Over the weekend, as we creep closer to finishing off the first two months of 2015–two absolutely frigid and skin-cracking cold months at that–I realized I needed to start doing something about my promise to finally play, with the intent to complete too, Final Fantasy IX, Radiant Historia, and Silent Hill 3. Now, I’m naturally not crazy enough to juggle all of those at once, and so I picked the one that called to me most, that has always called to me, fifteen years after its release in November 2000, and that’s how we’re here now, with a save entry in Final Fantasy IX around the six-hour mark. Six hours, ten minutes, and thirty-five seconds, with 3,181 Gil to spend if I’m to be exact.
I’m not going to wax nostalgia too much, but Final Fantasy IX, despite me only ever getting as far as the second disc (of four discs in total) made a big impression on me as a sixteen-year-old gamer kid. Much more than Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII ever did–sorry, Cloud and Squall, respectively. There are a number of elements here that I think about constantly, such as Active Time Events, Triple Triad, how the plot bounces between a Game of Thrones-esque cast of characters, the jaunty pacing, that orchestral soundtrack, kupos and the noises they make when receiving mail, and more. Truly, I’ve never understood why I haven’t completed it sooner, but I feel like a part of me always got distracted by something else, especially on disc two, when things slow down, but much like previous goals wherein I remained on the path to complete games like Chrono Cross and Metal Gear, I’m hopeful this is my chance.
Let me share with y’all Final Fantasy IX‘s concomitantly light and heavy plot, at least for the opening hours of the game. The adventure begins with Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe kidnapping Princess Garnet during her sixteenth birthday celebration. As it turns out, Garnet actually wanted to be kidnapped, not knowing what to do over Queen Brahne’s increasingly erratic behavior. Along the way, Zidane and Garnet are joined by Vivi, a black mage who is troubled by the idea that soulless black mages are being sweatshop created for nefarious purposes, and Steiner, a soldier sworn to protect the princess. The group travels to Lindblum to speak with Regent Cid over what to do next. Things go from there, but I won’t go into every detail; just know that the group is being pursued, Mist is a problem, Garnet is discovering everyone is holding her back, and Zidane is not quite the ladies monkey he believes himself to be.
I suspect I’ll go into other elements in separate posts later, so for now I’ll write a bit about the combat and combat-related mechanics. Battles are active and turn-based, coined as Active Time Battles, meaning you get to select an action for whoever once their meter fills up, but the enemy’s turn meter is also filling up simultaneously. Depending on party members, your commands are pretty standard: attack, steal, black magic, skills, items, flee, and so on. After taking enough hits, characters can enter a “Trance” mode, which is activated for a short duration and not too far off from Final Fantasy VII‘s Limit Breaks used in Final Fantasy VII. Trance grants special attack commands; I’m actually not a huge fan as one often enters Trance during non-boss battles, making them anticlimactic and not very useful, unless you time your Trance meter “pop” just right.
Here’s one of my favorite things about Final Fantasy IX‘s relatively straightforward combat. Weapons and armor include special character abilities, which can be equipped so long as the ability matches their class. For instance, Vivi should focus on items that come packaged with spells. Anyways, through battles, ability points are applied to all items currently equipped by a character, and once each item has been maximized, the character no longer needs to wear that gear to use that ability. It is much clearer in the game than how I just wrote it, but basically, it makes grinding purposeful, as you are always working towards filling up an item’s ability meter. I’m so crazy about this stuff that, right now, Zidane is equipped with a less powerful dagger so that he can learn an ability to up his thieving skills, despite a stronger dagger sitting unused in my inventory.
Well, I’ll be back to write more. Currently, Zidane, Viva, and Freya–real quick side note, I decided to be an adult and leave all their original names as is when prompted–are working their way through Gizamaluke’s Grotto, in pursuit of a runaway Garnet. Unfortunately, remember when I mentioned earlier about always getting distracted by shinier things…well, it seems like Giant Bomb‘s Dan and Drew are heading back into Metal Gear Scanlon soon, and I like to be one step ahead of them before watching, so I might run into a snag where I have to juggle this and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Hmm.
Totally know where you’re coming from with this! (Though I still love VII & VI just a smidge more.) But something about the particular style of the high fantasy in IX – especially after the two previous tech-oriented games – hit that sweet spot where it sucked you right into its world.
