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» Final Fantasy VII » Final Fantasy VIII » Final Fantasy IX
» Final Fantasy X » Final Fantasy X-2 » Final Fantasy XI
» Final Fantasy XII » Final Fantasy VII: AC » Final Fantasy TSW
» Kingdom Hearts » Kingdom Hearts II » Final Fantasy VII: BC
Final Fantasy IX / 9

GAME: Final Fantasy IX
SYSTEM: Playstation
GENRE: Role-Playing
DEVELOPER: Square Soft

PS2: Japan: 7-7-2000
PS2: US: 11-14-2000
PS2: Europe: 2-16-2002


Now the story of FF9 is very different to those of regular RPG game. Instead of the usual let's save the world theme, the story itself is more of a group of adventurers on an adventure in discovery of themselves and the world that they live in. The story starts of with a group of mercenaries disguised as actors on a theater ship heading to the city of Alexandria to perform a play. Their real objective is to kidnap Garnet, the princess of Alexandria. For what purpose is anyone's guess. In the meantime during the play, the Princess decides to runaway from home for reasons of her own on board the Theater ship. The same ship that was going to kidnap her. It turns out that later on, the princess is looking to go to Lindblum to find her Uncle there. The irony in all of this is that the kidnappers were planning to kidnap her to bring her to Lindblum anyways. With the two sides both having the same objective, they set off on a journey to Lindblum with the Princess's mother army in hot pursuit. During the kidnapping and on the journey to Lindblum, Garnet befriends one of the kidnapper named Zidane. Here is where the adventure begins in FF9. On the journey to Lindblum, the two meets up with different people that will join them on their journey. Here they learn about one another and about the past, present, and future of the world of Gaia. The story itself is a very well developed story in terms of presenting and giving us insights of each unique characters. One by one, you get to learn who these characters are and what makes them tick. During the back drop in all of this is the fact that the Queen of Alexandria is planning on invading the surrounding countries. For two thirds of the game, the story is pretty much base on finding out who these three central characters are in FF9. Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi. With the rest of the supporting cast added in too. The rest of the game is base on the save the world theme from a madman. This is probably the weak part of the game. There's really no sense of urgency that the world is in really danger here. In fact you don't even really know why the world is in danger until the last quarter of the game. This kind of hurt the story overall. A good story is one that gives the game a plotline right away. Gamers playing this game probably still won't know what the main plotline is until very late in the game. The ending of this game was quite predictable and kind of boring to tell you the truth. Let me rephrase that. I found the ending to be ordinary not boring. Not the same kind of ending as compare to FF7 or FF8. It doesn't grab you as the way FF8 and FF7 ended. There was some loose story plot line that the story failed to address. Why did the Queen become bad?? How did Sir Flatley lose his memory?? These are the two that comes to mind. Very strong points for presentation of the way each character's storyline is told but weak for the overall plotline of the game. Another indication is that the end boss isn't even the actual game bad guy overall. Much was said about the return of the crystals in FF9 but in the end, the crystals only make their appearance in the very late stages of the game and even then the game didn't explain the importance of the crystal very well. Better than FF5 but not as good a story as FF6, FF7, and FF8.

The strongest points are the characters in this game. Unlike most RPG games including the other Final Fantasy games, FF9 puts their spotlight on all your characters and just not the main hero. In fact throughout this game, there's a sense of team spirit and not one character is bigger than the others. In FF8, Squall stand out among everyone. In FF7, Cloud stands out among everyone. Here it's safe to say that Zidane is not in the same class as those two characters. What he is though is that he blends in well with the rest of the team. What is also surprising is that each party members at some point or another in the game get their story told. Pretty much equal treatment for all the characters involve in this game. As I stated before, the story tend to focus more on the stories of these characters then the usual let's go out and save the planet plotline. Everyone here will have their favorite character to choose from. I give it a 8 for the strong character development but I still think this story need a better and stronger lead character or characters that stand out individually. Sorry but there's no way can you put Zidane in the same class as memorable lead characters as Cloud, Squall, and McDohl (from Suikoden). Just so you would know, Beatrix is my favorite character. She reminds me alot of a cool female version of Sephiroth. But that's probably the only character I really like in this game.

As for the graphics, it's probably the best out there so far. You're looking at a 3-D rendered background with a somewhat short 3-D rendered characters. Each of the backgrounds are very realistic and detailed to the dot. The attention that the gamemakers gives to the background is incredible. The colors in this game does the graphic justice. The only drawback is probably the 3-D rendered characters in this game. Sometimes the characters don't fit in very nicely with the background. Other times the characters looked somewhat too deformed and short because of the fact that they look more fantasy than the realistic ones showcased in FF8. Still this is just a small and minor thing that can be overcome very easily. Now the CG/FMV are just plain mind boggling. Not only are there alot of them but they look so nice. I think the FMV are a big surprised in this game because I don't think many of us accepted to see so many FMV in this game. Don't ask me why but we just don't. Great graphics.

