|Final Fantasy IX|
Fainaru Fantajī Nain
|Developers||Square Co., Ltd.|
|Game modes||Single player, Multi player|
Final Fantasy IX is the ninth installment in the Final Fantasy series, released by Square in 2000. It was directed by Hiroyuki Ito and co-produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Shinji Hashimoto. 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 Final Fantasy traditions 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.
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 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.
- Main article: Trance (Final Fantasy IX)
Continuing the tradition started in Final Fantasy VII, 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.
For example, 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 Blk Mag 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 the recent predecessors of Final Fantasy IX, 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
- Main article: Active Time Event
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, when the notification text appears grey, 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.
- Main article: Mognet (Final Fantasy IX)
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.
The world of Gaia is divided into four continents, the most populated one being the Mist Continent. Most of the sentient races have settled above the Mist that covers the bottom of the continent. Mist, its origins unknown, is a noxious gas that mutates flora and fauna alike into monsters, and hardens the hearts of men inciting strife among them. As sunlight penetrates the Mist poorly, the surface of the continent is left in perpetual shadow where monsters lurk. Thus, most people elect to live on the plateaus above the Mist and cross the lands in Mist-powered airships rather than on foot.
There are four major kingdoms on the continent: Alexandria, reigned by Queen Brahne Raza Alexandros XVI; the industrious Lindblum, governed by Regent Cid Fabool IX; the nation of the Dragon Knights Burmecia, reigned by the King of Burmecia; and the mysterious Cleyra hidden inside a perpetual sandstorm. Lindblum is the most technologically advanced nation of the four, and the inventor of Mist-powered airships that halted the wars that had plagued the continent for centuries.
Though shrouded in Mist and thus full of ferocious monsters, Mist Continent is the most lush continent on Gaia, the others being barren. The other continents are rarely traveled to, as they are free of Mist and thus out of the reach of airships. Outer Continent is an arid desert wasteland to the north, connected to the Mist Continent by the Fossil Roo, but only the dwarves are known to live there. Lost Continent, to the northwest, is almost entirely covered in ice, but houses the volcanic Mount Gulug and the religious center of Esto Gaza that reveres the legends of a Shimmering Island off the coast of the continent. The Forgotten Continent is a a large land in the west where the sun sets, with mysterious ruins scattering its landscape.
- Main article: List of Final Fantasy IX Characters
- Zidane Tribal: The main protagonist. A Thief, member of the Tantalus group, and an inveterate womanizer.
- Vivi Ornitier: A young black mage, but is 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
Queen Brahne Raza Alexandros XVI of the kingdom of Alexandria lusts for power, and wants to increase her domain by conquering the surrounding lands. Regent Cid of Lindblum worries how this will impact Princess Garnet, and dispatches the Tantalus Theater Troupe to kidnap her.
The princess yearns to escape from her wicked mother and willingly boards the Theater Ship. During the operation Vivi, a lone black mage, and Adelbert Steiner, Captain of the Royal Knights of Pluto and Garnet's guardian, become involved, and during their escape the Theater Ship is shot down and crashes into the Evil Forest. Brahne is outraged Garnet escaped with a valuable crystal, a royal heirloom, and dispatches the Black Waltzes to retrieve her.
Zidane wants to find the missing princess, but Baku, the leader of Tantalus, dissents and dismisses Zidane from Tantalus. Vivi and Steiner join Zidane in rescuing Garnet from the forest's carnivorous flora and escape the woods, leaving Tantalus behind. The escapade rouses the forest made sentient by the Mist that petrifies itself. A Tantalus member, Blank, wishes to aid Zidane but when delivering him a map of the rarely-traversed surface of the Mist Continent, gets caught by the forest vines and petrified along with the woods.
