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The Written Final Fantasy IX Report Part 5: Fire Up the End Credits, We're Done Here

Nadia journeys through Final Fantasy IX for the first time and says what she thinks. Today: All good things come to an end.

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

Nadia is playing the beloved RPG Final Fantasy IX for the first time, and he's chronicling her journey as she goes! Why not join her? Don't forget to listen to the accompanying oral report on Axe of the Blood God!

The Final Final Fantasy IX Report

If you listen to Axe of the Blood God, then you've probably heard the big news: I finished Final Fantasy IX just before the door shut on 2017. But if you don't listen to Blood God (It's OK, disembodied voices freak me out, too), you're probably going to want a written account of what I thought about the game overall, right? Right.

Well for starters, Kuja looks like a angry anime Ronald McDonald. Ba-da-ba-ba-ba!

My final written report won't dwell on summarizing the plot; a lot happened since the last report. If you need a thorough breakdown, the Final Fantasy wiki has an excellent story summary for Final Fantasy IX.

Missed out on previous reports? Here you go:

So, I'm done with Final Fantasy IX. According to RPG law, I'm obligated to rank this classic game amongst my other favorites in the series. Here's Nadia's Grand Final Fantasy Breakdown, then:

  • 1) Final Fantasy VI
  • 2) Final Fantasy VII
  • 3) Final Fantasy IV
  • 4) Final Fantasy IX
  • 5) Final Fantasy XII / The Zodiac Age

I imagine some of you stood up in shocked outrage quickly enough to cause your chair to topple backwards and startle your cat. Be sure to comfort them with a hug and a kiss, then let me explain my position.

Yes, I loved Final Fantasy IX. I'm super-glad I finally got around to playing it. No, it's not in my top 3 Final Fantasy countdown. Part of that is nostalgia: I played Final Fantasy IV, VI, and VII during my formative years when themes about identity and finding oneself left indelible marks on my heart. Much as I enjoyed re-experiencing the same themes in Final Fantasy IX, they simply can't make the same impact on me. That's not the game's fault, though. I admit that.

Note: I awarded Final Fantasy IX extra points for its leather daddy pig-twins.

(That said, I still feel like Final Fantasy VI's transition to the World of Ruin and Celes' lonely awakening offers a gut-punch few RPGs are still able to match. Final Fantasy VI won't budge from my personal #1 spot anytime soon.)

But I'm not penalizing Final Fantasy IX for nostalgia alone. It has a few notable issues:

1) The battle system is slo-o-o-o-w — Seriously, mating turtles move with more urgency than the average fight in Final Fantasy IX. Battles load up slowly, and that's one problem, but there's a noticeable delay in every action you take in battle, and that's another problem altogether. I never got used to how off-kilter each encounter feels. It's like everyone's always a step behind my orders. Frankly, if the PlayStation 4 release of Final Fantasy IX didn't include the options to speed up fights and turn off random encounters, I don't think I would've enjoyed the game nearly as much as I ultimately did.

2) I can't see where the hell I'm going sometimes — Final Fantasy IX's low-res pre-rendered backgrounds are gorgeous, and they make me warm and nostalgic for that specific era of Square-Enix's history. I just really wish pressing select marked each area's entrances and exits the way it does in Final Fantasy VII. Why in Alexander's holy name would such a handy feature be taken out of a game that desperately needs it?

3) Some characters are left under-developed — Zidane, Vivi, Garnet all have incredible story arcs. I wasn't always a fan of how Zidane's character is developed—the whole business with Terra and the Genomes didn't grab me—but I can't argue his character arc was satisfactory. Vivi and Garnet are two of the best-written RPG characters I've traveled with, and Vivi's handling of his existential crisis was particularly well-done. He's a trooper, and I fell head over heels for the little guy.

We're all gonna die, li'l dude.

Eiko also receives decent development, and her connection with Garnet comes as a nice surprise. Steiner can be a bit of a pill, but his devotion to Garnet is admirable, as is his unshakable nature (and he's a super-cute boyfriend for Beatrix, who I thought was going to wind up like Final Fantasy VI's General Leo, but didn't. Whew).

Quina is—well, they're Quina. They're great. But Freya's arc is kind of tossed to the wayside by the game's midway point, and that's a sin. I love Dragoons, I love female Dragoons, and I love rodent-type characters. Here comes a character tailor-made to my tastes, aaaaand she's gone.

Then there's Amarant.

