Hi guys and welcome to my place!
So today I’m reviewing Final Fantasy IX, just a disclaimer from the beginning… This is my second least favorite Final Fantasy, so if you are a hardcore fan that can’t read anything bad about the game… Well, sorry to disappoint you, but you are not going to like this post 🙂 But if you want to read a different opinion from yours be my guest and feel completely free to give yours in the comments 🙂 I love to hear opinions different from mine eheh
So, let’s start it shall we?
The beginning of the story is really well made actually… You play with 3 different characters that will be part of your main team throughout all game, it’s a great way to introduce the characters.
You start the game in the day of Garnet’s, princess of Alexandria, 16th birthday. As a member of royalty you know that there will be a huge party where there is always a great play that everyone wants to see.
You start with Zidane, the main character, which will be going to the play as an actor, however it’s only a cover, the theatre company is in reality the thief troup and their mission is to kidnap the princess. Next you have Vivi, a strange little kid (which from the clothes you immediately know he is a black mage) who bought a fake ticket to see the play, however he is able to enter the castle with the help of another kid who is up to no good. Last, but not the least you have Steiner, the commander of the royal guard who wants to make sure that everything goes perfect in this so important day.
The commemoration starts and everything is in place to start! However, Garnet does not seems to be appreciating or having any kind of fun with it. She then excuses herself at the same time Zidane and his companion, Blank, are able to infiltrate the castle. They end up finding the princess and try to kidnap her, something that is way easier when she is the one asking to be kidnaped in the first place. Steiner understands what is happening and the pursuit starts. At the same time Vivi and his new friend are caught and are running from the soldiers. Long story short they all end up in the Thieves Troup airship when it starts flying. The queen, Garnet’s mother gives the order to attack the ship which ends up being really damaged and colliding in a forest.
The forest is more to make you understand how to play the game, the only thing that is worth mentioning is that when exploring you end up fighting the boss of the forest and killing it. This makes all the forest to petrify and Blank is not able to run fast enough, getting petrified in the middle of the forest. The thieves troup decides that their next step is to find a cure for Blank, but Zidane (can’t remember specifically why) goes with Garnet, Vivi and Steiner with the mission to get Garnet to Lindblum so she can reunite with her uncle, the king (or is it mayor?) of the city.
They end up in a small village and from the beginning they find many things that don’t really add up, one of them being that only children seem to live in that small village. They discover that there is a black mage (equal to vivi) mass production factory below the village where all the adults work. This factory is run by Garnet’s mother and the black mages are used only to kill. Basically it’s the soldiers that the Queen is using to conquer the other nations.
They end up stealing the airship and go to Lindblum the fastest as they can to give these news to Garnet’s uncle. Basically the queen was the kindest person there was, but after Garnet’s father died she got a new counsellor, Kuja. He was the one that put all these kind of ideas in the queen’s head and blind her with the sense of power. Are you feeling a deja vu? Probably it’s because you read my Final Fantasy IV post. The formula used is the same, although the execution is way different.
From here you will be travelling with the hope to get a way to stop the queen. To be honest, the story is really good! Although using a formula already seen in a previous installment the execution is way better and way more intriguing, so why is this my second least favorite Final Fantasy installment… Well, the characters are the deal breaker to me.
I’ve already said this, Final Fantasy 9 gave me my favorite character from all time: Vivi and the one that I dislike the most, Quina. I’m not going to talk bout them because I already did when doing the 30 day Video Game Challenge. If you are interested you can see my post about Vivi here and Quina here.
But there is more…
I don’t really like Zidane, the main character. He thinks too much about himself and he’s too cocky for my taste. However he has a good heart and he does start evolving into a more humble person throughout the story.
I hate, but like HATE Steiner… I understand the point though, he is the royal captain, he does not want to work with thieves as Zidane… But did they had to make him so damn annoying? Yes, it’s true that he ends up changing but it takes SO MUCH time! It’s a RPG, you do spend a lot of time with the characters… And well annoyed is not really the best thing to feel when playing a game.
Then we have Amarant who until this day I can’t understand why he was created… Don’t take me wrong, I don’t really dislike him. He basically is hired by the Queen to kill Garnet and her party and ends up staying with you, however he doesn’t add anything to the main plot… Being there or not it’s the same to be honest.
I do like the others though… Garnet does not start as this kick ass princess as Ash from Final Fantasy 12, but she does start to get tougher with time. I like how Freyia is always so correct and think carefully about things.
But I don’t know, the party just felt… off. I’m not saying it’s bad… It’s just that it could be a lot better
Let’s start with the characters design… I don’t really like it to be honest… First the queen seems like an elephant, then you have the main character which has a tail (although it is explained why further in the story), you have Quina that I don’t really know what he/she is (not even the characters know the gender of Quina)… Well basically, I came from Final Fantasy 8 where they went with a more “reality” approach having the body proportions correct and then they went to Final Fantasy 9 with all these strange characters and coming back to the proportions of Final Fantasy 7 (with better graphics sure)… I mean if the designs were cool or something like that, because I do love different species. I just LOVE the vieras from Final Fantasy XII, but I don’t know… They are a race, it makes completely sense… Here… Well, I didn’t see any more elephants around, so who are the queen’s parents? Is she part of an endagerous species? Was it some kind of spell that went wrong? I need explanations!!!!
