Thanks to Scott Baird of ScreentRants.com for the inspiration!
3. THE DESERT PALACE
The number one rule in Dungeons & Dragons is “don’t split the party.” This is usually true of video games as well, though there are times when the developer forces the party to be split up, in order to create some artificial difficulty.
Final Fantasy IX forces this on you, as you have to send half of your party to Oeilvert, while the remainder of the group has to escape from the Desert Palace. Oeilvert is shrouded with an anti-magic barrier, which means that it is smarter to leave your mages behind to deal with the Desert Palace.
The Desert Palace is teeming with random encounters with monsters that love to one-hit kill squishy wizards.
It is also a dungeon with some annoying puzzles that require a lot of backtracking, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. The Desert Palace is an unnecessarily annoying endurance round that has a difficulty level that is enforced by the developer.
Scott’s right when he says it’s “smarter to leave your mages behind to deal with the Desert Palace”. This means you should make sure Vivi, Garnet, Eiko, and Quina are at the party. Many magical enemies wander around the palace halls to slow you down. Final Fantasy IX splits your party to create “artificial difficulty” (which is all a part of the challenge). When do you ever have a full party in Final Fantasy, until the end?
But this dungeon isn’t especially hard once you realize two awesome facts:
- Every enemy has a level of 5.
- Quina can learn Lvl 5 Death.
Of course, you have to learn it earlier in the game, but this dungeon is Quina’s moment to shine. S/he can effortlessly take out all enemies with this special skill. This alone makes the puzzle solving and backtracking less tedious. And since the Desert Palace is a part of the story, I believe it should stay.