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The ninth entry into the rib-rendingly popular Final Fantasy series.Final Fantasy IX is a return to the series' roots and the classic Medieval European Fantasy worlds, after the more futuristic approach of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII. Both graphically and story-wise, it set a new standard for the games that followed it. Particularly, Final Fantasy IX is known for combining a sunny and light-hearted visual atmosphere with a very mature and thoughtful From Bad to Worse story. The game is additionally a celebration of Final Fantasy's origins, and contains many, many references to Square Soft's earliest few installments.Zidane Tribal is a Loveable Rogue and Gentleman Thief with a dash of Chivalrous Pervert thrown in. Along with the members of Tantalus, a troupe of thieves disguised as traveling entertainers, he plots to kidnap the princess of Alexandria and hold her for a nice hefty ransom. However, when she suddenly turns around and asks to be kidnapped to escape the clutches of her (suddenly) evil mother, what kind of gentleman would say no?As it turns out, Princess Garnet is holding more than a wish to see the world: she is harbouring powerful Summon Magic within her body, and the Queen will stop at nothing to extract it for the sake of world domination. Aiding the Queen is a mysterious Arms Dealer called Kuja, who is bolstering her armies with powerful artificial mages.Traveling along with Zidane are a cast of colourful characters: Vivi Ornitier, a young Black Mage who realises (to his horror) that Kuja's artificial mages look just like him; Adelbert Steiner, Garnet's incompetent but fiercely-loyal bodyguard; Eiko Carol, a Bratty Half-Pint summoner with a major crush on Zidane; Freya Crescent, a Dragon Knight searching for her lost love; Quina Quen, a genderless chef thing looking for delicious things to eat; and Amarant Coral, a mercenary/monk with a strong grudge against Zidane.The story focuses on the characters' efforts at self-discovery. Vivi must learn what he is and why he exists, as well as what this means for his life. Zidane must learn what he is as well, and how this has to do with The Man Behind the Man, Kuja, and his friend Vivi. Garnet must learn the truth about her mother, her own origins, and the nature of the eidolons that are her birthright. Steiner must learn what honor and duty truly mean, when those he is loyal to stand opposed to one another, and his loyalty may be invoked to betray itself.Freya must learn what's truly important in life, and what it means to lose a loved one, and most of all, how and why to go on fighting. Quina must learn about being a true gourmand, by sampling flavors from all over the world. Eiko must learn that True Companions are more than just grabbing who you want for yourself, and that being on the losing end of a love triangle doesn't mean being alone. Amarant must learn that strength isn't the ability to crush one's foes, and that the most elusive power of all is a thing he may never even understand.Final Fantasy IX was highly praised for being challenging, but extremely user-friendly. There is no penalty for leveling up, acquired skills can never be lost again, chocobos for encounter-free travel are very easy to come by, and optional scenes are just that: optional.The plot, too, is much less of a Mind Screw than that of previous games, staying comfortably away from too much symbolism but still featuring some wonderfully surreal elements. Criticism of the game tends to focus on its "softer" art style, as well as the Character Focus on Garnet and Vivi to the exclusion of some other characters. As a whole, the game is seen as a very solid installment of the series, suited for hardcore gamers and new fans alike. The game was the least successful of the three offered on the original PlayStation, selling 5.3 million copies (Final Fantasy VIII sold over 8 million, and Final Fantasy VII over 10 million; Final Fantasy X would go on to sell 6.3 million), despite retailing for considerably less due to the imminent release of the PS2, though, said imminent release might have been the major factor, if people felt the choice was between the latest game or the latest console.Additionally, Vivi is one of the most popular characters in Final Fantasy history. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the ultimate woobie can destroy the biggest of monsters despite being nine years old. He had a somewhat one-dimensional cameo in Kingdom Hearts 2 as a result of his popularity.Notably, series-creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has at one point stated that he considers this game to be the quintessential Final Fantasy, being a composition of all the key elements he has constantly been shooting for. Composer Nobuo Uematsu considers the FFIX soundtrack his Magnum Opus as well.This was the finalFinal Fantasy game of the Playstation cycle, and of the 20th century.There is a character sheet. Feel free to contribute.
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Accidental Misnaming: Baku can never remember Tot's name. There's a minor Running Gag of him referring to Tot by a different name each time (Toot, Ted, Totty, etc.), followed by Marcus deadpanning "It's Tot", to be completely ignored by Baku.
Action Girl: Freya and Beatrix. Garnet and Eiko have their moments as well.
Aerith and Bob: The game seems to favor the females where this is concerned, with a touch of Viewers Are Geniuses (Garnet and Freya) and Bilingual Bonus (Eiko). Various minor characters are named Marcus, Dylan, Michael, Lowell, Mary, Crista, Hal, Jane, Andrea, and so on.
If you keep up with Mognet, Moogle names include Kumop, Mogki, Kuppo, Mocchi, and... Suzuna?
In a short scene early in disc 4, the Black Mages decide to name their chocobo... Bobby Corwen.note This is a Shout-Out to Final Fantasy V, the first syllable of each word spells Boco, referring to Bartz's chocobo in that game.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Although the black mages are intended as mindlessly obedient killing machines, their programming eventually breaks down and they each start to develop their own quirky personalities.
Alice Allusion: Alice is the name of the potions seller in Lindblum; one quick quest in disc 3 involves searching Lindblum for three different potions, ask the weapons seller about it and he'll say "did you ask Alice?"
Always Night: The city of Treno is only ever shown at night; even the plains surrounding it are affected.
Amazing Technicolor Population: A number of people, including the inexplicably blue Brahne and Amarant. Combined with the numerous Petting Zoo People, it is a matter of much debate whether these characters are supposed to be fully human or not. Word of God says they are, but it doesn't settle the arguments any.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: There are many points when you get suddenly thrown into another character's shoes (to the point that you get to - with the exception of Amarant - control all members of the party at least once, despite Can't Drop the Hero being in effect), but the most jarring example is probably when the party is trapped in Desert Palace, and you suddenly have to rescue them as Cid, under a time limit.
Anti-Magic: Oeilvert has an anti magic field within the structure, which completely disables your party's magic. You will have an extremely hard time if you wind up taking any of your party's magic users with you on the trip.
Throughout Discs 1 and 2, Queen Brahne causes a Regional Catastrophe on the Mist Continent. With an army of Black Mages and the Eidolons she stole from Garnet, she annihilated the cities of Burmecia, Cleyra, and Lindblum.
At the end of Disc 3, Kuja appears to have subjected Terra to Planetary Annihilation.
In Disc 4, Kuja attempts to cause the Total Destruction Of All Of Reality.
Attack Its Weak Point: There is an enemy on the way to Cleyra called Sand Golem, which will revive over and over again no matter how many times you defeat it. You have to destroy its Core in order to defeat it for good.
Auction: Several items can be obtained by participating in the auctions at the Treno Auction House.
Auto-Revive: One of the learn-able skills for all characters and a spell of Quina's and Amarant's.
Awesome but Impractical: Excalibur II is the most powerful weapon in the game, but due to the requirements not worth getting for any reason other than the challenge of it. The main issue is the damage cap. Steiner can easily hit for 9999 damage without Excalibur II, so skipping a huge chunk of side-quests to reach almost the end of the game in under 12 hours ultimately makes you weaker for no real noticeable benefit other than slightly improving Steiner's non-trance normal attack damage by a very slight amount.
Although it is beloved of speedrunners of this game for good reason...
Babies Ever After: Vivi's "children" in the ending sequence. Also, a moogle couple in Gizamaluke's Grotto and a pair of Burmecian refugees who make it to Lindblum. Moogles and Rat-people breed very quickly and develop even quicker, given that the kids are old enough to walk by the time Zidane returns.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Steiner; in pretty much all his scenes, he's shown to be a naive, narrow minded, semi-incompetent non-trusting man obsessed with duty. But in battle, he's the strongest party member and eventually trusts Zidane and the others, seeing them as worthy friends.
Badass Normal: In Trance, each character gets an upgrade to their unique skills that lets them become extraordinarily powerful. Not Steiner, though, he just gets three times as strong.
Baleful Polymorph: Regent Cid cheated on his wife Hilda, and she turned him into an oglop as revenge. After a failed attempt of curing him, he was turned into a frog.
Barred from the Afterlife: This is part of the reason Kuja has nothing to lose and everything to gain in rebelling and attempting to take over Gaia. His boss, Garland, will provide him with as much power, wealth, and luxury as he could ever want, but only if Kuja follows his instructions. Otherwise, he'll just take Kuja's soul back and make a new version of him. The problem is, even if Kuja succeeds, Garland will do the exact same thing. So Kuja has absolutely nothing to lose by screwing over everyone but himself. Garland knows this.
Battle Couple: When Steiner and Beatrix do this at the beginning of Disk 3, you can just FEEL their love growing for each other on the battlefield.
Zidane and Garnet also grow close through their travels, which feature many fights.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Done in the Black Mage village to get to a chest in the item seller's bedroom.
Berserk Button: Lani takes great pride in her beauty. When you fight her, she initially starts out focused on Dagger, but if you physically attack her, she'll fly into a rage and shift her attacks to whoever hit her.
