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Overview

Final Fantasy IX was developed and published by Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) in 2000 for Sony's PlayStation, though the PlayStation 2 was released in the same year. It was the third and last numbered game in the series to be released on the console. Final Fantasy IX was recently re-released on the Playstation Network, along with the previous two entries in the series.

While Final Fantasy IX was being developed at the same time as Final Fantasy VIII, the game took a different path towards returning to the series' roots, offering a more traditional fantasy setting while making multiple references to older games in the series, its main influence being the original Final Fantasy. The game introduced many new features, such as Mognet, Active Time Events (ATE) and a revamped equipment and skill system. The game was originally shipped on four PlayStation discs, mostly due to the FMV cut scenes. Final Fantasy IX is known for having some of the best visuals of its generation. It sold better at its initial release than both of its PlayStation predecessors, but over time hasn't fared quite as well.

Setting

Gaia

Final Fantasy IX takes place primarily in the four continents of the fantasy world Gaia. The majority of Gaia's population live in the Mist Continent (named due to the thick layer of mist that covers it). However, there are small populations on the other three continents - Outer, Lost and Forgotten - although these other continents are unexplored by those on the Mist Continent. The Mist Continent itself is divided up into four major powers: Alexandria, Lindblum, Burmecia and Cleyra, all separated by extensive mountain ranges.

The game has a fantasy medieval setting, unlike its predecessors - Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII. The setting has more in common with older Final Fantasy games. The population relies on hydro-power and wind power, though it also learns to harness the mist that covers the Mist Continent to power more advanced engines, such as those found on airships. According to Hiroyuki Ito (the game's director), Gaia is influenced by Norse and Northern European Mythology, as the development team is attracted to the drama and depth presented by them.

Story

The story focuses on the war sparked by Queen Brahne of Alexandria, who is supplied with powerful magical weapons by a mysterious arms dealer. The game begins with Zidane, the protagonist, meeting with fellow members of Tantalus - a group of thieves disguised as a theater troupe - to discuss their plan to kidnap Alexandria's Princess, Garnet Till Alexandros XVII, during her sixteenth birthday. They carry out their caper but - unexpectedly - the Princess wanted to leave to see her uncle, the Regent of Linblum Cid, to discuss her mother's increasingly erratic behavior. It is from here the party learns the shocking truth, and what the violence and evil is really a cover for.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy IX plays out like any other game in the series, where you navigate a character throughout the many towns, dungeons, caverns and the like, exploring different areas and interacting with non-playable characters (NPCs). A field icon with a "!" or a "?" indicates that an object can inspected, or that there is either an item, a switch, a chest or something similar nearby. This time around, you can save your game and use tents to recover HP and MP by speaking to Moogles, whereas you used Save Points in previous games. The Moogles may also ask you to deliver messages as a part of Mognet.

As usual, different modes of transport are also available later on in the game, such as Chocobos, boats and Airships. When traveling on foot in the world map, or in places that contain monsters, the player will face random encounters.

The new feature, Active Time Events (ATE), has many purposes. ATE's main purpose is for additional character development, as it shows events which are occurring simultaneously to the main adventure. It is also used to provide special items or to control 2 different parties when the group is split up to solve puzzles and navigate dungeons.

Final Fantasy IX retains the active time battle system that originated in Final Fantasy IV. The system is based on a time meter given to each character and monster participating in the battle. The time gauge will fill, and once full, the character can act. The speed that the gauge fills is related to each characters speed stat. During their turn, characters can perform one of a number of actions, with more advanced actions being character specific. The basic actions include attack and item. Individual characters will have specific, advanced commands which make each unique and useful in their own way. Zidane has the "Steal" command, which takes an item from the enemy, and the "Skill" command, which allows the player to select one of many special abilities. Other characters can use magic, summon, and eat. One of the most unique commands is a dual-command in which Vivi and Steiner can attack simultaneously for a devastating attack.

