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  -Part 1 :: [02.13.02]
  -Part 2 :: [03.14.02]
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"'Listen up! Teamwork means staying out of my way,' Seifer announces. 'It also means that Squally is my bitch for the day and must do whatever I tell him.' Squally perks up, secretly wishing that it wasn't just for the day."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VIII Part 2

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Final Fantasy IX : Part 2
By Jeanne
Posted 03.14.02
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Only one hour into the game, and the princess is already in peril. ::sigh:: Okay, let's get recappin'.

Zidane ventures into the Evil Forest all by himself to rescue Princess Garnoa. As if we didn't quite grasp that it's the Evil Forest, the game designers have helpfully included giant text onscreen that reads "Evil Forest." They like to do that in this game. A lot.

Since the characters learn their abilities from items, I check out what awesome abilities Zidane has in his arsenal. "Flee"....well, not too heroic, but at least it's useful. Oh, "Protect Girls". Wow, I'm so glad us "girls" have someone strong and studly like Zidane to protect us. Yay. What a stupid ability.

After wading through a stream, Zidane meets up with PUGGY!!, who is shaking and stuttering that the princess is in trouble. "What the hell is that?" Zidane wonders about something offscreen. The camera pans so that we can see what it is. Oh, it's Steiner. And a big ugly plant thing with Garnoa trapped in its leaves. I hope Zidane was talking about the plant, because if he forgot who Steiner is, then he's pretty stupid.

Steiner demands that the plant release the princess. "Yeah, like it's gonna really listen to you," replies Zidane. Funny, that's exactly what I was thinking. Except that I would have flipped "gonna" and "really" around. And maybe thrown "fucking" in there somewhere. But that's just me.

A fight ensues. It's of the "hit the enemy and not your entrapped character" variety. At the beginning of the battle, Zidane turns all pink and glowy, and there's a new gauge under the ATB gauge. Steiner asks what the light is, so that Zidane can have the chance to explain it to us clueless gamers. Unfortunately, Zidane doesn't even know what it is, only that it raises his power. Now I don't think turning glowy and pink would be all that fun, but hell, if it raised my power, it's all good. "Could it really be Trance...!?" Steiner says, out of the blue. I won't keep you in suspense. Yes, it is Trance. Trance is FF9-speak for "limit break that totally sucks because it happens as soon as your bar fills up, even if you're in the middle of a stupid random battle, and then it disappears when the battle is finished." Apparently it's really rare, but, coincidentally, every single one of the playable characters in the game has it. The plant monster politely waits until Zidane and Steiner are finished with their conversation, and then the battle truly begins.

Zidane's Trance is called "Dyne", just like Vyse's dad, but don't get confused. At the end of the battle, the plant monster disappears with the princess. Zidane wonders where they went. PUGGY!!, who stood by helplessly through the battle, offers this gem of wisdom: "She's gone..." He goes on to whine about how he was too scared to cast spells and now the princess is going to be eaten. Although that would be funny, and would shock the crap out of anyone who's ever played a Final Fantasy game, you know that's not going to happen. Zidane says as much, adding that the plant monster probably took Garnoa to its master. But before they can do anything, another plant monster swoops down from the trees and captures PUGGY!!.

Unlike the last battle where Garnoa was completely useless when she was trapped, PUGGY!! is able to cast fire from within the cage of leaves. After the battle, the plant releases this nasty green gas that hits PUGGY!! and Steiner and causes them to pass out. But not before Steiner manages to gasp, "Prin....cess...." in a totally wanky manner. Every single one of his lines involves the word "Princess" and if this hour of gameplay was a drinking game, I would be totally hammered by now.

Fade out. Fade in on PUGGY!! lying in a bed back in the ruins of the Prima Vista theater ship. Blank is saying, "You guys are lucky. If it weren't for Zidane, you'd both be dead." He explains how certain monsters in the forest plant seeds in animals to reproduce. "And when the seeds sprout, it's hasta la vista: you become beef jerky." This kind of reminds me of that X-Files episode with the nasty flukeworm guy who bites people and leaves little flukeworms inside them, and I can't even watch that episode without getting completely grossed out. I don't know why it reminds me of that episode, when the whole plant thing is more like the episode where the spore comes out of people's necks....or the one where that guy spreads that killer fungus. Regardless, it's all yucky.

Blank gives PUGGY!! the magical plant-seed-removing potion that they just happened to have lying around and that didn't get damaged in the crash, and PUGGY!! is cured. Except that it tastes gross. I've never seen anyone take a gross-tasting medicine in any game, movie, TV show, etc. ever.

The next scene shows Steiner stumbling around, moaning yet again about the princess. Okay, we get it, game designers. He's the princess' protector. WE GET IT. Benero and Zenero, two identical guys with animal heads although I can't tell what the hell they're supposed to be because they're wearing masks, block Steiner's path and force him into a room. It's not nearly as dirty as it sounds. I hope. They assure Steiner that Baka will find a way to save the princess.

EW! Do we really need to know this?

