Final Fantasy IX

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Final Fantasy IX

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 12:56 pm

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of Final Fantasy IX for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

Friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by jamesmccaul » March 1st, 2019, 10:55 am

I love Final Fantasy 9. The characters and the magical world drew me in and the journey they all go as the game unfolds really cemented this as best in series for me. The graphical style felt like a breath of fresh air at the time and of course the superb music brought everything to life. It remains to this day the only Final Fantasy game I’ve managed to complete and with the recent Switch release I have dived straight back in to its wonderful world.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Sage + Onion Knight » March 2nd, 2019, 10:31 am

This was the first Final Fantasy game I got at the time of release, having been obsessed with VII and VIII. I think I originally - being an early adolescent, at the time - missed the relative lack of grit from those games and found parts of it a bit childish (despite, of course, being a child).

As I got older, I came to see how wrong I was. The tone of the game is as well thought-out as its PS1 predecessors, similarly balancing levity and darkness albeit at a different ratio. What I love about this game, in retrospect, is that it's a love letter to the series as a whole - managing to walk the tightrope of paying homage to the past of Final Fantasy, while simultaneously having its own distinct identity.

Ultimately, it's the perfect closer to what I see as the series' PS1 "golden age". Also, it's the only FF I've actually managed to complete, instead of getting wiped out mid-way through a tricky final dungeon and assuming "yeah, they probably sort it out, eh?"

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Alex79uk » March 2nd, 2019, 12:00 pm

I've abandoned countless attempts to get through Final Fantasy IX. In many ways, it's an amazing technical achievement. It ticks all the right boxes for a Final Fantasy game of that era - fantastic, detailed graphics, a wonderful soundtrack and a big open world. I just didn't like it enough. I didn't like the characters, I didn't like jumping about controlling different people and I didn't really like the story or some of the game mechanics. I can appreciate it for what it is, and understand why often say it was a return to the series roots, but it never even came close to 7 and 8 for me. I'll be listening with interest to see what everyone else thought about it, though.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Mechner » March 2nd, 2019, 11:50 pm

This was the first Final Fantasy game I ever played, and it remains my favourite in the series. It was both mine and my older sisters birthday, and I vividly remember my dad bringing us to a local shopping centre, so we could get one game each, from the now long defunct gamesworld. (I still remember the silver and blue logo above the door)

We didn't have that much time to peruse the shelves, as we were picking up my mother from the hospital. So we were told to pick a game each, and do it quickly. Earlier that week I remember speaking to a friend of mine in school, whom was a huge fan of the series, he often talked about FF7 and his favourite FF8. He would describe how cool Squall was with his Gunblade, and how exciting the narrative was. I was enraptured by his childlike, imaginative description, of the action that took place in the game series.

I wanted to try it, though I had no idea it was turn based or, even what a JRPG was.

I was looking for Final Fantasy 8 that day.. but all that was available in the shop was 9.

I looked at the front art, and then at the back.. It seemed adult, classy, prestigious... definitely not something I was used to on consoles yet. But it drew me in, it was exciting. I handed it to my dad and then my sister handed her choice up, so he could purchase them for us. Final Fantasy 9 was €44.99, I was 9 years old, and my sister got Mary Kate and Ashleys Magical Mystery Mall... I think I got the better game.

On first booting it up when arriving home, I was blown away by the CG opening cutscene (I always wondered why they couldn't make the game look that good) Though all in all, my first experience of the game.. was a let down. I thought it would be action orientated and fast paced like my friend described. Instead it was slow, strategic and story heavy. I was used to story heavy and slow games from the hours of point and clicks that I had played... but the strategic slow paced combat was completely new to me.. and honestly I didn't like it at all. I remember even considering asking my dad if we could return it.. I felt I had wasted a rare opportunity to get a new game. But, I slept on it and kept coming back to the game. I didn't play it a lot in the early days of owning it.. but then one day I came in to take over the PS one from my sister, and found that she was deeply engrossed in the game. (Mary Kate and Ashley didn't make the grade) I watched her play and finally started to see the things my friend described, I didn't have to play or do the battles. I could just watch the wild action on screen while growing to love the characters and story as my sister played the game. I also had a massive crush on the character Garnet, which my sister often teased me about, often naming Zidane after me to further drive her point home, I didn't care, I lived vicariously through Zidane, pretending Garnet was my girlfriend.

