Final Fantasy IX (Android) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 12.02.2016 11

Review for Final Fantasy IX on Android

Final Fantasy IX was designed to be a shout-out to the other games in the series, a return to the medieval fantasy themes, and a new epic adventure for fans to enjoy. Although Nobou Uematsu, composer for the series at this point, considers this his finest work, the game was not without its detractors, primarily due to long loading times, slow battles, and fixed job systems that appeared to regress from the high customisation options of previous titles. With enhancements abounding, shall either cloud or squall darken the experience? Cubed3 dives in.

It's odd how Square Enix can give us shoddy ports of Final Fantasy VI, while at the same time enhancing and clearly working ardently to create a great port of Final Fantasy IX—and this is a great port. It has a rather large file size for a mobile game, which is something to be aware of, but considering the original version spanned four CDs, it is no surprise.

Graphics have been improved all around, though it can take some time to notice the improvements to the backgrounds, because they were never bad to begin with. It becomes inescapable, however, that everything was improved, but nothing as much as the characters; they look fantastic. The CG movies are supposedly improved, but since they always looked great, too, it's hard to tell. All in all, it has never looked better.

They're called enhancements, but, really, "built-in cheats" would be a better way to portray the modifications to the gameplay. There is the option to speed up everything by a factor of three, instantly max level and gems, disable random encounters, and a few others, all aimed at making the game easier. These are optional, of course, and can be ignored, but most would have been better as unlockables in a New Game+ mode, rather than being available from the beginning. With all of the "enhancements" on, the game lasts just a few hours. It would have been smarter to have these unlocked by collecting a certain number of Stellazzio Coins, or having a certain Treasure Hunter rank. It cheapens the experience to have all cheats available from the start, even if they are optional.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on Android

There are some minor movement issues that come about from playing with a touchscreen, but the smart addition of a "touch to move" option eliminates most of the problems, even if the pathfinding is a bit wonky. Using the on-screen joystick to move around in 3x speed is borderline impossible, and it's here that the alternative option picks up the slack. It's not perfect, but it's certainly good enough, and it never really detracts or distracts.

Across four continents, a team of heroes fight to uncover the truth of the arms dealer Kuja and unravel the mystery behind the Iifa Tree, culminating in a return of the science fiction elements for which we have come to love the series, and it's up to the ragtag group to prevent the destruction of the world. It's not an original plot, but it wasn't meant to be—tropes and clichés established by this very series are on full, unironic display, and it still works well to this day, even after countless role-playing games have followed in its footsteps and borrowed heavily from the series.

It is odd that a return to the class-based system characterises this RPG, since only two games in the series actually featured rigid class systems: the first and fourth. There is no real character customisation here, but this also allows characters their own identity both outside and inside of battle. In other entries, characters were more or less blank slates, and there was no real connection between their identity and their combat abilities; here, Zidane is a thief in the plot, and he's a thief in battles, while Vivi is a Black Mage in the plot and a Black Mage in battles.

Although it's possible to turn on all the "enhancements" and tear through the game in a handful of hours, there is way more here than will be encountered on such a hasty playthrough. Tetra Master debuts as the replacement for the previous game's Triple Triad, and brings with it a host of rules that no one fully understands, but is a lot of fun to play. Artifacts await discovery all throughout the world, and there is Chocobo Hot & Cold, which leads to more rewards and more treasures—not to mention achievements. The moogles need help delivering letters and restoring Mognet Central, and a noble in Treno wants the thirteen Stellazzio Coins. At some point, it might be a good idea to take a break from all the side-questing and save the world, though.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on Android

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Load times are still a problem, and they may be worse now than they were in the past, while the speed enhancement has no effect on loading. It may seem minor, but the loading times add up; hopefully this is fixed with the upcoming PC version. There are still enough enhancements here to make up for it, and it was already an awesome game, so new and old players alike will find plenty to love.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Those boosters are whats keeping from getting it.

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

I loved this so much - easily one of my favourite FFs, along with FFVI.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

On a personal note, I really hate the font changes. It sticks out so much.

I like the speed increase, but since it doesn't affect loading times it just means that a proportionally higher percentage of time played is lost to loading. For me, the loading times kept it from getting a higher score, and I almost went with a lower score.

I guess it's a matter of discipline, bUt having max level characters is just a few buttons away. I don't think requiring the game to be beaten once before that option is unlocked would have been unreasonable, but now it's like I'm just resisting the urge to use it... Smilie

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I don't agree with making them unlockables. This is why I loved FF7 PS4. I grew up on these games and have played them to death so many times. At this point, I may just want to blast through the game to quickly relive the story again, without any worries about random encounters or tough boss battles. The optional max stats etc allow me to do this. What satisfaction would I gain now, having to replay the entire game I've played so many times to unlock the max stats? They would be pointless at that point, unless for replaying it again in the future. At least I have that choice right off the bat this time on a format I am comfortable with and with better features.

I honestly can't understand not buying a game or being put off by optional things you don't have to use. This is why I am happy with these ports overall, because of these new features available right away. They greatly appeal to me, at least, and are the reason I am happy to repurchase them.

