron Giant, another FF enemy that pops up from time to time. In its first appearance in FF2, it's supposed to be a "super" enemy like Warmech was in FF1. Not so much here, thankfully.
It sticks mostly to physical attacks (including Cleave, which hits everyone) and Helm Divide, which lowers a character to 1HP, though it can also buff itself with Protect, Might, and Vanish.
The Tower is Zidane's second-strongest weapon, it teaches Lucky Seven and Thievery and inflicts Mini. Mini is really nice for regular encounters, but Sleep hits a few of the bosses ahead.
Speaking of which! The bosses here will trigger without warning once you hit a certain spot.
Like right here!
This is Malaris. You may recognize her as a more buffed and powerful form of the Fire Guardian. You may also kinda-sorta recognize the name from the later translations of FF1 (though the original has her as Kary). You probably know what three of the upcoming bosses will be.
Based on the swords and being a fire guardian, you can expect her to use a lot of physical attacks like Sword Quiver and Flame Slash, as well as fire attacks like Firaga and Mustard Bomb. She can also buff with Reflect.
Her steals are Genji Armor, Ultima Sword, Masamune. Nothing new here (and really nothing new for any of these).
The trick is Malaris is vulnerable to Sleep. Yep. Zidane, of course, can inflict it guaranteed.
This is why the Ultima Weapon is so damn overpowered.
Anyway, let's check out the final summon, Ark.
Ark is the airship boss we fought in Oeilvert, of course.
Except here it turns into a mech.
And fires powerful lasers.
And decides that isn't enough and fires one more powerful laser.
...Not quite that powerful, at least yet. Like the other summons, Ark does more damage with gems, in this case Lapis Lazuli. Still, Ark is the most powerful eidolon in the game, and it deals Shadow damage which can be boosted with equipment. With more gems it's very powerful, the only drawback being how freaking long the damn thing is. Of course, with Auto-Regen it's also trivial to heal yourself while the lengthy animation plays out since Regen keeps ticking during the cutscene. I'm too impatient for that though.
Unlike the future bosses, Malaris has a death move.
Raining Swords, which deals heavy damage.
And of course her death animation triggers Amarant's Trance. It wouldn't be Trance otherwise.
The next screen brings us to...Alexandria?
What is Alexandria Castle doing here?
Of course you can't see anything. You weren't with us at the time, so it's not in your memory.
Memoria appears to be based on the memories of the party. Zidane and company witnessed the destruction of Alexandria, so that memory appears here, in Memoria.
Of course, all's not as it appears...
Along the way, Garland gives some exposition at the end of each cutscene. I've spoiled most of this already, but this is where FF9 spells out its backstory best it can.
The ultimate flute, not that it says much. It does teach Holy, Esuna, and Curaga, all very useful if you somehow missed them earlier.
On the other side is a hidden save point.
Nothing special here, but there's a crazy amount of detail in even the smallest room, so damn straight I'll show them all off.
I also want to show off that they even designed different battle arenas for a large number of these areas. Very impressive work for areas we spend only a small amount of time in.
Another Card Phantom.
At some point I switch out everyone after they learn everything to grind levels for the other characters. Remember I'm doing a lot of back-and-forth behind the scenes because I'm doing that damn Nero Brothers quest.
You shouldn't go anywhere. There's a storm.
...I guess it was my imagination.
(Why was Zidane able to see it?)
Yeah, what's up?
...You didn't imagine anything.
Wait, you saw it, too...!? That means that little girl was you. But...why was I able to see something from your memory?
I don't know...
Garland, can you hear me!?
We'll get to this in a bit.
And of course we know Garland feared the Eidolons' great power and worked to wipe out the summoners.
That eye... It's the same eye I saw on the night of the storm at sea.
What!? I don't remember ever being in a storm at sea.
What do you mean? Can other people's memories become a part of my own?
A memory is something that can be shared. Dagger experienced fleeing Madain Sari by boat with her mother, and later shared that memory with Zidane and Eiko. Zidane also has part of that memory.
Of course, that doesn't really explain what we'll see up ahead. Memoria is a weird place, but it'll make more sense soon enough.
The backstory of the initial summoning of Alexander 500 years ago, and the shattering of the jewel that brought it forth. Kuja used Brahne to obtain the pieces from Alexandria, Burmecia, and Lindblum, but the party found the remaining jewel in Madain Sari and recovered the rest once Brahne was defeated at the Iifa Tree. Kuja arranged this and used Bahamut to lure out Alexander, his ultimate goal. Of course, then Garland showed up and killed off Alexander, so so much for that!
Also Amarant's ultimate weapon is hidden here. The only claws not to teach Counter, instead they teach Spare-Change, Demi Shock, and Revive, with a 30% chance of inflicting Darkness.
Walking towards the eye triggers another boss battle.