At that time in my life I didn't play much of FF9, only trying it every so often, until the grinding got too tedious for me, but I got to experience it with my sister, over some months and I grew to understand how the game worked, then I tried it more and more myself and suddenly, I was the one playing FF9 and my sister was the one watching.

I must admit while FF9 is a special game to me, I never really became a huge fan of the FF games, it didn't light a fire in me to seek out many of the other games in the series or many other JRPGs for that matter. I never really had the stamina to fully finish one, in fact I haven't yet. I have since come to appreciate strategic turn based combat, but definitely with a more western feel (XCOM, Fallout 1 and 2 etc.) The characters and charm of the world in Final Fantasy 9 specifically, have stayed with me since the day I picked up the box. I am not fully sure why, I think it's probably a mix of the age I was and everything that came together in FF9, that I haven't seen in any of the other games in the series. It's wholesome, charming, bright, childlike and heartfelt. Kinda like a good Pixar/Disney movie.

I keep booting the game up at least twice a year, with the intention of finally seeing it through to the end.. but I always drop off somewhere around the middle... I don't know if it's the length or whether I just need someone there with me.... something keeps me trying though, like the name of the beautiful theme music maybe it will be "the place I'll return to someday", hopefully I can finish it then.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Mr Ixolite » March 3rd, 2019, 7:17 am

(I apologize in advance for the length of this post. This is a special one to me, and I’ve tried restraint as best as I’ve could. I’ll try trimming it down before recording date)



On pure gameplay terms, FFIX has many shortcomings in comparison with its “siblings”. The trance mechanic is flawed. The combat and customization is fine, but relatively unremarkable. The cardgame is impenetrable. Combat is too slow and too easy.

But the sum part of everything else elevates this to nothing less than the series’ finest hour for me. This is the game where, like a good book, I would show off passages to many hapless family members, excitedly rambling about scenes for which they have no context. It’s the kind of game where I kept as many saves as possible across several jam-packed memory cards just so I could revisit favored scenes, to the point where the chase with Black Waltz #3 through the South Gate is seared into my brain. The gameplay is fine enough, but the reason I keep replaying FFIX is for the joy of experiencing this particular narrative.

One big contributor to my affection is the stylized art direction of the game, which has made it age incredibly well, and given it an identity all its own. In terms of tone and presentation, FF9 takes the second word in the series title, underlines it, and then puts it in italics and bold. And we end up with a world of hippo-people and exaggerated caricatures populating jaw-dropping locations ranging from Lindblum to Terra*, and I couldn’t be happier.

Like a Hayao Miyazaki movie everything seems to pop, which is in perfect service of an extremely colorful cast of characters. Theres Zidane, a refreshingly upbeat leading man, or the hilariously bumbling Steiner. And Quina, who is two dimensional, has almost no character development, is completely inconsequential to everything, and absolutely amazing. The games Active Time Event system is a stroke of genius, and I will jump at every single ATE prompt the game throws at me, simply because I want to see more of these people. The game also makes sure to give everyone a moment to shine – even Amarant learns the value of friendship!

Yet FF9 isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I personally find that it has the most visceral and emotionally affecting moments of any FF game, precisely because of the contrast to its colorful tone and presentation. When Kefka ruins the world it doesn’t move me much because the world was already relatively crummy, but when Eidolons lay waste to cities in this game its absolutely horrifying to me. And of course, behind its exterior FF9 is wholly dedicated to themes of mortality and the defining of identity, especially in relation to your mortality.

The duality of FF9 is most perfectly encapsulated in its most iconic character: Vivi. With his memorable design, adorable hat-wringing animations and soft-spoken demeanor Vivi instantly worms his way into your heart…only so it can be broken later**. Vivis journey across the game is maybe the best part of it, and his resigned maturity and positive perspective stands in stark contrast to Kuja, who seeks to validate his existence by proving his superiority. He’s desperate to be unique, and reacts to the realization of his mortality with a nihilistic temper-tantrum of world-ending proportions. Like so many of the characters Kuja could’ve easily been a regressive caricature, but the writing and committed thematic focus makes him my favorite villain in the series.

