SPOILERS My review of FFIX

The Turk

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I actually completed this back in June but didn't get round to writing a review til now. Sorry for the delay.

I love FF7 and FF8 but having played those two back to back I must say it made a change of scenery to have a FF game with a medieval setting (with a bit of industrial technology thrown in for good measure) like the older FF games had been. That's one of the things I think that keeps this franchise from going stale, constantly changing between medieval and more modern settings. So here's my overview of each aspect of the game:

Graphics: I found the CGI graphics really good for the ps1 era and that opening cut scene really drew me into that world, especially that castle in Alexandria so I knew this was going to be a very different world to the previous two FFs.
The battle graphics were fine but they seemed a slight step down from FF8's. I don't know whether it had anything to do with the decision to have four playable characters in battle at the same time instead of three. Maybe that extra fourth character put just a little bit of strain on the graphics engine. I'm just guessing though so anyone who knows a different cause for this or even disagrees about the graphics can feel free to say so here. Its just a minor issue for me though.
The pre-rendered backgrounds in the gameplay graphics outside of battles were really good, just as detailed as in the two previous games,and the medieval setting meant we got to see typically medieval architecture in cities like Alexandria and others.


Gameplay- I got the hang of FF8's junction system eventually but after that game it was a relief to have a simpler system here. The fact each weapon, armour, accessory etc came with a certain spell or ability gave an extra dimension to the decision making as to which one to equip each character beside the usual differences in stats.
I know not everyone might agree but I also liked the fact only one character or some characters could learn certain spells or abilities as it helps to further distinguish each character's traits which in turn means you really have to think about which character to use in certain battles.


Storyline and characters- The storyline engaged me throughout and from the very beginning. After the more introverted protagonists in the previous two games Zidane was a refreshingly more extroverted lead character, Garnett slowly developed into a more and more confident and steely person, Vivi was just adorable and amazing throughout, Steiner was funny and stubborn, Freya was kind yet steely (and quite sexy for a rat!) Quina was refreshingly quirky both in personality and looks, Eiko had a very strong and gutsy personality and Amarant had the toughest, hardest personality of them all which was also refreshing.

Plenty of other decent characters too. I liked Beatrix especially. Overall the storyline and characters were great. I did feel some of the playable characters didn't get as much development as others but I'd make the same criticism of the previous two FFs as well and no doubt the same would apply to the first six in the series.

All in all FFIX is an excellent game and I'd play it again and again no doubt and after the FF7 remake I would definitely like to see a remake of this game along with FF8.

Edit: Forgot to say I loved some of the music!
 

Dionysos

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Great review!

I agree with you that it was quite refreshing for every character to possess their own unique set of abilities. Whilst customisation in FF games is fun too I quite liked how each character in FFIX actually had abilities which made sense for their characters. I particularly enjoyed how Sword Magic worked Steiner and Vivi's particular friendship into a unique set of abilities relying on both of them. Whilst I didn't always have them both in my party in order to make the most of it, I really enjoyed it when I did use these spells and greatly appreciated that they existed.

The battle graphics were fine but they seemed a slight step down from FF8's. I don't know whether it had anything to do with the decision to have four playable characters in battle at the same time instead of three. Maybe that extra fourth character put just a little bit of strain on the graphics engine. I'm just guessing though so anyone who knows a different cause for this or even disagrees about the graphics can feel free to say so here. Its just a minor issue for me though.

I think part of it might have been the new art direction. Not only did the human / humanoid characters look more cartoony, but the same could be true for the monsters, and I think they moved more like cartoons too.

I'm not sure for definite if having four party members is to blame for any strain on the system, but it plausibly could have had an impact (I don't know enough about how much that requires). I can understand why they did that though. FFIX is a love letter to fans of the franchise as a whole and contains myriad references to the 'classic' titles. Having four party members (which used to be the norm before the PSX era) is one of these throwbacks.

The pre-rendered backgrounds in the gameplay graphics outside of battles were really good, just as detailed as in the two previous games,and the medieval setting meant we got to see typically medieval architecture in cities like Alexandria and others.

The backgrounds in this game are stunning. I think they are probably my favourite backgrounds in the PSX era. There are so many little details, sometimes regrettably blurry but nonetheless interesting. The use of colour is also fantastic in many locations.
 

Miko

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Congrats on beating FFIX! It's my personal favorite. I feel like the story is very refreshing and a bit of a comedic relief, at least compared to the previous FFVII & VIII. I wonder how this game would have been impacted if the graphics were a bit less 'cartoony' and more serious :lew:

I did feel some of the playable characters didn't get as much development as others but I'd make the same criticism of the previous two FFs as well and no doubt the same would apply to the first six in the series.

I think this game did really good shelling out a lot of characters, both playable and nonplayable! I guess in terms of development maybe you're right, but I think FFIX had a lot of story to tell and not enough time to tell it! All considering I think the game did a very good job! I think the characters developed naturally and more fluidly than other FF games and really put an emphasis on growth with both Zidane and Garnet.


