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Gaia Report: Final Fantasy IX Playthrough pt. 1

May 23rd, 2012 by Olivia Slayton

Hi! Tony here — prefacing a series of new segments we’ll be doing involving guest writers and user submitted content. So, we all know there are tons of Final Fantasy games over many years, and we at Final Fantasy Network know there’s not always harmonious agreement as to which one is the best. So instead of that discussion, we wanted to people illustrate their opinions in a more constructive way.

So we ask: what made a Final Fantasy game special for you?

We’re going to do this in a few different ways — through essays and segments that touch on that very subject. Now this can pertain to a specific Final Fantasy or an element of the series altogether, and so we hope to bring you a wealth of different opinions and perspectives from the franchise’s huge fanbase. We start today with a playthrough of Final Fantasy IX, in a recurring segment.

Our first contributor is the owner and editor of SQEX.INFO: Olivia Slayton, also known as SQEXGAL. If you yourself are interested in contributing an essay or an editorial to Final Fantasy Network please feel free to send me an email!

Without further adieu, click the jump to read on!

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To start off, my name is Olivia (SQEXGAL), and I’m a long time fan of the Final Fantasy series and Square Enix in general. Final Fantasy IX released in North America in the winter of 2000 and it was the first Final Fantasy I completed from beginning to end. With confidence I can say it’s my favorite title in the series. Even though it has a reputation for being an under appreciated title, I haven’t met anyone whose played it who didn’t enjoy it. It’s not the same, but I hope readers enjoy reading about my experience just as much.

Our adventure begins with the thief Zidane aboard the airship Prima Vista, where the criminal troupe Tantalus are planning their mission to kidnap Princess Garnet Til Alexandros XVII by masquerading as a theater group performing “I Want To Be Your Canary” in celebration of her 16th birthday. Unbeknownst to them, the princess has her own plans of escape, much to the dismay of the head guard Steiner. Meanwhile, the timid black mage Vivi has the humble intentions of attending the performance however his ticket is a fake and he must find another means to seeing the show.

After literally colliding with one another, Zidane and Garnet make their escape back onto the airship chased by Steiner. Meanwhile, Queen Brahne takes note of the princess’ absence and releases a Bomb monster in attempt to retrieve her. Based on her dialogue, she seems to have evil intentions, though she tells her minions to bring the princess back alive. As fate would have it, Vivi winds up with the group too after being chased on stage as the thief troupe makes their escape. The airship takes damage due to canons fired by the Queen and crash lands in the Evil Forest. Though they are separated, Zidane reunites the troupe and saves Garnet from a treacherous plant monster. However, the creatures of the Evil Forest overcome the group and chase them out, petrifying in the process. As it stands, the group decides to work together to reach safety.

Story aside, right from the start there are a few elements that make FFIX stand out beyond it’s predecessors. The Active Time Event (ATE) feature allows the player to switch between characters to keep up the storyline, even if it’s just a brief flash to the secondary characters or moogles. Also, the field icon feature notes whenever an item of an interest is near, more importantly, noting where hidden gil or Tetra Master cards have been abandoned. I’d say that’s an improvement compared to the previous titles where you ran around pressing buttons and hoping to get lucky. It’s also more creative than a blatant treasure chest, often what you pick up has a bit of personality to it, for instance, “Grandma’s pocket money”. Maybe Vivi wouldn’t have picked that up himself, but I need all the gil I can grab.

Each main character takes on an evident class characteristic, paying homage to the original Final Fantasy where you could only make characters based on a class system. Incidentally, the hero of our story Zidane is a thief with a spunky attitude, an upbeat change in comparison to the warrior types Cloud and Squall who starred in the prior two PSX titles. People might be quick to write off his caricature, but I can’t help find him as a fun change of pace. He isn’t too shy to hit on the Princess and provides a lot of sass to the cast. Just watching him overreact and his tail twitching makes him more interesting than say Squall, who’d probably just cross his arms and look downcast. Maybe because he’s such an energetic character, the title itself seems less serious, but if I remember right, that’s not necessarily the case.

I’ve never done a livestream play through of a title and I thought that since I’d be doing this feature, it’d be a fun way to share my experience. It started out rough but once I  got things going the streaming was great… Until I realized there was no way to enter a battle without pausing the stream and in the end I decided that though the quality on the emulator was much nicer than playing it off my PSX, it just wasn’t going to work. So you can see what parts I was able to record here, but don’t look forward to anymore FF9 footage for now.

Perhaps it’s for the better, I’m afraid my tedious need to check every nook of the map and beat every NPC at Tetra Master might annoy viewers. Next time I’ll share more about the battle features and discuss more of the story, as well as remark on the fantastical setting of this entry into the series.

If you’re interested in playing Final Fantasy IX, it’s available for download in the PlayStation Store for PS3 and PSP for $9.99. Or if you’d rather do it old school like me, a copy of the original PSX disc set retails for about $15 on Amazon.com.

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  • fonzyboi

    Nice article. Would love to hear/read more from her and other FF fans.
    twitter @findingfonzy

  • Keith

    I am totally replaying FFIX as we type. It’s such a great game, love the leveling/ability system and the story. Although I’m excited about FFX HD, and would want FFVII remade first, FFIX is one I would play yet again if they ever updated the graphics for PS3 (or PS4, I guess!). Great game.

  • Keith

    Btw, playing it old school with the discs. 😉