on November 20, 2000
The last installment of the Final Fantasy series on Playstation reached stores nationwide in a very low-key manner. The anticipation and exhilaration that associate with the release of Final Fantasy games have obviously lessened. I uncharacteristically DID NOT pick up the new game on the first day it released. Honestly, I was not too excited about the release of this game due to 3 major reasons: 1) Square's quality of work has been questionable these recent years, 2) relatively short period of time has passed since we have seen FF8, 3) the Final Fantasy series has been evolving so much that I was not sure I would still get the same thrill I got when I played FF IV on SNES.
I was not a bit disappointed.
Right from the beginning, Square shows again that FF9 is a product of quality. Even though it has only been one year since the release of FF8, this new installment does not show sign of a rushed production. I could not help but notice and appreciate the amount of effort and passion that were infused into the game. I could say with FF9, Square really strengthens my faith in the FF series, wins my heart, and brings me back to the good old days.
Graphic is one of the first elements that attracted me. The color scheme is very well used to create a nice blend of the whole composition. I did not like the color scheme in Chrono Cross at all because everything is so bright and sticks out like an eye sore. Background, characters, and environment are very well designed in such way that you find unity and harmony. Needless to say, CGs from Square are always top notch, first rated, state of the art quality. The injunctions of CGs are proper, and served to extend the flow of events; nevertheless, they are wonderful eye candies that I cannot get enough of.
Sound, I agree with most critics, still plaques the FF series on the current PSX platform as unsatisfactory. By no measure that the sound is not good, we just think that it could easily be better, given the experience that the composer Nobuo Uematsu possesses, and the quality of music the PSX can perform. I have to say the sound is good enough for me, and I particularly enjoy the polished quality of various sound effects in through out the game.
Do not expect any revolution in the gameplay department. Square just delivers what you would have expected from a FF game. I could not see anything special about the battle system other than it is simple. Yes, people will still complain about the random battles. I did enjoy the employment of materia and junction system in the previous 2 games; therefore I hope Square could have incorporated something special to make the battle system a little more interesting. Mini games and side tasks that are scattered throughout the game are both interesting and fun to play with.
Overall, the game rocks! It has been a long time since I played a good and quality RPG or game on PSX, I greatly enjoy Final Fantasy 9. The story is nothing spectacular but is delivered and presented very well with nice flow of events and timely unfolding of plots. Bottom line, Final Fantasy 9 is great game that I enjoy playing. Graphic, Presentation and Value outweigh minor imperfection of sound and gameplay. Square has successfully perpetuated the legend of the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy IX goes back to its cartoony roots, setting aside the gorgeous characterizations of FF8. While FF8 was like playing characters in a well done anime movie, FF IX has you controlling rounded, playful looking characters that give the game more kid-appeal.
The graphics in general are stellar. The opening sequence, the animation of water, of birds, of fire, and of other things normally challenging to an animation crew are amazing to watch. Gameplay graphics are quite good, although at times the pretty backgrounds can make finding an object or figuring out an exit to a room a bit difficult.
FF IX is a bit restrictive in its characters. Your thief, mage, knight, and "princess healer" each need to pretty much specialize within their class. Each can find special items to help them learn and grow, and choose how to aim their growth. This can be done automatically for new players, or with great attention to detail for the more advanced gamers.
Battle is also nice in this way - beginners can have the game pause while they choose exactly which magic to fire at their enemies, while those wanting a challenge can have the entire battle run in real time, depending on quick reflexes and fast fingers. In addition to the players, there are also 'helpers', or Eidolons, which add to the drama of a battle.
Active Time Events (ATE) will show up occasionally to fill you in on the storyline, showing short movies of things happening elsewhere in the game. These are well done - if you've already seen a particular ATE from a different game, you can simply bypass these. Some ATEs help progress the plot, while others give the player help with new commands.
