Final Fantasy IX is On Mobile, But You Need High-End Hardware to Run It

Final Fantasy IX mobile's high tech requirements demonstrate that mobile gaming might be evolving too quickly for most people.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Final Fantasy IX is now available on iOS and Android. And even though it's been nearly 16 years since Zidane's adventure first hit the PlayStation, there's something simply surreal about being able to play the game on your phone.

There's a catch, of course. Final Fantasy IX mobile isn't going to run on your Zack Morris brick-phone. You need some decent hardware. Something powerful, if not cutting-edge.

The App Store page for Final Fantasy IX outlines what you ought to have under the hood before installing the game. For starters, it takes up four gigs of space, so good luck if you have a 16 gig phone. You also shouldn't attempt to run the app with anything less than an iPhone 5S, a fourth generation iPad, or a sixth generation iPod Touch.

Those are just iOS requirements. Things get even trickier on Android, as Final Fantasy IX's performance presumably differs from device to device thanks to Android's fragmentation.

Final Fantasy IX's hefty system requirements highlight an interesting conundrum affecting mobile gaming. One of the reasons the medium took off is because of its convenience. With smartphones, you can play games on the same device you use to answer your email, text your friends, jot down notes, plan your day, and, er, make phone calls. Smartphones are the Swiss army knives of communication and entertainment.

But mobile gaming is quickly becoming complicated. Whereas the platform was once synonymous with simple distractions like Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, Bejeweled, and other games your trusty iPhone 3G could run without a problem, newer titles (particularly adaptations of console and / or PC games) require increasing amounts of space and processing power. A growing number of mobile games won't even run on my iPhone 5 anymore.

This puts mobile gaming's future in an interesting light. If its popularity ballooned because of convenience, what's going to happen when that convenience vanishes? The average smartphone or tablet user doesn't run out for a hardware upgrade as soon as it hits the store. There are tons of people still happily walking around with their iPhone 4, and whatever technical wizardry mobile game developers are weaving these days, they can't partake.

Sure, it can be argued that maybe those people could care less about said tech wizardry -- but if they don't even have the option, they can't manage the same reach that allowed masses to warm up to mobile gaming in the first place.

We might see Nintendo's NX hit store shelves this fall, leading people to point out how if that's the case, the Wii U's lifespan of four years is pitifully short. But in the mobile games market, four-year-old tech is almost ancient. The iPhone 5 was actually released around the same time as the Wii U, and Square-Enix has already recommended against trying to play Final Fantasy IX mobile on it. The market's moving quickly, arguably too quickly.

Wherever mobile gaming takes us over the next couple of years, one thing is certain: Unlike smartphone tech, Final Fantasy IX's charm is well-preserved. Take a little time to play it, regardless of whether you do so on mobile, Steam (coming soon!) , or via a PlayStation Store download.

