Video Game Review: Final Fantasy IX

Details: Originally released in 2000 for the Sony Playstation. Purchased for $10.00 on Steam and played on the PC. Played for about fifty hours.

Many years ago when the most recent Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy X, I asked my cousin which of the previous Final Fantasy games was his favorite (he’d played all the prior games). His surprising response was Final Fantasy IX, not Final Fantasy VII. Years later, I now get to see what he was so crazy about.

Final Fantasy IX is an old video game and a classic example of a Japanese role-playing game. Although there are some mini-games and puzzles, gameplay consists largely of active time battles. What generally happens is that there are areas where random battles occur (like a dungeon) and areas where they do not. When the character you control walks into one of these battle areas and a battle occurs, you then enter a separate screen where the characters you control take turns attacking, defending, casting spells, or using items to defeat and enemy. Instead of being turn based, the battles take place sort of in real-time in that a gauge is constantly filling. When it fills completely, you get to take an action. Then the gauge empties and you wait for it to fill again so you can take another action. This system is called the active time battle system and is present in a lot of Final Fantasy games. The characters you control in battle can level up and each plays a different role with different abilities and spells to cast. It’s like any role-playing game in that regard.

Like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII, the game is divided into four acts/parts. At the time, the games were divided onto four data discs so it made sense to do it that way since you had to change discs as you progressed through the game. Accordingly, the world of the game generally changed each time you entered a new act/part and new quests would appear accordingly with developments in the story.

As with many role-playing video games, the weakest part of the game is the gameplay. It is still fun to level your characters and become more powerful and see the animations for new spells, but the primary motivator in a role playing game is its story. The story here, as judged by modern day standards, isn’t terrible for a video game. If you love classic Japanese RPG’s, then you will likely love this game far more than someone who doesn’t.

The premise is this: Zidane and a theater troupe filled with miscreants is hired to kidnap the princess of kingdom. This leads to a chain of events that require Zidane and friends he meets along the way to go on an adventure towards saving the world.

It’s a lengthy story and took me around fifty hours to get through. It’s also a story the Final Fantasy franchise is known for and the kind of story that fans of the series have come to love. Another aspect about the story and this world you get to explore is the mixture of magic and technology. It’s a fantasy story with many elements of a science fiction as well. This is likely one of the main reasons why nerds of the highest order have loved these classic Final Fantasy games.

Visually, this game looks pretty bad. I’m playing on a 1080p monitor and it’s clear that instead of increasing the resolution of the textures, they just stretched them out. The result is a game where most things are very pixelated and it’s hard to make a determination of whether this game looks better or worse than the original version on Playstation. Still, I learned to get used to it and enjoyed the game regardless.

The music in this game is great. This game is one of the last few games that Nobuo Uematsu (longtime composer of the Final Fantasy series) has fully scored. I really enjoyed a lot of the melodies here and, as usual, a lot of these memorable songs stuck with me after the game ended.

Overall, a fun game, though not the best looking. It’s old. I would not recommend this game to anyone though. I would recommend it to someone who loves the Final Fantasy series (specifically Final Fantasy VII) and to someone who loves classic, Japanese role-playing video games. Otherwise, I think you can skip this game.

Score: 6/10

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