Final Fantasy Countdown: Final Fantasy IX

Do you know Vivi? The little black magician from Final Fantasy IX? Vivi is nine years old, clumsy, has bright yellow eyes, wears wide, striped trousers and a pointed yellow hat with a wide brim. And Vivi knows he’s going to die. He will not sacrifice himself like Aerith in Final Fantasy VII, his death is not a conscious act or a grand gesture, it is simply inevitable. As a black magician in the world of Final Fantasy IX, he is an artificially created weapon of the Kingdom of Alexandria and as such has an uncertain, but in any case limited, life expectancy.

Maybe Vivi will die in a year, maybe ten years, maybe the next minute ?? he does not know. But in the course of the plot of Final Fantasy IX Vivi learns to accept this reality, he learns not to despair of it and to make the best of his perhaps short life. And when the hero Zidane, actually a womanizer, daredevil and incorrigible optimist, finally learns that he is also an artificially created being, it is Vivi who pulls him out of his depression.

Death and loss are constant companions in Final Fantasy IX. Zidane, Vivi, Steiner, Garnet … all the protagonists experience their own losses, they all grow and change through their experiences. With such a wonderful characterization of the characters, it’s no wonder that series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi himself regularly calls Final Fantasy IX his favorite Final Fantasy.

Final Fantasy IV sends its regards: The heroes fight against the ant lion.

That makes it particularly unfortunate that Final Fantasy IX has always not been valued too highly by many fans and is often even forgotten. The reasons for this are always numerous. The simplest is poor timing. Final Fantasy IX appeared very late in the PSone’s life cycle ?? When the game was launched in Japan, the US and Europe, the PS2 was already in stores in all three regions and took the wind out of the sails of the last PSone hits.

Then Final Fantasy IX suffered extremely from the split fan base. The new fans, who only got to know Final Fantasy with Part VII and VIII, could neither make friends with the comic-like look nor the fantasy setting. At the same time, some old fans felt so alienated after Final Fantasy VII and VIII (even then in snobbish gaming circles it was quite en vogue to turn up their noses at the two games) that they simply ignored Part IX.

A sad development, because Final Fantasy IX should actually be the episode that once again enthuses the entire fan base and should end the classic Final Fantasy series as a big bang, before it broke new ground in terms of content and play with Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy IX allowed you to go into the field again with a party of four, spanking monsters in classic Active Time Battles, offered the good old crystals as the central MacGuffin of the plot and was peppered with allusions to earlier episodes at every nook and cranny.

The rainy Burmecia is still beautiful to look at even after ten years.

And even if you were already spoiled by various Dreamcast graphics bombs from Shenmue and Soul Calibur at the time Final Fantasy IX was released, then as now you cannot avoid the impressive technical performance that Square in Final Fantasy IX offered to take off his hat in amazement. In contrast to its predecessors, Square adds a decent amount of graphics to the fights and at the same time expands the fighters field by another figure ?? Sometimes you think you can hear the troubled PSone processor moaning softly …

Art design is a fascination in itself. Critics throw Final Fantasy IX over and over again its ?? extreme Japano look ?? in front and shoot it past the matter in a targeted manner? Visually, the two predecessors with their Tetsuya Nomura designs were far more Japanese than Part IX. In fact, many scenes and environments seem more western-inspired.