Final Fantasy IX

Publisher: Square Developer: Square
Reviewer: Pink Namek Released: November 13, 2000
Gameplay: 92% Control: 95%
Graphics: 89% Sound/Music: 90%
Story: 87% Overall: 96%

A bandit group known as Tantalus heads out to a neighboring country called Alexandria with orders to kidnap Alexandria’s beautiful young princess, Garnet. However, the princess wishes herself to be kidnapped in order to further investigate her mother, Queen Brahne’s, recent weird behavior, and willingly goes along. While escaping the palace, Tantalus’ airship, the Prima Vista, is destroyed and sent plummeting into a region known as the Evil Forest. A string of events and odd occurrences bring together a group of eight people, who set out to save the world from a mysterious man known as Kuja.

Another installment to the Final Fantasy series, and another game for me to try out. Final Fantasy IX was released on the quickly growing old PlayStation game console, and needless to say, it had quite a bit to live up to. Its most recent predecessors, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, were big hits here in America as well as Japan. I have to say, while some may disagree, I consider this one of the best Final Fantasy games. Let me go into more detail.

Gameplay: 92%

I found the fact that Squaresoft had decided to ditch the Junction System introduced in Final Fantasy VIII a huge relief. It quickly became annoying when, in FF8, you got new characters with whom you would always have to switch Abilities and such. They also brought back the MP system, which I preferred over the use of drawing magic in FF8. The four-person battle system was a new concept and was a refreshing switch from the three-character parties from FF7 and FF8. They also re-introduced ATB, which was a save for my patience. However, one thing about the Gameplay annoyed me; it seemed that every time I would equip a new piece of armor, a stronger piece would be offered far too soon and my characters would be weakened. All in all, I give Gameplay a 92%

Graphics: 89%

Although at times it was cute, like with Vivi the black mage, the super-short characters got really tiresome. I found myself wishing that Squaresoft had instead presented the characters the way they had in FF8; with normal human proportions. Also, the polygons got really fuzzy at times and would appear blocky.

I was somewhat disappointed with the fuzzy graphics of the battles, but I got used to it soon. The pre-rendered backgrounds, though, were beautiful and filled with intricate details, and the CG movies... totally amazing. Absolutely gorgeous and mind rendering. These are a few things that come to mind when thinking of them. The summon spells and magic are still pretty great, too, and thank God that the summon spells were also shortened.

Sound/Music: 90%

I know that a lot of people thought that the music of Final Fantasy IX was Uematsu’s worst work, but I loved it. A lot of the themes seemed to strike an emotional cord within me, to name a few; the Overworld Theme, Lindblum Castle’s Theme, and the theme music for Burmecia. All these fit perfectly with the mood of whatever was happening at that point in the game. However, a lot of the themes quickly grew repetitive and annoying, like the music for Madain Sari. It just made me want to turn down the volume or slip on a pair of headphones.

Eesh… the sound effects were also crap. Every slash, strike, footstep, etc. made me wince. Hopefully they’ll get their act together in future Final Fantasy games.

Story: 87%

For Final Fantasy IX, Squaresoft used a lot of old traditions not seen in recent FF games. Moogles played a big part, and the pointy-hatted black mages were brought back with flair. I can’t say much about this, seeing as how the first FF game I ever played was Final Fantasy VII, but I loved the “mixing the old with the new” concept. Squaresoft brought things like black mages and mogs back, but gave them new purposes, which was refreshing as well as nostalgic.

However, the plotline was, for the most part, severely over-used. The whole royalty escaping, Queens going mysteriously from good to evil, and the forgotten past thing was old. Square tried to make this storyline interesting by combining added plots to it, and this was the only thing that kept me interested. The character development was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game, and this caused me to develop a certain fondness for some of the characters. I also liked their creative use of mogs. Mognet, the mail system between moogles, was sort of fun in some immature way. Go figure…

Control: 95%

The controls… hmm… pretty easy to manage. There weren’t many times when Zidane got caught on an object, but it did happen. The people were fairly easy to navigate, also.

Overall: 96%

This was a nice game. I suggest renting it before you buy it, though, because not everyone thought this title was peachy-keen. I enjoyed it thoroughly, however, and it remains my second favorite Final Fantasy.

Pink Namek

Square includes their trademark CG movies in this installment of the series.

This time around you don't have to sit through drawn out summon spells, but you'll probably want to.

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