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Comments 16

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  • Avatar for Concession #1 Concession 2 years ago
    Square must have some really awful programers. I was playing ps1 games at full frame rate on my Galaxy S1 (yes, 1 one uno) using an emulator.
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  • Avatar for scarritt #2 scarritt 2 years ago
    The game doesn't even show up in the Play Store on my Galaxy S3, but runs beautifully on my Galaxy Tab A. It actually has a frame rate now! The character models look amazing, but the backgrounds haven't been touched up all unfortunately.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #3 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 years ago
    I can't even remember which iPhone version I have any more, between same-number iterations and new numbers coming out all the time.
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  • Avatar for superberg #4 superberg 2 years ago
    The upscaling is not great. The 3D models look pretty good, but the FMV and backgrounds look really, really bad. The tap-to-move is nice but a little unreliable.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #5 nadiaoxford 2 years ago
    @LBD_Nytetrayn You have a 5S, dear.
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  • Avatar for Katon2099 #6 Katon2099 2 years ago
    I hope this version gets ported to the PS4 eventually.
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  • Avatar for naazimeaala75 #7 naazimeaala75 2 years ago
    So now we at a stage where handheld game machines mount a fight back against smartphones and tablets!!
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #8 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    @nadiaoxford You make a great point about the life-cycle differences between mobile and console tech. I literally can't understand why people go out every year and buy a new phone, or indeed why those kids won't get off my lawn.
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  • Avatar for TheOldMan2084 #9 TheOldMan2084 2 years ago
    Now if we could only get FFVIII and IX on PS4... Pleeeeeease!
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  • Avatar for beauborchardt20 #10 beauborchardt20 2 years ago
    There are a number of problems with mobile gaming that need to be addressed that the the tech media, while they bash Nintendo for not making mobile games, seems to never ever address. The first is devices develop too quickly. If your device is more than two years old you are going to have problems running anything new. The next problem with mobile gaming is the frequent change in OS versions. Once the android operating system was updated it rendered the first 3 Dragon Quest games unplayable. The issue has never been addreseed by squeenix. Also, the World Ends With You stopped working when iOS went from 7 to 8, it took square nearly a year to make it work again. Problems I have never had with my 3DS. The final problem I see with mobile gaming (though there are many more problems) is more a square Enix problem with quality. FFVII on iOS is complete garbage, FFIX is great because some actual work was put into it. Square Enix is just too unreliable. The overall issue for me is that the tech media never address the issues that the app store and Google play have, but if these same problems were plagued the eshop we would have to hear about it ad nauseum from site like Kotaku, engadget, the verge, and polygon to name a few.Edited 2 times. Last edited February 2016 by beauborchardt20
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #11 nadiaoxford 2 years ago
    @beauborchardt20 When I first started writing about mobile games, the venue I wrote for gave me an iPod Touch 4. Turns out the device had major memory problems, which caused games to crash upon startup. We're talking about a 30, 40% failure rate. I could do nothing about it. It was ridiculous.

    I see a lot of merit in mobile gaming (that's why I'm here!), but yeah, it has a *ton* of problems to work out before we all start going crazy declaring how Apple is going to demolish Nintendo or whatever.
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  • Avatar for swamped #12 swamped 2 years ago
    I was skeptical about this mobile port from the get go, for the reasons mentioned certainly, but not least because Square mentioned it in the same breath as the Steam and PSN versions like those are even remotely the same experience. It doesn't matter how much you punch up the graphics and add touch controls if it's unplayable in other ways. I know FFT for Android didn't have autosave, can't be saved and quit at any point (huge detriment for a mobile game IMO), and has no cloud saves so if your phone crashes, your game is toast.

    If they fixed these issues with IX they certainly didn't mention it (with the exception of autosave). And if they didn't, why bother?

    Mobile games suffer from being lumped in with consoles and even other handhelds. They shouldn't be separated because they're "inferior" but certainly different formats have different considerations as pointed out here. Great thoughts on this issue.
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  • Avatar for jay-ban #13 jay-ban 2 years ago
    I see what youre saying Nadia, though I think games (or other kinds of apps) as ruthlessly 'high-spec' as FF9 on mobile are too few to say the market is moving too fast, added to the fact that people generally update their phones a lot more often than they update consoles. All that said, the problem with too many hardware configurations and fragmentation of the market based on that is absolutely real.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #14 link6616 2 years ago
    It seems really weird this needs such a high spec machine to run it well. Maybe they really did push it pretty hard with its upgrades, but... Prince of Persia Warrior Within ran on my iPad, first gen.

    But... tech and specs are strange things. It's a bit a of a shame archival at these companies isn't what it probably is today. If they had all the original models they used for the CG backgrounds, it probably wouldn't be THAT hard to just reshoot the scenes at higher res... But I guess that's something that will just never be really fixed.Edited February 2016 by link6616
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  • Avatar for chrisjones08 #15 chrisjones08 2 years ago
    @Concession Sqex have shown that they can take even an old SNES ROM and make it run badly on recent smartphones.

    The only real reason to buy these ports is if you want cloud saves and fugly touch menus. It comes at a hefty price tag and wastes a load of storage space over 5MB ROM. More annoyance than convenience IMO.Edited February 2016 by chrisjones08
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  • Avatar for arjayangeles14 #16 arjayangeles14 A year ago
    Why can't i play this game on my android J7 PRIME LOL a little bit confuse
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