Final Fantasy IX introduces a new "Trance" system in battles. Each character has a Trance gauge that slowly fills battle after battle every time that character is attacked. Once it is filled, he character will go in to trance. Trance increases attack and defense, and grants special, powerful commands. Zidane's Trance increases the potency of his abilities, and Dagger and Eiko's summons all become much more poweful. Once in trance, the trance gauge will empty any time the character acts. When it reaches zero (usually within a few turns) the character will return to normal. Trance can be canceled out if the character in trance dies or is inflicted with Zombie status. The trance system was often criticized for how hard it was to utilize effectively. Often, players would trance in insignificant battles, and would be unable to Trance when they most needed it.

Status ailments return, with old favorites like Poison and Sleep, and some new comers like Heat, which will cause a character to die immediately if they act. The effects are canceled with Esuna or other magical spells, items, or upon entering Trance.

Each character has a number of stats which directly impact their performance in battle. Attack, strength and magic will effect both physical and magical attack power. Defense and magic defense effect defense against physical and magical attacks, and evade and magic evade will increase the chances of dodging an attack. Spirit influences all aspects of the character, raising attack, defense, the success rate of special skills, and the rate at which the Trance gauge fills. Finally, the speed rating will allow the ATB gauge to fill faster. Upon leveling up, a characters stats will increase.

Abilities

Final Fantasy IX revives the concept of fixed character classes, where different character are assigned a different class. For example, Zidane is the only character capable of using Thief techniques (stealing, etc), while Freya is the only character capable of using Lancer/Dragoon techniques (Jumping, etc).

To learn new abilities, characters must equip different items which come with special abilities attached. Once equipped, the characters can use these abilities (as long as the ability matches their class), and after each battle, they gain Ability Points (AP). Once the character gains enough AP, the ability becomes usable without the item having to be equipped.

Abilities are separated into action and support categories. Action abilities use up MP, and include magic spells and special actions that can be used during battle to harm foes, heal allies, etc. Support abilities only become available when they are equipped with magical stones, and have the ability to neutralize status effects, increase attack power, etc. The maximum number of stones that can be equipped increases as the characters level up.

Characters

Playable Characters

  • Zidane Tribal: A blond thief with monkey tail. He is a member of the Tantalus, a group of thieves/actors. He is a lighthearted, dagger wielding, chick lover, who bears a much more sinister past, and purpose. When tranced he is able to access his Dyne abilites.
  • Garnet Til Alexandros XVII ( alias Dagger): The Princess of Alexandria, a beautiful black haired girl. She is mostly a Summoner class (her normal summon command is "Summon" but when tranced it becomes "Eidolon" and guarantees the creatures appearance), though she also has powerful White Magic at her disposal. Additionally, she is able to wield both rods and rackets.
  • Vivi Orunitia: A young Black Mage child who is trying to find the major answers in life, while trying to understand his own existence and life. Very shy, quiet, humble, and kind he is also controls powerful Black Magic (which becomes Double Black when tranced). Vivi also equips staves for physical attack.
  • Adelbert Steiner: He’s the Captain of the Knights of Pluto, who serve in Alexandria. He’s a protector of Princess Garnet and a man with a high sense of justice. He’s also very stubborn and sometimes very square-minded. Swords are his weapons of choice which grant him great physical strength (which is even greater when tranced).
  • Amarant Coral: He’s a bounty Hunter and a wanted man. He and Zidane have a past together, where Zidane is rather humorously the cause of Amarant's criminal reputation. He’s quiet and nobody really knows the reasons or thoughts behind his actions. His main weapons are claws and as well use of his monk-like "Flair abilities, gaining the ability to use them on all allies or all enemies while in trance.
  • Freya Crescent: A female Dragon Knight from the kingdom of Burmecia, who is in search of her lost love, Fratley. She is strong, smart, and brave. Her main weapons are spears which she uses to jump in the air, coming down upon her enemies with a powerful blow (or several powerful blows while tranced).
  • Quina Quen: A very strange looking guy (or girl), he is part of the Qu race. He is sent by his “master” to join Zidane and the rest of the party to help and learn about food and life around the world, and to become a great cook. His weapon of choice: giant forks. As part of her quest to eat all the foods in the world, Quina also very wounded enemies (sometimes learning powerful Blue Magic) or not so wounded enemies during trance.
  • Eiko Carol: A six-year-old girl living in Madain Sari, the lost village of the Eidolon summoners. She is one of the two remaining summoners in Gaia (the other being Garnet) but is more of a White Mage than a Summoner, when in trance her White Magic becomes Double White. She wields both her summoner's flutes and rackets. She also has a big crush on Zidane and feels rivaled by Zidane's desire for Garnet.

