Enduring Final Fantasy IX - Episode 0: Preulude


February 2001, and Final Fantasy IX had just been released in the UK.  I remember as soon as I saw the advert (read. Commercial) for it, I wanted that game.  After forcing my way through VIII (man I really didn’t like that game) I felt I was due a good Final Fantasy game.  Boy was I in for a ride.

After seeing Dankempster and his awesome blog about Final Fantasy VII I knew I had to do one of these for IX.  So please, before you even start to read this, check his blog out, follow him and have a great read.

So like him, I’m gona play through the game again and blog about my adventures, detailing what happens in the game, how it holds up by today’s standards and what it made me feel at the time.  I’m going to be as objective as possible where it counts, but this game resonates with me on an emotional level to the point where not letting my emotions get to me would take away from some of my more stronger feelings towards it.  So, without further ado:

Why don’t you like Final Fantasy IX?

 

 Cheer up Zidane, no need to be a punk-ass-bitch like the last 2 guys.
To me, the biggest discussion point regarding Final Fantasy IX is whether or not you actually like it.  The general response is at that it’s the weakest in the series, but I don’t understand why...

My theory is that is you loved VIII, then you hate IX and vice versa, as this seems to be the general rule of thumb, but I’d really like to know what your opinions of the game are, good or bad, with reasons as top why.  I’m not going to argue against any points you make, I’m gona utilise them to help objectify my own views of the game.

 

What Final Fantasy IX means to me.

Final Fantasy IX changed the way I looked at games.  I was only 11 when it came out and at that age, I was finally branching out when it came to video games.   I’d played both Final Fantasy VII and VIII before but both of them left me the wrong way.  Final Fantasy VII started out SOOOOOOO strong for me that I feel in love, but as it went on the story started getting more and more crazy, which for an 8/9 year old, was pretty much incomprehensible.  As it turns out though, the story is still incomprehensible; I just didn’t know that at the time.  As for VIII, “Bleck!!!” don’t get me started.   The systems were poorly implemented and the story was weak.  The point where they said “Hey it turns out we were all orphans at this orphanage but we forgot ‘til now aint that cool?” was the point where I turned the game off and never looked back.   It was just stupid and lazy of Square to think that was a good storyline...and what frustrates me more is that people have praised that as one of the highest points in videogame story history....”Bleck!!!”    

My Vivi Figure =P 

 My Zidane Figure ^_^
Anyway, Back to IX....I got lost in its world, the characters were awesome and likeable, the plot was fairytale enough without being too obvious, the systems were great and the world itself was just awesome.   I still maintain that it’s got the best use of Moogles and Chocobos in a Final Fantasy game.

I never put the game down for an instant.  Like a good book I just wanted to know what happened next, I wanted to play more “Chocobo Hot Cold” and “Tetra Master,” I wanted to be a part of that world.   

As years went by, I replayed the game several times and, if memory serves me right, this will be play through 4.  I’ve played the first disc soooo many times I could probably write the script from memory but that doesn’t take anything away from the game, every play through I’m discovering more and I know I still haven’t seen it all.  I can’t wait to fire her up again.

  

How this is all going to go down.

It’s simple: I play the game, take notes, transfer those notes into something informative and fun to read and you then read it.  I’m going to try and make the blogs as simple

 WTF is this dudes probelm?  Stick with me and maybe we'll find out.

to read, whilst containing plenty of information, pictures, and videos...general cool things that set it apart from other blogs.  I want this blog to be as special to read for you, as the game is to play with me, and I’m hoping my passion for the game translates into this blog.  I've got some really neat ideas, and i promise I'm going to go all out.  My theory is if I can get just one dude to look at this game again (or even for the first time) then it’s worthwhile.

I’m going to start the game again tonight, so expect episode one to hit sometime in the next few days.


Until then...please please please please PLEASSSSSEEEEEE post with your thoughts on the game, how it made you feel and how this blog makes you feel.  Any response will be greatly appreciated and addressed. 
 

Thank you very much.... ^_^

 
EDIT: It would help if I could spell Prelude right -_-'''


40 Comments
41 Comments
Edited by SamStrife


February 2001, and Final Fantasy IX had just been released in the UK.  I remember as soon as I saw the advert (read. Commercial) for it, I wanted that game.  After forcing my way through VIII (man I really didn’t like that game) I felt I was due a good Final Fantasy game.  Boy was I in for a ride.

