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Ayen
08-28-2014, 07:36 PM
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Final Fantasy IX was released in the Summer of 2000 and localized to North America in November. It was the last game in the main number titles to be released for the Sony PlayStation and saw a return to the franchise's roots. We said goodbye to the steampunk and more modernized technology, and hello to the medieval fantasy of yesterday. So grab your pointy hat and blue coat and let's dive into Final Fantasy IX!


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The game stars Zidane Tribal, a loveable thief with a monkey tail under employment of the Tantalus Theater Troupe. AKA one big airship of thieves disguised as entertainers on stage. Unlike Cloud and Squall, Zidane is actually... fun. No disrespect meant, but Zidane is the guy who'd you want to invite to your house party while the folks are away. Maybe not the guy you'd want to leave alone with your sister, but are any of them guys you'd want to leave alone with your sister? Zidane and the rest of the thieves are tasked with capturing the princess of Alexandria, Princess Garnet. Little do they know that Princess Garnet is already planning to sneak aboard their ship to escape the castle. After the group discuss their plan to kidnap the princess we're taken to the second star of our show: Vivi!


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How does someone with a pitch black face have so many facial expressions!?

Vivi is an adorable little Black Mage and if you don't love him then you're an awful person. I kid, I kid. He is adorable, though. Vivi goes through a lot of self-discovery during the game and manages to find a way to overcome his fear to find out what he is. He's featured in some of the more beautiful and sad parts of the game and you just want to hug him.


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Next we have Steiner, captain of the Knights of Pluto of Alexandria and sworn to protect Princess Garnet with his life. He's a loveable doofus that sees a lot of growth during the course of the game. Steiner brings in a lot of the earlier comic relief with his antics and back and forth banter with Zidane. He's motivated by his duty and possesses an unquestionable loyalty to his queen until events in the game forces him to question these things for the first time in his life. While at times he does act like an idiot, he isn't completely stupid. The idea to combine Vivi's black magic with his sword when they first meet was a pretty good idea.


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Steiner photobomb!

Then we have the beautiful princess herself, Princess Garnet. The resident White Mage/Summoner who can't fight worth trout but you miss her ability to cure when she's gone. Garnet is the only daughter of Queen Brahne and heir to the throne of Alexandria. Sensing something amiss with her mother, Garnet decides to take action and sneaks out of Alexandria to get help. And that's the first four main characters you start out with. A lot of her development in the game is influenced by her relationship with Zidane and you get to see her mature while on the road. That's it for the first four people you're acquainted with at the beginning of the game. Since the other characters don't arrive until later (some as far as disc 2) I don't want to spoil anything by mentioning them.

The game does a lot of jumping around between characters at the beginning. Only it's not as jarring as it is in XII or XIII. The game stays on a chosen character just long enough to get the gist of what's going on then moves on to the next before bringing them all together. Not to mention the fact they're all just as interesting as the next. The whole beginning segment is really well put together and builds up to the game's logo perfectly.


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Look out behind you!

There's no materia or junction system this time around. Just a simple battle system with the slowest ATB load time out of the Final Fantasy games I've reviewed yet. If it was any slower it'd be a Slow Bro. You'll notice that instead of three fighters on the battlefield we have four. This was how it was done back in the classic Final Fantasy games and it was brought back here in honor of them. I kind of wish they would have kept this format since I never understood why they shrunk it down to three anyway. It's not like the technology isn't there.

The Limit Break system is known as “Trance” and is triggered when a character is experiencing strong emotions (story wise), meaning that there are three instances where a character will enter Trance automatically. The rest of the time you have to fill up the Limit Break meter. The meter builds up with the more damage a character takes in battle. While in Trance, the character abilities are increased and can unlock powers the character doesn't possess otherwise. This differentiate the Limit Break feature from previous Final Fantasy games as it can be used for a couple of turns before running out. If you happen to be killed during Trance it will not remain when the character is brought back with a Phoenix Down or when the battle ends.

