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Rating FFIX (SPOILERS NATURALLY AHOY)

#1random_singerPosted 6/27/2013 10:42:09 PM
So I just finished FF IX!

I consider myself now to be a fairly proficient FF gamer. I've finished I, II, V, VI, VII and now IX, and have also played III and IV (but have not managed to finish them.) Heading into this game I had fairly high expectations; it seems to have a fairly vibrant fanbase which nominates it alongside games such as IV, VI, and VII as the best in the series. So, all things considered, how does it stack up?

Zidane is totally awesome, and the best protagonist of the series for me thus far. Isn't it refreshing to have a light-hearted hero for once? The only previous one I can remember is Bartz from V, and really he had the personality of a wet brick. Zidane's whole chivalrous pervert thing was good for laughs too.

Other characters I thought varied in quality. I quite liked Dagger, she has far more spunk than your average princess. I liked the way Steiner's character developed. Quina was also good for laughs. Others though seemed to lack a certain substance. Freya seemed to be forgotten by the plot after the events at Cleyra, Amarant was rather one dimensional, and Eiko seemed like a poor copy of Relm. Vivi though I thought was very nicely done. Kuja has been hyped as a villain, but for me the true star of the show was Garland. It completely threw me when he turned up.

The story was great, right up until disc 4. Disc 4 really annoyed me. Memoria for me didn't seem to live up to the potential of a great final dungeon- indeed, it wasn't until I was inside and fighting the fiends that I realised that hang on, this actually was the game's climax. Maybe this was due to the music; Place of Memory is nice to listen to and all, but it is not the kickass theme you really want in the final dungeon. Not to mention the plot is still being explained to you as you progress through. And it follows one of the high points of the game in Castle Pandemonium.

And then there is Necron. Sigh.

Gameplay was for the most part good. I am definitely a fan of having unique abilities and classes. The difficulty was a little on the easy side, but challenging enough to keep me interested. I only had a couple of complete party wipes (which is good, its two more than happened in FF VII), one against the tree demon at the Ilfa tree, and one against the dragons which ambush you in Mount Gulag. The one against the tree demon was good though; Vivi tranced immediately and launched a couple of Fira spells (after all, its a tree right, it should burn. How wrong I was :D) Other highlights involved the solo battles in the shop at Treno; it took me a while to figure out some good strategies to beat them.

Other things? The music was for the most part good, but not outstanding for a FF game. Vamo Alla Flameco was a highlight, as was Beatrix's theme. The battle system was a bit slow, but nothing too bad. Having shorter summons was excellent (it meant that they were actually worth it to use.) And the world was in general a fun place to explore.

How does it compare then to the other FF games I have played? I'll rank them in story and gameplay.

Story: VI, VII, IX, IV, V, III, II, I
Gameplay: V, IX, VI, III, VII, IV, I, II

Overall then, I'd probably rank this game second out of the FF's I have played, losing out to VI, but narrowly edging V despite me absolutely loving V's gameplay.

Thoughts? Anything I have been unfair about or misunderstood? I apologise for the wall of text, but a game like FF IX deserves a wall of text once in a while
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Yes, the twelve legendary weapons. They are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.
#2XtraTPosted 6/28/2013 1:39:54 AM
I would like to know how FF7's story is better than 9's.
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#3random_singer(Topic Creator)Posted 6/28/2013 2:20:33 AM
XtraT posted...
I would like to know how FF7's story is better than 9's.


It is close, I'll grant you that. With any ranking subjectivity is gonna come into it somewhere. FF IX probably beats VII in terms of party member character development (Dagger is probably better developed than Aeris and Tifa, Vivi is better developed than Barrett, Steiner is better developed than most of the rest of the VII cast.) However much as I like Zidane, Cloud has it all over him in terms of development. That feeling when Cloud rejoins the party in VII is hard to beat.

The thing that swings it for me though is the plot itself. VII's plot had a far greater feeling of urgency to it than IX's. In VII you could see the clear danger that the earth was in; there was a giant meteor hanging above everyones heads. You could see the Weapons hanging about on the world map. You knew the villains plan, and you were desperately trying to stop it throughout the second half of the game. Hence a feeling of urgency, and a better story.

