Game Story Case Studies, Season 2: Final Fantasy IX (Part 1)

Alexandria:

We now move onto the next scene, which takes place in Alexandria. Here are the first few shots from this scene:

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We are greeted by another interesting character here. While his name isn’t mentioned yet, I will go ahead and use his default name Vivi moving forward. We see that Vivi has come to Alexandria and is taking in the scenery, including the airship run by Tantalus. I should also mention that Vivi resembles the “black mage” character type seen in the first Final Fantasy game. Characters that have this appearance have shown up in several games in this series. Next, the game gives control to the player over Vivi for the rest of this scene. Let’s see what happens!

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After Vivi trips, we get the name of this location, a technique seen in some movies. This works, as the entire game world is unfamiliar to new players, and it could have been any other town in this fictional world. It is possible that this isn’t needed, as the arrival of the airship hints that this is Alexandria, the destination of the airship. For the most part, this is a stylistic choice of the designers, and it can work either way.

We also see Vivi get up with the help of a little girl who gives his ticket back to him. It is interesting to note that Vivi doesn’t look like the rest of the populace, but they also don’t seem to react to his appearance in any way. Perhaps this world isn’t too discriminatory? Later on in this scene, (and game) you’ll notice that this city has a variety of different races throughout it, so the population may be used to the variety of sentient creatures that live within its world. Let’s move on.

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As the player moves along, this “Rat Kid” bumps into Vivi. This confirms that there are a variety of races of people in this game world. Some are nice, like the little girl who helped Vivi up, and some are not so nice, like this rat kid. Keep in mind he is only a bit rude, and not downright evil.FF9Sce1Pt50

In the next screen, we are treated to this bit of dialogue. The town herald (a bird man of some sort) is guiding outside nobles to the Castle of Alexandria. While it is shown that there are a variety of races in this world, there still is a class system of nobles and commoners.

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Here we have some optional dialogue that gives background information on what is going on. It appears that Vivi has a ticket to the play, and can gather information on the area around him before he gives his ticket. Let’s look at the other dialogue options.

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Okay, this information is basic, but somewhat useful. There isn’t much to add to this yet, so let’s see another dialogue option.

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So we now have some information on Tantalus, and the play as well. From the looks of it, this play is quite popular, and might be the rough equivalent to Shakespeare, or at least popular media in this world.  

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Something to point out here is that the guy at the ticket booth speaks more about Queen Brahne’s daughter, Princess Garnet, than Queen Brahne. This implies that the Princess is more popular than the Queen, which you will see in a minute.

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With these above prompts, you can see that the populace prefers Princess Garnet, but all that has been mentioned is her beauty, so far. I wonder what that says about the people, or how often she interacts with them? Perhaps that might be up to the player to figure that out, and that can be a good thing. Let’s see what is left of this exchange.

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With a statement like that, it is clear that not much good could be said about the Queen. This is also foreshadowing of what is yet to come in the rest of the game’s story, which may catch the interest of some viewers.

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Well, it looks like Vivi happened upon a fake ticket! While it is currently unclear how he got it, he is upset nonetheless. The player also gets three tetra master cards from the Ticketmaster, which are an optional mini game for most of this game as a way to maybe cheer Vivi up. Alleyway Jack, by the way, is not going to be covered in this article, but offers a tutorial for that game.

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After finding out about the fake ticket, Vivi will wander into this alley and interrupt the signmaker here. Next, Vivi will bump into a new face.

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The rat kid appears, and helps Vivi if he becomes his “slave”. Vivi keeps a look out while the rat kid steals the signmaker’s ladder. Optionally, the player can read the above sign to find out that the play can be viewed from the rooftops. This sign also shows that the nobility and those who can afford a ticket are prioritized, but there is also a workaround for the poor who figured out how to watch the play.

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As you can see, this rat kid is quite pushy, and this writing effectively shows off his personality. The next images occur after Vivi tries to climb the tower.

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This exchange was simply added to explain saving to the player. How to handle tutorials is an issue exclusive to video games, and this sort of information is mandatory in more complex or lengthy games. There is the risk that this sort of information will break the suspension of disbelief, or the illusion that this fictional world is real. However, the player needs this information to understand how to play the game, especially when they need to do something as important as saving the game!

Also of note, Moogles have appeared in multiple Final Fantasy games since Final Fantasy III, and have a verbal tick where they say “Kupo”. While the writers could have them talk normally, this sort of speaking quirk adds personality to these creatures, and makes the world more interesting.

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Well, the only thing to add to this part of the scene was the inclusion of the second moogle, Stiltzkin. This part of the game is included in order to stress that there is an optional letter delivery system quest in this game. The full tutorial is omitted from this article for brevity’s sake. One could argue that this slows down the scene, but the player could miss out on a lot if they don’t know about this side quest, based on how this game is structured. Sometimes tough writing decisions like this intersect with game design, and the people writing and making a game have to decide if pacing or clarity need to take a hit. In this case, they preferred clarity over pacing, which can be a good thing. 

Also, the rat kid is getting impatient, which highlights more of his personality.

FF9Sce1Pt122FF9Sce1Pt123 And now it is time to wrap up this scene. While the intro of the game isn’t quite done, the first save point is a good place to take a break. In the next episode, we shall see how the play and kidnapping will play out. There is a lot to uncover here, and Final Fantasy IX is a game that I thoroughly enjoyed. Most of what you see here is the writers of this game setting up the scene, and introducing the player to the game’s world. Things won’t get really interesting until a bit later, but for now there are a few well-placed mysteries to catch the player’s attention.

Stay tuned, there is an entire RPG to uncover here, and I will piece by piece critique the mandatory parts of this game. I anticipate that I will have a lot of good to say about the game, but won’t shy away from any useful criticism either. I hope you will enjoy this project, as it will be a long ride to finishing this game’s story.


And that wraps up the very beginning of Final Fantasy IX’s case study of its story. Were there any good or bad portions of this part of the story that I missed? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, then click that like button and share on social media! To keep up with That’s All Games, you can subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!

4 thoughts on “Game Story Case Studies, Season 2: Final Fantasy IX (Part 1)

  1. Nice write-up! How Final Fantasy developed the cinematic, film-style side of itself is intriguing; have you read Power-Up by Chris Kohler? It does a lot of commentary on this subject, with Final Fantasy games as an example.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I plan on writing about most of the game eventually, so stay tuned. To answer your question, no I have not read that book. I will see if I can find it, as it may help me out with my analysis, and I’m always looking for something new to read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I just found it online, and put it on my wishlist. Hopefully I read it soon enough once I finish my current read. I think I will set a reminder to get it to make sure it doesn’t slip through any gaps in memory.

        Liked by 1 person

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