All alone inside the room, Steiner stumbles over to something that looks like a spool table and starts whining about Garnoa yet again. I am in agony. Shut the hell up, Steiner. Please. Steiner doesn't trust Baka to save the princess - only Steiner himself is qualified. Then he starts going all paranoid about the medicine they gave him being poison. Finally, and thankfully, he drinks it. "Hey, not bad," he says. This is supposed to be funny because PUGGY!! thought it tasted bad, but Steiner didn't. Get it? Get it? Yeah, me neither. But he had to shut up while drinking it, so I'm happy.

Why do the boys always get to come first? It's so unfair.

Cut to Zidane talking to Baka. Baka is being, well, baka. He doesn't want to rescue the princess because the forest is too dangerous. Oh, come on. We all know that the princess is going to be rescued. Must this drag on and on? The answer is yes. Zidane's all, "We can handle it", and Baka's all, "We can't risk the lives of the wounded by leaving", and I'm all, "Just rescue the fucking princess already so I don't have to recap this insipid dialogue." Baka feels bad that they have to abandon the princess, but them's the breaks. He even forbids Zidane to leave the ship. "You're nothing but a big coward!" Zidane whines, before sulking off to the other room.

Active Time Event. It's called "Time to Escape", and it's about Steiner. I don't quite get why this is an ATE, as opposed to the different scenes they just showed us with Zidane, Steiner, and PUGGY!! all in their separate events. Maybe because I can skip it. But I'm a recapper, and I can't do that.

Steiner, as the ATE title suggests, is trying to escape his room. His first brilliant idea is to scream about fire. It doesn't work. He's still not feeling well, and the false fire drill shrieking wore him out. He sits down on the spool table and finds the Garnoa doll that Baka was using for his demonstration earlier. Steiner is outraged, not only because the princess' name has been written on a "ragged doll", but also because the label says she is 15 when she is, in fact, 16. Yes, but the doll was probably made when she was 15. Excuse them for not taking the time to update it when the ship was on fire and they were crashing into the forest. Jeebus. Obsess much?

Thankfully, the scene ends and I choose the next ATE, entitled "Girl Who Was Left Behind". This one is utterly pointless. It's just Ruby, back in the bar in Alexandria, wondering, "Where'd everbuddy go? And whut am I supposed to do now?" Um...wasn't she on the theater ship right before they took off, when Garnoa ran into her? When did she have a chance to leave the theater ship? She would've had to jump off or something. Why?

The third ATE is called "My Little Baby", and it's all about Cinna running around right outside the ship, looking for his Garnoa doll. Which, as you'll recall from two paragraphs back, was last seen wedged firmly up Steiner's ass. "Man, how am I supposed to sleep now...?" For the sake of my own ability to sleep at night, I will not ponder the propriety of a grown man needing a doll of a 16-year-old girl for his nocturnal comfort.

I wonder what the purpose is of these ATEs anyway. Then I realize - the game designers must hate me.

Generally, guys don't like it when you call them 'little'.

At last the action shifts back to Zidane, who goes to talk to PUGGY!!, at Blank's request. PUGGY!! thanks Zidane for saving him, and Zidane compliments PUGGY!!'s black magic skills. He calls PUGGY!! a "little guy", which makes PUGGY!! feel less than studly. Zidane says, "To hell with looks. It's what's inside that counts." But if that's true, then how come all RPG heroes/heroines have to be hot? Way to go with the hypocrisy, Square. PUGGY!! feels bad because he couldn't save the princess. What PUGGY!! doesn't realize is that since he's not the lead male character, it's not his job to save the princess. Zidane doesn't explain all this. Instead, he promises to get Garnoa back. What a surprise - he's going against orders to save the woman he loves.

First he says this....

Outside PUGGY!!'s room, the music gets all sad, and Zidane has a flashback to less than an hour before to when he first saw Garnoa in her white mage robe. We are treated to the entire scene over again, this time with Zidane speaking in Wankese. "Man...I never felt so strange....Maybe fate brought us together...I can't explain it..." Dear God. Then, back in the present, Zidane continues talking to himself. "Man, I can't stop thinking about her..." Ah, RPG Land, where speaking to someone for five minutes can cause you to fall madly in love with him or her. Wank wankety wank wank wank.

...and then he says this.

I have the option to choose what Zidane does next - save Garnoa or not. I'm sure that no matter what, I'll be forced to save her, so I save myself the time and trouble and choose the first option. "Yeah! What's there to think about!? She's cute....and she's in trouble. That's all that matters." Yes, the guy who two minutes before said that looks don't matter at all now gives Garnoa's looks as the main criteria in deciding to go to her aid. The wank meter has filled up to the maximum.

Blank and Zidane have a short conversation, where Blank figures out what Zidane is going to do. Blank wonders why Zidane always has to be a hero. Well, he's the main character, duh. At Blank's suggestion, Zidane goes to talk to Baka. Cripes, can we get on with this already?

Baka is waiting in a room downstairs. He wakes up when Zidane enters and asks him what took so long. "So, you're leaving, eh?" Baka wonders. Yes, yes he is. Because he promised Garnoa he would kidnap her. Baka doesn't care why, but he says, "I can't blame you, though. She's damn beautiful. I guess that's reason enough!" God dang, why is that a reason to rescue someone? And they wonder why there are so few female gamers.

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