|Final Fantasy IX owned by Square Enix.|
Images used for educational purposes only.
After the events in Pandemonium and the destruction of Terra - as well as a bunch of cut scenes in Black Mage Village - you'll gain control of the Invincible, the airship responsible for much of the misery in the game. At this point you've reached more or less the end of Final Fantasy IX, and you have only one final dungeon left to complete.
... or do you?
In truth, there's plenty else you can do in Final Fantasy IX before you make for the final dungeon within the Iifa Tree. This article will focus on the many things you can do prior to the confrontation with Kuja.
Although the world has been opened to you, many of the areas you could previously accessed have now been closed permanently. You can safely avoid the following locations while exploring the map now that it is covered in Mist:
- Ice Cavern
- The Mist Continent Gates
- Pinnacle Rock
- Fossil Roo
- Conde Petie
- Conde Petie Mountain Path
- Esto Gaza
Unlike other forms of transportation, the Invincible has an item for you to collect if you explore its insides. You'll find the Pisces Stellazzio one screen south and to the left of the bridge, in a chest near Amarant and Freya. It's by far the easiest Stellazzio to collect if you haven't been actively picking them up.
Black Mage Village
You're hovering over it to start, so you might as well land nearby and have a look. There are some new things to see in the Village:
- Dispensing with much of its original stock, the Weapon and Armor Shop offers a selection of some of the strongest items in the game. Similarly, the Synthesis Shop has some awesome new combinations available.
- The Genomes standing around town have some oddball conversations with the Black Mages. They're worth hearing.
- Bobby Corwen.
If you visit the kitchen in Madain Sari you'll find Lani waiting at the bottom of the stairs, though she leaps away any time you get close. Enter the settlement with anyone other than Dagger, Eiko, or Amarant in your party and she'll stick around and speak to you. Talk to her twice and she'll send you into the storage room behind her. Check the foreground (actually a pedestal) to get a cryptic hint.
Head to the Eidolon Wall and you'll find that you're viewing it from a different vantage point. Walk around the Wall in a clockwise (right) direction, then move just a touch further right until you hear a low chiming sound. Once you hear it, immediately turn around and walk the circuit in reverse, counterclockwise, again stopping when you hear a chime.
Continue this back and forth walking until your health is fully restored. This will unlock a much larger number of descriptions on the walls. Wander around the wall and read them all. Once you've done that, walk over to the depiction of Ifrit to find one final inscription. This message reveals Dagger's birth name.
The majority of Alexandria is as it was if you visited before entering Terra. The primary difference is in the steeple on the edge of town, where you can find Stiltzkin, who will sell you a Moonstone, a Ruby, and an Elixir for 5,555 gil. If you've paid for Stiltzkin's stuff throughout the game he'll give you a Ribbon out of gratitude.
The male Moogle in the steeple, Kupo, will give you a letter to Alta. You can also play the skipping rope game from the beginning of Final Fantasy IX here, with either Vivi or Eiko.
Dock the Invincible at Lindblum (yes, you can actually do this) and have a look about. There's not a lot happening here, but you can find a few new things regardless:
- The Weapons and Armor Shop in the Business District has combined with the Item Shop to sell plenty of both.
- If you head to the Theater District and check out Tantalus HQ you'll find two of the Nero brothers out front, saying they need to go look for Blank and Marcus. They'll run off. If you come back here after completing something major in Memoria, the final dungeon - beating a boss, say - you'll see a scene with another one of the brothers. Do this nine times and you'll trigger a scene inside the HQ, and receive a Protect Ring for your trouble.
Treno is pretty much as you left it. There are, instead, things to finish up:
- At this point in the game you can gather the remaining Stellazzio coins for Queen Stella. More on Stellazzios in this article. This includes a small notation on Quan's Dwelling, a few paragraphs down from here.
- Treno's Auction House now offers the full range of available items for sale, and you should have the cash to pay for the lot, if you've been fighting consistently. More on the Auction House, and what you can do with the items you buy, in another article.
Take both Vivi and Quina to Quan's Dwelling, the small cave east of Treno, and look in the kitchen in the rear. You'll get a little scene involving Vivi's grandfather, as well as Quina's master Quale. Check the clock on the balcony after the scene to find Running Shoes.
If you've been collecting all of the Stellazzio up 'til this point you can also collect the final, secret one. Speak to Queen Stella in Treno after collecting the first twelve and she'll give them to you. Each Stellazzio has part of a riddle attached to its item description. Follow them through and you'll be pointed back to where you found Scorpio, in Quan's Dwelling, just south of the spring on the lower level. Check this spot for Ophiuchus.
Chocobo Hot & Cold
At this point in the game you can complete the Chocobo Hot & Cold series of mini games - or, if you haven't even gotten started, you can head back to Chocobo's Forest near Lindblum and begin the process. There are lots of cool items to be had by completing these games. More on this in another article.
Throughout Final Fantasy IX you've likely been delivering letters for Moogles. Now that you've reached the end of the game you can bring the whole side quest to a conclusion - though you need to complete parts of Chocobo Hot & Cold, above, to make that happen. More in another article.
In addition to collecting more items, you may want to spend some time levelling your characters in preparation for Final Fantasy IX's final challenges. The world map is now covered in enemies that provide a challenge worthy of your level, thanks to the Mist, but there are two encounters in particular that you may want to farm:
- If you run around on either the islands in the southwest of the world map or on the stretch of land just above Gizamaluke's Grotto you'll run into Grand Dragons. These fearsome beasts can crush your party into paste - but if you use Quina's Lvl. 5 Death Blue Magic you can instantly kill one. This makes for some very easy experience. You can learn Lvl. 5 Death by Eating Whale Zombies, found on beaches all over the world.
- Fly to the western tip of the northeastern continent and you'll find a small island with a mountain and a forest, and not much else. This is Vile Island, and it's populated entirely by Yans. Yans are incredibly powerful creatures, despite their fluffy appearance, and they can decimate your team in short order if you don't kill 'em quickly. Any characters who can inflict 9,999 damage in one hit are invaluable, as it'll take two of these to kill a Yan; otherwise, try for instant-death attacks (Steiner's Iai Strike, Dagger's Odin Eidolon, Quina's Mustard Bomb / Doom spells, and to a lesser extent Amarant's Countdown attack).
All prepped? Then head to the Iifa Tree. You'll know what part of it to touch. And don't worry - you can exit the final dungeon and come back to complete these tasks later, if you want to plunge into the final battles of the game right away.
Part Twenty-Eight: Memoria