"Zidane, you're a happy-go-lucky fool who trusts his friends too much."

"Nuh-uh."

"OK, you've convinced me."

Great. Good talk.

I suppose it's not a Final Fantasy game unless you can point at a character or two and ask, "Why are you even here?" I should just be thankful the characters most vital to Final Fantasy IX's storyline—Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi—wound up being so likeable and well-developed.

What'd Beatrix tell you guys about using the bathroom *before* the show started?

Despite its problems, Final Fantasy IX is a highly imaginative and personable RPG that revels in the series' roots without leaning on them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game and its cast. Please do listen to our Final Fantasy IX reports on Axe of the Blood God if you haven't already. Kat and I go into great detail about the game's mechanics, as well as its characters and story. We break down twists and reminisce about the best parts of the game. Really, it'd take me thousands of words to summarize the thoughts and feelings we share in our conversations. Final Fantasy IX is just a special game, period.

I'm still cheesed about Freya getting the dirty end of the stick / spear, though. In fact, I plan to die mad about it.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker 13 days ago
    I agree that about 25% of the cast in FF9 wasn't really needed, but I guess it had to behave more like FFIV/VI than V, especially to keep the one job per character trope. But the Gooch needed a big game for his big farewell to the Crystal saga. Amarant may as well be a side quest to a new skill for Zidane. Tho I like Eiko!

    I bought all the Final Fantasies except the SNES trilogy from PSN Christmas weekend, but only started FF7 in hopes of dating Barrett. I don't know if I should finish my PS1 copy of FF9 already since I'm very close to the end, however I don't know where to level up. It's been four years since I played it tho.Edited 2 weeks ago by riderkicker
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #2 Vonlenska 13 days ago
    Freya is one of my favorite character designs in the series, so it's a slight bummer she ends up being C-tier in characterization, but them's the breaks for whimsical fantasy creatures.

    IX's art direction is really unique and interesting, especially now that the series has finally re-settled into a pretty consistent aesthetic. IX sticks out as belonging neither to the Amano-art-and-high-fantasy of Ye Olde FF nor the perfectly-coifed-hair-and-too-many-belts sheen of modern FF. Its whimsical Dark Crystal-ish storybook aesthetic is really a lot more unique and imaginative than I ever see it get credit for. I still love Christian Lorenz Scheurer's art for the game. I'd love to see another big international collab JRPG like this.

    And someday, I'll play the dang thing, too...
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #3 Vonlenska 13 days ago
    (Quina is also one of my favorite character designs so I'm happy to hear they're as wonderful as I always dreamed, probably. Weirdos on globe trotting quests to eat-all-the-things speak to me more than fiery youths into all that saving the world nonsense.)
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  • Avatar for moochan #4 moochan 13 days ago
    Personally FF9 isn't in my top 5. The throwbacks are great and I love the "main" characters. But yeah there's some issues regarding the other characters stories and while I like the idea of the synthesis the lack of any real foretelling on what you might need leads you to waste time and money making items that you most likely will never need. ATB is the slowest out of any of the ATB Final Fantasy game. And I don't know I just felt it leaned a bit too hard on looking back and not enough of being it's own thing. But for what it's worth it is still an amazing game and happy you enjoyed it.
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #5 Flipsider99 13 days ago
    I like your list! It's actually pretty close to the way I'd rank them, with FF6 definitely taking the top spot! FF4 and 7 are very solid choices for the top 3, and the #4 spot seems appropriate for a game like FF9 which is excellent, but maybe not quite the very best.

    I also like FF1, FF5, FF8, FF10, FF11, and FF12 quite a bit. It's tough to rank these games, honestly they're all good! Even the much maligned FF2 and FF13 are pretty interesting games in their own right.
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #6 Daikaiju 12 days ago
    Just remember...
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  • Avatar for b3b0p #7 b3b0p 11 days ago
    I enjoyed Final Fantasy IX, but it's also been years since I played it. I would place it above Final Fantasy VII for one reason. Final Fantasy VII starts out strong, engaging and wonderfully interesting and intriguing. I couldn't stop playing. Then, near the end it was like the writers ran out of ideas and wrote the rest of the script on acid. It seemed rushed, but felt like it dragged on endlessly. It became uninteresting and just plain whack.

    For the next game, can you please do Secret of Evermore, especially relevant since you mentioned it in the last podcast?Edited 2 weeks ago by b3b0p
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