After seeing Dankempster and his awesome blog about Final Fantasy VII I knew I had to do one of these for IX.  So please, before you even start to read this, check his blog out, follow him and have a great read.

So like him, I’m gona play through the game again and blog about my adventures, detailing what happens in the game, how it holds up by today’s standards and what it made me feel at the time.  I’m going to be as objective as possible where it counts, but this game resonates with me on an emotional level to the point where not letting my emotions get to me would take away from some of my more stronger feelings towards it.  So, without further ado:

Why don’t you like Final Fantasy IX?

 

 Cheer up Zidane, no need to be a punk-ass-bitch like the last 2 guys.
To me, the biggest discussion point regarding Final Fantasy IX is whether or not you actually like it.  The general response is at that it’s the weakest in the series, but I don’t understand why...

My theory is that is you loved VIII, then you hate IX and vice versa, as this seems to be the general rule of thumb, but I’d really like to know what your opinions of the game are, good or bad, with reasons as top why.  I’m not going to argue against any points you make, I’m gona utilise them to help objectify my own views of the game.

 

What Final Fantasy IX means to me.

Final Fantasy IX changed the way I looked at games.  I was only 11 when it came out and at that age, I was finally branching out when it came to video games.   I’d played both Final Fantasy VII and VIII before but both of them left me the wrong way.  Final Fantasy VII started out SOOOOOOO strong for me that I feel in love, but as it went on the story started getting more and more crazy, which for an 8/9 year old, was pretty much incomprehensible.  As it turns out though, the story is still incomprehensible; I just didn’t know that at the time.  As for VIII, “Bleck!!!” don’t get me started.   The systems were poorly implemented and the story was weak.  The point where they said “Hey it turns out we were all orphans at this orphanage but we forgot ‘til now aint that cool?” was the point where I turned the game off and never looked back.   It was just stupid and lazy of Square to think that was a good storyline...and what frustrates me more is that people have praised that as one of the highest points in videogame story history....”Bleck!!!”    

My Vivi Figure =P 

 My Zidane Figure ^_^
Anyway, Back to IX....I got lost in its world, the characters were awesome and likeable, the plot was fairytale enough without being too obvious, the systems were great and the world itself was just awesome.   I still maintain that it’s got the best use of Moogles and Chocobos in a Final Fantasy game.

I never put the game down for an instant.  Like a good book I just wanted to know what happened next, I wanted to play more “Chocobo Hot Cold” and “Tetra Master,” I wanted to be a part of that world.   

As years went by, I replayed the game several times and, if memory serves me right, this will be play through 4.  I’ve played the first disc soooo many times I could probably write the script from memory but that doesn’t take anything away from the game, every play through I’m discovering more and I know I still haven’t seen it all.  I can’t wait to fire her up again.

  

How this is all going to go down.

It’s simple: I play the game, take notes, transfer those notes into something informative and fun to read and you then read it.  I’m going to try and make the blogs as simple

 WTF is this dudes probelm?  Stick with me and maybe we'll find out.

to read, whilst containing plenty of information, pictures, and videos...general cool things that set it apart from other blogs.  I want this blog to be as special to read for you, as the game is to play with me, and I’m hoping my passion for the game translates into this blog.  I've got some really neat ideas, and i promise I'm going to go all out.  My theory is if I can get just one dude to look at this game again (or even for the first time) then it’s worthwhile.

I’m going to start the game again tonight, so expect episode one to hit sometime in the next few days.


Until then...please please please please PLEASSSSSEEEEEE post with your thoughts on the game, how it made you feel and how this blog makes you feel.  Any response will be greatly appreciated and addressed. 
 

Thank you very much.... ^_^

 
EDIT: It would help if I could spell Prelude right -_-'''


Edited by Tiwi

go for it. I loved the game, and I would love to at least read a few blogs, even if only to reminiscent.
 
Edit: yes it would.

Posted by Rirobuge

Probably my favorite final fantasy. Looking forward to reading this.

Edited by Tru3_Blu3

I loved 9, just as how I loved 7 and 10. It was charming, had a great cast, and never took itself seriously (unless you count the antagonist introduction, being a rather cliche transvestite). If only FF games were like this and less of being melodramatic sci-fi tragedies.
 
And there was no pop-theme in 9. Another plus.

