A certain famous RPG series has landed on the Nintendo Switch, with a re-release of one of my favorite entries, Final Fantasy IX. Originally released back in 2000 and was a huge smash hit for SquareEnix, known then as SquareSoft. I first experienced this game a couple of years ago and I loved it. But that was a awhile ago so some things that I might’ve liked have changed for me. Is the adventures of Zidane and company a great experience 19 years later? Grab some potions and phoenix downs and find out!
The kingdom of Alexandria is expecting the grand performance of the beloved play “I want to be your Canary” by the also beloved Tantalus Theater Troupe. The troupe has plans to use the showcase as a distraction in order to kidnap the “most beautiful girl” in the country, Princess Garnet. Our main character, Zidane Tribal, is a member of the troupe and also a constant flirt so the idea of kidnapping a princess sounds right up his alley. The plan commences with Zidane and his friend Blank disguising themselves as knights within the castle where they run into a girl in a white robe. This girl reveals herself to to be the one and only, Princess Garnet! And even more surprising is that she wants to be kidnapped!
Garnet believes that her mother, Queen Brahne, has malicious plans brewing regarding relations with neighboring countries and wants to inform those countries of these possible plans. Garnet attempts to escape with Zidane and her loyal but narrow-minded knight, Captain Steiner. Zidane promises Garnet that he will “kidnap” her and helps her leave the city with the help of Tantalus’ airship but the ship is nearly destroyed by the retaliation of the Queen. The group is also joined by a small black mage named Vivi who was caught in the attacks on Tantalus. Zidane connects to Vivi like a little brother and decides to bring him along. The new group of a thief, princess, knight, and black mage start their journey to the country of Lindblum. The story gets only bigger and bigger from here.
Final Fantasy IX’s combat is still as much fun as it was when I played it years ago. FFIX stays true to its roots of being a classic turn based role playing game where it utilizes the “Active Time Battle” gauge where the time of battle is constantly flowing. What this means is enemies are always going to perform their actions now matter what the player does or does not do. For instance he player can look through menus of spells or items and the enemy is still going to be attacking where in many other turn based RPGs would have every side take their turns. This style of battle keeps players on their toes and helps them to examine what kinds of enemies they are facing. A preview of gameplay from YourApps Info is below.
A new addition that FFIX adds is how abilities are obtained. In other games, a character would obtain a skill through leveling up but here many pieces of equipment have skills attached to them. So when a character has a certain piece of equipment, they will receive points towards that skill along with regular experience that levels up the character. When a skill has enough points to it, the character fully learns the skill from the equipment and will keep the sill even if they switch equipment. This makes every piece of equipment feel important has it not only helps the stats of the character but also assisting in learning new techniques and abilities. FFIX’s combat is pretty simple and I feel that players who are not familiar with turn based combat will feel comfortable with this game as a start.
This game released almost 20 years ago and still has some of the problems of processing from back then. The transition from walking around to combat can feel like it takes forever. And when you get to the battle screen, the game does wide shots to show the party and the enemy and when you see this dozens and dozens of time, it grows pretty tiring. With the releases on other systems like PC or PS4 you think this would get fixed but nope, it is still like this. Final Fantasy games before this, had transitions in between walking and combat but those games were a lot quicker in getting to the action.
A new mechanic to combat that gets introduced early on is the “Trance” transformation. This transforms the character into a more powerful state when they have taken enough damage. This is similar to FFVII and FFVIII’s Limit Break system but here the player does not have the ability to choose when they want to use it. The trance immediately gets used and goes away when the battle is over. This is gets annoying when you are trying save trance to have an advantage over a boss fight but end up using it against a normal enemy that dies in one hit. The limit break from previous games stay with the character as long as they do not use it but here there is no choice for the player.
While I do have issues with some of the more aged parts of FFIX like the transitions or parts of the battle system cutting player choice, this game is a classic RPG. The story and characters are so charming and memorable. The battle systems while having some quirks is still classic Final Fantasy fun. This is one of those RPGs I would recommend to new players as it really eases those unaccustomed to role-playing gameplay while also giving a fair bit of challenge along the way. In my eyes, Final Fantasy IX is one of the best in the legendary series and still one of my favorite RPGs to date. FFIX is available originally on PS1 but now it has been ported to Steam, PS4, and recently Nintendo Switch. Have you played FFIX? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t , do you plan on playing it? Comment below and give your thoughts.
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