FFIX - Impressions - Final Fantasy IX Preview

FF IX is going to be a true epic.

Final Fantasy IX is destined to be the last Final Fantasy released on the ageing PlayStation, and Square are certain to squeeze every last ounce of power out of it to give us 'the most developed Final Fantasy yet'. With Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XI PlayStation2 bound, we're certainly going to see a lot from our favourite series in a relatively short space of time.

With Final Fantasy IX, Square aim to go back to the roots of Final Fantasy while at the same time standing on the top of the rest of the series. They aim to create a unique fantasy world by borrowing something from each past title; Final Fantasy IX will be an evolution rather than a revolution.

Before the release of Final Fantasy VIII in Japan last year, we were just about swamped with information, news and speculation - the Square advertising juggernaut was in full swing. This time around with Final Fantasy IX, and only a year on, the news has been less plentiful - perhaps to such an extent that Square planned it this way... after all, we all can pretty much guarantee that it's going to sell in the millions.

We love the style of housing here.

Despite Final Fantasy IX looking to be a lot better than Final Fantasy VIII in almost every department - and perhaps even Final Fantasy VII - we can't help but feel that there isn't as much hype as we approach the Japanese launch date of July 7th. Speculation regarding Final Fantasy VIII's story was astronomical, and yet we cannot remember any mock-up stories and what-not ever surfacing on the internet for IX. Square explain that this is to be expected as we 'convert' to the PlayStation2, but we certainly hope that sales are more-or-less the same as Final Fantasy VIII's - or even more - because we get a gut feeling that this is going to be the best yet...

An Introduction To Final Fantasy IX

Castles and Princesses... this sounds familiar!

Final Fantasy IX is set in a world called Gaia, which is divided into four major ruling nations. The thief Zidane Triball comes from the Kingdom of Linblum - a peaceful kingdom lead by Regent Cid. Cid decides to hire Zidane's group of bandits to kidnap the young and beautiful Princess Garnet (of the neighbouring kingdom of Alexandria) because of its Queen's ruthless attacks on nearby villages.

Surprisingly, Garnet, realising that her mother is spiralling out of control, joins Zidane's group of bandits of her own free will with her loyal bodyguard Adelbert Steiner. In an attempt to capture the princess back from Zidane, the evil Queen Brahne sends an army of black mages after them. VIVI Ornitier ends up fighting alongside the heroes as an innocent young wizard caught in the crossfire.

Incidentally, Gaia (the name of Final Fantasy IX's world) is the name of a town in Final Fantasy I on the NES (released in 1988). Could this be more than a co-incidence? One for discussion...

The Battle System

In FFIX, you travel and battle in fours.

Unlike Final Fantasy VII and VIII, battle parties in Final Fantasy IX will compromise of up to four characters which you'll be able to place either on the front or back row depending on the weapons and abilities equipped to each character (the front row will have stronger attacks, while the back row stronger defence). The overall battle system will relate more to Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III US).

Although left out of Final Fantasy VIII - much to the dismay of many - Magic Points (MP) will make a return, with the choice of spells available to each character limited to what their class is.

Skills - Each character will only be able to gain skills based on their character. For example, Zidane will have the Steal command, seeing as his character class is 'Thief'.

Equipment System - Every piece of equipment in Final Fantasy IX has its own set of skills it can teach to a character when it is equipped. Equipment is not limited to one character, but to one class type; thieves (Zidane Triball) will only be able to equip light armor, while knights (such as Adelbert Steiner) will be able to equip heavy armor - Mages will equip different types of robes. It is from these equipment classes that the abilities and spells a character can use is determined.

For example, when the Black Mage's Staff is equipped to VIVI, it will allow VIVI to use the spells 'Fire' and 'Osmosis' in battle. In the menu, each spell will have a Action Points (AP) gauge which when full, will allow VIVI to continue using the spells even after the Black Mage Staff is unequipped. AP is gained much in the same way Materia gained AP in Final Fantasy VII; the equipment simply has to be equipped during battle, and AP is awarded after each victory.

Abilities - Abilities come in two flavours; Action Abilities and Status Abilities. Status Abilities gives the equipped character raised statistics (such as Strength), or increase a characters resistance to status changes (such as Poison). Action Abilities give the equipped character in-battle commands, such as Summon.

Trance Mode - No, you can't select dance music within a battle (one for UK readers), this merely replaces the name given to Limit Breaks in Final Fantasy VII and VIII: Once a character has taken a certain amount of damage, they'll go into a 'trance', allowing them to utilise previously inaccessible abilities.


Apart from the much-acclaimed card game, there weren't many mini-games to tout about in Final Fantasy VIII. This is set to change in Final Fantasy IX, however, with the inclusion of numerous interesting things-to-do:

Card Game - Because it proved to be such a hit in Final Fantasy VIII, why not include it in Final Fantasy IX? Everything's pretty much the same as it was before, with each card having an icon and strength statistics, battled on a square board (spaces are randomly blocked, however). A notable difference, however, is the use of arrows to not only indicate the strength of a card but, more importantly, the player has to lay a card so one of its arrows points to an opponent's card. If an enemy card doesn't have an arrow pointing back, you gain control of his or hers card, but if they do have an arrow, the two cards 'battle' using their respective statistics. The side with more cards in their colour, wins.

Moogles are back in their proper form! ^_^

MogNet - This is a huge network which allows you to send letters and parcels to different places. Packages are passed from one Moogle to another until it reaches its destination.

Cooking Game! - A Moogle gives Final Fantasy IX's resident chef a lesson in cooking..!

The Music

Final Fantasy VIII had Faye Wong as its lead singer, Final Fantasy IX has veteran Japanese singer Emiko Shiratori. Emiko will be singing the main theme of 'Melodies of Life' in both Japanese and English, and from what we've heard from it at this years E3, we think it's a lot better than Faye Wong's 'Eyes On Me'. Despite early rumours that Nobou Uematsu had been dropped from doing the ninth Final Fantasy, he was once again confirmed to be the man behind the musical score, much to the relief of just about everyone.

This might just be "the most developed Final Fantasy yet"...

Article by Rob for Final Fantasy: Worlds Apart.