Posted by spacekatgal

I've finished every Final Fantasy except for 9. I just couldn't muddle my way through it. I didn't like the characters, and I didn't care for the short aesthetic. It was such a step backwards after FF8.  
 
I know FF8 has problems, but it's still one of my favorite games of all time. I think it comes down to the characters - I really love every one of them. Yes, the repeated summoning sucks, yes the orphanage was a bad plot twist, but it's my love of the characters that caused me to buy a PSPgo to continue playing it. 

Posted by SamStrife
@spacekatgal: I could never understand the characters from VIII.  Nothing about them stood out to me, they all just seemed so bland and cliched.  IX's characters on the other hand were all unique and awesome in their own way, with rich back stories to go explore if you so desired.
Edited by ImHungryx10

This game is the most charming thing I have ever played next to LittleBigPlanet and Psychonauts. You are absolutely right about the story. The pacing is fantastic and you always want to know what happens next. Each new world looks and feels leagues away from the previous one. The characters are fantastic as well. And Zidane is just a care free guy, which is always better than moody bitches. (Joking...but not really.) I will read your blog good sir.
 
This is a neat find too because I just started replaying the game just a few days ago so this will be fun to follow along with and see what different things pop up from my experience.

Posted by SamStrife
@ImHungryx10: Thank you very much.  Ima start playing in half an hour or so...can't wait.
Posted by spacekatgal

I guess it's all subjective. I mean, look at it from a girl's perspective - what girls can you relate to in FF8? All of them! Selphie was the prototype for fangal fav Rikku. Rinoa is the main love interest - what girl doesn't know what it's like to be in love with an oblivious guy? Quistis is really beautiful, smart and awesome. Even Edea and Ultemecia are great villianesses.  
 
What does FF9 have for girls. Garnet? Really? I mean, it's cool that she's a princess, but she's not especially awesome. Vivi is clearly the star of that game.  
 
I'm not trying to diss your opinion. I think it's great that you love it. But, for me, I have to have great girl characters to get into a game - and FF9 just didn't have them.  
 
Bri

Edited by skrutop

I thought it was merely ok.  It was fine as a throwback to the older games in the series, but it wasn't terribly interesting to play on its own merits.  The story was decent, the characters were generally likable, but it didn't stand out much amongst the RPGs that I've played over the years.  It certainly was better than FF8, though.

Posted by SamStrife
@spacekatgal: Don't wory about dissing my opinions, the more peoples views I have on the game, the more I can objectify my take on it.
Posted by Nasar7

FFIX was great, I was hooked from the intro sequence with the play and the sword fight.  
 
I don't think it's actually considered the weakest in the series, that's just the minority on the internet vocally exaggerating. I personally don't consider it my favorite, but I do consider it one of the best in series.

Posted by EpicSteve

FFIX is my favorite game of all times, thumbs up!

Posted by ZeForgotten

Final Fantasy VIII(That's 8) is my favorite, but that does not mean that Final Fantasy IX was a bad game. 
I really enjoy it a lot, only thing I don't like about it is Zidane most of the time. 

Online
Posted by SamStrife
@ZeForgotten: 0_0
 
Zidane is awesome...He's happy go lucky, funny but has a dark enough side to him that makes him 3 dimensional.  I'd rather have a happy guy like him than a punk ass whiny bitch like Squall or Cloud.
Posted by ZeForgotten
@SamStrife: Cloud is my favorite of the 3. 
I'm not sure if Squall is really whining because the fucktard doesn't talk for the majority of the game so he doesn't have time for it. 
Zidane is not totally awful though he has his moments. 
But all I really want is a Steiner game :P
Online
Posted by Shinri

My thoughts on the game? 
 
It's the best FF in the series. Best party members, good party member interactions, nice graphic style, interesting plot, great soundtrack, fun old-school battle system that doesn't use ridiculous 24x9999 damage attacks, etc.
Posted by Adamantium

IX is my favorite in the series. It gets a weak response among many "hardcore" FF fans, but I've come to find that IX has a really strong fanbase as well; those who like it, love it!
 
Vivi is the champ!

Posted by Steve_C

Steal during the first fight on the theatre ship against baku. Mage Masher GET! You probably already knew that though.
 
I really liked FF IX. It was my first FF game, which I decided to try out on a whim. It totally got me into RPG's, and stories in games in general. I haven't played it in ages, but I was never too keen after you go to Terra. I preferred exploring the quaint little villages and loved the often whimsical atmosphere it had. The place was cool and obviously the story significance is huge, but at the time it got a bit too dark. I also hated how the world map got practically screwed on the 4th disc.

