Final Fantasy IX is the ninth installment in the Final Fantasy series, released by Square in 2000. It was directed by Hiroyuki Itō and co-produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Format:W. It is the third and last Final Fantasy in the main series to be produced for the PlayStation. Unlike Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX was not ported to the PC. It was originally going to be a spin-off game, but was eventually made into a main game. On April 2nd, 2010, it was announced on Twitter that Final Fantasy IX would be added to the PlayStation Network, and was released for PSN on May 20th, 2010 for Japanese players, May 26th, 2010 for European and Australian players, and on June 15, 2010 for North American players.
After two Final Fantasy installments that featured an increasing sci-fi slant, Final Fantasy IX was intended to return the series, at least temporarily, to its more fantasy-oriented roots. The characters, who had been depicted in an increasingly realistic fashion in previous Final Fantasy games, were deliberately rendered in a more cartoonish fashion to reflect this return to tradition. Among the most notable in the influences of previous Final Fantasy games, is the presence of Black Mages, represented foremost by the playable party member Vivi; other Black Mages appear as a crucial element of the storyline.
Final Fantasy IX was announced and developed in tandem with Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XI. This three-pronged marketing effort was intended to provide gamers with the promise of three upcoming games of varied style and gameplay: an intentionally retro RPG in Final Fantasy IX, a smoother evolution in style and design in Final Fantasy X, and an online experience in Final Fantasy XI.
Levels and AbilitiesEdit
Final Fantasy IX retains experience points and levels, but new abilities are learned by equipping an item that can teach an ability and gaining enough ability points to learn it permanently, reminiscent of the Esper system in Final Fantasy VI. However, in Final Fantasy IX abilities can still be used even when they have not been learned permanently. A little known feature is that abilities can be learned faster by equipping multiple pieces of equipment that teach the same ability; e.g. Zidane will learn Long Reach twice as fast if he equips both Thief Hat and Protect Ring simultaneously. The effect is boosted further by using the Ability Up ability.
There are two types of abilities in Final Fantasy IX: "Action" and "Support." Action abilities include techniques like Magic, weapon skills and calling Eidolons. Support abilities have beneficial passive effects such as resistance against status effects and increased damage to certain enemy types. A limited amount of support abilities can be equipped at one time, governed by Magic Stones. Each support ability requires a certain number of Magic Stones, and more stones can be gained by leveling up. Many abilities can be learned by most of the cast, but some are exclusive to certain characters.
In the field, the player typically controls the main character, Zidane. However, unlike the previous 3D games, the environment is more interactive. When Zidane passes a point of interest, a ! or ? bubble appears above his head, and the player can press Fișier:X-button.png to interact with the object. As the game progresses, different methods of traveling across the world become available. As with previous incarnations, characters can travel by chocobo, boat and airship.
Following the tradition started by Final Fantasy IV, the game utilizes the Active Time Battle system in battle. When a character's ATB gauge is filled up, that character can choose a command to execute. Normally, enemies attack whenever their turn is up, but the battle can be set to "Wait" mode, making the enemy unable to attack a character while they are choosing a spell or an item from the menu.
In Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, the player was restricted to three-person parties. In Final Fantasy IX, this is changed to the classic four-person party. Also, the game allows for two players to control members chosen by the player in the battle.
Format:Main Continuing the tradition started in Final Fantasy VI, the game incorporates Limit Breaks, although differently from earlier Limit Break systems. When a character sustains hits in battle, the Trance gauge is filled up and when full, the character automatically goes into Trance mode. Trance changes the character's appearance, and either gives them a new skill or set of skills only usable while they are in Trance. E.g, if Zidane has learned the ability Flee for his Skills ability set, he gains the ability Free Energy for his Trance ability set, Dyne. Zidane is the only character who is able to use new abilities in his Trance; most characters' abilities are enhanced, for example, Vivi gains Double Black, which allows him to cast two Black Magic spells in quick succession, and while in Trance, Steiner's strength is boosted.
Final Fantasy IX has character classes, something absent from the last few preceding games in the series. While not explicitly stated, each character in the game has an obvious job based on previous Final Fantasy games and an overview of their abilities in battle. For example, Zidane is a Thief, Amarant is a cross between a Ninja and a Monk, Quina is a Blue Mage, and so on.