Eiko is protected by Maduin, Garnet by Bahamut, Quina will EAT YOU, and Zidane is a nice easy going guy — 'til you piss him off or threaten his friends. Actually, if you meet any nice people in Gaia, treat them like kings. They can tear your damn face off. Hell, that friendly Moogle who provides save-and-tent services while traveling on foot will threaten to knife you if you deliberately waste his time by calling him over and over and over.
Bewitched Amphibians: Regent Cid was transformed into an Oglop by his wife as a punishment for infidelity. Dr Tot attempts to concoct a potion that will restore him to human form... which turns him into a frog instead.
The Big Bad Shuffle: Technically, Garland is the actual Big Bad for most of the game, despite Queen Brahne and then Kuja being presented as such. However, Kuja snatches the mantle for real late in the game when he kills Garland. And that's all before the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere gets involved...
Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Siege of Cleyra, the Iifa Tree battle, Bahamut's assault on Alexandria, the Silver Dragon rush at the portal to Memoria. The Siege of Burmecia was also implied to be this.
Big Damn Heroes: Sir Fratley at Cleyra. Marcus and newly non-petrified Blank in the Alexandria dungeon when Zidane busts out Garnet. Zidane at Alexander (saving Dagger from a crumbling castle).
Bindle Stick: Steiner's plan to smuggle Princess Garnet through the South Gate border crossing involves carrying a bag of stinky gysahl pickles... and her using one of these. It works. (A concept art can be seen here◊.)
Black Screen of Death: Played with during some ATEs. Like the time two Conde Petie dwarfs greet a regular visitor of theirs, a self-aware black mage. Or one of Eiko's moogles fishing up Quina.
This is sometimes done to hide non-existing animations — while solving the moving maze of the Desert Palace, a white screen is used instead to transition to changed pathways.
Black Sheep: These days, Square Enix seems to treat this particular game as one for the wider franchise. It's one of only two main-series games to have never gotten either a full retail remake for another system (and even the PSN release took forever to come out compared to the others) or a dedicated spinoff product. This may have something to do with Hironobu Sakaguchi's contentious departure from Square, however, and possible lingering legal issues.
The irony, of course, being that this is generally considered one of the better games in the franchise, especially in retrospect, and people were clamoring for a PSN release for a long time, with not a few people wondering what modern technology could do for the game.
That being said, Takeshi Arakawa has openly said he'd like to make a sequel, so some people in the company do love the game... but the higher-ups seem to keep quashing remake and sequel ideas.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Beatrix likes to finish her battles with Climhazzard and Stock Break, which reduces your entire party's HP to 1, before walking away bored and continuing her job. Then again, she's so badass that leaving you alive never comes back to bite her. In fact, it leads to her Heel Face Turn.
Book Ends: The game began with Tantalus coming to Alexandria to perform "I Want To Be Your Canary", and ended the same way, too.
Boss Bonanza: Let us count the penultimate bosses of this game:
Starting at the end of Disc 3, there's the three-boss marathon consisting of the Silver Dragon, Garland, and Kuja. Following those battles is a brief plot segment with no encounters.
Shortly after Disc 4 begins, the party can choose to go straight to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. At the entrance is a battle against Nova Dragon.
Inside the final dungeon are four surprise encounters against the four fiends: Maliris/Marilith, Tiamat, Kraken, and Lich.
Waiting at the end is another three-boss marathon consisting of Deathgaze, Kuja, and finally Necron.
In all, a grand total of eleven (11) bosses in the final stretch of the game.
Boss in Mook Clothing: Grand Dragons. The first time you can encounter them, they will likely annihilate you faster than you can say "THUNDAGAAA!" Of course, it'll be your own damn fault, considering that they live in an optional area, and a Moogle will shout a warning to you if you try to go there.
Though, if you have Quina's Level 5 Death skill when you meet them again on Palmell Island, you can one-hit them, turning them almost into a Fake Ultimate Mook; add the fact they give out one of the largest amounts of EXP in the game, and suddenly they're a great way to level grind.
Yans are the strongest random encounter in the game and can cast Meteor to boot. Don't judge a mook by its cover. Again, though, completely optional, out-of-the-way area.
In a way, the friendly Yan. It's the only friendly enemy not immune to damage, so you can kill it and still receive its 50 AP prize. However, at 65535 HP, it has the most HP of any enemy or boss in the game, and counters all attacks with a powerful group-hitting physical move that inflicts Silence.
Boss Rush: The Four Guardians Of Terra, although at first only one, Lich, is actually fought (the other three were taken down off-screen). You do get to challenge them all in Memoria in a Call Back to the final dungeon of Final Fantasy I; at special points along the path, you are suddenly thrust into battle against one of them, with absolutely no indication of a boss encounter beforehand. Thankfully, save points are placed in between these encounters.
At the end of Disk 3, you also fight the Silver Dragon, Garland, and Kuja one after another, separated only by cut-scenes and dialogue.
Bounty Hunter: Amarant before he joins the party, and his partner Lani. In Treno, Amarant has a bounty on his head.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Lindblum is a pot seller who asks if you are happy with what you are doing. You can either answer that you are doing fine or "No, this game sucks!" to which she suggests that you maybe buy a different game.
This also happens to Zidane, when he finds out that he was meant to be the one to destroy Gaia, the planet he's now fighting desperately to protect. The happy go lucky guy who's been boosting everyone else's spirits throughout the game just breaks, and it's heartbreaking to watch.
Breather Episode: The beginning of disc 3. Everyone in your party who's not Garnet or Steiner gets a brief holiday in Treno.
Once you defeat Lani at the beginning of Fossil Roo, the story is free of boss battles until after you've visited a village free of encounters, another village free of encounters, back to the first one again, and reached the end of a mountain path.
Going near the fountains in the Conde Petie inn will cause the inn regulars to bring up the HP/MP restoration springs and the wishing fountain in Treno, both of which you come across one disc earlier... and promptly dismiss them as bull.
Returning to the Moogle couple in Gizamaluke's Grotto in disc 2, 3, and 4 adds a baby Moogle each time.
"Get off me, you scumbags!"
Bridal Carry: Zidane carries the unconscious Garnet this way when rescuing her from Alexandria Castle.
Bright Is Not Good: Ozma, essentially a big colorful swirly ball, is basically what happens when God has an abortion. It's the toughest boss in the game, and totally optional.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Amarant holds a grudge against Zidane for copping out of a challenge by framing him for a crime he didn't commit and using the distraction to flee. He isn't too happy to hear that Zidane doesn't remember it either...
But Thou Must: You get a humorous outburst as a reward for answering negatively to a question 64 times at the beginning of the game. (It was probably a way to test the counting variables.)
Most choices in this game take this direction, plot-centric or not. Just try turning down the Mognet thingy the first time you select it...
Call Back: To the previous eight games in the series.
Can't Catch Up: This can happen to Freya shortly after your party reunites in Disk 3 unless you take the time to evenly level her up again. It wouldn't be a problem, except the plot expects you to use her more later on (in the Desert Palace/Oeilvert and Pandemonium, specifically), and she can become a liability if she's not trained.
Steiner also qualifies - after he leaves the party for the first time, where the average level is around 8, he doesn't fight again until the rest of your characters are around level 20.
Can't Drop the Hero: The final dungeon is the only exception, although you still control him on the field. However, there are times when simultaneous events (such as Garnet's travels) allow you to control other characters instead.
Specifically, Zidane was created to be Cain to Kuja's Able, but then Kuja went sour and Zidane became the "good" one (though their "father" wasn't satisfied with either), plus Kuja grows jealous (after a fashion) of Zidane and wants to kill him (or at least make him suffer) which flips their roles. Then, at the climax, Zidane finally confronts Kuja and kills him, making him Cain once again.
Card Battle Game: Tetra Master. Pretty fun once you get the hang of its hexadecimal rating system. Not nearly as infuriating as Triple Triad with its rules, although some find the fact that the numeric values are never explained in game or in the manual to be frustrating. Like everything else in this game this gets a Lampshade Hanging from the shop girl in Dali, who ponders the card game and actually says that she only thinks to know what the numbers do but really is not sure about it.
Central Theme: All living things strive to live. Don't obsess over stopping the inevitable, but focus on what you can accomplish with the time given to you.
Charles Atlas Superpower: When entering Trance, most characters gain the ability to use powerful magical abilities. Steiner, on the other hand, just gets three times as strong! Add in that his endgame weapons are almost all Holy type, and Dark enemies should just give up when Trance Steiner's around.
Chef of Iron: Quina fights with a toque blanche and cooking implements. S/he also helps Eiko make a delicious meal for everyone in Madain Sari and gives her cooking advice, and at the end of the game can be found working in Alexandria's kitchens.
Similarly, Eiko's dress-up wings, given to her by her grandfather (making them summoner tribe relics) apparently have nothing to do with her flying to Garnet's side to summon Alexander.
Chekhov's Gunman: The little boy Vivi befriends at the beginning of the game, for starters.
Eiko's personal Moogle turns out to be Maduin.
Chekhov's Skill: Subverted—despite Garnet listening to Zidane explain to Vivi how to escape from a potential kidnapper, when this actually happens to her, she only remembers what to yell. And then is promptly captured.
