Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

“Remasters and reissues are fashionable to scold. I did this myself, for example, in a review of last year’s Twilight Princess HD. But today is a special occasion…” – this is how I recently began to talk about the re-release of an excellent, but old Final Fantasy. Why not write the same words a second time and sell them to ? After all, Square Enix sells its RPGs to us several times, sometimes almost without touching them. At least the next re-release of Final Fantasy IX did not fix the problems of the previous ones.Final Fantasy 9 game review

The Queen of Alexandria, Brana, captures the essence of the game very accurately – it’s buffoonery!

The circus is back and the clowns have grown old

Seventeen years ago, this game came out as a return to basics. After cyberpunk and technological “Fantasy”, the series again became fabulous, magical, good-natured. And at the same time – a little crazy. All the characters in this story, from Zidane, a thief and a womanizer with a fluffy tail, and ending with a clown-like Quina with a long tongue, are strange in the best sense of the word.

From the very beginning and almost non-stop they create a real circus on the screen. True, at the same time, the characters change very little, remaining within their roles. So, although the brave royal guard Steiner will face a conflict of duty and honor in the course of action, he will change the paradigm of thinking, he will remain a comical, clumsy buffoon.

Unlike other parts of that time, the “nine” does not follow one main line – the plot develops as a typical JRPG about a villain who wants to take over the world. But then, after a few sudden twists and turns, even the planet Gaia itself, where the events unfold, ceases to be the main setting, and the main enemy becomes not at all the one you might think of. Similar twists and turns were already in the fourth part, where we got to the moon, or in the eighth, when the final battle in a sense was sucked out of the finger. Here, all references and repetitions of events are served exactly as “Easter eggs” for fans of the series. Somewhere they turned out to be appropriate, but in some places they look very artificial.

Final Fantasy 9 game review

You want to discover and explore the local locations, although they look too blurry.

Pulls out an imperfect plot with not always logical references, a very pleasant and interesting world. What Squaresoft did at that time was to create such an atmosphere that you want to explore and discover new cities and villages, beaches and caves. Perhaps, it was for this feeling that many recognized Final Fantasy IX as the best in the series. Much of the charm comes from Nobuo Uematsu’s fantastic soundtrack. On my trips in the fifteenth part, compositions from the ninth took an honorable second place after my beloved “seven” – this says a lot.

Reissued, reissued, but not reissued …

But the picture didn’t work out just as well. Based on last year’s remaster for PC and mobile platforms, Square Enix did not tweak or change anything at all. Even the aspect ratio remains 4:3, like on tube TVs, gray “backgrounds” are added on the side, as if hinting at the overall quality of the work. Character models and splash screens have been redesigned remarkably – they look modern (although they were stingy with stable 60 frames per second – there are clearly fewer of them in battles on the global map). But when you look from the heroes to the backdrops, tears appear.

Whether the developers have lost the original high-resolution images, or some Japanese sign prevents decompilation (or whatever it is called?), But the hand-drawn scenery, excellent in the PlayStation One version, suffered wildly from stretching here. The whole magical world that I painted two paragraphs ago appears in its worst form. After all, on PS4 you can’t even transfer it to windowed mode. In addition, for some reason, a minor but annoying bug with music that restarts after each battle was not corrected, although in the original the compositions continued to sound from the point where they were interrupted.

Final Fantasy 9 game review

The user interface has been updated. But the original, in my opinion, was better.

Finally, trophies and cheats are screwed to the remaster. The first ones do not deserve special attention, because they turned out to be rather boring, but the second ones can be very useful for beginners. After all, with their help, you can get rid of random battles, increase attacks up to 9,999 points and speed up the game twice. Basic cheats do not even affect trophies, they can be turned on and off at any time. There is still an opportunity to “pump” the heroes, their abilities and wallets to the maximum, but these “perks” just disable the ability to knock out “platinum”.

In general, the level of reissue is not impressive. Yes, they don’t ask us for the full price, but given that this is the second appearance on the stage, we could have strained ourselves, even in small things. True, Square Enix fans know that “strain and do well” is not about the current state of the company.

The spirit of the “old school” lives in Alexandria

But no one, of course, could spoil the gameplay. After all, Final Fantasy IX is woven from the classic elements of the genre and the series. Professions were quietly returned to the heroes, although they cannot be changed, and the game turned out to be very balanced. To travel around the global map, flying ships are used with might and main, four people participate in turn-based battles at once, and skipping attacks, the characters accumulate a trance scale, entering which they can use special tricks. Everything is as loved by those who found the role-playing games of the 90s.Final Fantasy 9 game review

Battles take place according to the Active Time Battle scheme, that is, all commands are triggered only after the action bar is filled.

Unless the animation of the battles turned out to be too long – the camera flies around the battlefield, showing the preparation for each attack or spell. Throw out these episodes, and you will save one and a half to two dozen hours. And “pumping” is very important here, because the skill system is built around equipped items. Each sword or armor allows you to use certain abilities, and the more battles you spend with it, the sooner the hero will learn to use Fire or Cure even without wearing an item.

There is in the “nine” and one very nice modern detail – non-linear editing of scenes. Sometimes an Active Time Event message appears on the screen, and we can choose which of the parallel story scenes we want to see. It is impossible to change events in this way, but it is possible to better understand what is happening and the reasons for the behavior of certain actors.

The other trouble is that seventeen years later, “back to basics” doesn’t seem like such a cool topic, because the genre has seriously changed and lives by new standards. Moreover, the same Dragon Quest VIII or even the Bravely series does not suffer from plot and graphic problems, but offers about the same experience.

Final Fantasy 9 game review

You can also scold FFIX for not the best love line – but it’s not about that.

***

The ninth “final game” is not at all a mediocre game for its time. But now, after many great JRPGs that have changed the genre, and even in the form that it was on PS4, it looks like a kind of artifact. Yes, fans of Zidane with Garnet, who for some reason missed the previous editions, or those who really love fantasy Japanese role-playing games, are simply obliged to return to the magical world of Gaia. And they will be happy, because this is still the same fairy tale journey that Hironobu Sakaguchi and company did almost twenty years ago. But for everyone else, it’s probably worth remembering that there are re-releases of the seventh, tenth and twelfth Final Fantasy on the console.

Pros: wonderful magical world with eccentric characters; gorgeous, mesmerizing soundtrack; many classic elements of the series in one package; cheat codes for beginners.

Cons: the plot logic is not always justified, and the characters change little; the overall quality of the remaster is very sloppy, the scenery is just awful; the animation of the battles is delayed and quickly gets boring; the game is somewhat outdated in its “old school”.

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