Final Fantasy IX - Retroview

A Classic RPG with A Modern Feel
By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music & Sound 10
   Originality 2
   Story & Plot 10
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Moderate
   Completion Time 50-60 Hours  

What the hell's going on?
Steiner's not exactly your best buddy
Final Fantasy IX

   Final Fantasy 9 was a throwback to the old days of the series. After a more futuristic setting in the seventh and eighth games, they wanted to do something in more of a fantasy setting, with classic style storyline, characters and setting, mostly to appease the fans that hated the new direction of the previous two games. Of course, there were people who hated this one too because they thought Square was basically remaking Final Fantasy 6 and throwing it at us. This proved you can't please everybody, but Square did a great job giving us one last nostalgia trip before seemingly moving in a new direction on the PlayStation 2.

   In this game, you play the part of Zidane, a member of the Tantalus theater crew. One day, you and your companions go to the kingdom of Alexandria to perform for Queen Brahne. However, the real reason you're there is to kidnap the lovely Princes Garnet. Attempting to trip you up is Garnet's bodyguard and head of the Pluto Knights, Steiner. Also getting in on the fun is Vivi, a black mage with no memory of his origin. The princess allows herself to be kidnapped, and their escape turns into an adventure bigger than any of them could have ever imagined. In the tradition of past FF games, this is a journey of discovery, with all the team members working out their various personal problems along the way as they visit many interesting locales located across four continents, and possibly elsewhere...

   Most Final Fantasy games have something new in the battle system, but I guess in the spirit of being classic, this really doesn't. They had something called the Trance, but all it really is is a limit break that lasts three turns. Other than that, it's the standard Active Time Battle system battles, with the only other change being a return to four party members rather than the three they had allowed you in the last two games.

   The visuals in this game were excellent, as painstaking detail was paid to literally EVERYTHING. This game had probably the most beautifully done backgrounds of any PSX RPG I have ever seen, and that covers a lot of ground. Even the characters were extremely detailed and very well animated, more so than any other RPG up to that point. Even the monsters looked convincing, which is the one complaint I had about earlier FF games on the PSX. It's obvious that the graphics are one part of this game they didn't go back in time with.

David F's a swell guy
David F's a swell guy

   FF9 had an absolutely unbelievable, blowaway soundtrack. This is the norm for each part of the Final Fantasy series, but FF9 really took it to another level. A wide variety of tunes, each of which perfectly fitting each location they accompanied helped make this a very fun game. Again, the music was a throwback to the style of the earlier, more fantasy oriented games in the series. In fact, they even went so far as to remix tunes rom older Final Fantasy games for use in this title! Additionally, the sound effects were very realistic, so much so that even the footsteps sounded totally real.

   The game had a terrific localization, everything sounded totally natural, as if the game was originally written in English. Thanks to the terrific translation, the story came across very clearly and distinctly. While many RPGs have great stories with good translations, the character dialogue sounds flat and nobody has any personality. FF9 did not have this problem, as everybody had a lot of personality and character.

   This was a very fun game, and if I didn't have a stack of other RPGs awaiting my attention, I definitely would have given this one a second play through shortly afterward. While there might have been a lack of side quests, this was a fun game, and definitely worth a second play through if you have the time.

   The one thing about this game that wasn't that great was the originality aspect. Of course, the whole idea behind this game was redoing things that had been done before, basically a nostalgia trip. Originality wasn't their intent. The Trance system wasn't revolutionary enough to add much to this score.

   If you've just started this game and are on the first two discs, you might be shocked that you're probably going to spend close to 60 hours on this baby. It's one of those games that are simple to breeze through until the end when the monsters become MUCH more difficult. If you decide to go on the side quests and treasure hunts towards the end, tack on another 10 hours.

   Well, the two schools of thought on this game were a)"Oh, WOW! Square is doing an old style RPG! I'm gonna run out and buy it now!" and b)"This is the least original game I've ever played, it was like playing a remake of Final Fantasy 6, this sucks I hate it." I personally am way towards the first option; I loved this game, and didn't mind that it was unoriginal at all, because THAT WAS THE POINT OF THE GAME. In fact, until Final Fantasy 10 was released, this was actually my favorite of the series. It's a great game, and well worth your time.

   Highly Recommended.

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