This is yet another return to tradition from Final Fantasy IX's recent predecessors, in which characters were largely blank slates to be heavily customized by the player. In Final Fantasy IX the emphasis is on building an effective team of characters whose strengths and weaknesses balance one another to form an effective fighting force.
Active Time EventsEdit
Format:Main Another new aspect of Final Fantasy IX are Active Time Events (ATE). When an ATE window appears the player can press Select to see what the other characters are doing, allowing for more character development. Although watching an ATE might not always affect the main storyline, sometimes the player will have to watch an ATE automatically. The player might, however, gain items or gil by watching the ATEs. Sometimes, multiple choices for ATEs to watch are given, and if one is picked, the other might not be able to be activated, meaning the player has to wait for a second playthrough to see it.
Within the game, Mognet is a postal system used by moogles. As the player progresses through the game, they will find Moogles inhabiting most of the known world. When the player talks to a moogle, they allow the player to save their game, restore life energy via Tents, or purchase items with Mogshop. The moogle may also request that the player character act as a courier by delivering a letter to another moogle via Mognet. It is also possible (albeit less frequently) that the player may receive a letter from another character in the game.
Later on in the game, it is revealed the moogles are only requesting that the player deliver letters because Mognet Central, where the letters are usually sorted, is having mechanical problems, and as a result, deliveries have become sporadic. It is later revealed the malfunctions are caused by the letter carrier Artemicion, who decorated his coat with the oil used to lubricate Mognet's machines, causing them to break down. There are several letters about Artemicion being sent between moogles worrying about his constant use of the item, called Super Slick. Nevertheless, many do admire Artemicion's shiny coat. The player may optionally help the moogles restore Mognet Central's functionality in a sidequest. Format:Spoilers
Format:Main The world of Final Fantasy IX, named Gaia, is divided into four continents:
- Mist Continent, the first playable area and the most heavily settled.
- Forgotten Continent, a large land in the west where the sun sets.
- Lost Continent, to the northwest, almost entirely covered in ice.
- Outer Continent, an arid desert wasteland to the north.
- Zidane Tribal: The main protagonist. A Thief, member of the Tantalus group, and an inveterate womanizer.
- Vivi Orunitia: A young Black Mage, but pure of heart.
- Garnet til Alexandros XVII: The female protagonist, and princess of Alexandria. A Summoner with more emphasis on summons than White Magic.
- Adelbert Steiner: A noble Knight of Alexandria, and the Captain of the Knights of Pluto.
- Freya Crescent: A Burmecian Dragon Knight who searches for her lost love, Sir Fratley.
- Quina Quen: A Qu Blue Mage who joins the adventure to experience cuisine from around the world.
- Eiko Carol: A young Summoner with more proficiency in White Magic than summoning, one of the last of her tribe.
- Amarant Coral: A Monk and wanted bandit, accompanying Zidane to discover what makes him powerful.
Kidnapping the PrincessEdit
In the world of Gaia, Queen Brahne Raza Alexandros XVI of the kingdom of Alexandria lusts for power, and is trying to increase her domain by conquering the surrounding lands. War is brewing among the neighboring kingdoms on the Mist Continent. Regent Cid of Lindblum is worried about how these troubling events will impact Princess Garnet, so he dispatches the Tantalus Theater Troupe to Alexandria to kidnap her. A prominent character in Tantalus is the game's main protagonist, Zidane Tribal. However, the Princess herself yearns to escape from her wicked mother, and is willingly kidnapped. During the operation, Vivi and Adelbert Steiner, Captain of the Royal Knights of Pluto and Garnet's guardian, become involved, much to Steiner's disdain. Things go wrong, and Zidane is left in charge of the kidnapping. During their escape, the theater ship, the Prima Vista, is shot down from the sky and lands in the Evil Forest.
Zidane decides to assist the princess to Lindblum on foot, but Baku, the leader of Tantalus, dissents with his opinion and dismisses Zidane. Vivi and Steiner join Zidane in rescuing Garnet from the Forest's carnivorous flora and eventually escape the woods, leaving Tantalus behind. The foursome venture through the Ice Cavern, where Zidane defeats Black Waltz No. 1, Brahne's lackey. Arriving in the village of Dali, Garnet adopts the alias of "Dagger" to blend in with the peasantry. The villagers kidnap Vivi and the rest of the party is soon shocked when they rescue him and find out the villagers are manufacturing Black Mages from the Mist, for export to Alexandria. Garnet begins to ponder the possibility of returning to Alexandria to question her mother about the Black Mage business, a notion Steiner approves of. After besting Black Waltz No. 2, they board a Cargo Ship piloted by soulless Black Mages, but soon come under fire from Black Waltz No. 3. Vivi, Zidane, and Steiner confront the golem and leave the journey's destination in Garnet's hands. The princess hesitates, but ultimately decides to go to Lindblum, resulting in an erratic flight through the South Gate.