Posted by SamStrife
@Steve_C: Haha I learnt in my second play through to steal your way through the game...so i've got the Mage Masher, thanks for the tip.
 
You nailed the exploration side of the game, the quaint villages and gentle atmosphere but when the game goes dark, it goes dark in an awesome way, you know shit's going down, and the contrast to the first half of the game really makes it feel bad (in a good way.)  And yupperz, when the world map goes bad, it goes really bad.
Posted by ChickenPants

Love it, it's in my top 3 FF games for sure.Looking forward to the blog.

Posted by SamStrife
@ChickenPants: Haha so am I.  I've come up with a load of interesting and neat ways to present it, so people who know nothing to people who've played it more than myself can get some enjoyment out of it.  I promise you it'll be a good read.
Posted by Stang

Final Fantasy IX is my favorite PS1 era FF, probably second only to FFVI as my all time favorite. God it has been a long time, damn you for making me want to hunt down a copy!

Posted by Meowayne

Why I consider Final Fantasy IX to be the weakest of the PSX Final Fantasy boils down to three major points.
 

3. The combat, battle system and character management wasn't fun.

 
I like spending crazy amounts of hours in my character screens tweaking and trying out and maxing and playing around with stats and stuff, so naturally VII and VIII turn me into a shining ball of glee. In Final Fantasy IX, your characters have job and learn abilities from the equipment, and you have to choose a couple of abilities to take into combat. That's it. It's all very traditional and familiar but for me, that equals lame. I didn't enjoy getting stronger and using what I learned in combat, it was just something that I had to do. I didn't feel good working on my characters, it didn't feel like I contributed to their strength and quality - I was just there to press the buttons and to equip new items when due. It worked, but it was neither impressive nor entertaining - quite the opposite to the materia and the junction systems. 
Goddammit, the brilliance of the materia system. Jesus Christ.
 
2. Battle Screen performance and loading times.
 
This seems like a minor thing to pick out, but in a game so heavy on random encounters, 25 seconds of loading until you take control in a battle is just.. horrible. On top of that, they sacrificed performance for textures and models that were beyond what you should give the trusty ol' PSX to handle. VII was awesome for its time and I still find something charming about the gourad shaded models, VIII I think had found the exact right compromise between  graphics and performance, and while IX looks (and still looks!) outstanding out side of combat, the fact that they didn't make compromises for the battle screen and had me wait 30 seconds for 4 highly detailed characters to load into a 15fps combat killed a lot of the fun for me, and made many dungeons more tedious than they should have been.
 
1. The story, while very imaginative, did not engage me at all.
 
Compared to later iterations of the series and other JRPGs, I guess the story of IX still holds up very well. But at the time, I just felt cheated. There is always something happening, there are dozens of unique and interesting characters and breathtakingly beautiful locations, but it all felt disconnected and irrelevant. A bunch of neato ideas thrown together that are very vaguely connected by a completely irrelevant plot.  It is hard to pinpoint this feeling to anything specific. The positive things I remember about the story are single, isolated scenes - I wouldn't be able to say what "the general idea" of the plot was, I wouldn't be able to remember what the stakes were, I'm not even able to remember where in the grand scheme of things these scenes I remember fit into. I wasn't nearly as engaged, as impressed or as involved in the plot of Final Fantasy IX, even though it features some of the most impressive and well done scenes and pieces of the entire series.
Posted by Vinchenzo

It's my favorite FF, anybody who says otherwise can die.

Posted by Steve_C
@SamStrife: That's the thing, the map was no fun since you can barely see in front of you. I had done it before hand, but it would be a nightmare to try doing all the chocobo stuff then.
 
The dark turn kinda ruined it for me. There's an obvious contrast, but it took away a lot of what I enjoyed. I mean there's a few bad moments throughout the story, but then there are things to counteract that after, but it goes all the way bad this time. Terra seemed interesting, but then you get to Pandemionium and all the organ music begins.
 
