Like most remasters, it took me a long time to look into the digitalized edition of Final Fantasy IX. Balking slightly at the originally $49.99 price tag, I quickly resigned myself to not playing it. I settled instead with fond memories of it in the days of original Playstation and childhood friendships long forgotten until it became a major topic in a gaming forum I admin for. Praise and high regard were all I saw comment after comment till I could stand it no longer! Thankfully since release, the price has dropped considerably to a very reasonable $20,99, which includes not only the full game but avatars of every major character for the player to use on their profile, as well as some unexpected surprises!
It was a wonderful stroll through nostalgia, some of it so clear it is like I played it yesterday, while other parts seemed brand new, like the first time. I have been kicking myself since buying it for not doing it sooner! Whimsical colors, bright music, and a more cartoon animation style really set this game apart from the other installments of the franchise (unless you count FF Crystal Chronicles, which I surely do not), making it a very stand-out title. Serious scenarios are presented in amazing graphics, even under 4k scrutiny. They’re then lightened through small comic relief commentary and silly jabs by characters at each other. It creates a feeling of real-life comradery that Final Fantasy has made its signature, characters with full personalities all individual and crafted to that one person only, and the constant struggles to learn to work together as one in the face of opposition. Funny and surreal villains like the jester twins, Queen Brahne, and Kuja, who defy the usual standard of darkly dressed skulking in the shadows. These characters are steadily involved in the entire storyline, especially with the ATE (active time event) system. Which, should you choose to take the prompt when given, allows you to see what other characters in the game’s story are doing at the same time as the playable character in that current moment.
A minor complaint on this end is there are numerous ATEs, and it becomes very time-consuming to watch each one if you are playing on limited time. You may skip them, but all previous ones will still be offered when the next one is activated until leaving the event area. So it is best to just watch them and get it over with. The characters, like most FF games, cross all kinds of creatures into humanoid characters for play and brings to the table enemies ranging from the adorable to grotesque. The usual adorable mainstays are there, such as the favorite fan moogles, which have become icons for fans of the series, and random breeds of citizens, many resembling large versions of everyday animals. Originally released in 2000, Final Fantasy IX is regarded as one of the most popular in the series to date, equal to such greats as Final Fantasy XII and VII, both of which sold massively and still hold loyal fandom to this day. As you travel the world, you meet several companions. Garnet, the summon-wielding princess. Quina, the frog-loving and eating Qu. And probably my favorite, ViVi, the small black mage with a heart of gold, constantly on a mission to find his home, where he belongs, where he will be wanted– and so many more.
The story centers around the heroes trying to end Queen Brahne and Kuja’s plan to take over the world, destroying one major city at a time using summons stolen from the young princess, but it has so many side twists and turns, it has hours and hours of gameplay and storytelling, both written and visual, making it a great one for young gamers just stepping into the RPG arena. Simple gameplay with a set turn system makes sure to keep the playing field fairly even so long as one sees upgrades in armor, weapons, and magical skills with regularity. There is not much to hold back the more amateur player. HOWEVER! The new digital edition has even the most oblivious player covered, offering four new skills when you pause the gameplay. With one of the four top buttons, you can set :
- Safe travel- no enemies will attack you on the world map or in the event area.
- 9999- The game’s max possible damage with every attack, even a magic user’s physical, will cause the 9999 critical, dropping almost any enemy within 2-4 hits pending what level they are, including final bosses.
- Speed Mode- Allowing the characters to move at super speed, reducing the chance of attack if you do not have the safe travel active.
Battle Assist will always choose the most powerful or best attack based on the enemy you are facing. Also, heals allies with the item or spell that will best meet their needs.
The skills can be toggled off and on, making especially difficult enemies a breeze when needed or running low on healing. I myself choose not to use them, but I admire the thought they put into making sure the player could see the game to conclusion regardless of skill. It is a high recommend for me to any Final Fantasy fan who may have thought they lost this title to time and a must for anyone who has not had the chance to play it or is new to the series. The game, like most, stands alone and doesn’t require any previous title knowledge making it an easy pick-up at anytime title! Please check back for more articles about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the elite, among remasters and other great topics.
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