Other major characters

  • Queen Brahne: Queen of Alexandria, and mother of Garnet. She is a cruel and warmongering ruler, taking over the entire Mist Continent and having ambitions for the entire planet of Gaia.
  • Kuja: The primary antagonist. He is an Angel of Death created on Terra to help cause deaths that would cycle souls to the dying planet and revive it. Upon seeing Trance, he yearns for the power, eventually gaining it and using it to obliterate the planet of Terra, and nearly destroy all of existence.
  • Beatrix: Introduced as a major antagonist, Beatrix eventually becomes an ally to the player (the player even controls her for a small number of battles). She is a very skilled swordswoman, the most famous warriors known on the planet. She challenges the party 3 times before finally joining them to stop Brahne. Beatrix is Steiner's love interest and she wields the powerful Save the Queen sword which only she can wield (even if the player does somehow acquire it).
  • Regent Cid: Garnet's uncle, and Regent (ruler) of the kingdom of Lindblum. When he first appears in the game, he is an Oglop. Later he is transformed into a frog, as opposed to the human form he had hoped for. Eventually, he is turned back to a man by his long-lost wife Hilda. One of the party's best allies during the game.

Mini Games

  • Terra Master
  • Jump rope
  • Chocobo hot and cold
  • Frog catching
  • Ragtime Mouse
  • Hippaul racing
  • Gambling Nero brothers
  • Black Jack

Advertising

Final Fantasy IX was delayed, and in the months leading up to the release, Square signed a deal with Coca Cola. They ran a series of Coca Cola commercials on TV featuring the characters and environments of the Final Fantasy IX world.

PlayOnline

An often criticized piece of Final Fantasy IX was not actually a part of the game, rather, it was the official strategy guide for the game. For the guide, Square tried a new idea to incorporate most of the guide online. Many users felt cheated that the official guide lacked much detail, further depth being featured in online only content. When attempting to access the content, many users encountered great trouble. There were initial plans for this feature to be included with Final Fantasy X's release, but these were abandoned due to the overwhelmingly negative response. To date, there has been no other official strategy guide that attempted a fusion of online and offline. The original PlayOnline guide can be found for free online.