Next up is the evolved Wind Guardian, Tiamat.
Tiamat has some nasty tricks up its sleeve. Absorb Strength/Magic reduces a character's stat by 50% while buffing that stat for Tiamat that same amount.
Luckily it hits dud characters like Zidane for Magic or Quina for Strength.
Since it's the Wind Guardian, it can use Twister and cast Float on your party to increase the damage. It can also steal MP and do a fire attack that can inflict Heat. Finally, it can remove a character entirely with Snort.
Tiamat's vulnerable to Sleep so none of that shit matters. After robbing it a bit (Blood Sword, Feather Boots, Grand Helm), I just spam Holy/No Mercy/Thievery until Tiamat drops in short order.
Next several screens are of a ruined town.
Only thing of note is another Card Phantom.
Eventually we find stairs that lead to...
Two moons colliding...? No. They look more like planets. Why does this look so familiar...?
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.
It's like we're going backwards time-wise. From the destruction of Alexandria a month or two ago to the destruction of Madain Sari ten years ago to the assimilation of Gaia over five thousand years ago...
Terra was too old to assimilate everything.
And here we learn about the cost the assimilation had on Terra, destroying many of its civilizations and spreading others across Terra. It also mentions the Iifa Tree, which as a reminder holds back the souls of Gaia from entering the planet's
Also this battle background is awesome as hell.
This was the last checkpoint I needed for the Nero Brothers quest, so after this cutscene is when I finished it. There's still enough checkpoints coming up to trigger it later if you skipped a couple, though.
Next is a waterfall. Final Fantasy games sure love waterfalls.
Swimming after fish. Zidane, you help catch fish, too.
That's because you think we're inside an ocean. I can breathe fine.
...OK, I've got nothing for this one.
Hidden behind the right rock formation is this guy. They're hard to spot, you don't even get a field icon for this one.
We're not leaving now!
This is Hades. He's another secret boss, and he even gets a different theme from the usual boss music!
He also has unique dialogue if you defeat Ozma before him. As you may guess, he's not nearly as tough as Ozma.
Though don't get me wrong, he's still not a pushover.
He has a variety of attacks, such as Cleave, Freeze, Mustard Bomb, and Judgment Sword (reduces a character's HP to 1). He also has a Reflect buff.
His big thing is this.
After he powers his sword, he does a countdown from 3. Once it hits 0, one of two things happens.
First is Curse, which as we learned from Ozma is a very nasty attack that can inflict a variety of bad status ailments, including Mini and others that can be blocked. At least the damage isn't bad. He'll use this every other attack. For the rest of the time, he uses Doomsday, which does heavy Shadow damage to everyone (and unlike Ozma, we can't remove Hades's Darkness absorption).
He does have some great steals, the Reflect Ring, Running Shoes, Battle Boots, and Robe of Lords. After those, it's mainly exploiting his Holy weakness and using my power attacks as normal. Bosses don't have a ton of HP, which is bad when most of your attacks brush up against the damage cap.
And eventually Hades goes down.
Our reward is the game's final synthesis shop. We can get Robe of Lords here fairly easily, though the Protect Rings require Dark Matter and Rebirth Rings, both limited in quantity. This is the only other way to get a Pumice, forged by crafting two Pumice Pieces together. We can also now make Lapiz Lazulis (Ore + Dead Peppers) to buff Ark, and can now easily obtain 99 Phoenix Pinions (Phoenix Down + Gysahl Greens) and Ethers (Echo Screen + Vaccine), though I've been maxed on the latter for awhile now. Also, we can use Cinna's Hammer on the Pumice to make a Pumice Piece, if we really wanted four of them (which honestly isn't that bad a deal if it didn't mean wasting two unique items).
There's two new items available. The Tin Armor is the best armor in the game and exclusive to Steiner, giving really nice buffs to physical and magical defenses and, unique to this armor, both types of evasion. The catch is that it requires the Hammer and Ore, which means missing out on a minor cutscene in the ending. I'll live without it.
The other is Beatrix's signature weapon, Save the Queen. The materials are no longer available but not that hard to have if you've been hoarding like you're supposed to. It can't really be used for anything except to trigger another minor cutscene in the ending. It's not even that strong so it's not worth throwing (if it even can be thrown).
Another regular enemy, Stilva. Mainly does fire-elemental attacks.
Let's move on.
How do you know?
...I don't know.
I wasn't even born at the time. It doesn't make any sense... And I was born on Terra, not Gaia, so how can it be in my memory...?
...It's in my memory, too. Gaia used to be covered with water.
I'm getting a similar feeling as well.
(I don't understand...)
Gaia was pretty much annihilated when Terra merged with it, so it's likely no one knows of Gaia's history before then. So if we are going backwards through time as it's been inferred so far, then nobody on Gaia should have any memory of this.