In all, this is a great game for all playing levels. New and young gamers can set the game up so it gives you time to think during combat, and helps out out with skill setting. Advanced players can tweak all of the details themselves, and immerse themselves in the challenging card games that are part of the plot. There's something in it for everyone!
on November 28, 2000
Ok, I'll admit it... I thought 8 was alright... but nowhere near the level of excellence that the Final Fantasy series had lived up to in the first 7 games. It made me lose a lot of respect for the series that I've been playing for over 10 years now.
IX has restored that completely. I wouldn't go so far to say that 9 is the greatest FF game... but it's definitely up there.
Being an AVID fan (I have 15 FF titles on 4 systems and still play them all...), I'm glad to see the guys return to the old school, take their minds off graphic eye-candy and special effects (yup, that's right... less CG... and downright cheezy character graphics! I love it!), and put it back where it belongs in the RPG genre: The interaction, dialogue, and storyline here are all divine. I'd go into more detail but I don't want to ruin the surprise. :)
The character work in IX is so much better than what we've seen in recent games... they are personable, and have real depth. Take Zidane for example: the first FF hero since 6 to be a relatively social character. They also all serve a purpose in the game at some point in time... there are no Yuffies or Gaus here wasting space in your lineup and costing you wasted money for the one time in the game you'll actually use them. Even the most doubtful-seeming characters in FF9 (Quina being the first to come to mind) turns out to be a steady contender with good abilities and genuine usefulness.
All you power gamers out there that loved 6, 7, and 8 because *everyone* could use magic to ridiculous results... you're gonna hate this. Yes, there are wizards again now (all hail FF 1-5) and if you're not a wizard, you're not casting. I don't know about anyone else but this makes ten times more sense to me. It also adds something to the game that the last two were missing completely: a *challenge*. Any hardcore FF'ers will agree with me on this one: 7 and 8 were ridiculously easy. Not to say that 9 is going to kick you around... (I'm on my first replay and am yet to see a "Game Over" screen...) but at least you'll have to stop and think from time to time.
The battle and ability systems are simplified. No more sitting in front of your TV for an hour at a time digging through 50 billion junction abilities. You learn just 2 types of abilities: Battle abilities like spells for your wizards, lance attacks for Freya, thief attacks for Zidane, etc etc... and Indirect abilities that enhance your character in some way, like Auto-Regen or Auto-Potion, different status immunities, and HP/MP extensions. These items are learned by equipping your items, with a system similar to the Esper system in 6 or the Materia in 7. Except everyone can't just learn everything this time... For example: Don't even bother sticking a summon jewel on Zidane to teach him how to call forth Ifrit to burn your enemies... he can't do it :)
The only thing that may be confusing at first until you have the time to get used to it is the Synthesis shops. Basically what you do here is combine 2 items to get a different one, that cannot be bought... only found or synthesized. One tip regarding the Synth shop that I learned my first time through the game: DO NOT SELL ANYTHING, unless you have more than 2 of the same item. Sometimes you'll end up needing something old to synthesize a new item when it becomes available through your travels... if you sell the old stuff, it's sometimes hard to find it again. If you need money, there are 2 great ways to get it besides selling your stuff: Fight monsters, and steal & sell Ether (1000 gil per bottle.)
Now that's as close as I'll get to a spoiler.
My last rant: Yes, it's true... Final Fantasy 9 is a melting pot of all the first 8 FF games, and you *will* see a lot of things you've seen before... and even some references to characters and events from other games. If you can't deal with that, don't buy the game... IX isn't the breakthrough that VII was... but it's also not the disappointment VIII turned out to be. It's simply a creation from the legends at Square to reach a hand out to the new school ... and to win the hearts of the old school, as they prepare to head into yet another new frontier of gaming. Remember, this is the last game of its kind... ever. When 10 is released next year, everything is going to change.
Enjoy it while it lasts. I know I will.
on January 21, 2001
In my opinion, SquareSoft is one of the greatest video game companies and their Final Fantasy games are the best RPGs you can get. Of all the games in the series, the latest entry Final Fantasy IX is my favorite.