In IX though, there is little urgency throughout the game. The closest comes in disc 4, where you know that Kuja is going to try to stuff up Gaia somehow, but you don't know how. The fact that the story then resorts to the FF staple of crystals (which had never been mentioned before,) and then chucks Necron at you for the final boss (also never mentioned before) does not help.

Personally, I feel as if there needed to be one more dungeon after Memoria, as I don't think you should be still introducing completely new elements in the final dungeon. Thats where I think FF IX's story is weaker, and thats a big reason I rank it behind FF VII's.
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Yes, the twelve legendary weapons. They are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.
#4blue_button1010Posted 6/29/2013 2:04:22 PM
Interesting and thoughtful write-up.

Re Necron: this is obviously brought up a lot. Personally, I've never had any issue whatsoever with Necron showing up right at the end, because I've always felt what Necron represents (apart from the obvious Cloud of Darkness shout-out) completely ties in to the story of FFIX, albeit in perhaps a slightly more subtle way than some other final bosses in the series.

FFIX's main theme is existence. All the main characters and Kuja have their own internal debates on the nature of what it means to exist. Vivi's battle with his mortality is probably the most blatant of these, but it's pretty much present in every player character (even Quina, who somewhat interestingly appears to be the most decisive and carefree, and actually serves to act as a discussion point for the other characters re his/her positivity and outlook).

By the final battle the party has embraced their existence and made peace with whatever turmoils they faced. The basic message of the story is that life, and every choice made, is meaningful, no matter how short/painful/difficult it is. Necron is the ultimate representation of the alternative choice: nihilism.

It's basically a fight serving as a metaphor of the struggle the characters have faced all game. I have no problem with it, IMHO it's nice to have something a bit more left-field than an in-your-face, melodramatic big bad all the time (not that there's anything wrong with that sometimes, but, you know, it's nice for a change). Besides, the party fights Kuja straight before, thus tying up the plot.

Just my opinion, though.
#5Vir27Posted 6/29/2013 2:33:45 PM
Whether differing in the specifics, I have a comparatively high but not comparatively utmost regard for IX among the FFs, as you seem to. I submit, though, that on additional plays through you may likely notice and appreciate its strong points even better. From my experience in the general online FF community, it can be said in IX's favor that it seems to age well.

I don't agree with every point, but I'd definitely rate your review as fair and reasonable. I might suggest you have one minor misunderstanding on which you're not giving IX enough credit, but it is not at all unfair. Feel free to ask me and we'll discuss it, but I don't care to bring it up of my own initiative, though. While it is my own idea (and so I think of it when I see it) I don't actually care about it overmuch, personally and if I bring it up to everybody who suggests it, I'll seem to be on campaign about it. But to answer you: an agreeable overall assessment, to my view.
#6doubtkiller25Posted 6/29/2013 8:03:05 PM
For the most part I'd say 'fair nuf', but I think maybe you aren't giving Eiko enough credit. You don't have to like her by any means, but there's a lot that goes into her character that doesn't come across so much with Relm or other 'spunky little girl' characters in the series. She's the only person left out of her entire village, and by the time you meet her in the game she's been living practically by herself for a while, with just a bunch of moogles as company. However, Eiko immediately comes across as a spunky idealist, and even by the end of the second disk we see her flesh out and develop. It doesn't take long to learn she's mature and intelligent well beyond her years (she shows a deep understanding of people around her at her young age, reading Zidane and Garnet's feelings for eachother almost immediately and providing insight to Vivi soon after meeting him as well), as well as being a romantic and an idealist. I could probably care to elaborate more, but eh, screw it. I just think it might be worth it for you to reexamine Eiko as a character; there's definitely more to her than a 2D Relm knockoff
#7Vir27Posted 6/29/2013 9:06:40 PM
I'd be interested if you said more. I could speak to some of FF9 characters' robustness, but I don't happen to know much of an argument for Eiko, myself.
#8random_singer(Topic Creator)Posted 6/30/2013 1:35:19 AM
Hey, thanks for the comments everyone. (reminder, spoilers for FF3, 4 and 5 below)

re Necron. Sure, I get what he represents. I also get the paralells he has with previous final fantasy final bosses (in particular, Cloud of Darkness, Neo-Exdeath & Zeromus.) None of these bosses were whom you were expecting to face throughout most of the story; they were all 'giant space fleas from nowhere.' These fights should all probably be seen in terms of symbolism.

