Final Fantasy IX is a turn-based RPG released on the PlayStation which returned the Final Fantasy series to its roots and provided a charming adventure of discovery.
Final Fantasy IX is a love letter to classic RPGs of the past, but mixes the best of the old and the new to provide a magical journey featuring castles, princesses and medieval knights. It revisits ideas from old SquareSoft titles but incorporates progressions in mechanics, game play and presentation. The whimsical music and fantastic art direction come together to enchant you in a world that is begging to be explored.
The story of Final Fantasy IX starts off with carefree thief Zidane attempting to kidnap Garnet, the princess of Alexandria. Featuring romantic plays, black mages, swords and sorcery the fairytale narrative progresses to a darker, more serious tone as each of the main characters are faced with their own shortcomings and fears. The character development is some of the best in the series as the young black mage, Vivi questions the true meaning of life and death and princess Garnet is faced with the responsibility of being Queen to an entire kingdom. The plot constantly switches between different groups of characters enabling them all to share the spotlight. The dialogue is also expertly translated and is a joy to read and follow.
The battle and customisation systems are more simplistic than other RPGs and as such really let the game play shine. The battle system is turned-based and each character has a certain role in battle, making the composition of the party critical to the player’s strategy. Only some characters can cast Summon spells, or only some characters can steal items and it adds to the dynamic of teamwork and choice for the player. New abilities are learned from equipment and this is both intuitive and easy to manage. Expanding the experience is also many great mini-games including the well developed card game Tetra Master or using your Chocobo to dig around the world map to uncover various secrets and treasures.
The music of Final Fantasy IX adds to the wonder of its world and story. The soundtrack evokes images of the spectacular fantasy setting and is a pleasure to listen to. It includes flamenco in some pieces as well as stirring flute melodies in others. Highlights include the vocal track “Melodies of Life” which perfectly captures the spirit of the game and the haunting “You’re Not Alone” which will instantly grab the player the moment it is first experienced.
Final Fantasy IX is an imaginative RPG with lots of character and appeal. If you are looking for a RPG that will take you on a whimsical adventure like a classic fairytale, then you should play Final Fantasy IX.