The games themes come to a head at the emotional centerpiece on Terra, where a depressed Zidane - after a literally soul-crushing experience- faces down a gauntlet of enemies, and the entire cast comes to his rescue. Some might find Zidanes crisis too brief to be meaningful, but for me the brevity is part of the point- at this point in the story, the bonds Zidane has forged with his friends are so strong that they will support him unconditionally, and pick him right up when he's down. If you live your life showing kindness to others, they will return it in kind, should you need it. The entire scene is like a big, loving hug from the entire games cast.
FF9 is about how to cope with the inevitability of death, what defines ones identity, and finding meaning in a seemingly meaningless and limited existence. And in all cases, the answer is: Other People. The love and support one can share with other people makes life worth living. How you engage with them defines your character and may help you grow, and this is what separates Vivi and Zidane from Kuja. As the haunting powerhouse of a melody goes: “You Are Not Alone!”
And as an atheist, when people sometimes ask me “whats the point of living if theres no afterlife?”, I find FF9s answer more than satisfactory.

Some might say that the game borrows too heavily from prior entries with its myriad references, but these are crucially only just that, references. You don’t need to know that there was a Garland in a prior FF to enjoy this one, and as someone who played this as his third FF game ever, everything felt aesthetically, thematically, tonally cohesive from top to bottom. It made me want to revisit the older entries it supposedly honored, and ultimately acts not just as a “greatest hits medley”, but as a crystallization of the series core appeal. When Sakaguchi says that he considers this the best example of what he envisioned FF to be, this is what I feel he means.

And so, I’m glad that Square never expanded on this game, as it leaves it with an untouched, gloriously happy ending, merely thinking of which brings a big, wistful smile to my face. The final shot and accompanying notes feels like closing statements on the very series, like Sakaguchi and Uematsu are entoning that this, indeed, is their definitive Fantasy. And I couldn’t agree more. If FF7 opened my eyes to story as the driving force of video games, FF9 defined what a story had to be to move me. Imagination. Wit. Colorful characters. An undercurrent of darkness, and a big bleeding heart.




3 Word Review: The Final Word




*I encourage everyone with a fondness for this game to check through this gallery of the games pre-rendered backgrounds – it truly is a marvel how much atmosphere they could pack into these things
https://imgur.com/a/A09TB#131
** Another heart-wrencher is this essay on Giantbomb, where the author relates Vivis journey to that of his own grandfather.
https://www.giantbomb.com/forums/final- ... --1797513/

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by L-Barg » March 5th, 2019, 3:59 pm

It had been fifteen years since I had played Final Fantasy IX, and the day it became available on the Nintendo Switch eshop I immediately downloaded it and started playing. Fifteen years is a long time to keep claiming a game to be your favorite in the series without having returned to it just to make sure, so I thought I'd give it a quick playthrough, hitting the highlights, bringing down the big bad guy, and confirming to myself that it was still as wonderful and magical as I remember.

It turns out I have a very poor memory. Almost every story beat, every city's devastation, every existential despair, seemed brand new to me. And it was fantastic. Thirty hours later my path to the end is clear. But no, I'm running around catching frogs, hunting treasure with chocobos, filling out Quina's blue magic list, and yes, even facing off with Ozma (took me a dozen tries but I brought it down, eventually). The game took me in as it must have done over a decade ago and consumed my attention until I satisfied enough to trudge toward that final battle. As the final happy scene played, and Zidane was reunited with Dagger, I knew undoubtedly that though my memories of the game were almost nonexistent, the emotional attachment, that gut feeling that this was a game that I adored as a teenager, proved to be one hundred percent accurate.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by ThirdDrawing » March 5th, 2019, 11:59 pm

Vivi is my favourite character in FF. His existential crisis and search for meaning in his life was extremely impactful to me, given some of the themes of life and death in the game, even quantified in the theme song "Melody of Life".

