Final Fantasy IX it is the sum of what defined the final fantasies of the 90s. First of all, it is a contemporary mix of fantasy themes and archetypes: here are realms in conflict, mysterious libraries, ancient volcanoes , dragons, princesses, thieves, eternal nights and evil queens. Nothing as basic as it might seem at first glance: Dark Magicians, for example, are weapons constructed using the magic of a mysterious fog. Royal Guards are clumsy soldiers in the wrong place at the wrong time, much like Terry Pratchett’s Cycle of Guards. Thieves are, after all, our dearest allies.

Secondly, FFIX is a cross between Western culture (mediated by Dungeons & Dragons) and Japanese culture, made of religiosity, great theatricality and direct confrontation with existential concepts. Life, memory, fear of death and entropy are the thematic protagonists of the work. Kuja, a suffering villain, is at times so confused by the vacui horror that he hits himself. Yet, as the developers recount in the documentary Inside Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IX is a hymn to life: the darkness of events is supported by an underlying joy, a luminosity that is also graphic. Sakaguchi wanted to create a “fun” world.

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Finally, like the rest of the saga, FFIX experiments with science fiction subgenres, in search of convincing syntheses. We find upside down castles and high fantasy artifacts, steampunk vehicles, towns that seem to come out of a Dickensian novel, and eerie cosmic storylines. One of the densest buildings in the world ever seen in a JRPG. Additionally, Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted to distance himself from the sounds of previous titles: he was looking for more adventurous beats, action, with daring breakouts, explosions and last-minute bailouts. So we are immersed in a story that, like Rob Reiner’s Princess Bride, never lets go of the viewer.

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The charm of the ninth final fantasy does not end there. It is no coincidence that we are talking about a game that is still universally acclaimed on Metacritic, with a score that exceeds 90 (“some nobles were not satisfied”). In particular, intuitive to the sacred opening theme, there is for example a nostalgic factor of Tolkenian origin: lost temples, inexplicable objects, and wind-eroded stone structures await intrepid travelers eager to visit the world of Gaia, littered with disparate cultures and with a past history that has deep roots.

The plot tells about an invisible alien invasion, if we want to strip it of the fantastic charm and the weaves that enrich it. The war between Gaia’s powers intensifies and her orchestrators, survivors of planet Tera, are gradually exposed; the heroes lose (to find it) their identity and their loved ones. To serve as a side dish? Nobuo Uematsu’s delicate soundtrack, with “Melodies of Life” as the main theme. It is impossible to mention the whole OST, of great quality, but it is worth mentioning the theme of Beatrix and that of the city of Burma, where it rains relentlessly.

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Aesthetically, there is the much-discussed super-distorted style, with characters with asymmetrical features that highlight the work’s fabulous atmosphere, in which there is no shortage of anthropomorphic animals. Choice already at the risky moment. One of the reasons which complicated the reception of the title in the West can be said. Our audience (and the American audience) were used to the atmosphere of Final Fantasy post VI, contemporary and urban. The photorealism (with an anime imprint though) of Final Fantasy VIII, by the way, set a standard that even today, with the necessary technological developments, the series tries to follow.

The duel between Gidan and Blank is one of the most exciting mini-games on the first CD.

But FFIX is a declaration of love to longtime fans. A clear return to the sources of Final Fantasy I, with its crystals, with the elementals, with the goblins (many goblins) and with a sometimes wild world to explore. But it also gives a nod to Final Fantasy IV: in the fourth chapter, each character has their own class, is unique, and uses bespoke techniques. In addition, in the opening film, Uematsu clamps the nostalgic strings of the players by reorganizing the “Prologue” theme, always associated with the sky and the flight. We see a gigantic airship, the Scenavante Primavista, plowing the skies of the kingdom of Alexandria.

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We find all the recurring elements that made the fortune of the series. Chocobo live in the woods, they can be bred to find treasures and otherwise inaccessible places. The Mohammedans have a postal network which supports the heroes’ expeditions. Classic monsters, from the colossal Behemoth to evocations (here Eidolon), have appearances of great impact. How can we forget the mention of Atomos? Odin’s assault on the city of Cleyra? The awakening of Alexander? Cid in scaraburi version?

