Final Fantasy IX was among my first played RPGs, and I can consider it to be my first introduction to the more traditional Japanese RPGs, where battles are random and classic turn-based; characters gain strength through leveling; the player finds, buys and sells all kinds of items in shops and there is a huge open world-map filled with towns and dungeons to explore. Not to mention the fantasy!

I played Final Fantasy IX after being introduced to Final Fantasy VIII, so you can imagine the liberty I felt for being able to cast magic spells without the worry of spending such a precious resource, or the freedom of not having to work on a junction system! It was a strange feeling delving into a world filled with fantasy such strange cartoonish characters, though! However, this is a part of the game that eventually grows with the player. 

Final Fantasy IXCredit:

Related: Best Playstation RPG Games - The Final Fantasy Series


Final Fantasy IX was the third and last Final Fantasy[1] main title released on the Playstation by the legendary RPG maker, Square. Now Square Enix[2], after merging with its long-time rival in 2003. The game was released in 2000, during the later years of the Playstation, and was very well received for returning to the roots of the franchise, simplifying gameplay and recreating a universe of fantasy, where magic, strange creatures, different races, princesses and evil queens are all part of it. 

Ever since FFVI, a favorite among fans, and its steampunk settings, that Square had been branching out from fantasy to science fiction and futuristic environments. Seeing how many followers of the franchising were disappointed on FFVIII for its deviations from traditional role-playing gaming and completely revamped gameplay, Square put this strangely refreshing and charming little gem out there. Curiously enough, FFIX had been developed practically alongside its predecessor. 

Returning to the Roots

Final Fantasy IX (FMV Scene)Credit:

Final Fantasy IX is a complete return to origins no matter how you look at it. No more misunderstood rebellious teenagers who dress on black leather and ride on bikes, and no more post-apocalyptic dystopias or science-fiction worlds where giant flying structures clash with each other. FFIX is all about a world where fantasy, adventure, character interaction, comedy and drama are the words of order. 

Final Fantasy IX (Gameplay)Credit:

In addition to the presentation reminiscent of the early FF games, the gameplay is also a return to origins. Featuring a turn-based[3] battle system and a set of unique characters whose abilities reflect their role in battle, FFIX bet on tradition and simplicity for an addictive gameplay. Leveling is once again a huge part of strengthening your characters in the game, contrary to FFVIII that depended mostly on its Junction System.  

Classic Gameplay

Final Fantasy IX (Ability)Credit: Ability System in FFIX is in my opinion, the simplest and most fun in all of the Final Fantasy series. Characters no longer longer need the assistance of outer tools to use skills. Instead of equipping Materia or GF to provide new abilities and skills, all your character needs is a weapon and armor, and start learning the ability of the equipments. In other words, you can gain new abilities when you acquire new equipment. Each equip has one, or a set of abilities that can be learned by accumulating ability points through battle. When you get enough AP, you learn the ability permanently, and can move on to other equipment.

Final Fantasy IX (Gameplay)Credit: having pre-defined classes for the characters of the party, Final Fantasy IX still gives the player some liberty when it comes to customizing his characters, as many abilities can be learned by various characters, and even with all the abilities learned you still have a limited number which you can "activate". This gives you the ability to tweak your party in your own way, while being able to optimize it the most for your own play style, since you have eight playable characters in total to choose from. 

Final Fantasy IX (Characters)Credit: characters in Final Fantasy IX are probably the most unique and detailed characters of any Final Fantasy game to date. Characters that initially may seem to fall into an archetype, are surprisingly and fantastically developed through the course of the story, arguably the most astounding aspect of this game, to become full-fledged characters on their own right, through a  chain of events and dramatic revelations breaching on the emotional side. The silly look of the characters, in my view, serves to mislead the player into assumptions, and catching him off-guard with the emotional and thought-provoking depth hidden behind comical appearances. 

The Story

Final Fantasy IX (Vivi - Playable Character)Credit:

The story in FFIX is reminiscent of the story of Helen of Sparta, in which the princess and most beautiful girl in the whole reign, runs away in a ship, leaving her kingdom in turmoil. In this case, there's no Paris, but there is Zidane, the charismatic and straightforward leader of a band of thieves that was going to kidnap Garnet, the runway princess that ends up on their ship on her own free will, but that due to circumstances ends up protecting her from her own mother, a queen with a growing lust for warfare that won't stop at nothing to retrieve her daughter. 

Final Fantasy IX (Plot)Credit: their escape, the flying ship is damaged and crashes in a forest. Entangled in this situation became the young and naive Blackmage Vivi who had been searching for clues to his own existence, and the honorable, but obtuse Knight Steiner, who had sworn to protect the princess at the cost of his own life if needed. Though the initial mission of the crew of thieves was one of kidnapping the princess, there is more to their apparantly mean-willing intentions that are revealed later. 

Final Fantasy IXCredit: search for the princess becomes one excuse for the once peaceful kingdom of Alexendria to bring war and lay siege to the other nations, in a plot where other reasons initially unapparent are slowly unveiled. It's up to Zidane and his mates to protect the princess, as she becomes the link to solving a war that will bring much chaos and tragedy to the world's peoples, and bring to the surface revelations so obscure that will make everyone question their own role in this war, and even question their own existence.