Final Fantasy IX
February 24, 2009

I've never been able to review this game, even when I actually wrote reviews on a regular basis. Yes, I did write reviews on a regular basis. But Final Fantasy IX eluded me. I couldn't find words for it.

I have to admit, I'm still having trouble. And I need to review this thing in the next few days for the little contest I'm involved in.

I wrote a few notes, and now I need to try and expand it into a review. I'm using this blog as a template, since it's much like the review submission box. I can't write this stuff in Microsoft Word or Notepad, because for some reason my brain shuts down.

I have the first line of my review.

"Final Fantasy IX was never going to please everyone."

I find this so true. I can remember way back when this game came out, a friend of mine had loved Final Fantasy 7 and 8, but he refused to play 9, simply because the characters had big heads and looked cartoonish. Final Fantasy has one of the most fickle fanbases out there. They'll turn on a game and hate it for the smallest of reasons. I never understood, and still don't, how you can discount a game based on one small cosmetic detail. It's like hating Zelda 3 because Link looks a bit chubby. It's like throwing away a book because you don't like the font.

Probably none of this will end up in the review. I'm just trying to write for the hell of it, to get my fingers loosened up, to get ideas out there. Who knows, maybe some of what I write will actually be worth something. Like this, perhaps?

I was thinking about FF9's music. Music that can evoke all kinds of emotions. Sadness (much of the music that plays when Princess Garnet is standing on balconies, looking out at the sky, showing her perfect butt to the camera). Happiness (the fast paced, optimistic rythym of Zidane's Theme). Tension (Many of the game's battle themes).

Depression (You're Not Alone! starts off depressing, but soon lifts up and up and becomes quite a heartwarming song, one of my favourite pieces of video game music ever, and the track that got me interested in video game music to start with).

Fear (the thumping beat of Kuja's theme). And there are songs with so much raw energy, like Gulug's Volcano, which made that particular dungeon an absolute joy to explore. And they are songs I still subconciously hum to this day.

Back to the story, for a moment.

I found the story to be quite episodic. You had your introduction, where the characters all cross paths, and are forced into their adventure. None of the characters know each other at first, many dislike each other, and they are forced to work together to escape their first few trials. The interactions between the characters are great, especially the antagonistic banter between Zidane and Steiner, and it truly is a great moment later in the game when the two put aside their differences and find a great respect for each other.

Then there's the Dali episode. A small village, peaceful, but with something going on under the surface. The characters split up to explore the town, and the audience gets to see the Active Time Events, which help flesh out the individual characters when they're on their own.

There's so much depth to the world of Final Fantasy IX, it feels like a living, breathing world with a real history. This is something that was only improved upon in FFX and FFXII (though FFXII took it too far and it brought the down the rest of the game).

Unlike the previous two games, where the girls were trying to get the unresponsive guys (Cloud and Squall) the whole game, it's refreshing to see a more realistic love story, where Zidane is the one pursuing a reluctant Garnet. Maybe the thief with a heart of gold pursuing the princess with a forgotten past has been done before, but who the hell cares? When it's done this well, it doesn't matter how unoriginal it is.

Final Fantasy IX is probably the game I'd point people to if they wanted to know what Final Fantasy as a series was. It's a game that takes elements of all games, creates something so familiar and comfortable, and does it so well that it easily stands alone as its own entry into the series.

And it also seems, to me, like a huge salute at the past before the series moved into the next generation.

I probably have more to say, but for now, that's enough.

Most recent blog posts from Jerec ...

Suskie Suskie - February 24, 2009 (05:15 PM)
Weird coincidence: I've been hitting up Blue Laguna all week for some of the classic RPG soundtracks I've wanted to load into my iTunes, and just today I downloaded Final Fantasy IX's. I was listening to it while I was reading Henry V, which actually goes together better than you might think.

I've been wanting to review it for a while too, since, unlike FFVII and FFVIII, I actually have (mostly) positive things to say about it. It really does feel like a representation of the series in its purest form, which was a nice breath of fresh air after the previous two games tried to incorporate new ideas and (in my mind) failed.

What really made me fall for FFIX, ultimately, was the cast. The previous two games in the series seemed to constantly be begging for my emotional attachment, but it's hard for me to feel for characters that are genuinely shallow, unlikeable, and one-dimensional. I actually found myself caring for Zidane and Garnet, and the blossoming romance came off as totally believable as a result. (The Dali episode provided one of the most memorable scenes in the game, when Zidane teaches Garnet how to speak like a commoner. Very charming.) Plus, Vivi is probably my favorite character of the entire series.

I think my one major issue with FFIX was that the writers were never able to keep the characters together for any long periods of time without breaking them up again and sending them off on separate paths, and as a result, the plot jumps around a lot and doesn't feel as linear as it should, and none of the individual characters are given enough time in the spotlight gameplay-wise. The plot itself was altogether kind of messy, I guess, especially after things kind of wrapped up at the end of the second disc and then the writers realized they still had two more discs to fill. "Episodic" is definitely the right word.

Still... good game. I look forward to reading your review if you manage to get it done.
disco1960 disco1960 - February 24, 2009 (06:06 PM)
Quina gags are comedy gold!

The card game sucked.
draculasrevenge draculasrevenge - March 04, 2009 (08:39 PM)
FF9 kept me engaged more than the others.

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