Gaia is in fact a living world, full of stories distributed on 4 CDs, with mini-games of all kinds. For example, we find the Tetra Master, mini-game to collect: direct evolution of the Triple Triad of FFVIII. The skeleton is that of the most typical JRPG and the most typical Final Fantasy of times past. There are random encounters (actually with the slowest fight transitions in the series). The ATB of director Hiroyuki Ito (also director of FFVI and XII) to manage combat shifts.

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The fight featured a group of 4, as usual. Curious feature: it could be managed by two controllers.

There is a vast bestiary there, with a sector of magic, techniques, and different objects. There is a system of learning skills, passive and active, based on the equipment adopted. Needless to say, there are experience points and level increases, changed statuses, and stats to watch out for. Stealing objects from opponents becomes very important to maximize character growth, as it is important to defeat certain enemies to learn the blue ghost spells, recurring techniques in the saga.

A classic substrate is therefore the swansong of the system that made Square the fortune. A system sometimes failed, as shown by I Am Setsuna: among the most recent video games to make the ATB of Hiroyuki its strong point. But classic also means made of memorable super bosses (Ozma, Hades), secrets (Dantarian) and challenges bordering on myth. Someone will remember the conditions for obtaining Excalibur II, complete the game within 12 hours. A lens inaccessible in PAL versions, unless you take advantage of bizarre systems.

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Speaking of staging, it’s worth mentioning the real-time event system: in some sections of the game you can display alternate scenes that have occurred for characters outside the group. Often these characters could be controlled in short sessions of play. A system that interrupted the rhythm of the adventure, of course, but which, unlike the intermittent dialogues in Tales of, often character-deepening only, was not lacking. well-structured scenes and intrigue of a certain importance (on the one hand, the events of clear-cure by petrification).

A glimpse of Alexandria. In recent versions, the pre-rendered background no longer matches the character models.

If all the main characters do not have the same space in terms of screen time (Amarant and Quina among the most marginal), the story cannot be considered as lacking in focus. The writing of Final Fantasy IX is full of highlights, thanks also to the longevity of the role-playing game. Characters like Vivi are examples of well-rounded figures in video game history, with moving story arcs even in the absence of voices and actors. Another example could be little Eiko, a mahogany-raised shaman whose loneliness has a recurring theme.

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But there is an elephant (or rather a shoopuf) in the room. In Italy, FFIX was accompanied by a very lively translation, supplemented by dialects. Quina, who should have spoken false Chinese, speaks of a more disheartening and less offensive Romanaccio. A case of tense, exaggerated and gratuitous translation, but fundamentally elegant and almost natural. In fact, speaking stereotypically, Quina has all the characteristics of a good fork. The Qu swamp is also a geographically neutral location: the player doesn’t feel the same dissonance as seen in Dragon Quest XI, where in the areas of Okinawa, along with the surrounding pagodas, NPCs spoke in Sicilian. It is clear, however, that we are still in the balance between adaptation and trash choices.

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Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VIII, unfortunately or fortunately, did not have loaded sequels and builds. It follows that beyond a few appearances in the Dissidia crossover, a few appearances in Kingdom Hearts, and sporadic appearances in card games and derivative titles, the honor of sustaining the memory of the game goes to the game. itself, now available in its (lazy) cross-platform port. Unfortunately, due to the loss of the original assets, the character models don’t have the same grip on the backgrounds they could see in the original version. On the other side of the coin, it is possible to speed up the fights, so that even players not used to the rhythms of the old JRPG can experience the events of Gidan and co.

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Conde Petit, home of the dwarves of the Outer Continent.

Final Fantasy IX is an adventure full of twists and a huge heart. Each of his characters has a strong goal: who is looking for a friend, who is a lost love; who acceptance, who their memories. And the interweaving of research, quests, builds continents and villages full of life, where even a lady who sells cucumbers can find her space in the memory of an adventurer. And so, the question is usual: what did Final Fantasy IX leave you with? What memories does he evoke?

Source : Reddit