We don't get to see JRPGs being so introspective, especially at the time FF9 was made, and it's one of the reasons the game has stuck with me more than some of the other games in the series.

And it was a real breath of fresh air after Squall.

The combat being far less tedious than FF8's draw system helped a lot too.

If I have one complaint about the game, it's the soundtrack. While I like the main theme, I think Uematsu relies on it too much throughout the game and FFX (spoilers!) provides a real shot in the arm to the music that the series needed.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Ben77000000 » March 12th, 2019, 12:49 am

Three Word Review:

Genre's finest journey

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by seiibutsu » March 12th, 2019, 7:35 am

When the rest of the world was getting hyped about and spending time playing Final Fantasy seven I was instead spending time with what would become my personal favourite game of all time, Panzer Dragoon Saga. (a game and series I hope to contribute to the discussion for one day)

Likewise, when Final Fantasy eight hit consoles and impacted players lives I was playing the Dreamcast and games like Shenmue, Jet Set Radio, and Project Justice. Like Panzer Dragoon, the Dreramcast would have vast personal importance to me at the time. It was around this time (Christmas of 1999) that I lost my mother to cancer and found myself suddenly an orphan. I was eighteen and attempting to go to collage while raising my then eleven year old sister on my own.

It was this time that helped to make games like these anchors for my life.
I came to Final Fantasy seven and eight eventually but it was nine that would be my entry point into the series proper at a time where I was both recovering from a couple of years trauma and coming to terms with my personal understanding of my place in the world.

It was, and still remains, the best game at the best time for me. Where a title like Shenmue had had a large impact on my personal morals and views on life, Final Fantasy nine literally helped to look at death, and the delicacy of life itself at a time when it would be able to have the most impact.

Vivi and Zidane's journey to understand who they are and their purpose for living, Garnet's fight to prevent the loss of live and to discovering her lost past, and even characters live Amarant or main antagonist Kuja confronted the player with different views on the act of living itself. Or more so in Kuja's case, death, the impact and fear of.

These topics were framed in the most beautiful of things, an absolute world of charm and whimsy that while being light and fun was also oddly grounded and real. Believable. A world constructed out of vibrant cities and social structures, a world that through the worst of times is made up of people with warmth in their hearts. If you ever want to see a game filled with a true metaphor for the positive strengths of social diversity look no further than final fantasy nine.

It's a game that is built on its heritage, honouring the games of it's past aping the feel or style of titles like four and six while refining the lessons learned on seven and it's success. It feels like a swansong for the series almost, the marking of the end of an era before what would become the modern final fantasy with the series of more diverse and eclectic games that would come with the dawning of the ps2 and Final Fantasy ten. You can see that the developer was willing just to have some fun with the art and world building almost in reaction to the more "realistic" look direction the series was drifting in.

The game feels a lot like a children's fantasy novel illustration come to life, the style of the west viewed through the eyes of the east, blending European architecture and fantasy with Asian myth to create an artistically striking title. Also the music is brilliant once again, Nobuo Uematsu knocking it truly out of the park with the next level... black mage village music.

I also finally appreciate the ties the game has to the early titles, including the very first (Garland from the first ff is hinted as being the same Garland as this games Garland... maybe). It's no shock to find out that director Hiroyuki Ito worked on six and twelve as well as this, those titles also speak to me on very personal levels.

Final Fantasy nine is quite possibly the best of the series, its peak showcasing the elements that made the series special up until it's release while marking what many found to be a turning point in the series both creatively and quality wise.

oh and Shout outs to Bobby Carwen!

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Nupraptor » March 16th, 2019, 11:06 am

