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Final Fantasy IX is supposed to be what everyone who has ever played a Final Fantasy game wants -- all at the same time. It is supposed to appease those who started at the beginning, or during the FMV revolution of FF7 and FF8. As such, it contains a load of juicy references to past Final Fantasies to the point where nothing in it is new. In this editorial we're going to cover the characters, and how they mirror characters from the past games.
Let's start with Zidane, our protagonist. The first thing you find out is that he's part of a group of bandits. That is very reminiscent of Locke from Final Fantasy 6. Toss in the later devolpment of him being created for a purpose, and you have Cloud. To add to that fact, you have his 'brother' Kuja, who was also created, and serves as the nemesis for the game. So if you toss in one part FF6 protagonist, or should I say treasure hunter, with one part genetic experiment, and you get our furry-tailed hero.
Let's move on to Princess Garnet, or Dagger. She's a princess, which instantly reminds us of Rosa from Final Fantasy 4. Then we find out that she has really powerful magic embedded in her, and people want to bottle that magic for their own use. Remind you of a half-esper everyone wanted named Terra? Through in a bit of Ancient in the form of Aeris, and maybe we're getting somewhere. The whole romantic interest thing is quite apparent, which is covered by the whole Aeris bit, while the powers are covered by Terra, and her royalty is reminiscent of Rosa. Throw in the fear of her powers, much like Rinoa who allows herself to be kept captive in FF8, and you've got a heroine to this story.
Now what about Vivi? He's obviously modeled after the black mage from FF1, but that's merely a visual thing. He's a scared little child who grows up through the game -- remind you of Rydia and her fear of fire a little? Throw in a little bit of Squall's inherent loneliness, and his personality starts to come together as a scared little boy with magic who looks like a tiny little NES sprite with some self-issues.
Quina, ah yes. Quina is that character who never really fits in. The only thing that he/she really has a parallel to is Umaro from Final Fantasy 6. A big dumb animal with blue magic. Wait, big dumb animal with blue magic? That reminds me of Gau and his Rage abilities from FF6. And the whole issues with Quina's father fits in nicely there too. The gender issue is reminiscent of Gogo too, hmmmm... So Quina is really three FF6 characters, only with green skin and a love for food, especially frogs.
Steiner is the noble knight, always around to protect and serve -- and screw up. For most of the story he acts as a Seifer -- opposing the hero, but not really that much different from him. Add to that one part Barret, flying off the handle and acting utterly irrationally, and you have Rusty. Then there's the love element with Beatrix, which can only be compared to the two generals from Final Fantasy 6 -- Leo and Celes.
Speaking of Leo and Celes, that's exactly what Beatrix is. She is the person who never joins your party but you wish they would, with a magic sword and slice to match. The shock ability remind you of Leo? To me it sure did. But then again, she's a woman! A blonde woman who looks like Celes... Hrm... If only she had died...
Freya is Kain from FF4. They're both Dragoons, they both never show their face, they both have pasts they don't really talk about that much... Freya is also that loner type who regards duty higher than anything and feels so much remorse when something bad happens that she couldn't stop, much like Kain felt so much remorse for doing all the bad things he did in FF4. Freya also has a part of the Vincent mentality, being a loner of sorts and wanting to amend for some action -- not being able to defend Burmecia or Lucrecia -- even the names sound similar.
Eiko draws upon many characters as well. On the surface she's Rydia, the last of the Summoners, who is very young and all alone. Then you start to see a bit of Selphie in her as she starts having girl-talk with Dagger about Zidane, and runs around hitting on him and being generally perky. Of course, Selphie isn't the only person who's perky. Selphie is just like Yuffie, only with a darker, more serious side. Toss in some Relm from FF6 and some Cara from FF5, and you have an FF4-FF8 medley.
There's also Amarant. Amarant is one-part Shadow, one-part Yang, one-part Sabin, and one-part Kiros. He's got the whole Ninja-mystique of Shadow, the fighting skills of Yang and Sabin, and that general 'odd-man out' thing that Kiros always had. He says little, thinks a lot about getting stronger, and never really endes up being of much consequence.
Kuja continues a long tradition of screwed up villains. He's essentially gender-impaired, as he looks like a girl but is allegedly a guy, much like Kefka the fruity clown, Sephiroth the girly-man, and Ultimecia the beefed up Sorceress. Kuja goes mad because of a whole experiment in creating some genetically altered 'vessel,' much like Sephiroth. He's brothers with the hero, much like Golbez or Sephiroth, and ends up not being all that bad at the end, much like Golbez, so that there can be a final fight with a boss (Necron) you have never even heard of. Good old Necron ends his life with "I am immortal, as long as there is life and death, I will exist" much like Zeromus' dying words about hatred...
This list is by no means comprehensive, and I don't intend it to be. I'm just trying to show that Sakaguchi was trying to make everyone happy, old and new, by incorporating all of his past ideas into the new game. In the next installment I'll be covering plot devices which have been seen before, several times even, to show that FFIX is even less of its own game and more the embodiment of its predecessors.
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