The talents of the Knights of Pluto become this when you have to send them out on different assignments when Kuja attacks Alexandria.note The two super-sleuths are sent to gather information, the artillerymen and winner of the cannonball race get to ready the cannons, and the one who can name all the girls in town is paired with the one who knows the city layout to evacuate the citizens.
Child Of Two Worlds: Zidane was born an Angel of Death to cause death and destruction on Gaia but was abandoned on Gaia by Kuja so he grew to love the place and defy his creator, while still saving his kindred.
There's also the treasure hunter rank, based on how many key items you've collected. Luckily, you don't have to get everything in the game to acquire it. If you get the S-rank badge, Alleyway Jack will reveal his true identity, Gilgamesh.
Color-Coded Stones: The game has the twelve birthstone jewels as equipped accessories, with their menu icons appropriately colored.
Come to Gawk: Amarant ventures into Ipsen's Castle by himself to make a point that working alone is better and smarter than working as a team. Zidane and a group of three others (the standard party) enter the castle, leaving the remainder of the party outside. Amarant makes it to the top first and declares his intention to Zidane to abandon the party, as he's proved his point, and leaves. When Zidane and the others complete their business, they head back outside, only to be informed that they won, as Amarant never returned. Realizing that Amarant must be trapped somewhere inside, Zidane heads back in to rescue Amarant, and when he finds him, Amarant asks if he's come to mock him. Zidane replies that he says some strange things, and Amarant admits that he doesn't understand how Zidane thinks. After a bit more talk, Amarant rejoins, this time for good, and slowly begins to come to understand Zidane.
Competitive Balance: Despite that everyone has their own job class, they can all be very useful if one invests time into them. The only "imbalance" is that the more plot-driven parts of the game wind up leaving Freya and Steiner far behind everyone else.
Cool Airship: The Hilda Garde III, the Invincible, and the summon/boss Ark.
The Hilda Garde II subverts the trope by being (in-universe anyway) the first and so far only Uncool Airship in Final Fantasy history.
Creepy Child: The two kids that Zidane knows in Lindblum might be this. One actually presents a pair of trick sparrow wings (trick sparrows are starter-level monsters) as his entry qualification into Tantalus, then survives meeting the Zaghnol during the Lindblum Hunting Festival (thanks to Zidane and Freya's Big Damn Heroes) only to claim "I coulda beaten 'im".
It's implied that he stole the Trick Sparrow wings, which might mean he could have stolen them from someone else who had killed a Trick Sparrow, not necessarily killed it himself and taken them. The thing about the Zaghnol was most likely just childish egotism, or trying not to look weak in front of Zidane.
Critical Hit: Your party members deal these sometimes. Enemies can deal these out, too, albeit rarely.
Crowded Cast Shot: The beginning of disc 3, with all of Tantalus and The Last DJ Dr. Tot back in Alexandria. Benero and Zenero even meet up with their third twin.
Cutscene Power to the Max: The Eidolons shown during cutscenes (Odin, Atomos, Bahamut) are capable of leveling entire cities with their power. Once you're able to summon them yourself in battle, they are restricted to the same damage cap as your regular characters and abilities. What makes this especially odd is that the only playable characters that can summon Eidolons hail from a race of naturally gifted summoners, but the non-player characters that invoke their city-destroying powers do not.
Damsels in Distress: Garnet and Eiko. Though Eiko tends to subvert this trope more often than she invokes it, even beating Zorn and Thorn in a fight after they kidnap her. And Garnet is literally begging for Zidane to kidnap her as a means of rescue from her mother.
Darker and Edgier: Despite the art style, colourful settings and generally whimsical first disc, this game is rife with dark themes that may make it a top contender for most depressing game in the series. The villains commit genocide with varying levels of success (the lowest level being "about half"), almost every kingdom you go to is either invaded, destroyed, or both, an entire planet is destroyed (and the other was pretty much its life support), the woobie-riffic characters experience existential angst that makes Cloud look absolutely normal in comparison, no less than three Heroic BSODs occur, and the party actually dies at the end. They get better, but still.
Dating Catwoman: After Alexandria decimates Lindblum Zidane meets with an enemy soldier named Nicole who is in love with a resistance man named Justin, and he loves her. However neither will stop doing what they feel is their duty to their nation.
Death Equals Redemption: As she lays dying from her horrible injuries after Kuja betrays her and annihilates her airship, Brahne tearfully begs Garnet for forgiveness and admits that she's been a monster and a horrible mother.
Defeat Means Friendship: Subverted. Amarant decides to tag along out of trivial curiosity once beaten in battle. Friendship is established after Zidane doubles back to find him after he left the party.
Delicious Distraction: Cinna just can't resist South Gate Bundt Cake. He can't even tear himself away from it to catch a cable car.
Dem Bones: Skeletons are common enemies in disc one.
Designer Babies: All of the Genomes of Terra, including Kuja, Zidane, and Mikoto.
Quite a few moves, like Steiner's Minus Strike and the Pumpkin Head enemy skill, deal more damage when the caster is near death. Zidane even has a Sacrifice ability that he's not meant to live through (see The Dulcinea Effect below).
Quina's Limit Glove skill, which does a guaranteed 9999 damage as long as Quina has exactly 1 HP.
Determinator: Zidane. Finding out that he's an alien? Meh. Reveal that he was supposed to be Kuja's nastier successor? Annoying, but he'll still cite the Power of Friendship before charging the apparent Big Bad. Having his soul ripped out by said Big Bad to make him more pliable? He'll wangst out his nose, stagger around like a drunk, push away his friends... and still go after the guy who was responsible for everything.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If Zidane isn't in the party then the game has a "hierarchy" system with the other characters for certain quests such as the Desert Palace. If Zidane isn't in the party, the leader is Eiko. Next in command is Steiner, followed by Vivi and Freya. Each one of those characters will deliver a speech before the Final Battle against Necron if the previous ones aren't in the party.
Qu Marsh is accessible near the end of Disc one. IF you go there, you will recruit Quina earlier than you are required to. The game acknowledges that Quina is with you (and has him/her appear in scenes and even speak), and contributes to Quina's Running Gag where s/he is left behind. If you recruited Quina in Disc 1, when you are required to go to Qu Marsh again, s/he will remember Zidane&Co, and s/he'll explain how s/he got back there. If you didn't go to Qu Marsh in Disc 1, then the scene where Quina is asked to accompany the party plays.
If Eiko summons one of her Eidolons during the fight with the Hilgigas, Dagger will acknowledge it.
Subverted at the end of Disc 3. After Kuja achieves Trance and is talking about how he used the souls trapped in the Invincible and he specifically used Brahne's soul, if Dagger isn't there, Kuja still talks as if Dagger is there, refering to her specifically.
Disc One Nuke: One of Quina's Blue Magic spells is Limit Glove, and you can learn it on Disc One. Get Quina to revive at exactly 1 HP from Phoenix Downs. Equip Antibody on everyone, and if you got it at Lindblum, the Coral Ring on Quina so it doesn't die. When the moogle in Gizmaluke's Grotto tells you it's dangerous out in a place, go there. Stay on the plains to meet up with a Grand Dragon. If you are lucky enough to get Limit Glove on it twice without dying, start watching your levels FLY.
And as a Disc Two Nuke, Ramuh. Normally, a spell power of 31 makes him effective enough, but when he does the full summon animation, his spell power is 32 plus 1 for each Peridot you have. It turns out about that five minutes after you acquire Ramuh, you enter a dungeon where the Griffen, a common enemy, often drops Peridots. Take an hour or two to farm the gems and Ramuh's full summon will One-Hit KO everything up until the end of the disk. Then teach Garnet High Tide so she enters Trance faster, under which conditions all summons are guaranteed to do their full animations...
Dramatic Irony: Played for Laughs at Brahne's expense during the opening sequence; while she watches the tragic deaths of Princess Cornelia and Marcus on stage, she praises the performance, then ponders just where Garnet could be. Garnet is literally right under her nose, on the stage, as Cornelia - trying her best to get away from her.
Dressing as the Enemy: Zidane and Blank disguise themselves as Pluto Knights in order to kidnap Garnet without raising suspicion.
Subverted when Dagger snaps out of her Heroic BSOD. She picks up Zidane's knife and gives a vaguely suicidal speech before running off with it, but it turns out she was just borrowing it for a haircut.
Zidane: Yeah! What's there to think about?! She's cute... and she's in trouble. That's all that matters.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The many trials and tribulations which the major characters endure (up to and including death itself) only make it all the more potent and heartwarming when they make it through alive (Vivi expires, but not before having children and finding self-fulfillment) and manage to rebuild both their lives and the world. And as Zidane and Garnet embrace while everyone applauds, "Melodies of Life" plays in its most full and beautiful of renditions. Despite all the pain and heartache, one cannot help but feel a sense of triumph and heartwarming as the credits roll.
Easily Forgiven: Beatrix. She's guilty of war crimes, crimes against sentient races, and petty larceny. After her Heel-Face Turn, though, she's the only reason Dagger and co. escape Brahne, and then she fights to keep the citizens of Alexandria safe and leads an airship charge against an army of giant fiery otherworldly dragon death. Her past actions are never brought up after that. Freya seems to be the sole exception, saying to Beatrix that "[i]t's too late to seek forgiveness."
