FFIX: a retrospective review/story Contains minor spoilers
I remember when FFIX came out, I was 14 and in my budding days of RPG gaming. My parents never allowed me to have video games because they felt it would take away from my studies so if I was to play anything it would be on my own dime. I managed to be able to afford a playstation and had played through a used copy of FFVIII. It was ok, but not great. I liked a lot of the elements of the game but I felt it wasn't executed correctly. Keep in mind that at this point i wasn't even aware of the hype around FFVII. So fast forward to Christmas time, this part of the story short - i begged and pleaded my for my parents to purchase this game for me, they said they wouldn't but ended up getting it for me.
Review: FFIX likely stands as my favorite game of all time next to FFX and Front mission 3, 4 & 5 (odd choices, i know). I've spent years on various non-WOW MMO's and other console RPG's and other games but this still stands as my overall favorite. I've since spent more time on games but at that age and point in my gaming career putting 120+ hours into any game was unprecedented.
As far as story is concerned, i've never played a game where they have been able to strike such a perfect balance of of plot and number of playable characters. I enjoy having many characters to choose from but i feel like in some games **cough**FFVI** cough** something gets lost in the shuffle when you have so many characters in an improperly arranged story that often look similar. FFIX didn't have this problem. Granted, some characters feel a little tacked on but the depth of most of the stories as well as the visuals and characters unique abilities more than make up for this.
Which brings me to the battle/equipment system. I honestly believe this to be perfect. Considering this is a console style turn based RPG, this is about as in depth as you're going to get. These characters have very specific jobs which lead to near extreme advantages vs. disadvantages. I can't tell you how many times I just wanted to be able to switch out characters but clearly couldn't. This leads to a lot of enjoyable challenges as the game goes on. This can be somewhat leveled out by the customization allowed by changing out your equipment and skills. In this game the attributes make a huge difference in damage dealt and received considering how many enemies, including bosses are elementally aligned in some way. I've also noticed having now since played most over FF's that status effects play it's biggest role in this installment; it seems like the % of enemies that will Slow, petrify, gradual petrify, silence and blind successfully are especially are high; to mention lvl effected skill like lvl5 death. In addition the gaining Blue magic spells is always a challenge - add to that monsters that actually have items worth stealing and one of your potentially strongest skills (Thievery) which is directly tied to how many times you've stolen, you get an envyingly labor intensive battle system. The summons are pleasing to the eye as usual and so are the magic animations.
Other very major positives include having a map from the start of the game. I know this seems like a small thing but as someone who likes to explore. Speaking of exploring, the fact that it's fairly simple to get a gold chocobo make exploring the world more fun and add much needed gradual accessibility by comparison to where you are in the game.
Tetra master is a great game as well but has very serious flaws. First being that the rules are never really explained to you in any real detail. The game (if you take it seriously) is actually very complex. I've read the FAQ on GameFaqs several times over the years and i understand the complexities of it now but do need a nap after reading it. --- "Perhaps he just looked at his hands & noticed that his fingers were unable to shoot bullets"- on Barret frm FFVII