A great game made even better, but disappointing about the load times, if that's the case. I had seen that the resolution of the backgrounds was still a tad blurry and zoomed in slightly to compensate for the widescreen, but not sure if that's only the PC version (I forget which system they were from when the PR shots released).

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I don't get how the loading times are still so bad... I mean what was a huge amount of data to load off a CD at x2 speed like the PS1 had isn't so much to load off a SD card these days, unless you'd be using the lowest class of SD cards, which you would have a hard time finding in stores these days. So why would they be so slow? That's beyond me.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

To me, it's the difference between unlocking cheats by playing Goldeneye and just using a gameshark to get them. It changes things--it turns "playing the normal way" into a self-imposed challenge. They're optional, for sure, but the microtransactions in Dead Space 3 were optional, too. The microtransactions also cost more money--thankfully, the FF9 enhancements don't, which actually surprises me now that I've thought about it... this is mobile, after all... lol--but they both changed things, even as they were optional. This one is one of mindset, turning the "normal" way into a self-imposed challenge, when we already had the level 1 challenge for that. Why would anyone not use the instant level 99 button? There's absolutely no reason not to use it. :/

RudyC3, I left the game installed to internal memory for exactly that reason--I bought a large SD card when the technology was still new, and I don't remember all the nuances of it, but it's slower than most cards. But I kept FF9 on internal memory. I no longer have a PSX to compare, but I'd bet that these loading times are worse than the original. There's also a movement lag issue, where you can't move for about half a second after a new area loads, but I'm not certain that's endemic to the game. It may just be an issue with where I naturally attempt to set down the joystick on the screen.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I don't see it that way. It's a 16-year-old game whose majority customers are likely to be those that have played the game before. It's not like it's a brand new game that has just launched with the option to turn on max stats staring you in the face. Like, imagine if FF15 allowed that - it wouldn't fly. This is designed more to people like me, who want to relive the story with no distractions again, and casuals that never got into FF before, and can do now. Agree to disagree, I guess, because I am glad they're doing this and likely wouldn't buy it (or have bought FF7 PS4) otherwise.

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Anema86 said:
RudyC3, I left the game installed to internal memory for exactly that reason--I bought a large SD card when the technology was still new, and I don't remember all the nuances of it, but it's slower than most cards. But I kept FF9 on internal memory. I no longer have a PSX to compare, but I'd bet that these loading times are worse than the original. There's also a movement lag issue, where you can't move for about half a second after a new area loads, but I'm not certain that's endemic to the game. It may just be an issue with where I naturally attempt to set down the joystick on the screen.

Ah I see thanks for the heads up. Having a lot of other apps running in the background and fighting over access to the internal memory might be causing some disruptions too, but those in the original PS1 game were pretty horrendous tbh, and I was looking forward to this re-release mainly hoping that they would ave ironed that out but I'm sad to see that this isn't the case at all...

Speaking of "joystick-on-the-screen", I wonder if controllers are supported, such as those built-in on some android consoles like the JXD s5800b that I own, though mine is broken.

EDIT: On PS1 you'd get a 3~4 second swirling effect on the screen, one second of silence, music starts and battle loads for a good 5 seconds on a black screen... then the battle scene appears but you wait for the enemies to appear, and then your party, before FINALLY gaining control of things. It's easy, I know exactly on which part of the battle music melody I would usually hear the sound of a control window popping up, I relistened to it and can say with a good level of certainty that you gained control of things at approx. 10~11 seconds in with the music.

So you have roughly 15 seconds of load time at each battle on PS1.

( Edited 13.02.2016 02:08 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

It's interesting to note that even with the discs ripped into .bin files, ePSXe still produces about the same load times--I just got 17 seconds from start of swirl to control of my characters outside of Dragon's Gate on ePSXe.

On Android, area transitions average 7 seconds, sometimes going up to just over 8. If an area requires a lot of small area transitions--like the dwarven city, Lindblum, the crashed theater ship, then it adds up really, really fast. It's made all the more noticeable at x3 speed, since it takes only half a second to cross such an area, and then 7-8 seconds to load the next little area. 17 seconds is also the battle load times that I got on Android, so it looks like load times are exactly the same.

It also looks like the lag is built-in to the game's code and that the code is simply inefficient/the engine itself is slow. So I wouldn't expect the PC version to improve things any. The ISO/ePSXe sure doesn't load any faster. Smilie

It's not unplayable by any means, but it does hold the game back.

( Edited 13.02.2016 03:47 by Anema86 )

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

if you really loved the games like you claim you do, then you would enjoy the journey's balance from beginning to end, using boosters or whatnot makes it seem like you dont enjoy playing the game at all

I'm doing the right thing, when no one else wanted to.

Ser Millian said:
if you really loved the games like you claim you do, then you would enjoy the journey's balance from beginning to end, using boosters or whatnot makes it seem like you dont enjoy playing the game at all

I have and I still do exactly that. I love these games and have 100% them many times. But now, I can finally play them through quickly when I am only keen to relive the story and not worry about anything else. With less time to play games and more new games for me to play in general, these options are great for me. I'm just not understanding the problem in the slightest. When I want to, I will continue to play them properly, but when I also feel like playing only the story, I have the choice to use the boosters. Win win.

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