In the ending montage, Beatrix reveals that she is unable to forgive herself, and plans to resign as a knight for her crimes and leave Alexandria. Steiner was having none of that.
Eat the Dog: Quan's original plan for Vivi. If you find Quan's Dwelling early in disc 2, you can see writings on the wall that say “Six months since I adopted Vivi. Still too small to eat?” Thankfully, Quan changed his mind before trying anything carnivorous.
Eldritch Abomination: You've probably never fought an enemy quite like Ozma before. It appears as nothing more than a giant orb of Pure Energy, top half consisting of bright colors swirling clockwise and a bottom half made of dark colors swirling counter-clockwise. It has the most powerful spells in the game and appears in a cave on a floating island that drifts around the world. There is absolutely no indications of what it might be except for the possibility it is, or was, an Eidolon that was sealed away and forgotten long ago.
Lani also casts Scan on your party, to which she changes her battle strategy afterwards.
Ensemble Cast: One of the game's strengths is its incredibly likeable cast of characters, which is strengthened by the fact that while Zidane is the protagonist, his plot doesn't really kick in until about two-thirds of the way into the game. Before that, the plot is really driven by Vivi and Dagger's story-lines, with Zidane just along to help because he likes helping people. Freya gets some plot focus early on, too.
First, Brahne versus Kuja. Brahne wishes to rule the world with her army and will crush any civilization that gets in her way. Eventually, she realizes that the only serious threat (that she knows of) is Kuja, her weapons dealer. At this point, the only thing known about Kuja is that he likes doing things For the Evulz, so the fate of the world is being decided between a greedy dictator and a sadistic maniac. The maniac wins.
Next, Kuja versus Garland. At this point, we learn that Garland's goal is the genocide of everything on Gaia so that the people of Terra could live again, and Kuja was just his pawn. Kuja really doesn't care what happens to the inhabitants of Gaia so long as he escapes his original purpose and ends up in a position of power; defeating Garland means that Gaia is spared complete extinction. So again, it's maniac versus genocidal planet-assimilating sorcerer. The maniac wins again.
Finally, Trance!Kuja versus Dead!Garland. After death, Garland's purpose of recreating Terra is pretty much done for, given that Kuja blew up the planet out of pure spite. Now that Kuja knows his death is imminent, he's determined to take everything in the universe with him. Garland's spirit does not wish for this to happen: quite apart from being naturally opposed to the destruction of the entire universe, he also knows that the only way to save what's left of Terra-the few Genomes that Zidane rescued-is to stop Kuja. Finally, the maniac loses.
Extra Turn: Zidane's "What's That!?" ability (aka "look, over there!") grants you one if it's used successfully.
Eye Scream: A surprising amount of it, during the end of Disc 3 and Disc 4.
Hecteyes, which are basically blobs of jellylike pink flesh studded with far, far too many eyes for any one living thing.
The architecture on Terra. Yes, it's sort of a Womb Level, what with all the seashell and spine and intestinal motifs, but still. What possible purpose could they have had in grafting giant eyeballs onto a teleporter? Points to Garnet for remaining unruffled.
The all-time winner, though, is the room on Memoria with the enormous red eyeball looming overhead. It watches you from the background for an entire boss battle... and then. Then. When you're ready to progress to the next room, you have to climb up a rickety staircase and crawl into its giant pupil. Hnnrgh.
Fixed Damage Attack: Zidane's Thievery and Lucky Seven, Freya's Dragon Crest, and Quina's Frog Drop.
Five Races: They are actualy present in the games setting, if often done unusally:
Stout: Burmecians are a mix of this, with a bit of High Men, breaking the stereotypes associated with Rats.They like very much war and fights, with the exception of the the much more peaceful Cleyran offshoot of them. But the Cleyrans still produce a lot of powerfull warriors, despite being relatively pacifistic, and living in seclusion. The High Men traits come from their sophistication, and the fact they're one of the more ancient civilisations on Gaia. The Dwarves also fit this archetype, at least visualy, being powerfully built(they look quite like the ogre enemies in game, but less monstrous and ferocious). But it's subverted by them living in sunlight and close to forests, and considering both to be sacred. They seem also to be pretty peacefull.
Fairy: Qu are a strange, highly magical species, who follow a philosophy and way of life concentrated on discovering and eating new foods. It's not to be laught at, as they can eat their enemiesand absorb their abilities. The Black Mages can also fit this archetype, although the fact many of them work, albeit unwiligly for Kuja and Brahne, makes them a bit the Eldritch.
Mundane: The Humans of course, although many of them have unusual visual traits, like Brahne's and Amarant's blue skin, or Marcus' pointy ears, and tusks. Most of the Beast-Folk, aside from the mentioned above Burmecians, also fit this archetype, being completely integrated into human society.
High Men: The Summoners, a species very proficient in magic, that was close to nature, and the planet Gaia itself, capable of summoning powerful, god-like beings into battle, and were very similar in looks to Humans, aside from the horn on their forehead. They were very peaceful despite their great power, living in their Hidden Elf Village, Madain Sari, bringing them pretty close to the Elf-Archetype. Somewhat subverted, as all of them are extinct exacly because Garland feared their great power, aside from Eiko and Garnet.
Cute: Moogles, are as usually the series recurring version of this. Black Mages also count partialy, aside from what was written above.
Emphasis on the word seafood — all three are very tasty and teach some great Blue Magic spells.
Foreign Queasine: One of the selections from Eiko's Kitchen ATE involves putting an oglop in the stew.
Foreshadowing: The glyphs you see in Zidane's Dyne abilities. If they look alien, it's because they are.
A discussion at the Iifa Tree leads to this line:
Kuja:"Oh, brother... But you're not ready yet!"
Another bit is how the elevator-leaves in the Iifa Tree only responded when Zidane touched them. The Tree just didn't know the difference between genomes.
Letting the Cleyran priest take you on a tour of Cleyra will show you the correct evacuation path you must direct the civilians to later on.
The two themes you hear the most turn out to be significant to the story. The game loading screen is the Leitmotif of Terra, the world map theme is Melodies of Life, a.k.a. the song of the lost summoner tribe; both are hints to Zidane and Garnet's origins.
Forged Letter: The local Genki Girl writes a love letter to the protagonist, but forgets to sign her name. After a series of wacky hijinks when the letter gets to unintended addressees and is thought as originating from various people, it brings the Beta Couple together. Accidentally.
Freak Out: Kuja has one of these at the end of Disk 3.
From Bad to Worse: Pretty much the entire first two discs of the game are you asking "what next?" and the game answering you by blowing up a town or incapacitating a major character in some way (imprisonment, coma, death), culminating with the destruction of Alexandria and Garnet's Heroic BSOD. Things ease up a little there; true, your party is captured but they escape, but it's a short relief before Kuja's origins become a major plot point... and once you get to Terra, things pick up with where they left off and keep getting even worse.
Funny Animal: in a world where the civilians are sometimes large badgers or blue tapirs, it's not surprising that Zidane looks less out of place than Vivi.
Funny Background Event: Quite a few, even outside of the ATEs. Most notably, during the escape sequence at the beginning of the game, Zidane makes faces and rude gestures with his tail at Queen Brahne. Similarly, while Zidane and Garnet are in the foreground while Brahne fires on their ship, Steiner tries to get closer to the princess, only to be tackled by Vivi.
Gameplay and Story Integration: Everyone's unique abilities are also their role in the story. Everyone's in awe of Vivi's ability to blow stuff up with his hands. Steiner's not just a knight by class, it's his job. Freya's ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound shows up in cutscenes, everyone is after Garnet's ability to summon, and so on.
Several characters go into Trance when the plot puts them in a suitable mood, and Trance becomes a plot mechanic during disc 3.
When Garnet becomes temporarily mute in disc 3, she becomes unable to enter Trance, and her magic and summons will occasionally fail.
Genius Ditz: The Knights of Pluto are an entire unit of these. While they're generally portrayed as incompetent, they all have their own specific talents, detective work, writing, gunnery, etc.
Genre Savvy/Dangerously Genre Savvy: Zidane and Kuja. One of the more brilliant aspects of FFIX is the fact that the protagonist and antagonist are both fully aware of their roles. Zidane is convinced that he's a swashbuckling hero long before the rest of the characters start noticing that bad guys end up dead around him. Likewise, Kuja has no delusions that he is the bad guy of this story. His love of theatrics and hamming it up isn't just for show. Kuja is a fan of romantic fiction, and uses this to stay one step ahead of everyone at all times.
Hell, when Kuja finds out a few truths, he becomes The Starscream to stay alive.
And Garnet realises that the plot to kidnap her will advance the plot and goes along with it, even if it wasn't her plan.
There is a sort of Fridge Logic justification for him, though. As hinted at by his speech and name (particularly the Japanese one, the Darkness of Eternity), he represents absolute death/nonexistence in its most pure form. Kuja wants a Class Z apocalypse which could potentially cause a sort of Grandfather Paradox and gets frighteningly close to succeeding. Necron steps in as something of an overzealous antibody for reality. He's existence's lupus.
