Final Fantasy IX is a fantasy turn-based RPG with a colorful world and fun characters. The game was originally released for PS1 and regarded by many fans as the best game in Final Fantasy series.
Since I finished Final Fantasy VII and VIII, I always wanted to try the next game in the franchise. I finally bought the game in the most recent Steam Sale and I have spent the last few days playing it. I have always heard that it's one of the best games in the franchise and now, 10 hours in I can proudly say this game didn't disappoint.
The story follows a few set of characters, each with their own goals. The first main character is Zidane, a thief who was tasked to kidnap the princess Garnet of Alexandria. Garnet is the heroine who wants to leave the castle for her own reasons. Next is Vivi, a young Black Mage who gets involved in the mess. Other characters include Steiner, a guard for the princess who tries to get her back to the castle and Freya, a Dragon searching for an old friend.
I know are present in the game from the promo images.
The story is overall lighthearted and the world is very bright compared to the most of games in the franchise. I like how strong the princess is, and how she doesn't want to be protected. I can't remember the last JRPG protagonist who is a womanizer like Zidane. There's a lot of humor in this game!
However, Final Fantasy IX goes over darker themes like War, Sacrifice and Death. In one of the first impactful scenes in the game, a friend of Zidane turns into stone while trying to save the heroes. There are hints he can be saved though.
The villains seems to want to start a War between the Kingdoms. In my first impression run, I saw many non-playable characters die and it seems the body count will keep increasing.
An Old School JRPG
The visual style of Final Fantasy IX is very unique. Character design fits the low-poly 3D graphics of the PS1 perfectly. The backgrounds and the world design is breathtaking, every area feels different and it's a joy to explore. I could feel the love the designer put into this game.
I think this game aged the best in the graphical aspect out of the three PS1 Final Fantasy main titles. (It didn't need to remaster the 3D models for the hi-res version.)
The battle system is an ATB based like the Final Fantasy games since IV. The Equipment contain skills which can be learned by characters by obtaining enough AP from battles while equipping them. This system has less effect on the gameplay than, say the Materia system of Final Fantasy VII.
The Trance system is similar to Limit Breaks and Desperation Attacks of the Final Fantasy before it. If the character gets damaged enough, they will transform to a more powerful mode for few turns. I liked this system but I wish it was more consistent as it might not activate when I need it most (maybe it'll activate more often by the end game.)
The hours I played in Final Fantasy IX a bit challenging and I have lost on more than a few bosses. Even some normal encounters were challenging and the encounter rate is very high in this game. I wished my characters had more abilities and better equipments but I'm sure this will happen as I play few more hours.
Final Fantasy IX feels like a love letter to the earlier games from the series. Taking a lot of elements from the game before Final Fantasy VI and modernizes them. I wish the next main Final Fantasy title does the same to the franchise after the gameplay departure that plagued the franchise since Final Fantasy XI.
What do you think?
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