Ok so for those who are playing Final Fantasy IX for the first time I thought with all my worldly wisdom, I Hamfruitcake would provide with you all you need to know. Welcome to my Basics Page.
Ok so it seems a bit redundant but to be fair after playing Final Fantasy VII with it's weird and stupid controls I'd forgive anyone for asking. So here goes:
First and foremost, walking in this game is as dull as hell and will annoy you with how slow your character moves even though he does have a habit of looking around while he is running. It's pretty nice but still irritating when you just want to move with some deliberate speed. To run you can hold on the but it does tend to get frustrating when you want to select something. Best advice would be to just go to Config in your menu and keep your character on perma-run. There, much better.
Just a word on Mogster's Help when you're looking through your menus. It's very handy to check your equipment with Mogster as he will alert you to what the equipment strengths/weaknesses etc. Even if he does act incredibly smug about it.
My advice with Cards is only to approach people I've highlighted in the Walkthrough but as ever if you wish to engage in a card battle you just simply press to talk to them. Most will then ask if you wish to play cards and the Game will begin. If they are not interested they will simply ignore your proposal and blurt out whatever they would usually say if you were to approach them. As covered in my walkthrough back after the Evil Forest you will recieve a Moogle Flute which allows you to summon up Moguo, a moogle who will provide all the moogle services without Mognet. Basically Save and Tent whenever you are on the World Map. To use the flute simply press and he'll come whizzing to your aid. To avoid random encounters on the World Map you can ride Choco your Chocobo by standing on Chocobo footprints (hard to miss) and selecting Gyshal Greens from your item menu.
Furthermore unlike with most final fantasies the field icon is the only time you will ever feel the need to search for something or click . Other than talking to people there will never be an occassion whereby you'll need to find treasure without a little ! or ? above your head. Over simplified to the max!
An other aspect would be fleeing. To Flee you can get away instantaneously using Zidane's Flee ability but that in turns means you lose a chunk of gil. If you hold onto the and simultaneously you will not lose any money but it will take longer. It depends on whether you desperately need to get away or just can't be bothered. That's your choice. As a seasoned warrior I don't expect you to flee from any battle unless 3 characters are dead and the other has miniscule HP with no healing magic/items. Like I say, it's your choice.
Battle system Edit
First and foremost would be how to find your way around the battle system. The game introduces you to it quite extensively giving you various pathetically easy battles that you can't possibly lose to give you a good idea of how it works in the beginning.
But basically it's all about menus and timing and choosing the best strategy through a series of menus. Every character has attack and item and then their own abilities follow. When a character enters Trance one of their abilities changes its name and thus, in theory, becomes more powerful.
For the Trance abilities it all seems to be quite self-explanatory. Vivi and Eiko can cast two spells in one time, handy! And Quina's usual Eat ability becomes Cook which unless you are extremely vigilant when it comes to finding things to eat and filling his Trance bar up will be completely useless. Amarant's Trance confuses me greatly, I've never used him long enough to get him into one but from what I've been told his general Flair abilities are souped up a bit. Freya and Dagger are quite similar, using their abilities allows them to periodically be reused in the battle. So Freya jumps up and stays off screen and attacks with her spear but remains in the air during her Trance. Dagger uses Eidolon and then her summon will reappear every now and again and attack. Steiner just gets an attack boost which is all he needs.
Now for Zidane. He has a completely new name for his skillset, Dyne (plus it's cooler than Amarant's weird skillset names) and a completely new set of abilities to use. This is where you will spend about 90% of Zidane's MP. He gains them from the Weapons he uses through the game so try to equip him with everyone at least once and learn all of his Skills. All of his Dyne abilities are insanely powerful and will be your main source of those lucrative 9999 hits in the earlier parts of the game. If Zidane gets a Trance in any boss battle, you're laughing.
Now to actually explain the battle system. Obviously all your characters have the attack and item function and then their own special abilities to offer you but here's where using them comes into play.
The battle system is the standard for all fans of Final Fantasy, for some odd reason a favourite of series veterans, the ATB system, or Active Time Battle. This is in fact so popular and so well executed that even in Final Fantasy XIII, on 7th generation gaming consoles, we are still actually waiting for bars to fill up until anything happens. Yes it's become much more advanced and has a fancier name but the ATB is where nearly every final fantasy fan's heart lies for some unfathomable reason.
So each character has two bars by their name, one which is a nice shade of kryptonite green that gradually fills up and allows you to do something, and a girlie pink one for the Trances. Note guest characters or those who aren't members of your core team do not get Trance bars in the battle screen. Dagger also loses access to hers at one point in the game when she becomes an emotionless doll and refuses to speak to your team. Have no fear her personality does return and with it, her Trance bar, unfortunately the same can't be said for Amarant. The Trance bar 90% of the time fills up when you've been attacked and sometimes due to the storyline will magically fill up when your characters feel a wealth of emotion that makes them go all shiny, this happens once or twice for each character apart from Amarant and Quina if my memory is as good as I believe.
So the green bar fills up and then you can enter your move that you wish to execute, some status effects cause it to go faster or slower, such as Haste or Slow but apart from that you're literally spending most of your waiting for said bars to fill up. The only game that successfully managed to get rid of waiting for bars was FFX and that, as I will tell anyone who'll listen, is my favourite battle system. There is a way to speed up the battle system, when inputting your action the battle system you can change it in the config menu to have it so the battle is paused for you in wait mode, so all the bars stop and the beasties don't attack. Or if you have no patience you can have it as active which means everything still moves and attacks you. This is for the more experienced and confident players or for those who think battles take up too much of their time. Apart from that it's all pretty easy to work out.