What I really loved is the art design and the fixed camera pre-rendered environments (which I miss the lack of after IX). There was so much detail in each screen to stare at and I liked noticing all the little animated effects. That's why I like the light hearted moments and areas. Along with the audio, it was fun to explore. I really loved moments like Dali and Conde Petie (Rally-ho!), and when you play as Steiner going along with Dagger and all the various Gysahl pickle related hijinks that occur.
Edited by SamStrife
@Meowayne: Thanks a lot for the post dude, it really helps me out a lot ^_^
 
Also, regarding the materia system, I think that got a little too complicated for liking, where the game didn't do a good enough job to explain the effects of equipping materia and how it effected your characters.  In the end, by the time you've worked it all out you realise that green and red materia are jokes, go purple, yellow and blue all the way and storm your way through the game.  What bums me about the materia system is that I can't help but shake the feeling that if they just put a little bit more effort into it, explained it a little bit better, and added everything they wanted to add before they had to rush it for release, then it would have been perfection in terms of RPG character management.
 
The junction system on the other hand, was just plain dumb. 
 
-------
 
It does look beautiful still, VII has a real "haha at how crap this game looks now" charm to it, and VIII feels like it's aged really badly because it was trying to look too "real."  IX though has aged like a Nintendo game, it's art style has done it no end of favors as time has worn on.
 
 -------  
@Steve_C: Haha Rally-Ho indeed, Conde Petie is awesome.
Posted by dankempster

Great write-up, SamStrife. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - it's awesome to know that I've inspired somebody to revisit a game they hold dear. The gaming industry is so concerned with moving forward to the next big thing that we as gamers often forget to look back. I'm really looking forward to reading this blog series of yours. As you know, IX is one of my favourite FFs, and it'll be really interesting to see your contemporary, objective take on it paired alongside your original nostalgic feelings from your first playthrough. Best of luck with your endeavour :)

Posted by SamStrife
@dankempster: Haha thanks man, that means a lot ^_^
Posted by slayerofheroes

Damn man. Dunny thing is that I was playing it a few weeks ago for the first time cuz I never played it. I got up to the part where you're in that place that has those ancient masks things. But looks like I won't be finishing it cuz the damn disc is too scratched. So I'm looking forward to your blogs to know what happens afterwards.:)

Posted by rargy

IX was the first FF game i played to completion.  I'd say it's in the top 5 of my favorite FF games.

Posted by SamStrife
@slayerofheroes: Then I best get playing, that's some way into it.  Sorry bout your disc =(
Posted by Atomasist

Good post, but I would recommend playing through VIII instead of IX. Final Fantasy VIII is the best in the series.

Posted by Fallen189

Make sure you steal mage masher from the guy :D

Posted by Torrim

I remember really enjoying IX, though for some reason I've never revisited it like I have the other entries in the series, despite having beat it so quickly.

Edited by Jiggah

The things in IX that I liked:
 

  • Vivi
  • Quina
  • The Ozma Battle
 
The things that I hated:
 
  • The stupid time requirement to obtain the ultimate weapon.
  • The end boss that pretty much appears out of nowhere.  I mean at least with VII and VIII it was consistent who was the bad guy.  In IX, they jump all over the place
Posted by Rockwallz

I actually just got done replaying this not too long ago.  I first played this when i was a kid, back when i had a PS1 that I had to tile sideways just to get it to work :P.  But since then I haven't played it, and it had such an impact on me when i was a kid with the story, setting, characters and the general feel I ranked it as my favorite FF game.  I even have cassette tapes i made of recording some of the soundtrack, which by the way coupled with the story/ending made me bawl my eyes out rofl.  Anyway, its a great game and I love the story and characters in it, I'm a fan of FFVIII too though I put FFIX before it.  Some hardcore  FF fans are just too picky -_-.  Look forward to reading the blog.

Posted by SamStrife
@Fallen189: Got thank you :p
 
@Jiggah: I didn't mind the jumping on enimies all through the game, it was done well....The final boss, on the other hand, was dumb as not needed...I've seen people tryingto defend it, and I'll look into it more at the very end but yeah, he's not so great.
 
@Rockwallz: The music in the game is awesome, it's my favourite in the series as a whole.
Posted by MythDarK

What a nice coincidence. I'm giving FF IX a shot also. I started last weekend, and have played for about 4 hours into the game. So far so good.

Posted by Synthballs

If this is good enough you might get me onto playing it. So, give it hell man.

Posted by SamStrife
@Synthballs: Fully intend to give it hell mate.  Been a slight hitch in that my PC's broke, but I've played a fair bit of the game and got the notes/basic script for the first few episodes.  I just need to go into an image editor, make a load of "features" nice and easy on the eyes and hey presto.