But honestly, I prefer final bosses whom you want to beat because of something personally that they have done or are responsible for. I don't want to be fighting a force of nature, I want to be fighting the person that started it all.

Furthermore (and correct me if I am wrong, I am not particularly familiar with the endings of FF3 and 4) Necron was an even bigger space flea from nowhere than CoD, Zeromus, and Neo-Exdeath. It is clear that Neo-Exdeath was created when the void engulfed Exdeath, so its clear that Neo-Exdeath has a connection with Exdeath. Zeromus was 'the spirit and hatred of Zemus,' so there was a connection between the big bad and final boss there too. And didn't the CoD completely wipe out the party at some point? Thus she is a recognised character before the final boss fight. Necron however is introduced for the first time moments before the fight, and seems to be a cosmic entity completely divorced from Kuja. Why are we fighting this thing? For symbolisms sake? I didn't buy it. It also didn't help that it was the culmination of a relatively underwhelming final dungeon.

re Eiko. Hmm. I had been thinking even before your post that I may have been a little too hard on her. Maybe my problems personal; Relm is one of my favourite characters, so any 'spunky little girl' character is gonna have to be pretty special to compete. She also suffers though because the story (and gameplay) invites you to compare her with Garnet, a contest which Garnet is always going to win. Her loneliness theme didn't really develop much throughout the course of the game, so she is left relying on her 'spunkiness' to get by. I don't think she managed it, hence my comment.

She did have one of the best one liners in the game though, mistaking Quina for Kuja made me laugh!

And Vir27, please enlighten me as to my misunderstanding! I did really enjoy this game (and in fact am replaying it at the moment.) Perhaps you can make me appreciate it even more!
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Yes, the twelve legendary weapons. They are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.
#9Flare_Dragon123Posted 6/30/2013 6:46:43 PM
random_singer posted...
Necron however is introduced for the first time moments before the fight, and seems to be a cosmic entity completely divorced from Kuja. Why are we fighting this thing? For symbolisms sake? I didn't buy it. It also didn't help that it was the culmination of a relatively underwhelming final dungeon.


I can understand if you personally feel like Memoria was a bad dungeon but allow me to respond.

You refer to the fact that Zeromus is just Zemus' will of hatred or whatever. Kuja's actions in the final battle (the casting of Ultima) causes a shockwave that destroys the crystal, directly causing irreparable damage to the source of all life on the planet.

That's the connection. Necron is the manifestation of destruction. But without Kuja, he would have no claim on life which is the force that the party represents in the final battle.

And you claim that all such battles can be taken metaphorically, but I don't believe that is the case.

All final bosses in the final fantasy series are in some connection with the void. Those that physically represent a will or force of the void are not always placing well within the stories of their own world. Necron is placed well, but he is presented poorly. He has no warning, you don't know he's coming.

However, the fight, he himself, are not a problem. He is actually quite a potent representation of a force that every member of the party has been fighting since the start of the game, put into Final Boss form.

No, Necron is fine, but they presented him badly.
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#10random_singer(Topic Creator)Posted 6/30/2013 8:13:12 PM
Flare_Dragon123 posted...

You refer to the fact that Zeromus is just Zemus' will of hatred or whatever. Kuja's actions in the final battle (the casting of Ultima) causes a shockwave that destroys the crystal, directly causing irreparable damage to the source of all life on the planet.

That's the connection. Necron is the manifestation of destruction. But without Kuja, he would have no claim on life which is the force that the party represents in the final battle.
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Yes, it was Kuja's act that allowed Necron to show up. What I am trying to say though, that the connection between Necron and Kuja is even flimsier than previous FF bosses. Neo-Exdeath for all purposes was a warped version of Exdeath. Zeromus likewise was for all purposes a warped version of Zemus. And CoD had already wiped out the party earlier in the game, so was not quite as out of the blue as Necron.


All final bosses in the final fantasy series are in some connection with the void.


Some definitely do. Exdeath, CoD and Zeromus are prime examples. Kefka, possibly, although only if you equate the void to destruction. Garland, The Emperor and Sephiroth? Not so much.

I get what they were trying to do with Necron, but hey, things don't work out sometimes.
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Yes, the twelve legendary weapons. They are weapons. They are legendary. There are even twelve of them.