This is the inaugural post in a short series that I am going to be doing about Final Fantasy IX. As you may know, I have been playing the PSX-era Final Fantasy games in order to give them a fresh look. From nostalgia-wrapped Final Fantasy VII to divisive Final Fantasy IX, I have played well over 100 hours of low-rez JRPGs.
I was never able to complete my “master post” about Final Fantasy VII because I couldn’t get a hook on the game. Ultimately, I didn’t feel strongly about it, and the blandness (that’s right) of the game left me wanting. After that, I did manage to play through Final Fantasy VIII and write a significant amount about it; I might return to it one day. However, just like Final Fantasy VII, VIII has a way of sucking a will out of me. A weakness in plot and character, in system and design, keeps me from interacting with it fully. To be succinct: both of those games are not very rewarding to analysis.
I knew that returning to Final Fantasy IX would be, well, fun. I remembered that it punted the angsty high schooler mentality to the curb and drastically withdrew from futuristic or cyberpunk-inspired imagery. Final Fantasy IX is all about a return to fantasy, and to my surprise, comedy. I also found it remarkably rewarding, much more than the two previous games, while also sharing similar themes.
So, my point: I think Final Fantasy IX is the culmination of Final Fantasy games on the PSX. This, of course, is literal–it is the last game in the series to appear on that console. But I also mean that the game itself is a culmination of design lessons learned and themes as they are developed.
So I have things to say. That said, I also want to engage with that has been said previously about Final Fantasy IX. Below is what I have found so far about the game through some googling. If you know of anything else, feel free to comment or tweet at me with citations. I want to, you know, do a good job.
Roundtable Interview with several creators
Interview with Sakaguchi
Interview with Hiroyuki Ito
“Why FF9 Was The End of A Great Series”
Interview with Sakaguchi and Hashimoto
Interview with Toriyama
Sakaguchi’s memos about FFIX
A GameFAQ of references
“Final Fantasy IX’S mechanics of identity”
The Dream Traveler FFIX review – this is a multipart video analyis
Final Fantasy IX review at That Guy With The Glasses
Review by Erin Bell at GameCritics
“Why Final Fantasy IX should be Square-Enix’s Blueprint”
Revising the Classics – Final Fantasy IX
“Finite Fantasy: The Problem with JRPGs“