With its ninth installment, Square has gone back to a medieval theme and is using a more colorful graphics scheme. This differs from Final Fantasy VII's and VIII's futuristic settings and their dark, realistic graphics, but I always did like the castles and colors of the first Final Fantasies, so Final Fantasy IX suits me fine. Also, it has some of the best music I've ever heard--even better than Chrono Cross'. And the story is more complex and interesting than Final Fantasy VIII's; it's more like VII's where the characters are a mystery and each has his or her own story to tell. And since the characters are developed well, I found that I liked practically every one of them--in Final Fantasy VIII I only really liked Squall and Rinoa.
Final Fantasy IX has my favorite battle system of the series. First, Magic Points are back, so you can't just keep casting spells to your heart's content; you'll first have to make sure you have enough Magic Points. Another welcome return is the challenge of battles; even normal enemies can come close to defeating you, whereas in Final Fantasy VII and VIII, only the bosses ever pose a threat. Like Finaly Fantasy VI for the PlayStation (Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo), each character has his or her own special ability. For instance: the main character Zidane is the only one that can steal items from enemies, and Vivi, a young Black Mage, is the only one gifted in using Black Magic. To teach the characters more "Action Abilities" you'll have to equip them with items that harness new powers. Here's how it works: say Vivi is equipped with a staff that has the "Action Ability" Thunder. As long as Vivi has that staff equipped, he'll be able to use the spell Thunder, but if he removes the staff, he will no longer have its powers. So he will have to battle with that staff until he learns Thunder. Once the powers are learned, he can equip a different weapon and be on his way to learning its powers while still retaining the spell Thunder.
The characters will also learn "Support Abilities" from items. These are abilities that support the characters during battles and are always in effect, meaning you do not have to use them first. But you can't have all your "Support Abilities" active at once since you are limited by your supply of "Magic Stones." Each character has a certain number of these stones, and the number will slowly increase as the character levels up. You equip the required amount of these stones to each "Support Ability" that you wish to be active. For example: Zidane has 11 "Magic Stones" and the "Support Abilities" Counter (randomly counters an enemy's attack) and Antibody (protects the character from being poisoned). Since Counter requires 8 stones to be equipped and Antibody requires 4, Zidane can only equip one until he levels up and gains another stone. This system gives you a nice opportunity to customize your characters.
In battles characters may also perform special maneuvers once they go into a "Trance." This is similar to Final Fantasy VII's "Limit Break." Each character has a "Trance Gauge" that slowly fills up as he receives damage from enemies. Once the gauge is filled, the character enters a "Trance" and can perform his own personal ability. If Vivi enters a "Trance," he gains, for that battle, the ability to cast two spells in the same turn.
Throughout the game there are many events that you can get into--from jumping rope, to collecting cards, to even delivering letters. But my favorite has to be treasure-hunting with a chocobo. (If you're new to the series, a chocobo is a birdlike creature that serves as a horse.) Sometime during the game, you'll get a chocobo, which will be able to use its beak to dig up "Chocographs" (treasure maps) in certain areas. These "Chocographs" tell you the whereabouts of treasures by showing you a small picture of an area on the World Map and giving a hint to its location. But your chocobo may not be able to get to the location until it gains the ability to cross certain terrains. At first your chocobo can only cross over plains, but as it finds more treasures it will gain the ability to cross shallow waters, mountains, etc.
Final Fantasy IX is definitely my favorite in the series and may even be my favorite game ever. With its likeable characters, improved battle system, and fun mini-games, I think anybody who enjoys RPGs will have some of their greatest gaming moments playing this title. Well done, Square!
on November 28, 2000
When people who play video games hear the words Final Fantasy, even those who don't like that type of game have to admit that the series is very cool. It's creators have a history of Taking beautiful fantasy, Sci-fim type of stories, mixing them with interesting and beautifully developed charachters, putting them into fantastic and epic adventures and battles. Final Fantasy IX Scores in every way. You'll laugh, you'll cry, (Really) your jaw will drop at some of the events that happen. You will not be able to shut the game off.
to those who've never played and RPG, I say this: if you like reading, and you like video games, you must play this game. Most RPG's are like fantasy novels turned into videogames. And Final Fantasy is to video games, what the sowrd of truth series it to fantasy novels. simply the best. You save princesses, fight dragons, bring evil doer's to justice, and learn about the meaning of life, love, and beloging. I't not everybodies cup of tea. RPG's, even the best one's are an acquired taste. But should you have the taste for this type of adventure, you'll dig it the most.
