Review by BrakZero

"Old school fans will be dancing with joy."

First people got blown away with Final Fantasy VII. After that, fans begged for another great one and got Final Fantasy VIII, which disappointed some, and left others in love with the game. So how did Final Fantasy IX, the last installment on the PSX, fare? Well, Squaresoft really tried to make this one much more fantasy-like and much more old school… but they just ended up mixing the old and the new. While some people didn’t like the concept, or maybe just didn’t like the game at all, I was with most people and really enjoyed this game. This game comes very close with Final Fantasy VII, and much better than Final Fantasy VIII. Square mixed all the good new stuff and blended it in with the ever-so-enjoyable old school features, creating the awesome game known as Final Fantasy IX.

Graphics: 10/10
Wow! The graphics are undoubtedly some of the best, if not the best for the Playstation. The only game, I think, that even comes close to FF9’s graphics are Chrono Cross. No pixelation problems like Final Fantasy VIII, stunning backgrounds and surroundings, and CG sequences that totally reek of awesomeness. You can really see how far the series have come. In battles, the magic spells look amazing, and all the weapons were nice and detailed. The character sprites and monsters in battle look fantastic as well. Some stunning graphics, overall, and something you must see.

Music and Sound: 9/10
Nobuo Uematsu once again shows everyone his incredible talent. First off, they brought back the old victory song, which is definitely a good thing. Second, all the songs fit almost perfectly into their situation, and it really sets the mood. It’s the music that actually makes you want to cry, get mad, and so on. Some of them really got your adrenaline pumping, like the Festival of the Hunt theme. The battle theme was great… probably the best battle theme I’ve ever heard in an RPG. The other songs were good and blended in good, like “Mystery Sword” (Beatrix’s theme). So, why not a perfect score? Points were taken off because some weren’t very original. I know it’s for old school purposes, but it would still be better if they were original. I didn’t mind the victory fanfare, but some were easily recognizable, such as Mount Gulug’s theme, which was a mixed version of a song from the original Final Fantasy.

The sound effects were really nicely done, and everything from the sound of Flare to the slash of a sword sounded realistic and pleasant to hear. Not much else to say here.

Story: 10/10
I’ve developed my love of RPGs through the amazing stories that have, especially the ones of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy IX disappointed me just about as much as the other games in the series – not at all. Zidane, the main character, is a thief in the band of thieves who call themselves Tauntalus. They perform a play inside Alexandria castle, in order to capture Princess Garnet. In the end of that little “thing”, Garnet actually wants to escape, because… oops, sorry. Well, anyway, that’s just the beginning of the story, because the story turns in a completely different direction, and never again focuses on the escaping of the princess. Turns out really well, actually, and you’ll just have to play the game for yourself to find out.

Gameplay: 10/10
Final Fantasy IX’s battle system was actually a mix of the older games, particularly Final Fantasy VI (6), but with a new twist. Instead of having to equip Espers, you learn all of your abilities right through your equipment. But Square fixed the flaw that had made FF6, FF7, and FF8 too easy. That flaw was that every single character could be running around with all the best spells. That’s where Final Fantasy IV (4) kicks in. You see, every character has a certain class that they stay with through the whole game. For instance, Zidane is a thief, and Vivi is a black mage. This is used so that characters learn unique abilities. For example, if you equipped something that had Fire and Flee on it, (nothing like that really exists) then Vivi would be able to learn only Fire, and Zidane would be able to learn only Flee. This brought back the old feel of FF6, where you must carefully choose out your characters depending on their abilities, rather than just pick the one who had the most magic (which could be anyone). Other old school things have been brought back as well, such as changing your party at the airship, and having up to four people in your party. Awesome gameplay, overall.

Fun Factor: 10/10
Well, it’s really a good thing that this game actually had mini-games, unlike FF8. Like FF8 however, FF9 also had a card game, but it was different, and much more innovative, in my opinion. It was more enjoyable, and you even had a card collector level. Not to mention that there’s even a card stadium in one point of the game. There are more games than just the card game, though, like a jump-roping game. Chocobo’s come with a special mini-game called “Chocobo Hot and Cold”, which eventually leads to finding extremely valuable treasures with chocobo’s different abilities. All these things combine with the enjoyable story to make some extraordinary fun factor.

Replayabilty: 10/10
There is tons of stuff to do in Final Fantasy IX. Most famous among them is getting the Excalibur II, which is an awesome challenge for those Final Fantasy “veterans”. Other things also make the game worth replaying, such as getting all the Chocographs, cards, mastering the jump-rope game, catching 99 frogs, defeating Ozma, etc. The game is chock full of other secrets as well, so overall, the game is definitely worth replaying.

Challenge: 8/10
Like I said before, there is no more having all your characters having the best spells, which is what made Final Fantasy 6, 7, and 8 too easy. Instead, you have to carefully choose a well-balanced party if you want to succeed. Of course, this all leads to a much more challenging game. But if you’ve played all the old Final Fantasy games and consider yourself a veteran, chances are this game will be much easier for you.

Time to run down the points!!!

Good Points
Jaw-dropping graphics
Great audio
Awesome story
Fun, old school gameplay

Bad Points
The last PSX Final Fantasy…

The Final Word
If you’re a long time fan of the Final Fantasy series, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy this one. Is this going to be your first game in the series? Well, you might want to think about that. Newbies or people that have only played PSX FFs, tend to not like the classic ways of Final Fantasy IX, and would much rather play FF8 or something else. But take my word all of you long-time fans, you’ll be dancing after playing this game. Go out and buy it right this second!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/13/01, Updated 02/22/01

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