IX also has some really good storytelling, although, truthfully, by the final disc (and especially the ending) I was really lost. But the first three were amazing. One of my favorite moments, without going into detail and giving it away, is that when something that had happened near the VERY beginning of the game – you’re sure to have seen it already – that had bugged me the whole game through gets closure right about the time the final credits roll.
Yeah, give me soldiers and festivals over gun-swords and floating garden-schools!
If I don’t get what you’re talking about by the time I’m through the game, I expect you to explain more. But for now, shhh. I’m almost through Disc 1 I believe…
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Okay I’m sick of all this bashing, I’m going to explain why 9 is the worst.
FF9 for me storyline wise is the worst game in the series, the love story is horrible written and the game pretends that the love story is one of the main focuses when it isn’t, the story is FULL of plotholes, some of the characters are obnoxious, and some of them make really stupid decision (especially garnet) and has a really unsympathetic character that the game acts like is sympathetic (kuja). In a top 10 list that lists everything wrong with 9:
10: the trance mode
8: the eidolons and Brahne
7:Freya and fratley
5: terra, Garland and zidane’s angel of death powers
2: garnet’s disk 1 and 2 actions (returning to Alexandria)
1: zidane and garnet’s love story
I won’t get into too much detail because I’m better at explaining this when I’m talking on a video I plan to make, but I’ll say some things. The only reason for Necron’s existence was for him to serve as a cheap excuse for kuja to try to redeem himself, because kuja completly deserves to redeem himself (being sarcastic), kuja was an unsympathetic monster the whole game and then during terra the game pretty much pulls out of nowhere And forces to make kuja out to be a “tragic and sympathetic” character despite there being no build up before, and the game pretty much started treating kuja like a draco in leather pants (term for character who has his negative traits down played), and NECRON was just something the writers pulled out of their rears as a forced attemped to make kuja atone.
Beatrix is an annoying God-mode Sue who never looses a fight, which is especially annoying because the guy who fights her each time was zidane the guy who was created to be the most powerful person in 9: the shadow the hedgehog/mewtwo of 9. In the final fight with Beatrix; Zidane should have transformed into a more powerful incomplete angel of death trance mode and curb stomp Beatrix and actually have Beatrix loose a fight, there’s a bunch of other problems I have with Beatrix but I won’t state that here.
And Zidane and Garnet I consider the love story to be the worst done in the final fantasy series, people act like it’s so great but I don’t understand why, it’s supposed to be a spin on the classic peasant princess love story but it’s not very well written, there’s barely any chemistry between them, Garnet spends more time wangsting about her mother and kingdom than she does focusing on Zidane, let’s not even get started on the mute segment (and people think Cloud and Squall are emo). and Zidane barely ever gets upset over what happens to Garnet, personality wise Zidane is a mary-sue, Zidane is WAY too optimistic, Garnet has TOO MUCH angst and zidane has too little, and then there’s Garnet’s stupid decision during disk 1 and 2, she completely betrays Zidane’s trust, stabs him in the back, and abandons him, and end up making the intire beginning of the game (the kidnapping and trip to lindblum) and first several levels of gameplay completely pointless, what kind of thing is that to start off a love story or even put into it? The player is pretty much forced to play through her section of stupidity with an extremely obvious conclusion, you pretty much Hand over the eidolons to the antagonists, and Garnet is responsible for all the city’s getting blow up due to her ridiculous behaviour, not to mention leaving a scar on Zidane and Garnet’s love story, I consider that to one of the worst moments in the final fantasy series. The game acts like the love story is one of the main focuses, the main musical theme is a love song (melodies of life) that plays consteadly throughout the game and even serves as the world map theme! Yet there’s barely ANY focus due to Garnet barely focusing or having chemistry with Zidane aside from random scenes that come out of nowhere and then are immediately made irrelevant and pointless afterwards and never mentioned again.
And honestly Garland should have been the main antagonist he was really interesting and unique with his moral ambiguity and instead he has to play second Fidel to Kuja and Brahne, two really 2d and cliche characters who are overhyped, and personally I think Beatrix should have garnet’s adoptive mother, it wouldn’t have sent out the unfortinate implication that ugly people are bad. And Kuja shouldn’t have been a straight up antagonist but a complex character that was basically a darker version of Zuko, from avater the last air bender.
Both halves of ff9 were pretty badly witten. I think 9 would have been better told as an anime, in fact most of the ff games should be retold as animes. FF9 in my opinion should have been a deconstruction of the nes and snes FF games. You should also check socksmakepeoplesexy’s review of the game. And Final Fantasy Whatever’s review.