For those of you that know the type of game, get it now. It will rob you of sleep, it will keep you from finishing homework, it is truly a captivating game filled with wizards, warriors, acts of courage and sacrifice, beautiful charachter development, mystery, chocobo's, Ultima, Masamune, crystals, and some dude named Cid. For those of you not in the know, Cid is the Q (From James bond) of Final Fantsy.
And, of course the graphics a captivating. the music; inspired. the story; a work of beauty. The battles; epic and exciting. Ant the villans are powerful and deep. But these things are final fantasy staples. This is the best Final Fantasy ever.
on November 17, 2000
Finally, we're back out of the pseudo techno wonders of 7 and 8, and back to the basics which we all grew to love in earlier final fantasies. Not to say I didnt enjoy 7 && 8. However, it's refreshing to see this masterpiece out. Being the final Final Fantasy for the PSX, Square has outdone themselves with this game. Easily addictive, and loads of fun. All I can say is: five stars.
on November 26, 2000
FFIX, is truly a masterpiece... so far. I must admit, when I heard about it, I pre ordered it A.S.A.P. After reading some reviews though, I had my doubts. Going back to their roots meant medieval times, with M.P., and distorted bodies, which I thought they had left behind in 7. When I got the game, and read the manual, it sounded like a pathetic attempt of a game. I was dead wrong.
After putting the C.D. in the Playstation, it amazed me how fast the game loaded. It is much superior to any other game the speed at which the game loads is most excellent. Going from one screen to the next takes maybe 4 seconds, FMV's start quick, as well as battles. I've played both FF 7 and 8, so the battle system was simplistic. Up to 4 characters can now participate in battle. The enemies are still a challenge, and there is quite a variety of magic. Unfortunately, and so far the biggest mistake, was getting rid of Limit Breaks. Limits Breaks, were like Final Fantasy's trademark. Instead, there is a Trance gauge, which increases as you take damage. When full, that person goes into a Trance, their attack and defence increase, and their commands change. Monsters can be summoned, and are now called Eidolons. There is the usual gang of Shiva, Ifrit, Odin, Bahamut, Alexander, and Leviathan. They don't play as much of a role as they did in 8, and are more in line with 7. The characters, on the field, have gone back to their cartoon drawings.
The music is great. There is a wide variety of scores, that even rival Final Fnatasy 7's. There's something for every mood.
Controls are extremely easy to pick up, for anyone who's familiar with other FF's. Even then, skimming the manual will provide all the info needed.
Final Fantasy IX's story line is well thought out and written. I felt that 8's was to basic. It's obvious that the story has alot of heart and soul put into it. The characters come together perfectly, and interact with each other in a most beautiful way.
The highlight of the story is the ATE. ATE is Active Time Events, which allow you to see what other people that you've met are doing. It is necessary to view them, because they help the story and give vital clues to solving riddles and puzzles.