I agree with you on gameplay but I think their method of learning abilities was a little too easy, perhaps? Though I think with having to use equipment to learn abilities it puts a more important focus on item finding & stealing! Maybe if it had been more visually appealing? I'm not really sure what would have made it better :lew: You just don't really hear talk about the system like you would with FFVII, VIII & X!


Glad you finally got to play & beat this game! Like I said, it's my personal favorite! I feel like it's a bit underrated but I understand why it's not for everyone. :-) Good luck on your future FF endeavors!
 

The Turk

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Great review!

I agree with you that it was quite refreshing for every character to possess their own unique set of abilities. Whilst customisation in FF games is fun too I quite liked how each character in FFIX actually had abilities which made sense for their characters. I particularly enjoyed how Sword Magic worked Steiner and Vivi's particular friendship into a unique set of abilities relying on both of them. Whilst I didn't always have them both in my party in order to make the most of it, I really enjoyed it when I did use these spells and greatly appreciated that they existed.

Good point about the sword magic. Having completed FF7, 8, 9 and in the process of completing 10 this is so far the only instance I've seen in a FF game of an ability that can only be performed with the combination of two specific characters. I found that quite innovative! Do you know of any other FF game that did that?
 
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Dionysos

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Good point about the sword magic. Having completed FF7, 8, 9 and in the process of completing 10 this is so far the only instance I've seen in a FF game of an ability that can only be performed with the combination of two specific characters. I found that quite innovative! Do you know of any other FF game that did that?

The main comparison which springs to mind would be Palom and Porom's 'Twincast' ability in Final Fantasy IV. These are twin mages (one black mage and the other white mage) and if they combined their powers with the Twincast command then they could unleash more powerful, more complex magic spells.

In some ways FFIX's Sword Magic is a natural development of this idea. I think the Final Fantasy franchise should do things like this more often. I suppose it comes with its own risks by alienating some characters (the temptation would be to always pair up two characters like this if the magic is good, taking up vital character slots in the party). I like to mix up my characters quite a bit because I tend to enjoy all of them (unless out of convenience and the need to progress I pick my strongest), but I can see that it could become a problem for some people.
 

The Turk

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I think part of it might have been the new art direction. Not only did the human / humanoid characters look more cartoony, but the same could be true for the monsters, and I think they moved more like cartoons too.

I'm not sure for definite if having four party members is to blame for any strain on the system, but it plausibly could have had an impact (I don't know enough about how much that requires). I can understand why they did that though. FFIX is a love letter to fans of the franchise as a whole and contains myriad references to the 'classic' titles. Having four party members (which used to be the norm before the PSX era) is one of these throwbacks.

Yeah as you say all the characters and monsters had a more cartoonish look to it so that could've had something to do with the change in graphics overall.

Even if the fourth playable character was a factor I'm happy to say it was still worth it though as I quite enjoyed having four characters in battle at the same time. Somehow I found three characters quite limiting in the previous two games, especially in VII which had nine playable characters it was hard work to make sure they all got levelled up enough. Less of an issue in VIII which only had six regular playable characters.I

It also worked well from the point of view of allowing guest characters to take part in battles which I also liked. As you pointed out it was also done as part of a tribute to the older FF games which I agree was a nice touch.

The backgrounds in this game are stunning. I think they are probably my favourite backgrounds in the PSX era. There are so many little details, sometimes regrettably blurry but nonetheless interesting. The use of colour is also fantastic in many locations.

I loved the use of colour too. The vibrancy of the colours of the buildings in Alexandria, Treno and Lindblum for example.

Congrats on beating FFIX! It's my personal favorite. I feel like the story is very refreshing and a bit of a comedic relief, at least compared to the previous FFVII & VIII. I wonder how this game would have been impacted if the graphics were a bit less 'cartoony' and more serious :lew:

You're right IX had a more comedic tone than VII or VIII and I enjoyed that. VII and VIII were largely serious with a bit of a sense of humour but IX seemed to be lighter in tone while still being serious enough so you still cared about the characters.
I've been playing these games in the order these games were made, starting with VII and I must say after the emotional but happy ending of VIII it was a relief to go from that to a story that starts with a farcical kidnapping of a princess who was happy to be kidnapped anyway!
Nothing wrong with either approach to storytelling and I'm happy with VII and VIII's way of storytelling and wouldn't have it any other way as the more serious tone suits their stories and characters but it's just as good to balance it out with stories like IX's that has a bit more farce and witty dialogue.I

I too wonder what the game would've looked like if it was less cartoony. Maybe we'll find out if IX gets a remake. I'm on the fence as to whether the characters should look more adult like in the event it does get a remake. What would be your preference?