The four meet with Regent Cid at Lindblum, who refuses to mobilize against Alexandria, for fear of leaving his own borders unprotected. While his country holds the Festival of the Hunt, Brahne begins her advancement into the Burmecia region, home of Zidane's friend Freya Crescent. Zidane decides to travel to Burmecia with Freya, whom he finds just before the Festival of the Hunt, and Vivi, to learn more about the situation, but Cid orders Garnet to remain in Lindblum. In retaliation, she tampers the festival feast with sleeping weed to place everyone asleep, and absconds with Steiner back to South Gate. The remainder of the party ventures to Burmecia, traveling through Gizamaluke's Grotto and in an optional event recruiting the gluttonous Quina Quen along the way. Upon arriving in Burmecia, they find the desolate city in ruins. At the city apex, they meet the Queen herself, a mysterious man named Kuja, and General Beatrix. The General promptly defeats Zidane's group, and Alexandria sets its sights on Cleyra.
Meanwhile, Garnet and Steiner rest in Treno, and with Doctor Tot's aid, take the Gargan Roo pathway to Alexandria where Garnet meets with her mother. Brahne turns on the princess and orders Garnet's Eidolons extracted, magical creatures with great powers, for use in future invasions. One of these summons, Odin, is used to obliterate Cleyra, but not before Beatrix takes a jewel from the city's harp and Zidane's crew hitches a ride on the Red Rose back to Alexandria. The protagonists join forces with Steiner and free Garnet from Brahne's clutches, with the assistance of the enlightened Beatrix. Zidane, Vivi, and Garnet attempt to use the Gargant system to flee back to Treno, but their ride is spooked by a monster and ends up crashing in Pinnacle Rocks. After passing Ramuh's trial, allowing Garnet to summon the Eidolon Ramuh, the three witness the sacking of Lindblum by another of Alexandria's Eidolons, Atomos. Sneaking into the city, Zidane and Garnet meet with the now powerless Regent Cid, who reveals Kuja is behind the recent strings of attacks. Cid says it is rumored the origin of Mist is in the Outer Continent, and the party sets off to locate Kuja there. Along the way, Quina finds the entrance to the Fossil Roo, an underground tunnel leading to the Outer Continent.
Upon reaching the Black Mage Village, Vivi discovers there are many Black Mages like him that can speak. He also discovers Black Mages have a lifespan of about one year. Even with this in mind, Vivi continues to travel with Zidane and company. They encounter Eiko Carol, a young girl and last of the Summoner tribe, at her home of Madain Sari. Zidane convinces her to open the path to the Iifa Tree, which they discover to be the source of the Mist. The group descends into the very core of the tree, until they finally reach a shimmering and seemingly-endless green pool at its base and the monster SoulCage, who reveals the Mist's true purpose; Mist is merely the by-product of the Iifa Tree's true function, stopping Gaian souls from returning to their crystal in the planet core. The discarded souls are released on the Mist Continent via the Iifa Tree's roots. Upon SoulCage's defeat, the Mist on the Mist Continent dries up, and the heroes return to Madain Sari. After repelling the thief Lani and recruiting the sarcastic and brooding Amarant Coral, they return to the Iifa Tree. The group finally finds Kuja, but Queen Brahne and her navy suddenly appear just off Iifa's coast. Kuja with his Silver Dragon and monsters of Mist fight her. Brahne summons Bahamut in an attempt to rid herself of Kuja and take sole domination of her territory, but in a twist of fate Kuja calls the heavily-settled airship, known as the Invincible, and claims control of Bahamut, who then proceeds to wipe out Brahne and her soldiers with a devastating Mega Flare.
