Rando-B-Gone: Final Fantasy IX’s No Encounters Mode

Ooh they’re awful, those random encounters. There you are, walking down the hill, minding your own business, when someone jumps up in your face, yelling “I’m the queen of the lemurs, grab your tutu for the raisin taco dance party!” Horrible little oiks.

If you’re interested in the upcoming PC port of Final Fantasy IX [official site] but dread being set upon by Rando Calrissian, Marlon Rando, and all their pals – JRPG staples, the lot of ’em – then you can relax. More details on the port have come in, including that it’ll let you turn off random encounters.

When word of the port first came, it was only confirmed for Japan and most details came from wonky auto-translation. But look, now we have a shiny Steam page with screenshots and words saying that yes, it’s definitely coming our way too, and with these new features:

  • Achievements
  • Seven game boosters including high speed and no encounter modes.
  • Autosave
  • High-definition movies and character models.

As you can see clearly in the screenshots, yep, the character models are a lot fancier but no, those level backgrounds are certainly not. The clash is a bit weird but hey, ‘s all right isn’t it? Can live with it, I’m sure.

I’m not opposed to the idea of random encounters, but do find in too many RPGs that they come too frequently and I end up skipping them. Folks who did play FFIX, how would you rate it on the randometer?

Final Fantasy IX is due in “early 2016”. Hey, that’s now! That’s right now! Is it out? A: no.

36 Comments

  1. Scott Constantine says:

    While doing some work around the house today I had the Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) VoD of FFIX running in the background, and it’s really interesting to see just how many encounters you can skip if you’re tricky. Due to the importance of stealing, you can rely on gear more than just beating down beasts for levels.

    The other cool thing about the speedrun is that you can see how much of the game is just pure story. There’s hardly any emphasis on the combat relative to overall gametime.

  2. bohzak1 says:

    it’s interesting because apparently the backgrounds of the original game are downscaled versions of pretty high-res art:

    link to neogaf.com

    • Mokinokaro says:

      The problem is that a lot of the originals of the high scale art for FF7-9 are lost/destroyed. Japanese companies really didn’t care about archiving back then.

      The FF7 ports had to be reverse engineered from the PSX versions as the source code and original PC code were lost.

  3. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’m not sure that it’s the worst offender in this regard. Because of the way the skill system works, I actually liked being able to fight lots of enemies to earn AP quickly.

    It’s not the most system-focused Final Fantasy, either, but there are some interesting things you can do if you understand how it works.

  4. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Unfortunately, none of the shots show the UI, which may or may not be utter dogshit depending on how they decide to port it.

  5. Abndn says:

    FF9 is pretty bad but not really the worst jrpg when it comes to random encounters, but it combat is very slow and clunky compared to 7 and 8. Long combat loading times both to enter and leave combat, and irritating little delays before your characters act on your commands. More than anything else, I’d like these issues fixed in the PC port.

    • Ragnar says:

      Interesting, I thought 8 was the worst offender for slow combat, with damage-sponge bosses requiring watching esper summon after esper summon or spending half an hour auto-attacking.

      • magogjack says:

        8 killed my soul, true story.

      • jrodman says:

        Indeed I must agree.

        I found 7 to be sort of okay at the time, though when I replayed I wanted a gofaster button. 8 though I just gave up at how long the nonsense animations would take.

      • emertonom says:

        I thought the big problem with 8 was the “draw” system, where you had to spend turns in battle collecting magic from enemies, and it took ages to stock up on things.

        • rmsgrey says:

          Yeah, you wanted to at least check what each enemy had available to Draw for fear of missing a GF, and then Draw at least some of anything new – you can save a lot of time early in the game by only Draw-ing a couple of a spell to start with and junctioning it to Magic so that next fight, as you Draw more of that spell, your Magic stat improves, and your Draw rate increases…

          Still, coming across a new spell meant a good 15 minutes of Draws (either in one fight or across many) – after which, you really weren’t keen on actually casting any of them having done all that work to get them…

  6. Fnord73 says:

    High speed is definetly a win.

  7. Fenixp says:

    So… How much will the no encounter DLC cost?

  8. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Is that… Orco?

  9. King in Winter says:

    Well, FFIX. What can I say? My least favorite FF of all I’ve played, and I’ve played them all FFVI onwards. Part of the problem is the “cartoon art” and general design aesthetics, but there were other problems too. I don’t feel like a rant though and I know I’ve forgotten (blocked out) some stuff since it came out quite a few years ago.