And then there's the Gimme Cat, an enemy monster that purposely invokes this trope so that you'll fork over a rare accessory in the hopes of a major reward... only for it to mock you for your gullibility and run away. Of course, unlike all of the other Fairy Battles, which have gentler music playing in the background, when the Gimme Cat appears, the normal battle music plays. If this musical cue didn't clue you in, it's your own damn fault. But fortunately, you have the power to reset your console.
The Glomp: Garnet does this to Zidane in the ending.
Go Back to the Source: The party's last voyage is into Memoria, an illusory world created by the memory of the planets Gaia and Terra... and then into the Crystal World, where the wellspring of life itself resides.
A God Am I: Kuja, after he achieves his Trance. The scariest part is while he doesn't say this line exactly, it's functionally true.
God Save Us from the Queen!: Brahne appears to embody this trope, although you learn later on in the game that she started out as a decent person, whom Kuja corrupted through his manipulation and promises of power.
Golden Snitch: or rather the golden-brown Zaghnol in the Hunters' Festival in Lindblum. Averted with the Chocographs in Chocobo Hot & Cold since the points aren't the real objective in that game.
Gonk: Queen Brahne, who's morbidly obese and blue for no apparent reason (unless she's related to Cuchulainn), making the revelation that she's not really Garnet's mother make TOTAL sense... until you realize that Garnet was adopted *because* she looked like the deceased princess, and nobody in the kingdom ever seems to question her parentage, although there are a few people who are surprised that a beautiful girl like Garnet could come from Brahne.
Good Is Dumb: Averted during the (sadly) short sequence in which you finally get to control Beatrix, and she's just as ridiculously powerful in your hands as when she curb stomped your whole party. The only change is that her sword skills don't reduce all enemies HP to 1 anymore.
Her MP is also dramatically lower than it is when you fight her (as you can discover by using Quina's Magic Hammer to attempt to reduce it to stop her using her sword skills... doesn't work).
Graceful Loser: Necron doesn't really mind his defeat. After all, he is eternal...
Guide Dang It: Any number of obscure secrets and fiddly requirements for non-obscure ones, along with the rules of the card game. Not only that, but many of these tips weren't even in the official guide — they were restricted to Square's PlayOnline Web site,note which is no longer active with notes in the book to check the site for information that hadn't made it to print. Thus, FFIX is one of the only games whose Guide Dang Its have Guide Dang Its.
Certain details about the game's battle mechanics are explained only in vague terms, if at all. For example, the "Add Status" support ability, which adds status effects (poison, confusion, etc.) to melee characters' attacks, only works on Zidane if he is equipped with daggers; if he is using a sword, he must instead use the ability "Soul Blade" to achieve the same effect. The game never mentions this fact, leaving you to blunder onto it by chance. In addition, fixed-damage attacks like Dragon's Crest and Thievery provide no clues about how their damage is calculated; if you didn't already know how they worked, you'd have no way of finding out. The in-game help doesn't even tell you what Six Dragons does, inviting you to "see for yourself"!
This game has one of the highest Guide Dang It counts in the franchise, despite being the one with the most extensive in-game help system.
One of the most obscure secrets ever is the Nero Family sidequest. You have to progress with the final dungeon a certain amount but not too much, then backtrack to Lindblum to activate a cutscene, and repeat the process nine times. No wonder, really, that it remained unknown for over a decade after the game's release.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Unusually frequent in this game (Beatrix and Kuja love to pull out an instant-win attack after you think you've beaten them).
Healing Shiv: The Healer skill enables you to heal others with your normal attack. The right equipment also allows you to heal your party with offensive magic spells. However, Healer is also a Useless Useful Spell, as your "healing attack" still figures in defense values. Thus, when you equip your weak white mage with the Healer skill, she can only heal 30-40 HP (in a game where 9999 is the limit) with each hit because her attack is so weak and your party's defense is so high. The broken Auto-Regen ability provides the same range of healing... automatically, every few seconds.
It pays to note that Amarant can also learn Healer, which makes it useful if you need to heal in Oeilvert (especially against Ark when you need to get its items).
Hello, Insert Name Here: Steiner remains the only Final Fantasy character that the player can change the surname for. You also get to change Garnet's nickname rather than her real name, causing some players to call her Garnet 'Garnet' or 'Princess' when it comes time to give her a stealthy nickname.
It may be too late for a nickname for Amarant, since it's after the fact that he tells you his title is "the flaming Amarant". Oh the possibilities...
Heroic BSOD: Dagger/Garnet, after the destruction of Alexandria. Also Vivi after finding out the origins of the Black Mages, and Zidane later in the game.
Averted with Freya. The tragic end to her 5 year search puts her out of commission for all of 5 seconds.
Heroic Sacrifice: Zidane almost instinctively makes one to save Kuja from being crushed by the Iifa tree.
Idle Animation: Zidane does some stretching exercises, Garnet fluffs her hair out, and Steiner in particular almost dozes off.
Important Haircut: Dagger gets one. So important that it's even shown as a FMV scene. Doubles as a Call Back to the end of disc 2.
Implacable Man: No matter what you do to Quina, regardless of if s/he ends up getting lost in a dungeon, getting left in the middle of a city being blown up by friggin' ODIN, dropped into a river, or whatnot, s/he WILL come back somehow. You can't get rid of him/her or kill him/her off for good, no matter what you do.
Improbable Weapon User: Black Waltz No. 1 rains icy death upon you with a jingle bell. This may well be a reference to the Final Fantasy V Geomancer job, which uses a bell as its primary weapon and could easily attack with a deadly blizzard in a place like the Ice Cave.
Indy Hat Roll: In regular (Zidane escaping the Evil Forest) (with an airship).
Notice who Zidane's barely clinging to as the airship makes it through the gate? That's right, Mr Nice Hat Vivi himself.
Indy Ploy: Kuja's goal for most of the game is to enslave an eidolon that he can use to destroy Garland and establish his rule over both Terra and Gaia. Interference by Zidane and Garland ruins these plans, but Kuja develops a new plan that involves seizing control of the power contained within the Invincible and using it to make himself... invincible, so to speak.
Infant Immortality: During the attack on Cleyra, Zidane has to choose which way the refugees flee from the black mage army. Even if you make nothing but wrong choices, the two Burmecian kids survive.
Subverted however when everyone in Cleyra dies ANYWAY due to Odin's attack.
Informed Flaw: The Knights of Pluto are mocked as being incompetent... and they are in the first part of the game. Later on, though, they come through in a major crisis when Alexandria is destroyed. One of the soldiers poking through the rubble of Alexandria Castle mentions that the Knights ensured that there were very few casualties of the invasion.
Injured Vulnerability: In order for Quina to successfully eat an enemy, it needs to be under 25% of its maximum HP. If Quina is in Trance mode the target only needs to be below 50% instead.
Insult Misfire: When Zidane taught Dagger how to try and scare off people coming after her, he says to say "Get away from me you scumbags." Later, when Zorn and Thorn have Dagger, she says this but it goes over her attackers heads. They don't understand what a "scumbag" is.
Interface Spoiler: Garnet's spell list contains the names of several summons, a few of which are well-known Final Fantasy staples — she just doesn't have the MP to cast them, and won't for some time. It's still a fairly large clue about her origin.
Intrepid Merchant: Obliquely, Stiltzkin, as every time you encounter him he offers you a trio of items for a set price, and he uses the money to finance his travels.
Irony: Zidane and Blank dress up like the Knights of Pluto in order to blend in inside the palace so they can kidnap the Princess. Garnet mistakes them for soldiers and so runs away from them, thus starting the whole fiasco that got the Theatre Ship crashed and Blank petrified. The irony here is that if Zidane and Blank hadn't been so careful in their plan (i.e. just knocking the guards out and sneaking in wearing their normal clothes), Garnet would have recognised them and gone with them immediately.
Also Situational Irony that Tantalus thought up a very complicated plan to kidnap the Princess when she was planning on stowing away on their ship anyway.
It's explained that the Mist is actually made from the souls of the dead, and it's implied to pretty much be physical magic so it isn't really that odd to be able to do that. Well, if you can swallow its origin, at least.
It's All My Fault: Dagger blames herself for the destruction wrought on the Mist Continent, and otherwise feels a very heavy sense of responsibility, beating herself up for not living up to her own standards. Zidane and Eiko manage to cheer her up later on.
Just Friends: After Zidane and Dagger/Garnet get "married" at Conde Petie, Zidane comments to Eiko "Anything for my lovely wife," and Dagger says that they're actually "just friends." Zidane comments that that's better than nothing. Later, Eiko asks if they're really "just friends" because it seems to her like they're something more. Zidane says that they are more than friends: they're a team.
Lawful Stupid: Steiner might as well be the poster boy for this trope. He eventually pulls his head out halfway through the third disc.
In fact, his last line to Zidane notes his deep respect for the thief and thanks him for all he's done for Garnet and the world.
Lethal Joke Item: One would think it would be insanity to use tents (powerful healing items) on enemies. It turns out that pitching tents hits them with many negative status effects, as well as healing them. Do this at the start of a battle, and it makes the fight much easier.
Let's Get Dangerous: Steiner and Quina mainly serve as the comic relief, but prove themselves to be valuable allies when they actually get into a fight.
