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Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation) artwork

Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation) review


"What prompted me to buy this game? Perhaps it was my longing for another great story from Square. Because that's what most Square RPGs are, a story, with some new gameplay devised thrown in for good measure. Another reason was the return to ''Old School'' Fantasy, not the modern fantasy of VII and VIII. (Which has itís own charm, mind you) I was willing to put up with the random battles and leveling up, but was very surprised when neither were really that bad. Thanks to this game, I am now ..."



What prompted me to buy this game? Perhaps it was my longing for another great story from Square. Because that's what most Square RPGs are, a story, with some new gameplay devised thrown in for good measure. Another reason was the return to ''Old School'' Fantasy, not the modern fantasy of VII and VIII. (Which has itís own charm, mind you) I was willing to put up with the random battles and leveling up, but was very surprised when neither were really that bad. Thanks to this game, I am now a mild-FF addict.

GRAPHICS 7/10

First off, we all know the pre rendered backgrounds are going to look absolutely gorgeous. No question about it. The same with FVM. I do not count pre rendered backgrounds as PSX graphics, for the simple fact it requires little to accomplish. (Just a really good artist.) The battlegrounds in FF9, although nice, are blocky and pixley. Thatís the bottom line. Although not terribly bad, I always seemed to notice it.

While character models might look pixley, large monster, (like in the summons) look much better.

Although not part of the score, the FVM are stunning in this game, proving Square wants to combine game playing and storytelling. Each one looks absolutely amazing.

GAMEPLAY 7/10 and DESIGN 10/10

What is a RPG? A story with characters, development and plot. Walking around does not count as gameplay. First up, the actual gameplay:

Extreme customization of FF7 is gone, replaced with character specific abilities. Do you know how sad I was when I rarely used Red XIII in FF7? He was cool, but I used other characters instead because of the Magic I had them equipped with, and changing magic was a hassle. That's gone if FF9. Dagger casts healing magic, Vivi black magic, Zidane your HP heavy attacker, Stiener for brute force, etc. And by equipping different weapons and armor, your character learns abilities. No, not magic (at least for the non magic casters) but stuff that protects you from Confusion, Poison, and what not. Useful in the right situations.

Four character parties are back, and are better because of it. But the battle system is just tweeked, nothing new.

Not since Chrono Trigger has a cast of character been this great. Every character has his or her charms, and they continue to develop til the end. Even the two least developed characters, Quina and the really cool Amarant, are interesting. (Okay, Quina is a goofy extra, I guess.) Thier all great. Zidane's fluting is another nice touch, making the character have depth. (if you want to call it that.) Stiener is another lovable character, protecting the princess til no end... that is until he has a revelation and...oh wait, no spoilers. Surprisingly, the most touching character is the little Vivi, a black mage out in the word of the first time. You really start to feel for the little guy. FF9 also has a small, but well done, supporting cast, like Cid, Blank, Beatrix and Baku. The story will be discussed in the story section.

SOUND 10/10

Some people say that the music is not up to par with the rest of the series. I laugh in their faces, I do! Each track is good, and a few stand out above the rest. The song that has been playing over and over in my head is Freya's Theme....so simple, yet so emotionally binding, somehow fitting the mood for Freya perfectly. (River dancing rodents!)

Although I don't now the name, the intro music is great, and so is Amaranat's Theme. Cid's Theme is a perfect castle melody, and the Chocobo Theme returns with a low key ukealally (sp?) beat.

Yet another wonderful track is ''Your not Alone!'', fitting the mood for that scene without a hitch. (Electric gutairs! Rock on Zidine! Woooo!) The battle theme is nice, although the boss theme was kind of lacking....

Great stuff.

STORY 8/10

Returning the midevel setting of old FF's, FF9 plot reminds us that Square are master storytellers.

The story of FF9 is nowhere as deep as FF7's, but it's still a enjoyable piece of story telling. It continues the ''go back to the roots'' evil empire, evil villain, band of heroes, ''Who am I?'' shoreline. Of course it widens after the ''kidnap the Princess'' plot, and aside from the awesome ultimate goal near the end of the game and a occasion plot revelations, the plot is rather predictable. The games bad guy, Kuja, is also nothing new, and it kindda low key. It can be views as a good or bad thing, though, I guess. The plot is simple enough to be entertaining, but not complex enough to be confusing. (like Chrono Cross) What is the overlaying message? Simple: Friendship.

REPLAY VALUE 7/10

I'm not one to replay RPG's over and over, it's more fun to play a game like Zelda again right after you beat it.

GRIPES

I'm not going to gripe about random battles, because they weren't really that bad... If I had to choose one thing, it would be the still wonderful plot was very predictable. (I figured out Garnat's plot revelation in the introduction movie for pete's sake.) Kuja is a little corny, but it fits him.... the corny SOB....

OVERALL 9/10
Honest Gamers score: 93

Unlike FF7, FF9 was much easier to play though, thus the score of 9. The story was entertaining, the character lovable, the gameplay great for a RPG... The high point for the series, mixing the best of the old with the best of the new. I don't know when Square will come back to the midevil settings, but I hope they do. (Although FFX seems to mix them quite well, judging from the one screen shot I've seen)

Square....come back to Nintendo!

-review by Joseph Blanchette-
1/15/01

Rating: 9.3/10

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