Finished Final Fantasy IX last night. That game was pretty lighthearted and fun.
I thought FFIX was the darkest FF game :(
I absolutely loved your analysis on FF8's plot...
Shit what when did I analyze FFVIII's plot? Was that what I used the phrase "plot mulligan" in reference to?
, so I'm curious why you think FF9 was dark.
FFIX's dark 'cause on the surface it ISN'T dark.
So here's a counter-example. Two, actually. I liked FFX as a whole because of the gameplay, but the plot never did much for me, because there was a huge element of just... trying to hard with it. It had kind of the same themes that FFIX and FFVII did but everything is big and momentous and staring you in the face and screaming THIS IS MEANINGFUL, to the point where it becomes detached and distant and not humanly relatable.
FFVII had the same kinds of issues in terms of being traditionally dark (although I think there was this metafiction element to FFVII. I'll get to that). So like, obviously the big one is Aeris' death and that entire scene just SCREAMS "This is a new, dark, and edgy direction for Final Fantasy," to the extent that it's a tad overdone and hard to take seriously -- although it's debatable that Aeris was only in love with Cloud because he thought he was Zack, and that Cloud was only in love with Aeris because, er, he thought he was Zack. And I'm pretty sure Sephiroth actually calls Cloud out on this, if I'm remembering it right.
Anyway, tl;dr -- FFX's dark lays it on too thick unintentionally, and FFVII's either doing the same thing or subverting it.
Anyway, death is an obvious and unifying theme in both FFX and FFVII, and on one level it LOOKS like that's true about FFIX, but FFIX is a bit different.
To paraphrase this guy here's http://popsongs.wordpress.com/
analysis of Automatic for the People, FFIX's theme isn't about death per se so much as it is about "living with the awareness of mortality.*" It's about the potentials, the fragility, transience; the passed over and the survivors. But I mean, there's definitely a lighthearted side to it. You have the Black Wizard Village stuff, and lots of cities getting destroyed, but then you also get Zidane and Vivi pissing off of a roof, or the 'marriage' thing in the dwarf city. It's not necessarily comic relief -- it's not funny necessarily, but it's a necessary break highlighting the darker turns.
It's not dark because of constant oppression and bleakness and political plots with sizable body counts, but because it operators in a territory more human than I felt any of the other FFs did.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgUluGVnQwg
Also have some delightful ETS2 machinima (I wish this were a real mod. I think they're making official Russia DLC. I'll... probably buy it). Also I did find some mod that makes cabs bounce around more realistically. idk if the realism matters that much but hot /damn skippy/ that wiggling is swag.
* Or possibly gaining the awareness of mortality. There's literal death, but there's also metaphoric death, like the breakdown of Steiner's moral code. A lot of the characters in the game start out their own respective ivory towers. You could see it as the loss of the delusion of immortality that comes with being young/safe.