Thanks to Scott Baird of ScreentRants.com for the inspiration!
8. THE SPRINTING/SKIPPING GAMES
Final Fantasy IX has a quest that seems to be a nod to the outrageous urban legends that had built up around the earlier games in the series. If you reach the final dungeon in under twelve hours, then you can find the Excalibur II sword, which is Steiner’s most powerful weapon.
This was even more difficult to accomplish in the PAL version of Final Fantasy IX, as that was slower than the other versions of the game, to the point where you had to reach the final dungeon in under ten hours.
The Excalibur II doesn’t make this list, as it least encouraged interesting speedruns of the game.
The sprinting and rope jumping games in Alexandria are another matter entirely. These exist just to screw with the one-hundred percent completionists. They don’t even give you decent rewards for getting the maximum score. These minigames exist only to make you suffer and hurt your fingers.
Final Fantasy IX has its share of mini-games and most in Alexandria. The first is a sprinting game, and the second is a jump roping game. Vivi can participate in each, and Eiko can participate in the latter.
The first mini-game is just a button masher; the player has to alternatively press the ‘square’ and ‘circle’ button in quick succession to outrun Hippaul. It doesn’t help that he gets quicker everything you beat him. The second minigame is all about timing – at the appropriate time (and Vivi’s visual cue) you jump. This wouldn’t be so bad…until you realize that you need to do about 1000 to successfully complete it.
This wouldn’t be so bad if it were all worth it. But that’s it. The biggest problem may be the prizes themselves. You really only get cards to play. But the main prize for beating Hippaul? An Athlete Queen. What is that? It just raises your treasure hunter skill to ’S’ rank. You can raise your rank by stealing and it would probably be easier too. The main prize for winning the jump rope minigame? The jump rope itself, which is nothing but a trophy.
These prizes are worthless, but perhaps that’s probably what the developers were trying to convey. The Hot ‘n’ Cold and the ‘Friendly Monsters’ side quest each help the player in locating and defeating Ozma. But these mini-games, like most in the series, rarely net you anything other than the pure joy of accomplishment. When you look at your prize, you sit back and wonder if it were all worth it. It can be, for little small additions to the game, such as this:
If the player attempted the skipping minigame with Vivi at the beginning in Alexandria, and skipped at least 50 times, when the player meets the Moogle Mosh (while controlling Steiner) in Alexandria Castle, he will have received the following letter from Kupo: From Kupo to Mosh, There was a kid who skipped [#]* times in a row today! It was amazing! Kupo! How did he do that? Can Mosh skip [#]* times? My best record is [#]*!
Excalibur II does have its problems, such as encouraging players to skip through the amazing story. And once you get the famed sword by the end of the game, you’re too powerful for it. But for speed-run enthusiasts, it does provide an interesting challenge.