Final Fantasy IX was one of the first games I was ever good at. I've got really fond memories of training up each of my eight characters, making sure everyone had learnt all of their skills. It was incredibly rewarding, especially as an eight year old playing for the first time. But more importantly, this was a game I could play with my mum. We bonded over video games, and Final Fantasy IX is a prime example of her passing down her techniques to me. I think my favourite part of this was when you first get your full party at the beginning of disc three. At this point, your characters are at various levels, with Zidane in the mid to late 20s, and Steiner as low as 11 or 12. I'm a particularly fussy person when it comes to having an evenly-levelled party, so my mum knew just the trick. She took the controller off of me, and proceeded to sail across the sea to an island near Chocobo's Lagoon. Then she put Quina in my party. I found Quina amusing, but I never planned on using it. Then she combed the beaches until the ungodly sight of a Whale Zombie appeared. After weakening it, Quina ate it, and learned Level 5 Death. I still wasn't really sure what she was planning, but she told me to be patient, so I was. The best part was coming up.
She saved it, then started running around on the grasslands. Within a few moments, a Grand Dragon appeared. You could tell just how powerful these things were — dragons are always powerful, after all. "They're level 60," mum told me. That blew my mind; that was more than double my level? Was she crazy? Yes, and no. Quina's turn came up, and she used Level 5 Death. The dragon died instantly, and the battle ended. I watched the experience bar shoot up. Some characters went up 4 or 5 levels in one battle. To say I was gobsmacked was an understatement. She handed the controller back, and told me to have a go. Since then, almost ritualistically, I've returned to that island at the same point in every playthrough, and proceeded to slaughter dragons for hours on end. It's the first bit of knowledge that helped me improve as a gamer, and learn the tricks of the trade in Final Fantasy IX. Of course, I'm aware you can do something similar much earlier in the game now, but this particular memory is so important to me. Thanks for the tip Mum, hopefully I can return the favour one day.
Final Fantasy IX is a game filled with wonderful moments, but for me, the one that stands out the most is Memoria. It's a beautiful-looking zone, filled with ethereal backgrounds that seem to stretch back to the dawn of time itself. Fighting the legendary Four Fiends from Final Fantasy I is a nice throwback to the series' roots, and sort of helps to encapsulate what FFIX is: a classic RPG made with what was then cutting-edge technology; a blend of old and new.
[Editor's Note: That Peter would choose Memoria as the focus of his tale before we even decided on the name of this feature was a delightful surprise.]