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Developer:
Square
Publisher: Square EA
Platform: PSX
Release Date: November 14, 2000

by Jason Ferguson




Being the last Final Fantasy on the original Playstation gave IX quite the reputation to live up to. It was a grand finale for the best RPG console ever, and it turned out to be a masterpiece that certainly lived up to the expectations. It's one of the most fun RPGs I've ever played and overall it's just a great game!


The game takes place in a medieval type world, unlike some of the more recent Final Fantasy titles, so using swords and spears actually makes sense for a change. The game starts off with Zidane, a very amusing main character, and his pals heading to Alexandria, where they've been hired to kidnap the young and beautiful Princess Garnet. The princess takes Zidane for quite the chase when she explains to him that she actually wants to be kidnapped. Zidane's job just got a bit easier, but Steiner, Captain of the Knights of Pluto, will not allow such a thing and he chases after the two. Vivi, a black mage that old-school Final Fantasy fans are sure to enjoy, gets caught in the middle of all of this and when Queen Brahne opens fire on the group, they all board their airship and escape. You find out that Queen Brahne has changed a lot lately and Garnet has been eager to escape for quite some time. Your party decides to help Garnet find out what's wrong with Brahne and their adventure spawns into much more than they expected. The story is one of the most exciting I've seen in an RPG, but it's still fairly simple and easy to follow. There's great plot twists at times, but there are also a few silly things that just seem to pop up out of nowhere and really needed more development. The story will capture you and youíll likely get addicted.


The characters in Final Fantasy IX are some of the most loveable characters I've seen. Zidane is a really funny guy and he'll keep you laughing throughout most of the game. Garnet and the mystery surrounding her will keep you puzzled, and as she struggles through tough times you'll want to cry. Little Vivi is one of my favorite characters in an RPG. I'm not really sure why, but I'm sure everyone will enjoy him. Steiner is stubborn, but very loyal to protecting the princess. He and Zidane will have quite a few disagreements throughout the game. Other party members include Freya, Amarant, Eiko and Quina. Character development for your party members is excellent and you'll end up feeling like you know them by the end of the game. The characters are very unique, and for the most part, important. With the addition of ATEs (active time events) you are able to see things from the perspective of your other party members, even if they've been separated from you. There are also some really memorable side characters in the game. The main villain is Kuja...I'm not really sure what to say about him. He's creepy, but not Hannibal Lecter creepy. More like Michael Jackson creepy. He wears a thong, and I'll never really feel quite right about a man in a thong, but he's a very emotional and powerful character. General Beatrix is a close friend of Steinerís and they'll grow closer as the game progresses. She's very powerful and you'll meet up with her pretty regularly.


The battle system in IX is pretty basic really. You can attack, use abilities, defend.... nothing new really, but it's kind of refreshing to have something simple for a change. Especially after the very complex system in Final Fantasy VIII. Your characters also each have numerous Trance abilities, which are much like the limit breaks in previous Final Fantasy games. The armor and equipment that your characters have is equipped with different abilities. Once you've accumulated enough AP (action points) from combat your character gains that ability permanently and the armor can be unequipped without losing it. You then attach gems to your abilities to equip them, but some abilities such as summoning and magic, do not require these gems and are automatically equipped once the ability is learned. Not everyone can learn every ability and the characters have a clear class distinction. This method of learning abilities was rather fun, but it could get annoying when you had to wear crappy equipment just to learn a good ability. The weapons in IX were much like most other RPGs, but, unlike most games, in Final Fantasy IX you can get these weapons synthesized to create even stronger weapons with new abilities. You're not going to want to throw anything away because you need to combine old equipment to synthesize new great stuff!


The graphics in Final Fantasy IX are very impressive. The characters are well done and very detailed, and backgrounds are beautiful. The graphics lose nothing in battle, as character movements are excellent. The cinemas in Final Fantasy IX are simply excellent and are not only impressive graphically, but also feature some of the coolest events I've ever seen. The cinemas in Final Fantasy X may be better graphically, but I still find IX's to be my favorite. These cinemas do an excellent job of capturing the events of the story and portray them very well. The music and sound was also high quality and does an excellent job of relaying the emotions of the characters. At times the music is truly dark and sad, but most of the time it's bright and cheerful.


There's plenty to do in Final fantasy IX. There's a new card game to play, although I don't think it's as fun as in Final Fantasy VIII. Nonetheless, it's worth checking out. There are also optional bosses, ultimate weapons and hidden summons. You've also got a chocobo treasure hunting game and even a trivia game that you can play multiple times throughout the game. These are refreshing breaks from the responsibility of saving the world.


Final Fantasy IX is an enchanting game with stunning graphics, loveable characters and an edge of your seat storyline. Although itís not the best RPG ever made, I would still rank it high against some of the greats. There's no slow point in the game at all and when you're done you'll probably be sad that it's over.


Final Grade: 94%




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