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Retro Recap – Final Fantasy IX

The Crystal Comes Back

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Another Retro Recap on a Final Fantasy game? How could I not? Especially one such as lucrative as this one. This week’s Retro Recap is Final Fantasy IX.

A gang of thieves, including our hero, Zidane, have been hired to kidnap the Princess from the clutches of her unstable mother, Queen Brahne. However, once discovered, Princess Garnet begs Zidane to take her with them, in an ironic twist of fate. From this point onwards, Zidane swears to protect the Princess from all harm (with the obvious incentive…) and they embark on a perilous journey, outing the ruthless Queen and then the evil villain Kuja and his plans to conquer the world with the help of the Iifa Tree.

FestivaloftheHunt

Final Fantasy IX definitely takes a number of twists and turns along the road that players do not expect. This is one of the many reasons why IX far excels many other titles, even current generation entries, as the one of the all-time greats. It’s strong storytelling isn’t the only feature that this game brings to the table. IX also features the acclaimed ATB combat system many Final Fantasy fans are familiar with and the inclusion of a new limit break system in the form of Trances. This game is considered to be an upscaled version of previous FF titles, playing on the hype they received. However, even from a stand alone view point, Final Fantasy IX is one of the easier, yet gripping games that the franchise has ever produced. If you want to pick up an FF game as a starting point, IX is definitely a good way to go.

Every Final Fantasy game has some fun little facts:

  • It took 13 years after the game released for a player to find a secret side mission. It was mentioned briefly in the Japanese guide to the game and was not even referenced in the western guides
  • The Excalibur 2 weapon, the most powerful in the game, can only be achieved by reaching the terrace in Memoria (the final area of the game) within 12 hours
  • In the French version of IX, the main character was renamed to Djidane to not conflict with the famous French footballer Zinedine Zidane
  • It’s the highest rated Final Fantasy game on Metacritic (if you actually care about the reviews that is)

Vivi

Playing through Final Fantasy IX, I learned a few things. First, I came to the stark realization that I love the Final Fantasy franchise as a whole rather than just the odd one or two games. Secondly, I found out compelling storylines are more attractive to me than the general gameplay. Lastly, I finally realized that RPGs are my absolute preferred genre of video games. It certainly is a shame that the RPG era has died down somewhat in recent times, but that doesn’t mean by any stretch that they are gone completely.

Final Fantasy IX, being the last in the franchise on the PlayStation One age of gaming, still could very well hold its own even in today’s market. The sheer brilliance of the narrative (even without the voice over work) coupled with that gaming draw that incites you play just that little bit more definitely makes this game a contender for one of the all-time greats.  Looking back, there wasn’t a single thing I could criticize IX for, which definitely says a lot in this day and age (listen to our podcast on this matter Do Gamers Act Like Spoiled Brats). Do yourselves a favor and give IX a playthrough. I can safely say without hesitation that you will not regret the purchase.

Did any of you play Final Fantasy IX in your youth or have you picked it up more recently? As with most of the PlayStation Final Fantasy games, this is available on the PS Store (nothing like handheld Final Fantasy gaming). Let us know your thoughts on this game in the comments section below!

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