MUSIC 8/10
Like with any cool Final Fantasy game, the music is very good but not excellent. Sorry but it's not up to snuff when compare to FF7 or FF8. Yes there are some really cool theme like FF9 opening main theme and Kuja's We Will Rock You theme but overall is not super excellent. In FF8, Liberi Fatali & Eyes on Me are tattooed to the gamers. Here there's not one song theme that really define FF9 to us. Example, when we think of FF7 music theme, Aeris theme comes to mind right away. Nothing like that applies here in FF9. Don't say Melodies of Life because quite frankly, Melodies of Life isn't that great of a song. I can even see why they only wanted to play Melodies of Life at the end credits cause the song itself doesn't really fit anywhere during the game itself. Good music but not perfect.

Now where to begin with the game play. First off, as stated before, FF9 is a step back toward FF5 direction. Your party members now consist of 4 members instead of the awful three party members. This is good. The game is pretty straight forward with random battles at each turn or steps. If you don't like random battles then you're in for a disappointment. This game has lots of them and I mean lots of them. This is a step down to FF8 as FF8 gives you the options of cutting your encounter rate in half or none at all through junctions. A couple of things that were introduce in this game. One is the Active Time Event. Basically, Active Time Event is when you are wondering in a town and a menu pops up that lets you know that there's a story cut scene that you can watch. Let's say if Zidane and Vivi splits up in a town. You control Zidane to explore the town. During your exploration of the town, Active Time Event menu pops up. You press the button to activate Active Time Event. It will then show you want Vivi is doing. So basically Active Time Event lets you see what's going on in the other part of town with your other party members. Overall Active Time Event is pretty useless. They could just add the extra story cut scene as part of the overall story instead of just an optional thing. To simply put, Active Time Event is a "meanwhile". Second thing that they added is the exclamation mark that appears overhead of characters that you are controlling during the your exploration of towns and cities. Basically this exclamation mark lets the gamers know that there's a hidden item to be found there. So if you're walking or running by something and an exclamation mark pops up then you know that there's a hidden item nearby. Now onto to the characters and their skills. Each characters has their own fighting class much in the way of FF5. Fighting classes are white mage, black mage, blue mage, thief, ninja, dragoon, knight, and summoner. Of course each class has their own skills. Now regarding the skills. Each weapons, amours, and accessories comes with their own set of skills. In order for a character to learn a skill they must first equip the stuff. In order to use a skill the character must first equip the skill by distributing their AP points. If you want to use a skill outside of that particular weapon, armour, or accessories then the character must first finish learning that skills. Each skills require a certain maximum number of AP in order to learn that skills. You can of course get AP during each battle. The problem is that each battle gives out an average of only 2 AP so learning skills is a long process that is very annoying. Sometime if not all the times, you have a new and better weapon, armour, accessories that you want to equip but can't cause you haven't finish learning the skills of the old weapon, armour, accessories yet. This is quite annoying but once you start learning these skills, they will help you in battle greatly. Battle of course takes place in a real time turn base system. Much like FF8, FF7, ect. The unique thing here is that the limit breaks which was last seen in FF7 and FF8 are no longer here. Limit breaks has now been replace by Trance. Each character comes with a trance bar. Every time a character gets hit, the trance bar goes up. If the trance bar reaches maximum then your character will change into a second phrase which is a much more powerful version of their self for a limited time. Now the problem with Trance is that you have absolutely no control over when you get Trance. Sometimes due to unforeseen happenings, you may end up trance at the very end of battle so your Trance is a total waste while other times your Trance takes place against a very weak random enemy. Trance in the end is totally unreliable and quite useless. This is a step down from the cool and awesome limit breaks. This pretty much sum up the overall game play. Everything else can be chuck under the extra/replay section. I swear that sometimes the game is fun while other times it's just plain annoying. I didn't really like the game play that much.

Now in terms of extras, side quest, and mini games, FF9 has lots of them. To simply put, you can spend up to and over 20 hours on these stuff here. Now the game gives you a Frog catching game where one of your characters can catch Frogs to get cool items and fight an optional boss. There's also the Chocobo Digging game that will waste up to 15 hours of your life if you're not careful. There's also the letter delivering mini games with the Moogles. There's the jump rope skipping game. Let me know if anyone here actually did a 2000 jump. There's also many small hidden stuff to be found including the auction game. There's also a card game that doesn't really serve much purpose. There are three optional bosses to fight. Ozma, Hades, and Quina master. Officially there are two different endings but really both endings are really the same. If you want to know what the two different endings are then just e-mail me. There's alot of extra stuff to do in this game that I recommend you go to the Final Fantasy IX official online strategy guide to find out what all the secrets & side quest are.

Overall this is basically a very easy beginner game. I recommend this only if you have no PS2. I mean now who really wants to play this game. However, it is very fun comparing to most of the existing PSX games.

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