Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 21.12.2017 4

Review for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4

When Final Fantasy VII came out, it was a cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, over the years, it's slowly been seen as a bit overrated. Continuity issues, subpar graphics, and a climax that left more than a little to be desired. It was followed by the most cynical of the PlayStation Final Fantasy entries: Final Fantasy VIII. People tend to either love it for its dark love story, or hate it for its bizarre magic-pulling system. At the end of the PS1's life cycle, though, was a game that didn't get the same attention as perhaps Final Fantasy VI or Final Fantasy X, but was easily one of the best games the series ever produced.

Final Fantasy IX opens with an air of mystery and intrigue. Unlike other entries around the time, the player gets the reins almost immediately, without watching long cinematics. The mystery is built naturally through the game's tutorial, as Baku tests Zidane's battle prowess. The combat feels like the same old, same old, but still manages to have an air of mystery about it.

Unlike the previous two titles, where you could mould characters into how you see fit, Final Fantasy IX gives each character its own class, fitting in with the earlier entries in the series. While Zidane is a sneaky thief, Vivi is a black mage, summoning chaos from the tips of his fingers. Although it may not feel like it's as easy to customize your characters, they are so varied that you'd be wise to customize your party around certain characters' strengths.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4

This re-release comes with some added features, like built in cheats. Now, for the purists out there, it's important to know they aren't mandatory. However, every purist owes themselves the chance to traverse this game maxed out at the beginning and moving at 3X normal speed. If you've already beaten the game before, consider it your reward. The cheats make the experience a joke in terms of difficulty, but it is amusing laying waste to enemies you used to have issues with in a turn or two.

A traditional staple of the series is a special move that only occurs so often, which is just overpowered enough to save you from the brink of decimation. Each character has their own set of rules and restrictions, but levelling them up means unlocking truly devastating moves, absolutely levelling enemies. Final Fantasy IX manages to mix this up a lot, giving each character a move set that, unlike other entries, truly feels unique to them.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4

Any good RPG will give little things to do when questing if the story grows dull. Final Fantasy IX may have some of the best side quests in RPG history. The reason for this is how incredibly different each one feels. While you can search the world for playing cards, you can also spend time with your chocobo, digging up treasures. The game did such a good job hiding its many treasures, one was only discovered a few years ago. For the speedrunners out there, there's a special reward hiding for those who can reach the end, or just about, in under 12 hours. It's truly one of the most diverse games in terms of side content, and could hold its own against the likes of Skyrim or The Witcher 3.

RPGs rarely make an impact without a good story, and here, again, FFIX delivers. While not every character manages to get a good backstory, they still feel like real characters. The backstories we do get are amazingly original, even by today's standards, ripping into your heartstrings as quickly as they make you laugh.

There's almost a chibi quality to the art style, while still managing to look like a living Victorian paint, at least in the city environments. The world really feels alive, but it could have gone off the rails on the world map. The older Final Fantasys had immense world maps for the time, and zooming out gives the world a real sense of scale. Where Final Fantasy IX excels is making that overworld feel real. Between thick fog and an arid desert, there's so much life here that you'll almost believe it.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4

It's easy to wax on for hours about everything that makes Final Fantasy IX truly incredible, but it's not perfect. Some of its side quests don't pay off in real tangible ways. A few of them simply give you "key" items that don't amount to much more than a name on a list, giving bragging rights to those who manage to collect all of the coffees, or what have you. One of the side quests only really pays off if you finish another, which is much longer and harder.

The biggest issue, though, is the balancing FFIX fails to achieve later on. The final string of bosses are nowhere near as hard as the bosses leading up to them, and the final boss is almost too easy. It would be unfair to say "Well, it's not as hard as Ultimecia or Sephiroth," but this game is wholly different than its siblings from the same era. Unfortunately, anyone who levels even moderately will feel the game ease on the brakes in the final few hours.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It's a bold claim, but Final Fantasy IX is the best PS1 era Final Fantasy, and easily one of the best the series has ever produced. With it being on PS4 and PC, even if you don't want to visit a garage sale or local game shop to grab a PS1, you can now play one of the best RPGs ever created. While it manages to only just fall short of greatness, it does so with a level of grace so memorizing, it's hard to believe sometimes. If you still aren't convinced, just play to the final cutscene. That should convince you just fine.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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

It's a bold claim, but Final Fantasy IX is the best PS1 era Final Fantasy

I have to wholeheartedly agree with this, looking back. Whilst I did thoroughly enjoy FFVII, even FFVIII kind of edges it now, with hindsight. However, FFIX was a joyous return to the more fantasy feel I love. The style was marvellous, and still looks amazing today.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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Absolutely.  Though I must say I think 7 and 8 are largely two sides of the same coin.  I think 7 is much more fluid, though they deviate from the plot a bit too much. Where I have a hard time really following the story in 8 ( I get it , but it's just needlessly confusing I guess). Meanwhile, I'd say 7 is a little too nice to the player.  I think it was Ofisil's review that stated it was too easy, and I wholly agree.  Where as 8 had some weird difficulty spikes (Adel comes to mind), and the fight with Ultimecia (and the whole world basically being locked down after a certain point) was kind of absurd. However, I really liked the characters a lot more in 8, they felt a lot more genuine and alive, and the side quests feel more interesting.  Then again, I think of every FF side quest I've ever played through, Chocobo Breeding is bare none my least favorite.

I think 9 was a good culmination of what they learned between 7 and 8 though.  I think they did a fantastic job melding the back stories into the game, keeping everything flowing while still getting us into the back story.  The only character I really never cared for was Amarent, in terms of narrative, and possibly Queen Brahne. Most of my complaints about 9 though are things you'd probably never notice, like the weird way multi-player was integrated, or things that are over fairly quickly, like the whole of the town of Dali. Idk, I just think with 7 and 8 they tried something different, and they both came with the trappings that come with trying new things. They're rarely perfect the first few times. When they melded those things with what they knew worked there, I think they nailed it.

I hated the Chocobo breeding in FF7 as well.

Thankfully, there's an exploit that makes it pretty easy to get a Gold Chocobo.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=332913860

( Edited 22.12.2017 04:24 by Gabriel PVJ Jones )

Whaaaaaa?? That's nuts. I never knew about that, good looking out.

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