I remember being very dismissive of FFIX when it was first released. The only FF games I had played at that point were VII and VIII which had a more mature, gritty feel to them with eco terrorists in the Blade runner-esque Midgar in VIIa and the moody teen mercenaries in VIII. When the first images of FFIX came out, we mocked it for featuring a main antagonist who appeared to be "a happy child".
I played through it at the time, but didn't have especially fond memories of it. Coming back to it now is a much more positive experience and a lot of that is down to the characters. The game has stronger central characters than a lot of the other FF games. Each of them has a striking physical appearance that clearly sets them apart from one another. They each have clearly defined character traits and they each experience a character arc over the course of the story. Contrast it with FFVIII where the characters models are more or less interchangeable and any character development is focused on Squall with everyone else in the party merely feeling like hangers-on.
The tragic story of the Mouse-Dragoon Freya, with her doomed people and her lost love. The loyal and inflexible knight Steiner who has to learn question his loyalties and his world view. The Black mage Vivi who has to search for meaning in his existence after discovering that he was created in a factory.
Zidane too, makes an excellent foil as a protagonist to the previous two entries. After the relatively dour Squall and Cloud, Zidane feels like a breath of fresh air with his upbeat positivity and enthusiasm to help and support everyone he meets.
We could probably cut Amarant and lose nothing from the game, but his relative dullness is more than compensated for by the wonderfully bizarre Quina. The fact that one member of your party is a strange blue creature with a constantly lolling giant tongue is a superb and quirky addition and makes for some of the comic highlights of the game. Maybe not laugh-out-loud, but it adds to the humorous and positive tone to contrast against the more dramatic and tragic moments.
Overall, I think that a strong argument can be made for FFIX having the strongest and most diverse line up of main characters in any Final Fantasy game.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by rob25X » March 16th, 2019, 2:43 pm

I didn't play much of IX, I think I borrowed it from a friend at the time.

A nice art style and great music is what I remember about it. A nice mix of interesting characters too.

The cringy, cliche-ridden, melodramic FMVs and music videos firmly put me off ever wanting to revisit it sadly.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Steve Arran » March 19th, 2019, 2:12 pm

I often hear Final Fantasy IX heralded as a return to the roots of the series, paying homage to what has gone before in both its style and mechanics. I also hear that the Final Fantasy you love the most is the one you played first. Whilst I have no idea if the former is actually true (I suppose listening to this podcast will help me find out) I can agree with that latter; and for better or worse the grim futuristic worlds of FFVII and VIII are what I imagine when I think of Final Fantasy. I would hesitate to say therefor that IX had an uphill battle to win me over. But whilst I did, on balance, mostly enjoy my time with this volume, I didn’t come out loving it, or even completing it.

To list the positives: no one creates delightful background paintings better than 90s Square. Their attention to detail- such as the floating barrel bridge in black mage village- really bring the locales to life, no matter how fantastical. They make worlds that you want to live in and that’s a skill. Thematically I thought the choices made in the narrative were increasingly brave, especially when juxtaposed with the cutesie art style. Indeed, the character models (especially on the PS4 remaster) are beyond delightful.

However, the characters are where my issues arise, in that I personally found a large chunk of the main cohort utterly infuriating. The main culprit is Zidane, who, due to the age of the game and massive cultural differences between the UK and Japan, comes across as a creepy sex pest. I get that this is a well worn Anime trope, but I just found most of his innuendo infused comments ill timed at best (the object of your lust has more on her plate than rebuffing your unwanted advances, Zidane) and inappropriate at worst. I also found Steiner- who granted does have a very good story arc- really grating; his entire raison d'etre in the first half of the game simply to shout variations of ‘you can’t do that!’ Thank goodness for Garnet and Vivi who balanced the irritation ratio out. Anyone who doesn’t weep for Vivi’s plight must have a heart of stone and, for anyone who’s ever realised that their parents aren’t the awesome people you thought they were, Garnet’s narrative really hits home.

There are other issues which hampered my enjoyment of this game; I found the pacing slow, the battle speed even slower and the villain particularly weak. Also, I seem to be in there minority on this, but I don’t think the score was that great either. I’m well aware that by not finishing the game I may not have any right to claim these things: all my grievances may have been rectified on disc four, I don’t know. But up until the point I gave up, these were my impressions and I can only relay how I reacted to them.

