A challenge should be plausible, not impossible. It should be difficult to achieve, but yet easy to conceive. You should logically be able to visualise how it can be done – and this is a challenge that caused many Final Fantasy players nightmares in the past. 12 hours to get to the end of the game – How hard can that be? Very, when cutscenes were a part of the issue, but Steam helps us achieve this previously nearly impossible task.
When we say impossible, it truly wasn’t. You had to rely a little bit on luck, but a whole lot of knowing what to do. If you knew the game in and out, then you could get through this pretty easily. But, for the first time, I thought I’d attempt this via the Steam version of the game, marking the first time I’ve attempted it. In the short amount of time I’ve been playing, I’ve realised just how easy it is by contrast to the originals.
When Final Fantasy IX came out on the PlayStation, way back in 2000, the game was effectively the last game to truly push the platform to its limits. The PlayStation had an internal clock, which would keep track of the in-game time. With this knowledge, people found an exploit with the clock, to allow them to get Excalibur II fairly easily. Having said this, that didn’t make it an easy feat, as it was a trick few people knew.
There was a problem with the PAL version of the game, the version we got over here in the UK. The clock kept running, which also included the cutscenes. As such, to get the Excalibur II was genuinely a feat for anyone running the PAL version. The NTSC version of the game was easier, but still wasn’t what we’d consider easy. So, when the Steam version came out, some big changes were made.
Solving the problem of an unreliable clock
The Steam version offers you the ability to skip cutscenes, which reduces the amount of time required to complete significantly. Having said this, the game is still notoriously lengthy, as it was over four discs! The game is always a fantastic trip down memory lane for me, so it’s one of the games I will continue doing a Let’s Play of… Some day! In the meantime, I wanted to see how good my Final Fantasy IX knowledge was.
I got the best items I could, stealing specific items (but skipping them if it took too long to get). Some parts of the game requires a good bit of luck, some bits of the game requires a good bit of patience… And sometimes, it’s a case of knowing what is where. For instance, if I wanted to get Firaga for Vivi, I’d need to get 75 AP, which is effectively experience for using skills. Some random encounters give no exp, but instead only giving AP, so knowing where these Friendly Monsters are is useful.
For me to actually beat the game, well, a lot of it was simply pulling out of my memory! A lot of people reading this will know that I’m a bit of a completionist. I love to see a game from start to finish, especially when Steam Achievements are on the line. This is, of course, a Steam achievement, but there’s a few interesting notes you can take away from these. The most important of all; you don’t have to play the game normally to unlock them.
Now, I love Final Fantasy IX, so much so, I couldn’t use the other modes, even if I wanted to. I could use the 9999 damage, always trance or no random encounter modes… But would I truly have beaten it then? However, one thing I did decide I could use, sparingly, was the speed up mode. Some specific elements of the game delay you somewhat intentionally, as if the game designers knew it’d be tight for a good player. I’m an average gamer, really – So to me, this should be nearly impossible. However, getting to Disc 2 in less than 2.5 hours seems like a good start!
Final Fantasy IX has always given me enough simple gameplay, but also enough challenge. The story is fantastic and now I can finally say I’ve done all of the hardest things. I’ve beat Hades, I’ve beat Ozma – And now the Excalibur II is in Steiner’s capable hands. But what do you think of the challenge of Excalibur II? Do you think having the option to use the extra modes is cheating? Did you try this on a PAL version of the game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.