Thanks to Scott Baird of ScreentRants.com for the inspiration!
14. THE FRIENDLY ENEMIES QUEST
Ozma is one of the super bosses hidden within Final Fantasy IX. It is one of the creepiest creatures in the entire series, as it is a swirling ball of unstoppable energy that just destroys whatever comes into contact with it.
In order to be able to strike Ozma with physical attacks and to make it weak to the shadow-element; the player needs to complete the “Friendly enemies” quest. This involves traveling the world and encountering several nice monsters that request items from you or ask you questions in exchange for rewards.
The problem with the Friendly enemies quest is that there’s no clue given in the game as to the relevance of its completion.
There’s also no clue that you will even get anything for seeking all of these creatures out.
This is a holdover from the era when Square Enix used to put secrets in their games in order to sell strategy guides. We have the Internet now, so quests like these just come off as obnoxious.
Scott is right, Final Fantasy IX gives the players no clue about what point their serve. Ozma himself is a mystery, but its connection to the Friendly Enemies is even less clear.
In order to complete the “Friendly Enemies” quest, you have to wander into them in a random encounter in the forest (similar to how you met Yuffie in Final Fantasy VII). They will request some type of stone (like the Magic Pots request Elixirs). Afterward giving them what they request, they’ll tell you of another one of their friends. You may meet them along in your journey.
That’s it. We get no other indication they have anything to do with Ozma, We have no context for meeting them. It is a cute break from the game.
Why not have each of the friendly monsters explain that helping them can help you defeat Ozma? Maybe the player could assume what to do through cryptic hints. Developers could cut them from the game. But then again, they provide a pretty fun break to all of the random encounters.
But maybe make sure players understand they’re hints. Final Fantasy games intentionally obscured a lot of their sidequest to sell guides. And the obsession to horde secrets and direct players to guides were probably a key factor that leads to disaster.
Consider PlayOnline. Most fans want to forget. PlayOnline “was to function as an online companion to BradyGames’ printed Final Fantasy series strategy guides in 2000”. Unfortunately, the experience was awful, as purchasing a book directed you to a webpage. It was a waste of money. But even more so, since Gamefaqs had a healthy amount of guides around the time. With other online sources, there was no reason to visit PlayOnline.
Thankfully, it’s possible to find these special friendly enemies without a guide. And one of the joys of exploring Final Fantasy IX (and Final Fantasy games in general) is finding out. But fixing this section would clarify this sidequest.