I really wanted to love Final Fantasy IX and I take no pleasure in dumping on it. FF RPGs wrap you up in their styles like a great big hug, and I really was in the mood to be enveloped by a cracking JRPG. Maybe if this had of been the game that introduced me to the franchise all those years ago my opinion would be different. However, by the time I got to Conde Petie I found my patience wearing thin (awesome job on the localisation of those Scottish dialects though, Square) and another five hours trudging around the outer continents and I was done. Maybe this podcast will foster an appreciation that I have not been able to muster this play through. However, I think if I do pick it up again I’ll be playing through on super speed mode.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by jackthebluemage » March 20th, 2019, 4:05 am

I am curious to hear the panel's thoughts on the technical aspects of the game, as I hold Final Fantasy IX to be as far as Square has ever been behind the curve with their long-running series. There was no voice acting to be found despite having been present in many other PlayStation games by this point, including other RPGs. The battles have their combat animations tied to a plodding 15 frames per second, occasionally causing actions to get queued (ironically, a problem that could be made even worse by making battle speed faster in the options, as this merely increases ATB gauge speed). Most glaring--especially to a player in 2019--are the egregious load times during transition to battles. On the PlayStation version, these can run for over twenty seconds from dungeon traversal to battle input, partly obscured by camera panning but with a not insignificant period of time spent staring at a black screen. Uematsu had mentioned scaling back on music quality in Final Fantasy VII to avoid lengthy load times, but I guess IX's team threw such concessions out the window.

Meanwhile, the Dreamcast, with its silky smooth framerates, predates Final Fantasy IX's release by as much as two years, depending on the territory, and PC gaming also made big strides in the late 90's. Other RPGs (such as the Suikoden games) felt extremely fast in comparison. Yet still, this game reviewed well, and there was barely any mention in those reviews of the game's technical shortcomings, just some comments here and there on the lack of voice acting.

Perhaps by 2000 I had ended up playing fewer of the PlayStation's games with long load times and sluggish 3D than the reviewers did, and it had come to be expected. However, the glacial game pace remains the main reason why this is the only game in the series I have never been able to go back to.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by duskvstweak » March 25th, 2019, 2:48 pm

Final Fantasy IX came out just I was getting into the Final Fantasy series, but, unlike VII and VIII, I couldn't get this one on the PC! So, I finally broke through my anti-Playstation bias and bought a PS1 from my friend, Final Fantasy IX included.

I like IX a lot! It's great, and it's humor and music and characters are all aces...but my love for the game itself has slightly diminished over the years. I think it's that I can easily remember Zidane and Garnet and Stiener and Vivi, but the other characters' stories and backgrounds have faded with time. And, since the battles let you have four characters, I often just stuck with, who I thought were, the main characters.

The most vivid memory I have of the story is the end, which, like VIII, had me believing our hero had perished. I don't know why I fell for it again, but I did. The big reveal during the stage play, with Zidane revealing he survived and then Garnet running to him is just one of those perfect, "I'm not crying, you're crying!" moments.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Toon Scottoon » March 26th, 2019, 12:35 am

Back in the year 2000 when princesses wanted kidnapping and monkey-tailed space homunculi wore cuffs but no sleeves, Final Fantasy IX had to be quite a game.

Those lush backgrounds, that universe of music, those “the future is now” CGI cutscenes, must have made it seem like Square Enix bent time and space to bring this monolith back from a development studio in the future.

Unfortunately I didn’t play Final Fantasy IX until it released on Switch almost 19 years later. It has been my first Final Fantasy experience, though not my first JRPG experience, that honor goes to Earthbound (footnote 1). Nor was was FFIX my first Square Enix JRPG which was Chrono Trigger. (Footnote 2)

Though this passage of time allowed me to get access to the game portably, and provided a few appreciated convenience settings , my time with the game was sort of a mixed deck of Tetra Master cards.

Speaking of Tetra Master, it did nothing for me. Same goes for the trance system which was fun when you got to use it, but also seemed impossible to control the timing on so you could use it when you really needed it. However my biggest complaint as a player who was new to the series was that I didn’t have a rudimentary understanding of many of the mechanics until I was ten hours in, and even then I think I only came to understand them through the use of a guide. Maybe this is an intelligence issue, or maybe Square Enix just didn’t think FF IX would be anyone's first Final Fantasy game, or maybe I’m spoiled by contemporary game design making experimenting with gameplay mechanics more fun. Part of what took the fun out of this experimentation for me I know had to do with the game’s use of random encounters.

