Let it be known that I brought up the Zidane and Dagger moment. See, I don't hate all JRPGs!!!
I had owned IX for years before I finally took to the time to play through it about 2 years ago, and goodness, was it a treat. Pretty well on par with VII and Tactics as my fave in the series.
That moment at the end you're talking about, Rob, totally adored it. My eyes almost got watery over the sweetness of it.
On that matter of cutscenes, I really don't like it when a game's so reliant on using them for such heavy components of the story-telling, but by that same token, I think it was John who said it, that JRPGs are just there to tell a story, whereas Westerns tell your story, and yeah, he's exactly right. But there are some that can still feel pretty weighted and reliant on cutscenes, like FFXIII. I seem to remember Front Mission 3 had really good pacing and use of its non-in-game cutscenes. Actually, the PS Final Fantasy's too. They were few and far between, and simply used to express the extreme epicness that their in-game engines obviously would not capture at the time.
That's another thing to think on, too, that so many Western RPGs have a lesser cutscene balance because they have only really gotten huge in the past two console generations, allowing for in-game graphics and cinematography to allow for awesomely directed cutscenes that don't pull you out of the established graphical world. I mean, if they could have, there're likely many a scene Squaresoft at the time would've cutscened in, say, FFVI, had the SNES had that functionality, but it came before they had the tech to play with it.
It's kinda' odd that developers really used the PS as their playground for that, then many reared it in with the next generation to go back to in-game cutscenes heh. Not that I've played a great many RPGs and such in that time, I know I've missed a slew of JRPGs and such, but many that I've seen seem to give my argument some backing... I think...
Also, I says 'Yes' to the FFRetrospective and fan questions, etc.
Good cast, team. Definitely kicked open my nostalgia door. I wanna' play FFIX now...