Final Fantasy IX doesn't come with the same kind of customization as we see in VII and VIII. Zidane is a thief and only a thief can steal, Vivi is the only one who can use black magic, Garnet has her summons, Steiner has sword skills, etc. Equipment raises your characters' stats while certain equipment possess character abilities if they match that character's class. Once you rack up enough ability points you can use that ability without the equipment. The higher up your level, the more abilities you can equip for each character.


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How cute!

These cuddly creatures are called Moogles. Moogles are a reoccurring creature in Final Fantasy since their debut in Final Fantasy III. This time around Moogles are used to save your game by recording it in the book he has in his hand, to sleep in a tent to recover health, and to exchange messages with one another. There's a sidequest dedicated to delivering messages from one Moogle to the next that follow the travels of Stiltzkin. The addition of the moogles serve as a nice welcome change to the question mark and symbol that came before it.

Final Fantasy IX has a very well crafted story and it's easy to see why a lot of people have selected this entry as their favorite. Things grow tense the first time the party get split up and you're left wondering if they're ever be reunited. It reminds me of Game of Thrones to a small extent. Entering a town like Lindblum and the events to follow is a good example of how much atmosphere can be built up in such a small time frame. Characters sub-plots like Vivi's are heartbreaking with all they're forced to go through and the relationship between Zidane and Garnet and how its develops feel so real it's easy to get behind. There are a couple of real tear jerking moments in Final Fantasy IX and I'm not a person who gets emotional while playing games easily. The references to earlier Final Fantasy games serve as the icing on the cake.

Cons: Please don't kill me, but I feel the Limit Break system in this game could have been better utilized. A character will enter Trance at the most inconvenient of times. You can hit Trance and the enemy will die before you even had the chance to use it. If it built up in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy VII Limit Break it would have been awesome. Speaking of random battles, what's with all the random battles!?

I know, I know, it's a JRPG. That's the whole point. But does it have to be so frequent? Some times I can't even take more than two or three steps without triggering another random battle. It takes from the exploration to have them so close together. A feature to set how frequent these battles can be would have been nice.

While I'm on the subject of the random battles, I have to say the fight themselves are pretty slow. In addition to the ATB meter loading up at a snail's pace, it takes a little bit before a character will attack after punching in the command. I don't know if this is supposed to be a throwback to the earlier battle systems or not, but coming out of VII and VIII it just feels like a step backwards as far as the overall battle mechanics are concerned.

Conclusion: Final Fantasy IX is a whimsical fantasy tale that takes everything that is great about the series and mixes them together to make one very tasty stew. Yes, I just compared the game to food. You have problem? If you're a longtime fan of the series, or a lover of classic fantasy RPGs, Final Fantasy IX is definitely worth a pickup.

Get it.

Ergroilnin
08-28-2014, 09:29 PM
Well since this is mostly review of this first half of the first CD, I won't comment on it as whole but since FFIX is my favorite FF of all time, I wanna contribute to the thread.

First of all, I totally agree with you on Trance system and whole ATB system of FFIX. I personally think that it's the worst thing of the game. Battles are fun sure, but they are damn too slow. Worst is when you input someone to heal or throw a potion half minute ago only to get them killed or to get Trance activated by the weakest enemy possible because fuck you, you can't save it.

On the other side, I feel like the story of the game, while in some ways can be considered cliche is one of the best in the series and I personally definitely love it. I also feel like most of the characters had pretty decent story with only few needing some expansion.

A lot of people complained about the game not bringing much new to the series but I seriously don't know what's wrong with them. This game was meant to be a tribute to the series core and it did wonderful job at it while still being unique enough to be considered a game of it's own.

When it comes to graphics... On original releases they aren't as impressive but if you play on PSXE emulator with good setting then damn it's still impressive for being almost 15 years old!

Music of the game is simply lovely, I don't have anything else to say about that. Every track is great.

Cutscenes of this game are really beautiful and with other effects of the game really pushed the PSOne hardware to it's maximum.


Simply put, FFIX is objectively one of the best of the series. The ranking only matters then on personal view of the overall story and style but still should be at worst third in every listing in my opinion.

Freya
08-29-2014, 06:49 PM
Yeah trance blew.

Ayen
08-30-2014, 07:51 AM
But the question to ask is, can we eat it? Can we eat the trance system?