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Final Fantasy 9 and the picture book adventure of a PS1 Final Fantasy

There’s a small, almost incidental sequence that I’ve often thought about since I first played Final Fantasy 9. In it, Princess Garnet (or ‘Dagger’, at this point in the game) and her buffoonish knight Steiner have a conversation whilst in a hillside cable car, all brass and rivets. Soon after they are reunited with thespian/thief Marcus in the station café, before the next leg of their journey. The area is framed from up high, round tables and stools and bottle green gas-lamps. The lighting is warm, people are chilling, and the music is a near-lullaby recorder version of the game’s theme Melodies of Life. The scene feels recognisably suspended, in transit. An enclave of calm and safety removed from normal concerns, like morning light on a weekend lie-in.

Marcus notes that Garnet has changed during her adventures, now more experienced, talking in slang. This is later in another carriage, and you mainly see the back of her seat throughout the conversation, as if happening upon it as it unfolds. Then she gets up, suddenly excited to talk about the things she’s seen, the battles she’s fought. And then, ‘I’ve always wanted to see the marvellous architecture of Treno! I can hardly wait!’.

‘On second thought’ – Marcus thinks, in a thought bubble – ‘she hasn’t changed that much’.

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