On the beach, Brahne finally regains her former self and apologizes to Garnet before dying, leaving the princess devastated. Garnet must now become the Queen of Alexandria, but the ceremonies of her coronation are short-lived, as Kuja promptly appears in the city and summons Bahamut to wreak havoc. The other party members fly in from Treno with Regent Cid, and Eiko aids Garnet in summoning Alexander, the holy Eidolon guardian of Alexandria. Alexander vanquishes Bahamut, only for a mysterious elderly man to appear with the Invincible and destroy Alexander and a majority of the city. Garnet is so shocked by the devastation that she is rendered mute, and she, Zidane and their friends take refuge in Lindblum, where Cid puts into service the Blue Narciss, a ship that was commandeered from Alexandria, and gives it to the party. They first stop by the Black Mage Village and discover Kuja's location. They follow Kuja to his Desert Palace, but fall into a trap and are locked in cells. Kuja forces Zidane and three of his friends to fly to the Forgotten Continent and retrieve the Gulug Stone from Oeilvert in exchange for the life of their other friends. The ruins contain many illusions and artifacts from the ambiguous Terran civilization, including an ancient Eidolon, Ark, which is defeated in order to obtain the Stone.
Meanwhile, Regent Cid and the remaining four party members manage to free themselves from their prisons and shut down the palace security system, Valia Pira. Kuja still manages to snatch the Gulug Stone from Zidane and absconds with an abducted Eiko to Mount Gulug. The heroes pass through Esto Gaza to track him down, and witness Zorn and Thorn attempt to extract Eiko's Eidolons. Mog, Eiko's pet moogle, reveals her true Eidolon form through Trance, and with her help the court jesters are destroyed. Deprived of further Eidolons, Kuja formulates a new plan: to assimilate enough souls in order to enter a form of permanent Trance. He flees and Zidane's party find Queen Hilda, Cid's wife, and escort her back to Lindblum. She restores Cid to his proper human form, and the Lindblum leader puts the finishing touches on his new airship, the Hilda Garde III. Garnet returns to Alexandria, to her mother's resting place. When Zidane follows her, she recovers from her silence, once more takes his dagger, and cuts off her ponytail in a promise to continue to fight for her people and her adoptive mother.
Queen Hilda tells the party of Kuja's ambitions and link to the planet Terra, and directs them towards Ipsen's Castle on the Forgotten Continent. Inside the inverted structure, they find four elemental mirrors: seals to the portal to Terra. After defeating the worm-like Taharka and rescuing Amarant from his own arrogance, Zidane decides to form four parties in order secure each elemental shrine simultaneously. The defeat of all four Guardians opens the path to Terra through the Shimmering Island.
The party head out on deck and get pulled into in to the path leading to Terra where a mysterious girl who resembles Zidane leads the party to the Genome village of Bran Bal. Her name is Mikoto, and she reveals to Zidane his origins from Terra, and that he was made by Garland. She leads Zidane to him, who reveals Kuja is also a Genome, and could be considered Zidane's brother. Aggrivated by all he has heard, Zidane attempts to fight Garland on his own, but can't even lift a finger, and suddenly passes out. Garland reluctantly decides he has no choice but to make Zidane a regular Genome, and seals him deep within Pandemonium. Zidane's friends free him and confront Garland, whom they defeat. Though the party intends only to interrogate the old sorcerer, Kuja chooses the moment to enter on the Invincible. He gleefully showcases his new mastery of Trance, achieved by draining the soul of a person who refused to die to the very end, Queen Brahne, from the Invincible. Kuja promptly dispatches the party with an Ultima spell and announces his new motivation: to rule both Terra and Gaia. Garland, clairvoyant to the end, warns Kuja that his power is meaningless; the Genome responds by kicking his old master off the Pandemonium's precipice to his death.
However, Garland remains stubbornly omniscient, and from beyond the grave tells Kuja his new-found rule is for naught; a limit on his lifespan was set when he was created, and his mortal death is fast approaching. Kuja is no longer satisfied with world domination; his euphoria turns into rage, and he hatches a plot to destroy the source of all existence: the Crystal. He begins by utterly obliterating Terra with wave after wave of Ultima spells, but the party and resident Genomes escape by piloting the Invincible back through the Shimmering Island to Gaia. They suddenly see the resurgence of Mist in the air, emanating once more from the Iifa Tree. Above the tree hovers the foreboding entrance to Memoria, where Gaia's memories and Kuja await. The armies of Alexandria and Lindblum take flight to stave off the horde of Silver Dragons blocking Memoria's doorway, and Invincible breaks through, carrying the party inside Memoria. They defeat a slew of monsters Kuja created in opposition to the Crystal itself, while witnessing the deepest moments of their lives intertwined with the earliest stirrings of Gaia. Garland's lingering voice guides them through the dimension before leaving them at the entrance to the Crystal World, a realm where there is no time or space; only memories of every life originating from the Crystal.
