Released in 2000, Final Fantasy was created as a reflection on the Final Fantasy series, and creator Hironobu Sakaguchi claims is also his favorite in the series. After creating two games set in a more futuristic setting, this game was set back in the medieval high fantasy setting from the older games in the franchise. Also the game jettisons the concept of using any character you want and allowing them to learn every spell, and bringing back characters who have fixed classes and characters having a limited number of moves.
You play as Zidane Tribal, a thief who is a member of bandits from Lindblum called Tantalus who also double as a theater troupe. The game begins with an big event happening in the kingdom of Alexandria where Tantalus is going to perform a play.You then play through a perspective of multiple characters leading up to the actual performance. Later it is revealed that the play is a ruse to kidnap the princes of Alexandria, Princess Garnet. You find out Princess Garnet is willing to be kidnapped, as she is wanting to escape the country to figure out Queen Brahne’s erratic behavior and wishes to go to Lindblum. You then attempt to escape Alexandria and you are attacked by the Alexandrian forces, and the airship you are on crashes into a forest. When you finally reach Lindblum you discover that Brahne is trying to cause a war and the characters become intertwined in world affairs.
Gameplay for the most part has been unchanged from the previous games. Like mentioned above, the characters are in fixed classes, meaning they can only learn certain abilities, even when you have two characters in the same class. You do learn abilities differently in this game than previous titles. You don’t learn abilities just from leveling up, to learn abilities from your equipment. Each equipment item lets you learn a number of abilities, and when you battle with those items equipped, you gain ability points. Initially you can only use those abilities when you have those items equipped, but when you max out the ability points on an ability, it is now permanent on your character.
Those are the action abilities, meaning they’re pretty much moves in battle like magic and summoning. You can also learn support abilities. Support abilities basically let you learn things like immunity to certain ailments and doing extra damage to certain monster classes. These abilities take up a number of stones, so you have a limited number of supports to equip, but the higher the level you get, the more you can equip.
Similar to many other Playstation RPG’s (especially from Square), the game uses 3D polygonal characters on pre-rendered backgrounds. Seeing as they mastered the technology by Final Fantasy VIII, there are no issues when it comes to navigating.
The game does have a very steampunk medieval fantasy theme and also very cartoonish style for the game in general. This gives the game a very unique look to it, and caters to the “fantasy” part in Final Fantasy. They throw in a lot of anthropomorphic animals as characters giving it even more of a fairy tale feel.
The game features a very strong soundtrack, and goes back to the style of music from the older SNES titles. It’s a lot more upbeat compared to the previous PS1 titles.
Final Fantasy IX is a fantastic game, and the more “traditional” out of the Playstation Final Fantasy trilogy. It’s interesting picking up references to previous titles. The strong gameplay, story, and even the artstyle all fall together giving you a fantastic journey.