In the other hand, the cutscenes are just great, the best I have seen in Playstation, they really went and made the maximum they could with the system. I still remember while playing to think “Oh my god! The graphics are so good, so polished”… Little I would know the games I was going to play in the future 😀
The in-game graphics are good. There was improvement from Final Fantasy 8 to Final Fantasy 9, the game is less pixelated, but the changes are not as great that it was from Final Fantasy 7 to Final Fantasy 8.
Contrary to the previous installments there was not really new to the fighting system…
Skills are gained by equipping weapons and gaining ap, although different from Final Fantasy 7 and 8 it’s not really that huge deal or different at this point. Each character becomes again a specialist in their own class, which is not a problem, but you end up using always the same party… I mean, who is going to a boss fight without a healer?
Other thing that disappointed was that in the beginning of the game you have all these smalls mini-games even in the middle of the story (yes, I jumped the rope more than 300 times guys!) which made me really happy and think “what an original and interesting thing to make the story more dynamic”… However after the beginning they basically end… They could have delivered a lot more because it WAS an excellent idea… And don’t come say that you have the catching frogs with Quina thing because… Well, just don’t! 😀
You do have a card game as you had in Final Fantasy 8, but WAY worse… Here instead of numbers you have arrows in the borders of the cards telling you where do they attack and defend. Ok, that’s not a problem, the problem is that when one of your arrows goes against one of your opponent’s card arrow the cards enter a battle… Based on numbers! How do you know which number will appear and which card is stronger than other? Beats me! Until today I didn’t understand how the F does that work… And I’m the exploring and reading everything kind of player!
It’s a Final Fantasy so you know at least that the music will be epic every time. It’s not my favourite OST, but the music is pretty good non the less! This one has a more fantasy story kind of feel, which makes sense since the vibe that the game gives you is also like that. My favourite is Freya’s theme (for the ones with mobile you can hear it here).
And that’s it! Don’t take me wrong… They did a good job, but since it’s a Final Fantasy I’m expecting a GREAT job, to the point of having 3 of them in my top 10 and 95% of them in my top 30… Let’s say that I was disappointed, and hey, when I played this I was still a kid, so I should have digged all the fantasy story thing right?
But, as I said, it is a pretty solid game, the story and music are good and the cutscenes breath-taking for the time the game came out, so:
I give Final Fantasy IX 4 Annoying Chars out of 5 Elephant Queens
Did you play Final Fantasy 9? What do you think of it? If not, are you thinking to give this classic a go? Comment down below! 😀
See You Soon!
5 thoughts on “Final Fantasy IX | Black Mages of the Death”
Good write up. FFIX is the only one I’ve played in the series, but even with that bias I think your points are totally valid. Vivi is definitely the best part of the game!
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Thank you so much 🙂 vivi is just awesome! Best character ever!
I’m assuming that since you say you played this as a kid you didn’t play the earlier Final Fantasies back when they were first released? The reason a lot of people find this one so special is because it was a specific attempt to try and recapture the look and feel of the older games with the improved tech of the PlayStation — particularly after 8 in particular had rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. (I loved VIII, but a lot of people haaaaaate it!)
A lot of things you mention like the queen seeming obviously “monstrous” and not really like anyone else in the game are deliberate callbacks to the earlier games — as well as their inspirations, such as fairy tales and various world mythologies. In the queen’s case, she’s a reflection of the popular depiction of characters that are “evil” becoming physically corrupted and deformed as a result of their deeds.
IX as a whole was also intended to be a “fond farewell” to that era of Final Fantasy; you’ll notice that all the games from X onwards are significantly different from the ones that came earlier, with more experimental mechanics, progression systems, ways of presentation, characters and all manner of other things.
FF is a really interesting series that has rarely stood still. I did a full rundown of where the series has been over time when I covered FFXV a while back: https://moegamer.net/2016/12/07/final-fantasy-xv-a-series-of-constant-reinvention/
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Didn’t know about that! Thank you so much for the info! I always love to learn new things!
By older games you are speaking about 1,2,3 and 5 right? Because 4 and 6 both have some part of technology. Clearly those games are the ones that show Final Fantasy starting a route more technological and less fantasy, at least in my opinion 🙂
However, even by knowing that, I continue to feel that the characters could be a little more well done. As I said, it’s not that is bad… It is just not perfect, the quality I always expect from a Final Fantasy and even though I understand the embodiment part of evil, why are not other evil characters like that? And I’m not even talking about Kuja since he is not from that world, but at least some of the characters, for example Lani should also have some embodiment of evil, even if not as strong as the Queen 🙂
I’ll read your post! Actually, I’m really interested in doing it! But, since I have yet to write for the other installments I’ll read it afterwards ending this series, just because I don’t want to be biased and I really want to compare our points of view at the end 😀
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