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   Final Fantasy IX - Reader Retroview  

Back to the Basics
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
30-70 Hours
OVERALL

3.5/5

Rating definitions 

   Thanks to a lack of FFVIII's overall sucess, Final Fantasy IX returns to the roots of the series for some classic gameplay. Battles are similar to those found in FFVII and the storyline has returned to dealing with the crystal of early FF games. FFIX follows yet another male thief and female summoner as they attempt to set right the wrongs in the world after being pulled into a large adventure.

   Most of FFIX's battle system is similar to FFVII's with the exception of the removal of Materia. Each character learns abilities by equipping certain weapons and armor. Once an ability is mastered, they can use it even if the equipment that teaches it is removed. FFIX also features greater character individuality as, unlike in VII and VIII, each character has their own specific class. In addition to these changes comes a special support system. Characters have a certain number of slots that increase as they level up. These slots can be filled with support abilities such as HP+10% and High Tide. Each support ability has a certain number of slots that it takes up. Thanks to this system, customization is still possible despite rigid classes. Battles themselves are fought in the ATB system which grants each character a number of turns proportional to their speed statistic. Characters have the standard attack, defend, and item commands along with a special command or two based on their class. FFIX's desperation ability is trance which allows higher attack power and special commands such as double cast for a short period of time. The battle system is good overall, but it could've been better as the reliance on equipment is very limiting early in the game.

These things are really annoying These things are really annoying

   As with most other Final Fantasy games, IX is easily won. The only real problems that arise are usually do to status effects that the player isn't prepared for and random damage spells such as meteor that can wipe out most of the party if they are unlucky. Some of the optional bosses pose a bit of a threat, but they are far easier than the WEAPONs from previous installments.

   FFIX features an interface that is very similar to that of previous Final Fantasy games. It has practically reached perfection at this point with the addition of a built-in help that can be activated with the push of a button and the ability to pause the game anywhere if needed. There are localization flaws here and there, but once again they fail to kill the mood.

   Since FFIX returns heavily to its roots rather than try anything new other than perhaps its visual style, it is unoriginal as a whole. The only other real instances of originality comes from the ability to learn from equipment, equip support abilities, and combine certain pieces of equipment and items to create new ones. Even the story isn't very original and borrows elements and certain bosses from earlier FF games.

Honestly, I'd rather race them Honestly, I'd rather race them

   The storyline is fairly linear, though it does branch between main characters early on. The player has very little say over this though, and can't even generate a custom party until very late in the second disc. The story is, however, quite good though it does rely heavily upon nostalgia at times. Those who haven't played earlier Final Fantasy games may not fully appreciate these parts. There is a good deal of character development thanks to certain scenes that switch to other characters when the party splits up in towns and the like. The last boss and the events leading up to it were poorly executed for such an important part of the game damaging the storyline further.

   FFIX can be rushed through very quickly. There is even apparently a special quest which rewards the player for finishing it in under ten hours. For those that like to enjoy the game more fully, there are tons of sidequests including a new redesigned card game and a new chocobo raising quest. The chocobo quest involves digging for chocographs this time. Once a chocobo has been raised to its fullest, there are optional bosses to battle and buried treasure to be found. These can take as long as seventy hours easily.

   A large number of popular tracks from nearly every Final Fantasy game have been remixed and often improved upon. There are more than remixes though, as it features a lot of excellent new music as well. Unfortunately, there are a few tracks that get repetitive quickly too. Sound effect are the same quality as they've been in the last few games. They're well done and fit their intended situation well.

   FFIX's visuals are excellent. Both friend and foe alike are beautifully rendered, animated, and detailed. They don't show much improvement from FFVIII, but they are very good nonetheless. As an added bonus, there are an even larger amount of beautiful FMVs included as well.

   While it's not the best Final Fantasy, FFIX is quite good overall. Many parts of FFIX rely on nostalgia, so I would recommend this to those that have played previous games in the Final Fantasy series. Those that haven't won't be able to appreciate or fully enjoy certain parts.

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