In the third fight against Steiner, Zidane and co. desperately try to get him to look back, but he stubbornly refuses to fall for such a trick. In this case, he should have listened, since there was a Bomb growing behind him the entire time.
Lost Forever: The infamous "Excalibur II" sword, which requires the player to run through almost the entire game in less than 12 hours to obtain. It may necessitate leaving behind several other items and time-consuming sidequests that become unavailable on the final disc.
There is a common rumor that you can still get the sword if you let the clock go past 99:99:59 (thus resetting it) and then go to the location before it reaches 12 hours for the second time. This does in fact work, but it takes significantly longer than a mere 100 hours of playtime — the internal game clock actually goes through several iterations of 100-hour cycles before actually resetting to zero. This takes 2^32 ticks, or over two years. And, though it may seem absurd, several players have succeeded in getting the Excalibur 2 (the normal way) together with all the other missable items and sidequests.
This is now known to be possible on the PAL version as well, but significantly harder (the game runs at 5/6 the speed on PAL, so in effect you have to get the sword in 10 hours instead of 12).
The Sword is just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who wants to do a 100% completion run of this game has their work cut out for them. Some events (lookin' at you, Burman Coffee) require deviating from the story, at a precise (read: small, and totally unmentioned) time to get it, and follow a specific sequence of events to get it even if you do think to wander off. Seriously, this game is DESIGNED to make you want to rip your hair out without a Guide.
Esto Gaza is a great example of this trope. The town can only be visited on disc three, as it's blocked off after going to Terra. What makes it notable is that the shop there has some of the best and most useful weapons/armour in the game (including the Octagon Rod, which is the only way for Vivi to learn Firaga, Blizzaga, and Thundaga; it also sells other items like the Zorlin Shape that are useful for synthesis once endgame hits)... and nearly all of them are lost on disc 4. Furthermore, going through Esto Gaza is the only way to get to Mount Gulug, so everything in there is also locked off by connection.
Lost in Translation: The fight against final boss Necron won't make much sense unless you know his original Japanese name.
Love Letter Lunacy: Eiko enlists Dr. Tot's help to write a love letter to Zidane during her campaign to win him over from Garnet. It's apparently very moving — after Baku loses it, it proves instrumental in getting Steiner and Beatrix together.
Luck-Based Mission: The battle against Necron; his ability to take several consecutive turns means that whether you win or lose is largely determined by how often he attacks and what kind of status ailments Grand Cross inflicts upon you. The battle against Kuja isn't quite as bad, but he has a habit of countering every attack with the damaging Flare Star in the latter half of the fight, and can decimate your party if you don't pause to heal up.
The Superboss Ozma is an especially blatant example — its Meteor never misses and usually KO's the whole party instantly. Even if they are saved by Auto-Life, it's possible for Ozma to cast Curse right after it. Good luck.
And then there's the fight with Kuja at the end of Disk 3, in an aversion of Gameplay and Story Segregation. The first time you damage him, Kuja simply laughs it off, the second time he scoffs at your attacks, and the third time he demands you show him your true power.
Magikarp Power: Zidane, Freya, and Quina can eventually hit for 9999 damage every time, ignoring all defenses and immunities. However, to power the attacks up to that level, Zidane has to Steal successfully several hundred times, your party has to kill 100 Dragon-type enemies for Freya's attack, and Quina has to catch 99 frogs.
In a sidequest providing an example, Chocobo Hot and Cold. When you first begin on Disc 1, you can get a few petty treasures, but once you get the Blue Narciss the sub-quest explodes, and with patience to find the Chocographs and track them down, you can get end-game equipment before you head to the Desert Palace, including armor to teach Vivi and Eiko Flare and Holy.
Mana Burn: The Venom status-ailment decreases your MP gradually along with your HP. And paralyzes you to boot.
Manipulative Bastard: Kuja plays the entire world against itself in his quest for power. He's so good at it that people think he has the power of mind-control, when he's really just giving them enough rope to hang themselves.
Man of Wealth and Taste: Kuja highly enjoys art and luxury. We also see that he owns an extremely wealthy estate in Treno.
His Desert Palace displays his impeccable taste in architecture, as well.
Matriarchy: Alexandria, a Patriarchy Flip of a monarchy.
Matrix Raining Code: One of the first hints to Zidane and Kuja's shared origins shows up in various teleporters and during the Dyne abilities.
Meaningful Name: "Kuja" is the name of the ancient Babylonian god of war, most famous for wanting to murder his brother.
There's also an arguable shout out to this in the way Kuja's Trance (which gives him god-like power to boot) turns him red, the standard color of war deities in real world mythology.
Bonus points, kujaku is the Japanese word for peacock. He certainly shares its flamboyance.
"Alex-ander" is Greek for "defender of man." Guess what the Eidolon called Alexander does.
The idol Lowell Bridges is apparently named for a whole family of well-known Hollywood actors.
Mini-Game Credits: You can play a Blackjack mini-game after the credits if you put in a certain code.
Mirror Match: The Epitaph enemy summons random clones of party members to fight alongside it.
And if that person is in your party, it somehow causes a paradox which instantly KOs the person it's a clone of.
Mistaken Message: The reason Beatrix and Steiner fall in love with each other... at least in theory. The passive-aggressive Belligerent Sexual Tension was already thick enough to cut with a knife, this scene just happened to be said knife.
Moment Killer: Poor Steiner and Beatrix simply don't have a chance when Baku, sneezing loudly, enters the scene...
Mood Dissonance: The game's visual style looks very bright and cutesy, but a shocking amount of depressing and violent scenes happen in the game, including war and genocides.
Mood Whiplash: Things can go very bad VERY fast, before shifting back to a lighthearted tone. More prevalent in the early game, before it settles into a more general sense of Mood Dissonance as described above.
Multiple Endings: Having certain items in your inventory alters the ending very slightly.
Mundane Utility: Vivi successfully uses his fire spells to cook food a few times, and he can melt giant icicles blocking treasure chests.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Vivi's adopted grandfather Quan becomes disenchanted with the traditional Qu way of life and decides to seek new methods of eating and tasting instead of simply gobbling up everything in sight. His fellow Qus are disgusted by this act and disown him, although Quina comes around later on.
Zidane and Kuja, technically brothers, came from a different world, and were being manipulated by someone there to destroy all life on this world. Sound familiar?
The Nameless: Subverted for Vivi in the beginning. You actually control him, walk around Alexandria freely, while his name is literally unrevealed until some time later. Even if you open the menu, his name is really written as "??????????????". This also happens to Zidane, but with much more brief time. No other protagonists experience this. While Amarant is briefly called as "Red-Haired Man", he is yet to join the party so you can't see his name in the menu at the time.
This might be foreshadowing Vivi and Zidane's true nature. Specifically, their lack of identity, if you get what it means.
Near Villain Victory: Kuja almost succeeds in destroying the universe. Thanks to Zidane and co., this is averted. He only totals one world.
Nice Hat: As Always, the Black Mage's pointy hats are awesome, but Freya's and Sir Fratley's hats are also nice.
Steiner's conquistador-like helmet.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: First our heroes open the path to Terra (just what Kuja wanted) and later they defeat Garland, allowing Kuja to reach ultimate power. Nice job guys.
The Nicknamer: Kuja tends to refer to Garnet as a "canary" and Queen Brahne as an... "elephant-lady."
Not My Driver: Variation. Steiner's first assignment is to find all eight of the Knights of Pluto — he comes across a ninth. It's Blank, who waits 'till Steiner finds Garnet to reveal himself.
On disc 3, when Kuja's Bahamut fails against Alexander, he summons the Invincible to summonjack it instead... before realising that Garland is at the helm.
Not So Different: Vivi compares his fellow black mages first to the toys he sees little kids playing with, and later to the Genomes. Like the toys, the black mages and the Genomes are both created to be the puppets of others, without any will of their own.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Zorn and Thorn, the annoying jesters, turn out to combine into a relatively tough (and downright scary) boss.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Towards the end of Disc 3, the gang splits up to take on the Four Fiends, sending two people to each shrine all at the same time. Despite being teased by showing some of the team members face-to-face with the fiends, the player only gets to witness and play the battle at the Earth Shrine. The other three fights happen completely offscreen. Making things worse, the shrines themselves only appear in cutscenes and aren't even true dungeons. Seemingly to make up for it, you do get to actually fight all four fiends in Memoria.
Oh, Crap: Black Waltz No. 3 when he realizes that he has set his airship on fire.
Also, Hades has this reaction before the battle begins if you've already beaten Ozma. Nothing quite as gratifying as seeing one of the most difficult bosses in the game essentially wet himself over the prospect of fighting you.
Hey, at least he's genre savvy enough to realize that beating the Superboss means you're the real deal.
Don't forget both Zidane and Steiner in an early FMV after they watch Garnet jump off a ledge while fleeing the castle.
Particularly noteworthy because it is a well-justified example. Since Kuja is shown to be particularly vain, and is revealed to have a very limited lifespan, as mentioned above, he decides the world has no right to exist without him - and has the frightening ability to pull it off.
One-Hit Kill: Along with the Death spell, some weapons have an Instant Death ability.
Also, anyone affected by the Freeze status ailment is instantly killed if any physical attack connects against them.