Soundtrack

Disk 1Disk 2Disk 3Disk 4
1. "A Place to Call Home" - 02:081. "Cid's Theme" - 04:001. "City Under Siege" - 02:231. "Aboard the Hilda Garde" - 04:07
2. "Memory Erased by a Storm" - 01:142. "Out of the Frying Pan" - 03:102. "Rose of May" - 02:342. "Daguerro, the Hermit's Libary" - 02:05
3. "The Meeting" - 01:383. "Lindblum" - 02:113. "Fossil Roo" - 02:313. "Ispen's Castle" - 01:59
4. "Sky of Alexandria" - 00:554. "A Song from Her Memory" - 01:534. "Conde Petie" - 03:434. "The Four Mirrors" - 02:46
5. "Vivi's Theme" - 03:115. "Festival of the Hunt" - 03:475. "Black Mage Village" - 03:225. "Guardians" - 02:03
6. "Sword of Fury" - 02:426. "Qu's Marsh" - 03:176. "Unfathomed Reminiscence" - 03:476. "Terra" - 02:10
7. "Vamo' Alla Flamenco" - 01:537. "Quina's Theme" - 03:527. "Before the Altar" - 02:097. "Bran Bal, the Soulless Village" - 03:11
8. "Find the Princess" - 03:148. "Aloha de Chocobo" - 02:578. "Eiko's Theme" - 03:368. "Pandemonium" - 03:04
9. "Court Jesters" - 03:219. "Ukele le Chocobo" - 02:539. "Madian Sari, Village of the Lost Summoners" - 03:499. "Not Alone" - 02:36
10. "Steiner's Theme" - 02:2710. "Freya's Theme" - 03:0210. "Eidolon Wall" - 02:3110. "Unforgettable Sorrow" - 03:30
11. "Prima Vista Orchestra" - 01:4511. "South Gate" - 02:5611. "Iifa, the Ancient Tree of Life" - 02:2911. "Another Nightmare" - 02:26
12. "Eye to Eye" - 02:5012. "Faerie Battle" - 2:2812. "Amarant's Theme" - 02:2912. "Silver Dragon" - 03:48
13. "The Fateful Hour" - 0:1613. "Burmecian Kingdom" - 03:5513. "Devil's Ambition" - 02:2013. "Memoria" - 02:14
14. "Thy Warmth" - 0:3514. "A Face Unforgotten" - 03:2414. "Outlaws" - 02:1114. "Crystal World" - 03:44
15. "Tragic Love" - 03:3515. "Kuja's Theme" - 02:2515. "Foolproof Love Letter Scheme" - 02:5315. "The Darkness of Eternity" - 04:43
16. "The Evil Within" - 01:3116. "The Wavering Blade" - 03:1716. "Tetra Master" - 03:4016. "The Final Battle" - 06:15
17. "Danger in the Forest" - 02:2917. "Dark City Treno" - 02:5317. "Moogle's Theme" - 01:5617. "Star-Crossed Lovers" - 01:32
18. "Battle 1" - 02:4018. "Theme of the Tantalus" - 02:2118. "Something to Protect" - 02:2218. "Kiss of Betrayal" - 0:28
19. "Fanfare" - 0:5719. "Immoral Memory" - 02:2619. "Light of Destiny" - 02:5619. "I Want to be Your Canary" - 01:18
20. "Distant Memory" - 02:2720. "Garnet's Theme" - 02:4020. "Master of Time" - 02:4420. "Inseparable Hearts" - 01:22
21. "Battle 2" - 04:0521. "Gargam Roo" - 01:4721. "Oeilvert" - 02:1721. "Behind the Door" - 02:07
22. "Game Over" - 01:5622. "Cleyra's Trunk" - 02:4322. "Chamber of a Thousand Faces" - 02:5222. "Melodies of Life - Final Fantasy" - 07:35
23. "RUN!" - 02:4823. "Cleyra Settlement" - 02:2123. "Look Back, See the Frog!" - 02:0323. "Prelude" - 02:46
24. "Sweet Dreams" - 0:1024. "Eternal Harvest" - 01:1624. "Esto Gaza" - 03:4924. "CCJC TVCM 15"" - 00:20
25. "Over the Hill" - 02:3825. "Grieve for the Skies" - 02:3525. "Mount Gulug" - 02:0725. "CCJC TVCM 30"" - 00:34
26. "Ice Caverns" - 03:0026. "Extraction" - 01:1626. "Broken Spell, Healed Hearts" - 02:0326. "Melodies of Life (The Layers of Harmony)" - 03:21
27. "Village of Dali" - 02:2928. "Beyond the Twilight" - 03:0729. "Steiner's Delusion" - 02:4530. "Fleeting Life" - 03:03
31. "Zidane's Theme" - 02:4732. "Black Waltz" - 01:39