You're right IX had a more comedic tone than VII or VIII and I enjoyed that. VII and VIII were largely serious with a bit of a sense of humour but IX seemed to be lighter in tone while still being serious enough so you still cared about the characters.
I've been playing these games in the order these games were made, starting with VII and I must say after the emotional but happy ending of a teen romance in VIII it was a relief to go from that to a story that starts with a farcical kidnapping of a princess who was happy to be kidnapped anyway!
Nothing wrong with either approach to storytelling and I'm happy with VII and VIII's way of storytelling and wouldn't have it any other way as the more serious tone suits their stories and characters but it's just as good to balance it out with stories like IX's that has a bit more farce and witty dialogue.

I too wonder what the game would've looked like if it was less cartoony. Maybe we'll find out if IX gets a remake. I'm on the fence as to whether the characters should look more adult like in the event it does get a remake. What would be your preference?
 

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Yeah as you say all the characters and monsters had a more cartoonish look to it so that could've had something to do with the change in graphics overall.

Even if the fourth playable character was a factor I'm happy to say it was still worth it though as I quite enjoyed having four characters in battle at the same time. Somehow I found three characters quite limiting in the previous two games, especially in VII which had nine playable characters it was hard work to make sure they all got levelled up enough. Less of an issue in VIII which only had six regular playable characters.I

It also worked well from the point of view of allowing guest characters to take part in battles which I also liked. As you pointed out it was also done as part of a tribute to the older FF games which I agree was a nice touch.

I agree completely. I don't like have to choose between characters I love at the best of times, but having to pick only three characters out of a fantastic cast in a game like FFVII was very difficult. Being able to have four characters in the party at any one time helped a lot in FFIX.

And the guest characters were also awesome in their own right. I love every member of the Tantalus troupe, and of course everyone loves Beatrix.


I loved the use of colour too. The vibrancy of the colours of the buildings in Alexandria, Treno and Lindblum for example.

Exactly. In general it is a very colourful game. The settings are unique, memorable and breathtaking from the very beginning. Alexandria's renaissance-inspired theming and the Shakespeare references really set up the varied tones of the game (a mixture of comedy, tragedy, history and romance, etc) all wrapped up with one of the best scripts in a Final Fantasy game. Seriously, some of the lines are extraordinarily clever. Many of them went over my head when I was little, but I appreciate them whenever I encounter them again now.

And the overarching theme of life (and what it means to be alive and how life should be valued) is excellently executed. Even the theme song, Melodies of Life, taps into that.

Overall the game comes across to me as well-polished.
 

The Turk

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Congrats on beating FFIX! It's my personal favorite. I feel like th


I think this game did really good shelling out a lot of characters, both playable and nonplayable! I guess in terms of development maybe you're right, but I think FFIX had a lot of story to tell and not enough time to tell it! All considering I think the game did a very good job! I think the characters developed naturally and more fluidly than other FF games and really put an emphasis on growth with both Zidane and Garnet.
I think this game did really good shelling out a lot of characters, both playable and nonplayable! I guess in terms of development maybe you're right, but I think FFIX had a lot of story to tell and not enough time to tell it! All considering I think the game did a very good job! I think the characters developed naturally and more fluidly than other FF games and really put an emphasis on growth with both Zidane and Garnet.

Absolutely. The story was comprehensive but inevitably as the whole story is being told in one game it's difficult to fully develop every single character. In general I've been in favour of telling the whole story in one game so we can immediately move on to the next story in a new world with new characters.

However the fact the FF7 remake is being told in several parts will at least allow more time to give more depth to some characters than they had in the original version of that game. So if FFIX gets a remake maybe that too will get released in several chapters which would allow developers more time to develop the characters that weren't focussed on as much as others.

Its a minor issue for me though. Each character both playable and non playable were still well fleshed out though so their personalities shined through strongly.

I agree with you on gameplay but I think their method of learning abilities was a little too easy, perhaps? Though I think with having to use equipment to learn abilities it puts a more important focus on item finding & stealing! Maybe if it had been more visually appealing? I'm not really sure what would have made it better :lew: You just don't really hear talk about the system like you would with FFVII, VIII & X!


Glad you finally got to play & beat this game! Like I said, it's my personal favorite! I feel like it's a bit underrated but I understand why it's not for everyone. :-) Good luck on your future FF endeavors!

Thank you! I'm currently quite close to completing FFX. After that I've got to decide whether it's worth trying FFXI or just skip straight to FFX2! What do you reckon I should do?

You have a point about FFIX's method of learning abilities. When you think of FFVII you think of the materia system and as divisive as it was you certainly can't think of VIII without thinking of their draw and junction systems. Likewise X is well known for the sphere grid system. Whereas FFIX I think is noted more for the story, characters and a fantasy world setting rather than their system for learning spells and abilities.

Perhaps it was too easy to learn them. The problem was a character could use a spell or ability as soon he/she wore/equipped the relevant piece of equipment and the incentive to master that ability was so that they could carry on using it without having to equip any longer the weapon/armour act that carried that ability.

Maybe though it would've been better and more challenging if you had to master a spell or ability before you could even use it all. Could be one tweak to the system the developers could make if it gets a remake!
 
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