To conclude, anyone who like Final Fantasy should try XI, even those of you who thought 7 and/or 8 was bad, or like RPG's, or are looking for something new. Everyone into video games, in fact, should give this a try. Believe me, it's worth the $ and the time!
on March 22, 2001
Let me first say that I'm 25 and bought a Playstation about a month ago, because I was bored. I grew up on the Final Fantasy series, so this was a game I had to buy and play. If you played FF7 & 8 this game will be a culture shock. If you've played the earliest titles, you may drown in nostalgia. All the FF games are nice, but the medieval motif is, personally, far superior to the quasi-mechanized worlds that housed 7 & 8. 7 was pretty good, but 8 did nothing for me. The ability system in FF9 makes the same systems in 7 & 8 seem overly complex, junky, and illogical (you can almost picture the characters with silly colored stones all over themselves, and these stones holding the very keys to success). But in contrast, the ability system in FF9 is clean, efficient, logical, and pretty "natural", for lack of a better term. Customizing is easy, and everything is fairly useful. In short, it lets you concentrate on the story, rather than figuring out some labyrinthine system. I digress. Anyway, the game is phenomenal!!! A cold analysis of the game shows fine graphics, a clean design, and excellent sound. However, the game is far deeper than that. FF9, like most current games, utilizes in-game movies. Big deal, you say? Actually it is. The difference is in purpose. Whereas most games use the movies to show off graphics, FF9 judiciously employs the movies to carefully develop the characters and plotline. Visually, they're amazing, but it's the story they really fuel. THE STORY DRIVES THIS GAME! Sadly, most RPG's are forced into swamping the player with tons of weapons and items in order to maintain interest, because the story is weak. FF9 could be used the same way, but only if you chose to play with that purpose. The game has a fairly unpredictable plot, many interesting characters, and perhaps the finest blend of people-specific locations I've ever seen in a game. What do I mean? Almost every character is in some way tied to his or her own race of creature-person, and each creature-person has its own "home" if you will. So what you have is a vast world teeming with an awesome variety of life (life seems to be a theme in the game). This is made possible only by the complex storyline and painstaking character development. Every character has a quirk and you find yourself connecting with them. Numerous times during the game, I found myself thinking "how do they think of this?" It's truly a graphical novel, and I'm in no way ashamed to be 25 and playing this game. I just finished the game about 5 days ago and I've already started again, because I know that I've missed things, and I really just want to experience the story again. It's that good! Perhaps the most notable thing I can about the game is this: it makes you think. I became so immersed in the people, places, and story that I felt sad as I neared the end, knowing that the story would eventually have to conclude. I actually got a little choked up during the ending, because it's so emotional and passionate, and you feel like you've experienced everything alongside the characters. When all was through, I sat there thinking: about life and people, and what's really worth pursuing. Yes, it's a game, but a profound one.
on November 20, 2000
This is one of the best Final Fantasys yest! I love how it has gone back to its old FF roots of fantasy ONLY! I also enjoy how the job system is somewhat back (with some exceptions). Now only mages can cast spells and warriors use swords...it's great! The characters may look wierd (I like it!) and not be as serious as the Cloud from FF7 or Squall from FF8 (I like it beacuse they aren't nearly as stubborn...Zidane is actually quite outgoing and clever...) but they are certainly a great cast (better than) for the last FF game on the PS console! Also, the game holds a bit more difficulty than the last three games...not that much more though... The game, unfortunately, is more linear than any so far. Where exploration and gameplay lack, the story excells and the FMV's are absolutely incredible. This is also one of my favorite RPG's and Final Fantasy games (FF6 and 7 among others...). A definete buy for any RPG (ANY!)
on December 14, 2000
I was ready to hate this game when I first played it, because Final Fantsy VIII was so overly complicated and the story wasn't even understandable. I belived Final Fantasy VII was going to be the best of the Final Fantasys until I had played the 9th installment. The story isn't the best, but far better then most RPGs now days. The interesting characters draw you in and you don't want to stop playing until you find out what will happen to them. The graphics, while not as realilistic as 8, are just as good, if not better, with amazing backrounds and good chacter models. The musical score is decent, and I belive most would not complain, as It is far better then Chrono Cross or Legend of Dragoon. The Juction system has been discarded for a new, simple system that almost any gamer can get in to. The return of mini games is a welcome suprise as well as a new card game supierior to Triple Triad in most ways. The only big flaw I can see is the random battles which may have been ramped up some, but other then that, there is nothing major that takes away from the game. If you like RPGs then buy it. If not, then at least rent it.