Endgame - Saving Reality / EpilogueEdit
Zidane and his friends descend the translucent pillars of crystal and face Kuja in battle. In a last effort to defeat the party, Kuja unleashes Ultima on to the group, devastating them. The party wakes up upon the Hill of Despair, finding themselves in the presence of Necron, a deity-like being that wishes for all existence to be wiped out and returned to nothing. Using all of their strength, Necron is defeated and returned to whence it came, Kuja teleports the eight heroes out of Memoria onto the banks of the Iifa Tree. The majority of the party returns to Alexandria on the Hilda Garde, while Zidane stays behind to find Kuja. He locates his brother deep within Iifa, and as Kuja accounts for his sins, Iifa's roots converge on them both. The others believe Zidane dead, and Garnet, now the reigning queen of Alexandria, slides into depression. In the game's closing moments, the Tantalus Troupe appears once more to perform I Want to Be Your Canary for Garnet's birthday. During the play, a shrouded form masquerading as Marcus casts off his cloak to reveal a returning Zidane. The city of Alexandria celebrates, old friends cheer from the stands, and the queen runs through the crowd of people and leaps into Zidane's arms.
Format:Main Final Fantasy IX is the last Final Fantasy game with music composed exclusively by Nobuo Uematsu. It was also his most prolific score, as the original soundtrack for the game had 110 tracks, and an additional soundtrack was released with 42 more new tracks. Many people speculate that the reason why Uematsu no longer composed game soundtracks on his own after Final Fantasy IX, was that he was simply overworked. Regardless, years after its release, Uematsu has stated on multiple occasions with little to no hesitation that both the score and the game itself are his favorite of all his projects to have worked on thus far.
Much of the music in Final Fantasy IX revolves around the themes of the J-pop ballad, "Melodies of Life," composed by Uematsu and performed by Emiko Shiratori. The song itself was sung in Japanese for the game's Japanese release, and in English for the game's North American and European releases.
Format:Main Final Fantasy IX was intended, in many ways, to be a salute to the series' history, and as such, is filled with allusions and references to previous games. One of the most apparent is the similarity of the character Vivi to the Black Mage from the original Final Fantasy. Unfortunately, despite the high quality of the translation overall, care was not taken to ensure all of the various names and references matched up to those used in the previous English-language releases. Because of this, many of the references with which the game abounds are completely missed by the non-Japanese audience. Examples are listed in the main article.
- Due to the radical departure from Final Fantasy VII and VIII, early in development, Square had not yet decided if the game would be titled Final Fantasy IX or be a gaiden episode.
- A Final Fantasy IX remake for PlayStation 2 had been considered by Square in early 2001, only one year after the original release. For some reason, the project was either scrapped or never started development at all. Similar projects for Final Fantasy VII and Vagrant Story were also considered at one point, but met the same fate.
- In May 2009, the video game website IGN interviewed Yoshinori Kitase and Takeshi Arakawa. During their discussion, Arakawa mentioned he desired to make a sequel to Final Fantasy IX more than any other game. 
- According to 1UP.com, Final Fantasy IX is the only Final Fantasy in the series to not have its title logo designed by Yoshitaka Amano. This speculation is, however, unconfirmed.
- Final Fantasy IX has the most diverse cast of characters in the series, as it has only three normal human beings (Steiner, Amarant and Beatrix) and all the other playable characters are part of different races.
- Final Fantasy IX can have up to two players controlling the party during combat, even if the feature is not mentioned in the instruction manual.
- Final Fantasy IX is Hironobu Sakaguchi's favorite Final Fantasy title, saying that "it's closest to his ideal view of what Final Fantasy should be."
- Final Fantasy IX has the most number of allusions in Dissidia Final Fantasy. The biggest one is Mognet. It is also said in Dissidia that the peak of life of the moogles happened in Gaia.
- The developers have stated they changed the ending seven times.
- To promote Final Fantasy IX's release, Square joined forces with Coca-Cola to produce a Final Fantasy IX themed Coca-Cola television commercial.
- Official North American site
- Archive of European PlayOnline guide
- Final Fantasy IX Screen Shots
ReferencesEditFormat:Final Fantasy series
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