Hunters, on your mark! Ferocious beasts swarm about the castle town! The bigger the catch, the higher the score!Announcer
The Festival of the Hunt is an annual competition hosted by the church in the Business District of Lindblum in Final Fantasy IX. It began centuries prior when the city was but a huge forest. The festival is held on January 20th.
Warriors from around Gaia are called upon to test their strength against ferocious beasts. Various creatures are released onto the streets of Lindblum, and can be defeated, each for a certain amount of points. The hunt lasts twelve minutes and whoever has the most points at the end wins the title of Master Hunter.
The Festival of the Hunt feast is one of Lindblum's oldest traditions, from "well over 500 years ago", and so it can be presumed the festival likewise is centuries old.
Vivi is initially interested in the competition because a girl in a shop inadvertently gives him the false impression that he will be seeing animals, not battling creatures to the death. It is assumed that he discovers the truth offscreen, as he is frightened when he learns Zidane has signed him up for the competition, thinking he would do well with his black magic. Freya calls Zidane's actions "inconsiderate". Steiner has a general disdain for Zidane, so both he and Garnet end up cheering on Vivi during the competition.
Zidane raises the stakes by betting that the victor can go on a date with Garnet, a prospect in which Vivi has no interest. Freya is a regular at the competition, and hopes to encounter Sir Fratley, her lost love, should he choose to test his prowess. Zidane enters for his typical reasons: to show off in front of Garnet and win the prize money.
Although Zidane, Vivi, and Freya all participate in the hunt, they fight independently, unless they run into a Zaghnol, the strongest beast in the competition, in which case Zidane and Freya join forces to defeat it and save two children from its fury. After the rewards are given out, the celebrations are cut short as a messenger arrives with news of Alexandria's invasion of Burmecia.
The player partakes as Zidane, and can keep track of the high score displayed at the top of the screen whenever someone surpasses the previous high score. Despite there being many participants whose names can be spotted on the high score, with the exceptions of Vivi, Freya, and Zidane, they can never be met nor can they be the winner.
Unlike elsewhere in the game, enemies appear on the field and battles are initiated upon coming into contact with them. The results screen is not displayed at the end of the battles and no EXP or other spoils are gained.
There are at least nine participants in the tournament (unused text refers to Vivi as "Hunter No. 2", Zidane as "Hunter No. 4", and Freya as "Hunter No. 9"), and there are eight named participants who have a chance of taking the lead. Three of them are in the player's party (Zidane, Vivi, and Freya), and when any of them wins, the player earns a prize. There are five other participants: Lani, The Strange Gourmand (Quina), Belna, Genero, and Ivan. Belna is the previous hunt's champion.
Cab stations attendants will comment about the character currently in the lead when talked to:
Hey, you're in the lead right now! I think you're gonna win!
Vivi's leading right now. For such a little guy, he's one heckuva magic user.
He looks a little scared out there, but he's steadily raising his score
Freya's leading right now. She's a dragon knight from Burmecia.
Now, she can fight! Hell, I saw some monsters run away from her.
Lani's leading right now. She's a beauty, they call her the 'Hunter of Love'.
I don't know what that means, but I'd sure like to be hunted by her.
|The Strange Gourmand|
The Strange Gourmand is on top right now. He's a self-styled gourmand who eats anything that moves.
The judges can't keep track of his score because he's eating everything he catches.
Belna's on top right now. He's Lindblum Castle's head chef.
He's out there with his knife, chopping away.
Genero's on top right now. He's the youngest of three brothers.
He's using scissors to fight the beasts. My, how original!
Ivan's on top right now. He's a fisherman who works off the coast of Lindblum.
He's hunting with a fishing rod. He claims that he can catch anything with it.
After killing a monster, Zidane scores points, which range for every battle; Mus have the lowest maximums, Trick Sparrows' amounts are slightly better, and Fangs give the most points. However, the Trick Sparrow in the first area of the Theater District generally gives only 1–3 points.
For the unique battle against the Zaghnol, the player can earn up to 99 points, although the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania mistakenly gave 100 as the maximum score. The Zaghnol is found in the Business District's Fountain Square, where the shops are, but it will not appear until the last four and a half minutes.
|Mu||Theater District||outside the station||10-12|
|Trick Sparrow||Theater District||outside the station||01-03|
|Trick Sparrow||Theater District||outside the hideout||10-12|
|Fang||Theater District||by the theater||19-21|
|Fang||Industrial District||chasing a cat||19-21|
|Mu||Industrial District||running down the stairs||10-12|
|Mu||Industrial District||hiding in the pub||10-12|
|Mu||Industrial District||end of the street||07-09|
|Trick Sparrow||Business District||outside the station||13-15|
|Mu||Business District||running out of a house||13-15|
|Fang||Business District||left area of market||16-18|
|Fang||Business District||outside the church||19-21|
|Trick Sparrow||Business District||on church doorstep||04-06|
|Fang||Business District||chasing Vivi||25-27|
|Zaghnol||Business District||by the fountain||50-99|
For other participants, the leader's point total increases by 5 to 15 at random intervals (about once a minute). If Zidane is the high-scorer, then at the next random interval, the point leader will take Zidane's score and add 5 to 15 points to it. The game keeps a single point value for non-Zidane participants, and the identity of Zidane's high-scoring rival is determined by the time remaining and RNG.
|12:00 - 10:00||10%||10%||16%||16%||16%||16%||16%|
|9:59 - 9:00||20%||30%||10%||10%||10%||10%||10%|
|8:59 - 8:00||30%||30%||8%||8%||8%||8%||8%|
|7:59 - 7:00||30%||40%||6%||6%||6%||6%||6%|
|6:59 - 5:45||30%||70%||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%|
|5:44 - 0:00||0%||100%||0%||0%||0%||0%||0%|
When the player is in the screen with the Zaghnol (4:30 or less on the clock, and if the player is on that particular screen when the timer hits 4:30, they will have to exit and re-enter to make the Zaghnol appear), Zidane's rival, who can only be Freya at this point, cannot gain score. She can still gain score if the player returns to other screens. During the battle with the Zaghnol, she cannot gain score.