We could be looking at things the wrong way, here. Actually we are because I already know what's going on. You see...
Oops, sorry, boss battle time.
Kraken is every bit the useless dweeb he is in the other games.
He has two tentacles to assist, but they only have 10k HP and go down like flies. Otherwise, he can use Freeze, Waterga (including on himself, which obviously heals him), and Ink (inflicts Darkness with some damage). Honestly nothing too scary. At least the guy's smart enough not to be weak to Sleep.
Steals of the day are Genji Helmet, Wizard Rod, and Glutton's Robe. Otherwise, business as usual. Seriously, at this point of the game bosses aren't worth more than a paragraph of what they do since they all die the same way.
Next up is this room. I like this effect, at least.
Another hidden save point.
And another dumb card idiot.
Could it be a moon...?
What's above that ladder?
Yeah, there's no way anybody can remember the birth of the planet. I think our original theory of this being the party's memories may be a bit flawed.
The origin story of Garland. He's an eternal android tasked with reviving the glory of Terra, and honestly he's been doing pretty well for such a patient dude.
Next room has Vivi's ultimate weapon, the Mace of Zeus. 15% of inflicting Mini...
...and it teaches the final ability of the game, Doomsday. Yes that same Doomsday that Ozma and Hades can use. It deals large Shadow damage to everyone, friend or foe. If you can set yourself up to absorb Shadow (which three Pumice Pieces and Ninja Gear on Zidane can do quite easily), this will both hurt the enemies quite a bit (the final three bosses don't resist or absorb Shadow) while healing your party a large amount, giving your healer more flexibility. Factor in Shadow-buffing equipment, and suddenly Vivi's back to being very valuable after being by the wayside a bit because of his Flares "only" doing 5k compared to the intense attacks of Zidane, Eiko (buffed Holy can break 9k easily now), Steiner (Shock's an instant-if-pricey 9999), and Amarant (No Mercy does around 6k-7k). If I didn't slack off with Freya she could be shitting out damage too with Dragon's Crest. Quina can with Limit Glove but who needs that much set-up at this point?
And another Card Phantom, the best Card Phantom.
...is a fake room!
And our last boss battle of the day! Take a wild guess who it is!
Lich has a variety of nasty Earth and Death attacks. On the Earth side, there's Earthquake and Earth Shake. On the Death Side, there's LV5 Death, regular Death, Doom (countdown Death), Stop (fake Death), and Venom Powder (Death that can be cured with an Antidote).
Steals are Genji Gloves, Siren's Flute, and Black Robe.
Lich is weak to Holy and Eiko's Trance triggers here.
Eiko's Trance lets her dualcast. Yep.
Do not fear. Step forward, and you will be closer to the truth. Go, Zidane...
Now Zidane's model rotates around randomly as we try to move forward.
Well I go back first to save here.
If I were crazy enough to be going for the Excalibur II, this is where I'd get it. It'd be a great chunk stronger than Steiner's current best sword, the Ragnarok, plus be Holy elemental. It also teaches Minus Strike, Climhazzard, and Stock Break.
It does require making it here in under twelve hours though, which is...no small feat, especially with cutscenes and all.
Final enemy for this part is the Behemoth. Mostly physical attacks.
And, like other games, a very nasty Meteor counter-attack. Always fun.
Follow your memory, your original memory, and march forth...
Every life born into this world, whether natural or artificial, requires a parent. And that parent also requires a parent. Life is connected, one to another... If you trace the root of all life, there exists one source.
All life constitutes an intelligence that holds memory beyond experience. Memory is not isolated within individuals. It is an accumulation of generations of memories that continue to evolve. You can say that memory and evolution go hand in hand. But most life-forms do not understand the true nature of memories...which explains why most memories never cross paths.
Memoria is the memories of the planet itself. The further back we go, the further back in time we delve through Gaia's memories. In the end, all these memories lead past even the birth of the planet itself. We're going much farther than that. We're about to meet the very thing that created the universe itself, the crystal. Kind of fitting for a game like this, huh?
FADE TO SILENCE
This is the Crystal World, the final section of Final Fantasy IX. This is also weirdly enough the first time we can hear the Prelude...sorta, which is interesting for such a throwback-heavy game.
The only enemies here are crystal versions of the four elemental fiends. I'm pretty sure these are also the only palette swaps in the game. Otherwise, they're weaker but still potent versions of the bosses we just fought not too long ago, though with worse steals/drops but vulnerable to all status effects (including petrification).
They also only give AP, so no reason not to re-petrify them!
Otherwise, this area is very short.
This is the last screen before we begin the final sequence.
I take advantage of the enemies here to master Doomsday. It's completely unnecessary since I'm not unequipping the Mace of Zeus, but at least I want to say I mastered every ability in the game, no matter how poor an idea that was.
Next time, the final battles.