Did I mention that I’d never played a game with random encounters before? That people complain about the weapon degradation system in a game like Breath of the Wild and put up with this nonsense just boggled my mind. I assume this style of play was only used because technical limitations required it for Square Enix to get the truly cool Lovecraftian monster designs into the game, but woof! did I not like getting ambushed in the open world while I was trying to work out how you acquired summons or skills. I suppose that’s why they abandoned this mechanic in the series’ later entries (I’ll be back for XII) And why the Switch version I played gave you the option to turn the random battles off, which I chose to do for big chunks of the game. Of course this meant I was underleveled for the final form of the final boss, and how was I supposed to know that they were going to let that weird jellyfish torso thing cheat and use its grab-bag of status effects at the very end to instantly kill my party members, or worse put them into a zombie state?

Yet for all my complaining I did have fun playing this game, even though I know I missed the ideal time in my life to play it. I guess I’ll just have to try to see Final Fantasy IX through the eyes of those who were there in the glory days. You heard it Cane and Rinse team. I’m counting on you.

,Footnote 1: obligatory request for Cane and Rinse to do an Earthbound show. I know its on the list, but if we’ve learned nothing its that Earthbound fans love pester people for more Earthbound content.
Footnote 2: thank you Cane and Rinse to pointing me towards this marvel with episode 166.

Three Word Review
Missed my chance

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Caligulas Horse
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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Caligulas Horse » March 28th, 2019, 5:05 pm

The first time I ever played Final Fantasy IX was as a kid at a friends house, something about the way it looked instantly caught me but I found the fighting puzzling. I had previously thought that turn-based combat and random encounters were unique to Pokemon Red/Blue and with that game it made perfect sense to me because I was the trainer telling the Pokemon what to do. I was baffled by the idea of humans taking it in turns to hit each other and at first I was a little disappointed, however I was about 8 years old so I quickly stopped caring about whether it made sense and spent the weekend playing with my pal using the odd two player set-up where you each controlled different characters during battles.

I had to wait quite a while until I actually owned my own copy of the game. It arrived in the morning before I went to school, I spent the whole day desperate to go home and turn on my playstation (even more so than usual). The only thing I can remember clearly from that first play through was being shocked to find that my friend had renamed all of the characters on his one, I had no trouble accepting a little hooded mage called Sam but Vivi!??

I've returned to this game a number of times during my teens, nothing gets me like that title music, I love the story, the world and especially the characters (and especially Vivi!).

Sorry I can't offer much of a breakdown it has been awhile since my last go and I think it's time for another play.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Mr Ixolite » April 3rd, 2019, 6:32 pm

Steve Arran wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 2:12 pm
However, the characters are where my issues arise, in that I personally found a large chunk of the main cohort utterly infuriating. The main culprit is Zidane, who, due to the age of the game and massive cultural differences between the UK and Japan, comes across as a creepy sex pest. I get that this is a well worn Anime trope, but I just found most of his innuendo infused comments ill timed at best (the object of your lust has more on her plate than rebuffing your unwanted advances, Zidane) and inappropriate at worst.
...
I found the pacing slow, the battle speed even slower and the villain particularly weak. Also, I seem to be in there minority on this, but I don’t think the score was that great either. I’m well aware that by not finishing the game I may not have any right to claim these things: all my grievances may have been rectified on disc four, I don’t know.
I'm a huuuuge fan of this game so take what I say with a grain of salt, but for what its worth Kuja gets a major recontextualization on disc three. The same goes Zidane; Theres no argument that his womanizing sthick comes off a lot worse than back in 2000, but as the game goes on an increasing amount of characters roll their eyes and actively call out his cocksure grandstanding, and it becomes clear that what most endears him to Garnet are his moments of sincerity and empathy, not bravado.

Just two cents from a fanboy, in case you're ever inclined to try it out again

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LynxLynx
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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by LynxLynx » April 7th, 2019, 10:18 am

For the longest time I thought that my first gaming experience was with a Final Fantasy game. It was not until recently that I learned that Final Fantasy Legend 2 for the GameBoy was in fact not a Final Fantasy game, but an entry in the SaGa series. Realizing that I had never actually played a Final Fantasy game I bought the re-releases of Final Fantasy VII and IX on Switch.