After the Zaghnol is defeated, if Zidane lands the killing blow, the points are added to his score. If Freya lands the killing blow, the points are added to her score. If Freya is KO'd in the battle when Zidane kills the Zaghnol, or when the timer runs out, the new high-scoring rival will be Vivi, whose new points will be .
Following the Zaghnol battle, the high-scoring rival cannot earn any more points, while Zidane still can.
Zidane's highest theoretical score is 303, although this is almost impossible in a normal game. Freya's highest theoretical possible score is higher than this, for if Zidane had 204 points (which is the highest possible score for defeating every enemy except the Zaghnol), she could gain 15 points every minute or so after this, and then get 99 points for defeating the Zaghnol. If Zidane defeated every enemy while earning the maximum amount of points every time before the rival's points are ever rolled, and Freya killed the Zaghnol after the final roll, given that there can be up to 13 rolls in total (although 12 is by far the most common), then Freya's theoretical maximum would be 498. Vivi's theoretical maximum would be 359. Based on Freya's score, Belna's theoretical maximum (revealed in a letter), which is equal to two thirds of the victor's score, would be 332.
Each participant chooses their prize. Although the player must play as Zidane, no matter the winner, the entire party will still benefit:
Although the player can only control Zidane, and briefly Freya, it is possible to control who wins the festival.
- For a guaranteed Vivi win, Freya must be defeated by the Zaghnol and Zidane must be defeated (either by the Zaghnol or another enemy following the fight).
- Vivi can also win if Freya is KO'd when the battle with the Zaghnol ends (the timer runs out or Zidane defeats it), and Vivi's new calculated score surpasses Zidane's. Zidane can still re-take the lead in additional battles; Vivi's score will not increase again after slaying the Zaghnol.
- For a guaranteed Freya win, Zidane can be defeated any time prior to the Zaghnol battle. To obtain the Zaghnol's steals and guarantee a Freya win, Freya must be alive and Zidane must be KO'd when the battle with the Zaghnol ends (the timer runs out or Freya defeats it). In some versions of the game, Zidane must be KO'd for Freya to slay Zaghnol, otherwise it will not fall regardless of how much HP it should have left.
- Freya is also guaranteed to win if Zidane just lets the timer run down, or does not re-take the lead after she gets her final set of points. Freya can still win if Zidane defeats the Zaghnol, as long as Zidane does not overtake her in points then or in the following battles (Freya's points gain will freeze following the battle).
- The easiest way to win with Zidane is to take out enemies and then have Zidane defeat the Zaghnol as early as possible. The chances of winning increase if Freya is KO'd when the Zaghnol is defeated (as new rival Vivi's points will be less than Freya's).
- The easiest way to win with Zidane without taking out the Zaghnol is to take the lead near the Zaghnol area around the 4:30 mark (defeating one of the nearby Fangs should be enough), and then entering the area with the Zaghnol. If the score did not re-roll after taking the lead, then, while in the area, Zidane will not lose the lead. The player can encounter the Zaghnol and will win as long as Zidane is not KO'd when the timer runs out.
- To win without even entering the area with the Zaghnol, Zidane just needs to kill the final enemy as close to 0:00 as possible, and earn enough points from that enemy to regain the lead. Since the opponent's lead can only increase by 15 at most each roll, as long as the opponent has not made a significant lead, this should be enough. The best route is to defeat the three enemies in the Theater District (besides the Trick Sparrow at the station), and the ones in the Business District (besides the Trick Sparrow by the church).
- Zidane can technically win by engaging the Zaghnol with 0 points (with increased chances if Freya is KO'd when the Zaghnol is defeated), however, it is far from guaranteed. If the Zaghnol is defeated with enough time to spare, additional points can be gained from defeating additional enemies. A better strategy might be to go to the Business District and kill each of the three Fangs with 20 or so points behind the lead, and then go defeat the Zaghnol at 4:30.
There are no ties: the game treats the participant who reached that score first as the winner (which can only be the opponent).
Other than the above prizes, the outcome of the Festival of the Hunt affects a few scenes. If the winner gets over a 100 points, a letter will be sent to Mogmi in Gizamaluke's Grotto in the endgame, containing the name of the winner and their score (Belna's score will be listed as two thirds of that score).
The aptly named "Festival of the Hunt" is the musical theme that plays throughout the event, whether the player is running around the city or fighting a monster.
The track is available as part of a downloadable Final Fantasy IX package in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy.
Etymology and origin
The Festival of The Hunt's name may derive from the name of an Ancient Greek hunting festival in honor of the goddess Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, moon, and newborn creatures.
The Festival of the Hunt may have been inspired by the Running of the Bulls practiced mainly in Spain and Portugal, which involves letting loose a dozen or so bulls on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town's streets, and participants have to run in front of them. Unlike bullfights, which are performed by professionals, in the Running of the Bulls anyone may participate.
- Final Fantasy IX, Artania explains the tradition after the festival to the party over the feast table.
- Final Fantasy IX Excalibur II Perfect Game Guide by Atomos199
- Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, p.358-359