Final Fantasy IX Review (PSN Version)
PlayStation, PlayStation 3 (PSN)
PlayStation: November 14, 2000/PS3: June 15, 2010
T (Fantasy Violence)
One of my favorite Final Fantasy games
Unlike most of the other Final Fantasy games I’ve played, Final Fantasy IX has been the only one I never completed. I had the honor of borrowing it from a friend years ago but the last boss proved too difficult, causing me to give up. Now, years later, I’ve downloaded the game from PSN to beat it once and for all. After finally completing it, I can official consider IX to be one of my favorites in the series.
Like most Final Fantasy titles, IX has no connection to any story in the games before or after it. Players take control of Zidane Tribal; a member of the Tantalus group. What starts out as a simple mission to kidnap the princess of Alexandria quickly turns into a race against time to stop an impending war and the destruction of Gaia. Throughout the journey, players will cross paths with memorable allies and foes alike and will come to understand the true meaning of existence. There were times throughout the game where I felt like certain story aspects came from previous games. Especially towards the end, Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy IV have very similar ideas going on. Is this a bad thing? Not even in the slightest; it was a clever way to tie the plot together.
If you are familiar with Final Fantasy then you’ll fit right in with this one. The game is essentially comprised of two parts; exploration and combat. Exploration has players running around towns and dungeons, looking for items and playing mini-games, while also progressing the story. There are an abundance of side-quests as well, which will nab you some rare items and ultimate weapons. Final Fantasy IX uses the mechanic called the Active Time Events system, or ATE. ATE allows players to view events that unfold in different locations and provides character development. It can even be used to solve puzzles during specific moments. The ATE’s were designed to improve character development and make players care about what was happening. There were times I laughed at some, felt the emotion in others and came to like characters I normally wouldn’t have. All thanks to the ATE and how effective it truly is.
The combat in this Final Fantasy game is personally one of my favorite aspects. I enjoyed testing my strategy skills and combining party members to see who compliments the other. Like with most games of the series, battles occur randomly as you trek across open fields or areas littered with monsters. Once the fighting begins, players have a multitude of strategic options presented to them, depending on who is in the party. Some characters are good for offensive physical attacks, some useful for black and white magic spells, while others can use summons. Some monsters are weak to certain attacks rather than others, so strategy will take you a long way.
Each character also has unique qualities to them; Zidane is the main character of the story and a thief, so he has the ability to steal items from enemies. Then you have Dagger/Garnet who is the princess of Alexandria that can somehow summon monsters called Eidolons. These Eidolons can either be used for offensive maneuvers or defensive capabilities. Each one of the summons offers a gorgeous animation as the creature appears to do its job and leaves the battlefield afterwards. By using each character’s unique abilities in a smart manner, most battles can be finished in a matter of seconds. While in battle, it is inevitable that your party will take damage, but this isn’t always a bad thing. Trance mode is this game’s Limit Break which was first introduced in Final Fantasy VII.
To reach Limit Break, a character had to take a certain amount of damage before accessing their powerful special move. Just like in VII, when characters reached Trance, their offensive stats go through the roof. Trance can only be achieved when damage is afflicted and when the gauge fills up, the character transforms into a powerhouse. An example would be how Zidane’s “steal” option becomes “Dyne” and offers destructive moves to decimate the enemy. Each party member has different trances, allowing for even more strategy. While Trance is certainly useful in a pinch, I disliked how unreliable it was in fights. Most of the time, Trance was wasted on a weak opponent or activated at the end of a fight; meaning the gauge had to be filled once again. It was rare that I ever got to use it exactly when I needed to especially during those tougher boss fights.
As your characters get stronger, so too will your enemies. It is always best to look around for stronger weapons and armor, not only because they will help you against the stronger creatures and bosses but also offer up special abilities. These abilities can range from preventing status afflictions (i.e. poison, confusion etc.) to giving you an edge in battle. AP or Ability Points are needed in order to learn new abilities. Participating in fights help you to net enough AP to learn the desired ability. The best part about this is once a character learns these abilities, you can equip a different piece of armor or weapon without losing the ability. The more abilities you learn, the better your chances will be.
Without a doubt, I can say that Final Fantasy IX is still one of my favorites of the series. Certain aspects of the game do feel outdated like the dialogue and graphics. There were even times were I felt that I did more grinding for levels in this particular game than others. Still, I enjoyed being able to come back and get the full experience of Final Fantasy IX. I was even surprised at how much I enjoyed watching the full motion video cutscenes as well. The last time I played IX was back in 2000 and here it is twelve years later that I finally beat the game. The emotions I felt as I watched the ending credits left me with a melancholy feel; thrilled to see the end but sad to know my journey was over. When a game can get me attached to characters and have me wonder about their futures, that’s when you know something was done right.
- Good graphics
- Memorable characters and great character development
- Enjoyable story that uses elements from previous installment
- Combat system easy to learn yet offers a tactical feel as well
- Trance system somewhat ineffective and unpredictable
- The music is dull and boring at some points
- Too much grinding is required to get past certain bosses
Regardless of the issues IX has, fans of the series should give this a shot if they’ve never played it before. In fact, any fan of RPG’s might want to play the game and see for themselves why Final Fantasy IX is such a great addition to the series.
Price Verdict: Final Fantasy IX is $9.99 on the PSN. A perfect price for a classic like this.