Heat status is reminiscent of Edgar's Air Anchor and acts as a sort of inverted Freeze — if the afflicted takes any action, they will be KO'd immediately afterward.
One Time Dungeon: You only get one chance to visit Evil Forest, Ice Cavern, Cleyra, Fossil Roo, and the entirety of Terra (which includes Bran Bal and Pandaemonium).
Opening the Sandbox: When you receive the Hilda Garde 3 airship, but some sidequests can only be completed after getting the Invincible airship.
Pretty much everyone in comparison to Garnet. Sure, the rest of the group gets some notice at one point or another, but Garnet's issues take up the whole of just about every disk. Furthermore, the majority of the cutscenes are centered on/about/around her.
Overheating: Actually one the game's status ailments: if a character afflicted by it does anything, s/he dies instantly.
Overly Long Fighting Animation: Ark, when summoned, takes two minutes to finish. Regen status continues to heal your party even when the ATB is stopped, making such long attacks a nice potential opportunity to let it heal up your party.
Packed Hero: Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi fall into the black mage packing machine and get boxed up.
Patrick Stewart Speech: No less than three examples, with the party giving one each to Garland, Kuja, and Necron. At least it's lampshaded somewhat in the instance with Garland, who summons one of his mooks and tells the party to "lecture me again when you are on the verge of death."
Peninsula of Power Leveling: The Popos Heights is a mountain cliff area that can be accessed from Gizamaluke's Grotto, relatively early in the game. However, the mighty Grand Dragons reside there, and are way too powerful for the party to last two minutes against it at that point in the game. However, it is possible to defeat it relatively easily with Quina's Limit Glove, which inflicts 9999 damage if Quina's HP is 1. So just KO Quina yourself (Or let him/her be K Oed), then revive him/her until s/he only has one HP left, then go to the Popos Heights, save your game, and let 'er rip !
An alternative way, which can be done much later but is much easier, is to use Level 5 Death. Since the Grand Dragons are level 60, they'll die instantly, and you can earn their experience points without breaking a sweat. However, as mentioned earlier, this is only doable much later in the game, so you might wanna save this method to make any underleveled characters catch up with the rest of the party.
Petting Zoo People; In addition to the Burmecians, who look like rats, there's a number of other miscellaneous characters, like "Hippo Lady" and her son "Hippaul". A few of the members of Tantalus look like certain unorganized humanoids.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Tantalus have a reputation as a band of prolific thieves and con artists, yet they are never depicted doing much of this; Zidane talks about past heists, an ATE shows him in the aftermath of robbing the Treno Auction House, and Marcus fully intends to rob a synthesis shop to get his hands on the Supersoft, but that's all. Admittedly, this is largely because Tantalus are a bit preoccupied for much of their time in the game: in the first disc, they're busy trying to find their way out of Evil Forest and back to civilization; in the second disc, they're trying to save Blank and regroup; and in the third, they're busy rebuilding their hideout. For good measure, Regent Cid even uses Tantalus as a contracted mercenaries - or even special forces operatives, given that it's never specifically mentioned that Cid paid Baku for abducting Garnet.
Also played with in the latter scene. Zidane, being the plucky hero, gives moral support to his friends and has the personal motto of "You don't need a reason to help people". Then he finds out that Kuja, the one who has been sadistically responsible for ruining his friends' lives in one way or another, is his older brother and he was created to replace him. If Kuja hadn't ditched him on Gaia as a child, it'd be Zidane doing all those horrible things to his friends and he'd probably be just as smug about it. Ouch.
Power-Up Full Color Change: The Trance ability. Zidane's skin (or fur) changes to pink. Vivi's clothes change to white. Steiner's armor gets green details. Freya's clothes change to purple. Quina's skin color changes to black. Eiko gets white clothes and yellow hair. Scarlet Head Amarant becomes Purple Head Amarant. Garnet gets pink skin and yellow hair and clothes.
Pyrrhic Victory: Beatrix suffers from this after her third victory against Zidane and friends when she is revealed about Garnet's condition and the Queen's secret vendetta against her, which leads to her Heel Realization and Heel-Face Turn.
Randomized Damage Attack: Quina's normal attack does random damage which is either pathetic or higher than any other physical attacker. This makes him/her a capable (if unreliable) Fighter-type character, but his/her specialty is Blue Magic anyway.
Rerouted From Heaven: The Evil Plan of Garland is to reroute the souls of the entire population of Gaea through an artificial tree which will "cleanse" them (purge them of identity) and then reroute them to his planet, Terra, so that the long-dead Terrans that created him will be reborn.
Revisiting the Roots: VI was a steampunk world that coined the term Magitek, VII and VIII shifted to a modern-esque setting with electricity spaceships and cities. IX then brought things back to a medieval setting of castles, airships, and villages. As well, while VII and VIII had a three-character party system where they were as unique in battle (or not) as the player customized them to be, IX went back to the style of four party members with pre-set skills as earlier games had done.
Princess Garnet. Aside from the obligatory adventuring, Garnet makes reference to the political and economical aspects of ruling a country, especially after she becomes the Queen.
Queen Brahne is no slouch either; she is personally present at every siege and attack, and is the one to use Garnet's summon magic to put and end to each and every one.
Regent Cid also accompanies the party from the start of Disc 3, at one point saving them from Kuja in Desert Palace, and even before that was the world's best engineer, only man able to build airships that don't run on Mist.
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The people of Terra are willing to essentially commit genocide on the people of Gaia so that their own world can live longer. Mikoto implies that this isn't even the first time the Terrans have done it.
Scenery Porn: The game's breathtaking intro. Also many of the locations, such as the party's first visit to Lindblum and Terra.
Scenery Gorn: Any location that ends up being laid to waste.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some of your more intelligent enemies (and one subterranean serpent) will choose to flee the battle before they're killed off. This gets played for laughs initially.
Secret Shop: It's actually a synthesis shop, and it's hidden behind a rock, in the last level, and requires you to fight the owner.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: Not a bad thing in this case — the mechanics of the game are a little more straightforward compared to the more recent Final Fantasy titles, and the game itself also has a very friendly difficulty curve outside of a couple candidates for That One Boss on the first and second disc. This actually probably makes it a very good game for newcomers — perhaps a better introductory game than Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, which was intended as one.
Sexy Discretion Shot: After Hilda restores her husband Cid to his (rather dashing) human form, he apologizes profusely for having been a cheating no-good and takes her in his arms. Cue Fade to Black and the "nighttime" musical sting.
Sherlock Scan: Eiko thinks she's a master at this, and it does work out (on Dr. Tot), but fails on Quina (who she deduced to be KUJA.)
Shout-Out: There are references to all eight previous installments in the series, although some are difficult to find. Here's a link that will save up the walls of text.
To Shakespeare: Not only is 'I Want to Be Your Canary' an obvious parallel to Romeo and Juliet, but the play is credited to a Lord Avon — as in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace. Also, one of the minor characters in the game is named Puck. Additionally, in the original Japanese, the king, played by Baku, was named King Lear.
This little gem courtesy of Zidane: "No cloud, no squall shall hinder us." Could also double as a Stealth Pun.
"I'm kupo for kupo nuts!", a reference to the slogan for Coco-Puffs.
Zidane is an alien who was sent to the planet in order to wreak havoc, but lost his memory of his origin and ended up turning out to be a pretty nice guy. He then meets his more-or-less brother, who is also an alien and who is decidedly more willing to slaughter everyone on the planet. Oh, and Zidane has a monkey-like tail. Now where have I heard this story before?
The sandstorm ritual in Cleyra is basically Riverdance. Sir Fratley's name is a reference to/mistranslation of Michael Flatley, a famous step dancer who is known for performing in Riverdance.
Before the encounter with Final BossNecron, it says "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda's famous line from The Phantom Menace. Additionally, Kuja uses the line "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen," which was Emperor Palpatine's line in Return of the Jedi.
There is one for Resident Evil 2, in Lindblum examining a fountain, Zidane says "It looks like something fits in here" otherwise is completely useless. In Resident Evil 2, there is a fountain that says pretty much the same thing, in which you need to insert a medal to access a new area.
In the French version, the Bonus Boss Tantarian is named "Lovecraft", referring to the famous author.
Speech Bubbles: Every character has them throughout the game, even with the scrolling text in them.
Spell My Name with an "S": This game has it in spades. Pick a name, any name. Non-primary characters, equipment, monsters, locations, anything; odds are pretty good that it's been badly maimed.
The worst offender is probably the Iifa Tree. That's an I, not an L.
Zidane's name (originally romanized as Jitan) is supposed to be Gitan, French for gypsy. Since "ji" is used in Japanese to approximate the "zi" sound, the translators got it wrong.
A lot of Shout Outs to other Final Fantasy games were messed up due to incorrect romanisation; for instance, Mount Gulug, which was supposed to refer to Mount Gurgu (written "Gurugu" in Japanese) from Final Fantasy I, and the summon Madeen (written "Madin" in Japanese), supposed to be a reference to Maduin, an Esper from Final Fantasy VI. Madeen's attack, Terra Homing (Terahōmingu), was supposed to be Terraforming. The Fire Guardian Marilith is rendered as Maliris.