    (If we include MMOs then the title goes to FFXI. I only ever played the free 30 days. It was worthy of comparison to those interminable Korean grindfests. FFXIV:ARR on the other hand is great, I checked that out when it was going for peanuts on Steam. If I ever switch away from my current MMO, it is my next destinaton.)

    • girard says:

      “Cartoon art” is a really strange way to describe the art style. Especially in a series where, in 1-6 all of the in-game characters were depicted as little 2D brightly-colored chibi characters, and in 7 the characters were saucer-eyed anime tropes. 9’s characters don’t stand out as exceptionally cartoony – at the time, 8 was the aesthetic outlier with its naturalistic characters.

    • magogjack says:

      I am kind of shocked to hear this as FF9 is by far my favourite game in the franchise. I don’t see how the art style would bother you that much unless it did in 6 and 7 as well. It was a great sprawling adventure that managed to keep its head half way out of its ass (which is a big accomplishment for a Final Fanatasy title).

      • Fiatil says:

        Pretty much this! The story was ultimately a ridiculous Final Fantasy story, but it managed to pull off entertaining and sympathetic characters which grounded the story for me.

        I think the ATE system did wonders for building the game’s world as well. It makes the act of discovering the next town or big location so much more rewarding. For those unaware, your party will typically split up when you get to the next town, leaving you in control of one to discover the city from their perspective. But, as you transition from area to area you get optional little cutscenes that show all of your other party members exploring particular parts of the area you’re in as well.

        I wish they would re use it for future Final Fantasies, and more in other RPGs in general.

  10. noodlecake says:

    I think it was my least favourite of the 3 PSX ones when I first played it but it grew on me. There’s a lot it does better than VIII, and I think VI is incredibly overrated… I mean it was ground breaking at the time but I think 7, 8 and 9 are head and shoulders above it, and not because I don’t like SNES pixel art or anything like that. Chrono Trigger is excellent too!

    • Ragnar says:

      I agree on VI, I find it completely overhyped. I only played it recently, the SNES version, and I didn’t see the appeal. The characters came off as caricatures, with Kafka so over-the-top as to be ridiculous, and the story was largely boring and predictable (even for me).

      • jrodman says:

        I suspect this is one of those “You can’t go back” things. I didn’t like it either and also played it as a retro experience. Or tried anyway.

        The grinding was tedious for me, and the story was hackneyed and overbearing. It just didn’t work.

  11. thedosbox says:

    dread being set upon by Rando Calrissian, Marlon Rando, and all their pals

    /bows down to Alice.

  12. Chillicothe says:

    The focus on opt-out instead of potential improvements to the random battles concerns me.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      For many of us, we want the game as it was, just prettier. Those sort of far-reaching changes are better as options.

  13. racccoon says:

    Problem with a port is its a cause of gout, & seems very much the case in gaming as well. Lets hope its not as bad its been in the past. :)

  14. PancakeWizard says:

    I’m assuming the no encounter mode is a toggleable feature in a game menu, rather than a ‘mode’ of playing the game. Otherwise the entire game will end up rebalanced with shop vendors giving out their wares for free and bosses falling over when you cough on them. That being the case, I think those going “Oh great, I hated random battles, I’ll play it without them” are going to find themselves a little stuck without doing some of that combat.

  15. Merus says:

    Turning off random encounters is fairly common for Square Enix JRPGs these days, usually because, as other commenters have worked out, if you don’t fight at least some things you’re probably not going to beat the boss fights.

  16. trappski says:

    FFVII had a pretty nice formula for this with the encounter-half and encounter-none GF-abilities and the SeeD salary.

    More recently Bravely Default also made this pretty good with the possibility to switch between none, and grindmode with some levels between if you wanted the encounters just not ad frequent.

  17. bill says:

    PRAISE BE! HALLELUJAH!

    This just went from my “ignore with a revengeance” pile to my “hmm, might be interesting but do i have time?” pile.

    You know, I actually wrote a “Will this allow modders to turn off the random combat?” post in the thread on this in the forums, but then I deleted it without posting because it felt too much like trolling.

    I don’t remember if final fantasy games have XP.. but if so, how will they handle that after the change? Just dole out XP at the rate you’d have gotten for all encounters?
    If so, can we have that mode for all JRPGs, and especially for FF6. I loved the intro for that, but 4 random encounters in one 20ft corridor of a house made me delete it.