The game was truly a joy to play through. Unlike the world of Final Fantasy VII which felt dark, esoteric and strange to me, IX provided a much happier and warmer world for me to explore. I felt that the game (despite it's story) had a slightly humorous tone. The characters were all quirky and fun, except for Zidane who for the most part acts like a clingy and sexually harassive manchild. I deeply wish he wasn¨'t the main character, or that I could atleast have had the option to switch him out of my party. To me, he was the least interesting character and I felt little sympathy towards him due to his annoying behaviour. On the other hand, characters like Vivi, Freya and Steiner are really good, both in personality but also via their respective struggles.

Gameplay wise I found the battles to be fun but not revolutionary. The Ability system was quite fun as it challenged me to enter battles with less powerful weapons just to unlock that one ability I wanted. The Trance-system I thought was really odd and random. I never managed to activate a Trance when I actually wanted to, most of the time it just happened during a random encounter. I also found it annoying that the characters who aren´'t in your party don't gain experience. I wanted to use all of the characters in my roster but eventually just stuck with the same team throughout half of the game because I didn't feel like grinding. A big shame in my opinion, as I thought the different character abilities and playstyles seemed interesting.

I thought the story was good aswell, altough Kuja isn't a very memorable villain. There are so many different conflicts and character stories all happening at once that I almost forgot about him for a good portion of the game. Overall, I think the world building and the characters inhabiting the world is the strongest part of the game. With all it's flaws, I still had a blast playing through the game and I look forward to revisiting this fantastical world and discovering all it's secrets.

Three word review: Back off, Zidane!

Tbone254
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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (13.4.19) - 365: Final Fantasy IX

Post by Tbone254 » April 8th, 2019, 4:30 am

Final Fantasy 9 is a pretty special game to me. Being a fan of the previous games, I had every intention of diving into this one as soon as possible. On a three day weekend, shortly after it released, I went over to a friend's house for the weekend and saw that he had just started Final Fantasy 9. I convinced him to restart the game from the beginning so that I could watch him play it. Not long into his play session, we discovered that the game could be played in two-player mode. While only one person was able to control the overworld character, each of the battle characters could be assigned to player 1 or player 2. At first we thought this was rather gimmicky, but as we played we realized that it changed how we had to approach the random battles. No longer were able to rely on our singularly minded tactics, coordination and communication were key to our success. It was too easy to forget that our individual characters were not as important the whole team. Many times we would yell at each other over what the other had chosen to perform at some critical moment in a battle. Mostly it was me getting yelled at for refusing to give up my attempts at stealing from every enemy we came across. So, what started out as me getting a nice preview of the game turned into a non-stop three day marathon to complete it. We stopped only for restroom breaks, a couple of quick naps, and a few snacks. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to play the game to completion before I had to return home. We ended up making it to somewhere near the end of disc 3/beginning of disc 4. Since we were both young, impatient, and eager to see the end of the story. We doubled the save on another memory card and we both finished the rest of the game by ourselves. While it was still fun on my own, it wasn’t nearly as fun as it had been playing with my buddy.

I really enjoyed the return to older themes with Final Fantasy 9, and the developers took full advantage of the of the creative freedom this gave them. The static backgrounds are gorgeous and full of variety; and the more exaggerated character models were a welcomed change from the previous entries more realistic proportions. Even with a visual style that is less realistic, the story is no less mature for it. There are some very personal and relatable themes here. Themes dealing with loss, self-doubt, and one’s own mortality. And this is accompanied by some great character development. I personally think Vivi’s story is the stand out tale with Freya’s a close second.

Final Fantasy 9’s soundtrack as a whole is my personal favorite of Uematsu’s work. It has several themes that are referenced many different times in different styles and unique ways. It can be bright, colorful, playful and innocent; as well as dark, brooding, and melancholic. It is just a joy to listen too.

Final Fantasy 9 is a wonderful game. It has a great story, gorgeous art, and a beautiful soundtrack. Getting to experience it over a weekend stay at a friend’s house makes it a gaming experience I will never forget.

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