The names original to the game don't really fare much better: Quina's Limit Glove obviously involves a large sphere so it should be called Limit Globe, and the boss of Desert Palace is a hovering magical slab of stone with increased stats if the bloodstones scattered around the dungeon empowering it aren't removed: which name makes more sense, Valia Pira or Barrier Pillar?
Averted in the Spanish translation, almost every name is well translated (Zidane: Yitán (the same pronunciation as Jitan). Even Necron's name had a better translation ("Tiniebla Eterna", which means "Eternal Darkness", and the real name of Necron was Darkness of Eternity).
The Spanish translation comes with its own, different problem: while the translations of things from the game itself are well-done, what's totally lost are the allusions to earlier games, since it was only the second game translated in-house and third game translated overall, so they had no series mythology to reference to. The worst offender in this case is "Doga's artifact", which is translated as the equivalent of "Vase of Gauss". Furthermore, the only game they could really reference was VIII, so the rendering of the "Ultima" magic as "Artema" was kept, and from there to the entire franchise (and Kingdom Hearts). The thing is that that translation ultimately comes from the decision to render Ultimecia's name as Artemisa, so yes, a (good) decision about the romanization of the Big Bad of one game in the franchise has as a result the mangling of one major franchise-wide element... especially bizarre since, being a Romance language, "Ultima" in Spanish makes a lot of sense.
Squishy Wizard: Heavily averted, magicians actually have some of the best defense in the game.
The Starscream: Kuja's original ultimate goal is to destroy Garland with an eidolon and enslave both Gaia and Terra, turning both worlds into his own eternal kingdom. This later changes when Garland reveals that Kuja's lifespan is ultimately limited, which provokes a massive Freak Out on Kuja's part, and he decides to go from conquering the world to destroying it.
Stealth Pun: The location with the tolling bell in Memoria is called "Familiar Memory."
The Cleyran sandstorm ritual turns out to be a Riverdance — would that make them river rats?
Probably unintentional, but one of Zidane's weapons is named Sargatanas, which could be read as saru katana (Japanese for 'monkey' and 'sword').
The Knights of Pluto consisting of nine members.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Variation. When the party first meets Eiko, she flees but they find her hanging on a root. The first thing she screams out is that she "tastes awful", and Zidane assumes that Quina was also thinking of eating her — and he's right.
Stripperiffic: Kuja, a male example. Just like all Terran males that aren't Zidane. Oddly enough, the females actually dress fairly modestly in this game, except for Beatrix's Amazon Brigade and Garnet/Dagger's Trance costume.
Suicidal Pacifism: The citizens living in the tree display this when Queen Brahne's forces attacks them; they refuse to fight simply because they forgot how to fight after living in peace for so long. The citizens try to reason with the soldiers, but most people know how well that turns out.
Super Soldier: Zidane and Kuja are this, but not because they were built to be different or stronger than the other Genomes, but simply because they have souls.
Supporting Leader: Cid and Beatrix play this role on Disk 4, leading the airship fleet in the Battle of the Iifa Tree against the thousands of Silver Dragons.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: When asked about Vivi's grandfather Quan, Quale replies "I not know that bigot!" And then, when Vivi questions why Quale looks so similar to Quan, Quale lets slip that they are from the same tribe... and still continues to deny any knowledge of him.
Quina accidentally brings this onhis/herself during the "Quina Can't Communicate" ATE. Overhearing talk of a food thief (and having been previously accused of being said thief), s/he says "I-I not the thief". Of course this leads the people to doubt her sincerity.
Team Spirit: This is a bit of a theme of the game. Zidane says that he and Dagger are more than Just Friends, they're a team, and later he and Amarant have a discussion about what being part of a team means. One of the game's Active Time Events is even called "Team."
Theme Naming: The Queen in Treno may go by Stella as well, but there's also a Bishop (who owns the synthesis shop and the tower Dr Tot lives in), a Knight (who owns the weapons shop and the creatures in the basement), and a King (who's really the main villain, Kuja).
The first and last women in Zidane's life are named Ruby and Garnet.
Underground Monkey: This game averts this wonderfully, as each enemy is unique and there aren't any Palette Swap foes, with the exception of the vepal, who appears in blue and red.
Underrated And Overleveled: Eiko. Her heritage as a member of the summoner tribe of Madain Sari explains her power to use eidolons. The fact that she's capable of powerful healing magic and has a level comparable to the rest of your characters, who by this point have fought their way through some of the strongest foes an entire continent could offer, when she's only six years old, is another matter entirely.
The Unfought: Queen Brahne, set up to be the Disc Two Final Boss, is never fought.
YMMV on this one, as there's never even the slightest indication before, during, or after that point that she's capable in combat. Contrast to Beatrix, whose battle prowess is mentioned every time her name comes up until the Heel-Face Turn.
Unknown Rival: Eiko calls herself Garnet's rival to Garnet's face at one point. Garnet's reaction is basically "Huh?"
Verbal Tic: After Cid is transformed back to a human, he still tends to make frog and oglop sounds.
Of course, there's the moogles too, kupo. (Except for Eiko's personal moogle, the only one with Pokémon Speak. At first, anyway. Stiltzkin is also an exception to this, as he says "kupo" little to never.)
Victory Pose: Gameplay and Story Integration adds an interesting layer, as characters will refuse to perform their victory poses after a battle if they're feeling depressed or worried due to their current role in the plot. Vivi, Garnet, and Amarant are the most prominent examples.
Amarant won't do his for ages. Not until he starts to accept the others.
Taken to ridiculous extremes for boss characters. Most bosses can have up to four items to be stolen and the more rare items are harder to steal. If you plan to get powerful equipment early or are aiming for 100% Completion, be prepared to spend a long time trying to steal everything from enemies.
Villain Ball: Subverted with General Beatrix. She wrecks your party in a boss fight and leaves you for dead without finishing the job. You meet her later, a bit stronger then you were before, and she still stomps you effortlessly. The party fights here three times over the course of the game, they never win.
About the time Cleyra gets demolished, pretty much the entire sidestory involving Freya, Fratley, and their entire species gets dropped (apart from a couple who show up in Lindblum during Disc 3 if you saved them earlier in the game and an ATE showing the reconstruction of Burmecia, which Freya states that she'll help with after defeating Kuja). Bonus points for them being a literal rodent race.
Also happens halfway through the game when you lose half of your party (Freya included). They rejoin you without ever mentioning what they'd been up to.
What Is This Feeling?: Two of the sentient Black Mages experience this with a Chocobo egg that they find and incubate within the village. When a healthy young Chocobo eventually hatches from the egg, its dedicated caretakers are of course excited about the new arrival. Unfortunately, they can't quite understand why liquid should be coming from their eyes — unaware that they are experiencing joy for the first time.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: When looking for Dagger, Zidane asks a moggle if he had seen a "cute" girl. The moggle says he hadn't, but did see an "ugly" girl pass by not to long ago. A short time later, it was revealed to be Dagger after all.
Is Garland evil? Not only is he responsible for Kuja's Freudian Excuse, he also gave Kuja the job of bringing war to Gaia in the first place, comitted genocide on the summoners for posing a threat to his plans, countered Kuja's attempt at claiming Alexander by carpet-bombing Alexandria (killing hundreds, if not thousands of people in the process), and his ultimate plan involves the assimilation of Gaia and the death of its people. However, this is all in the cause of allowing the Terrans to be reborn; literally everything Garland does is to accomplish this goal - to the point that Zidane notices that he doesn't seem to have any other goal or aspirations in life. (In fact, Garland explicitly states that this was the reason why he was created.) Finally, following his defeat, he helps Zidane stop Kuja from destroying the Crystal, ultimately saving Gaia in the process.
Wham Episode: The entire portion spanning Gizamaluke's Grotto to the end of the current disc. This marks the first time the effects of the war are shown in detail, with the Burmecians being slaughtered by the Black Mage assault. The final scene in the disc is also the first glimpse you get of the true antagonist, and it ends with the party nearly getting killed by Beatrix. It really shows you exactly what kind of game you're going to be in for, despite everything beforehand.
To compare, before all of this, the game has an overall light-hearted tone (especially given the art style), with a definite nostalgic overlay. Aside from the occasional glimpse here and there, it appears to be fairly standard fantasy JRPG fare. Then it takes a sharp left to Darker and Edgier.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Deconstructed with the Black Mages. Ironically, Black Waltz No. 3 holds this attitude towards them. When Vivi and Steiner angrily confront him for callously slaughtering a group of Black Mages trying to protect Vivi, he brushes it off, claiming many more will be produced anyway.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kuja wasn't that bad.... all he did was destroy an entire planet and horribly manipulate everyone.... OK, maybe he was that bad, but you still have to feel sorry for him in the end.
World Tree: The Iifa Tree, whose roots spread worldwide and can be seen protruding in all the continents.
Your Mind Makes It Real: Master Quen discovered that if you imagine it hard enough, you can eat all the food in the world.
But, because he didn't eat real food after that, he ended up dead (and apparently in Qu nirvana).
You Shall Not Pass: Freya, Steiner, and Beatrix pull one of these when covering Dagger's escape from Alexandria. Though it's initially unclear whether or not they survived, the party soon learns that they lived.