Zidane, Garnet, Vivi and Steiner pass through the Ice Cavern to get above the Mist, and Zidane defeats Black Waltz 1, Brahne's lackey sent to retrieve Garnet's royal pendant. Arriving in the village of Dali Garnet adopts the alias of "Dagger" to blend in with the peasantry. The villagers kidnap Vivi and the party is shocked when they rescue him and discover the villagers are manufacturing black mages from the Mist for export to Alexandria.
Garnet ponders returning to Alexandria to confront her mother about the black mage business, a notion Steiner approves of. After besting Black Waltz 2 they board a cargo ship piloted by automaton black mages. They come under fire from Black Waltz 3 and Vivi, Zidane, and Steiner confront the golem leaving the journey's destination in Garnet's hands. The princess hesitates, but ultimately decides to head for Lindblum, resulting in an erratic flight through the South Gate crashing the Black Waltz's airship.
The four meet with Regent Cid, and are surprised to find he has been turned into an oglop by a magic spell from his absconded wife, Hildagarde Fabool. Cid refuses to mobilize against Alexandria for fear of leaving his borders unprotected. While Lindblum hosts the Festival of the Hunt Brahne advances into Burmecia, home of Zidane's friend Freya Crescent who aided him during the festival. Zidane wants to accompany Freya to Burmecia and Vivi wishes to come along to learn more about the black mages; he has no memory of his past beyond being cared for by his late "grandpa" Quan, and fears he may not be human.
Cid orders Garnet to remain in Lindblum. In retaliation, she tampers the festival feast with sleeping weed and absconds with Steiner back to South Gate. The others venture to Burmecia, recruiting the gluttonous Quina Quen along the way. They find Burmecia abandoned and decimated by Brahne's black mage army. At the city apex they meet the Queen along with General Beatrix and a mysterious man named Kuja. Beatrix defeats Zidane's group, and Brahne sets her sights on Cleyra.
Meanwhile, Garnet and Steiner run into Marcus from Tantalus, who wants to save his friend Blank from the Evil Forest but needs an item known as Supersoft to heal his petrification. Garnet feels culpable for Blank's fate and agrees to help in Marcus's quest much to Steiner's dismay. The three are attacked by the malfunctioning Black Waltz 3 and destroy him for good, before making their way to Treno where they sneak into the basement of a noble's mansion. The noble turns out to be Garnet's old tutor, Doctor Tot, who relinquishes the Supersoft willingly and advices the three to take the Gargan Roo pathway to Alexandria where Garnet meets with her mother and Marcus and Steiner are imprisoned.
Zidane, Freya, Vivi and Quina head for Cleyra where the Burmecians are said to have evacuated. They make their way into the city and warn of the impending attack, and the Cleyrans perform a ritual to strengthen the sandstorm that protects the village. Something goes wrong and the sandstorm dissipates. Brahne has turned on the Princess and ordered Garnet's eidolons extracted; magical creatures of legend. The Queen's court jesters, Zorn and Thorn, extracted Garnet's eidolons into summoning gems and Brahne uses the eidolon Odin to obliterate Cleyra after Beatrix steals the nation's jewel. Zidane's crew hitches a ride on the Alexandrian airship Red Rose back to Alexandria Castle, leaving Quina behind.
Steiner and Marcus have broken free from imprisonment with Marcus departing for the Evil Forest to save Blank. Zidane's party joins forces with Steiner and they free Garnet from Brahne's clutches with the assistance of the enlightened Beatrix. While Steiner, Beatrix and Freya stay behind to secure their escape, Zidane, Vivi, and Garnet attempt to use the Gargant system to flee back to Treno. Their ride is spooked by a monster and they crash in Pinnacle Rocks where they meet the eidolon Ramuh. Having again lost Garnet, who still holds the royal pendant, Brahne hires two bounty hunters, Lani and Amarant, to capture her and kill Vivi, whom Brahne considers a rogue black mage.
Garnet is ambivalent on the power of eidolons that had remained latent within her without her knowledge, and that have now been stolen to be used by Brahne. After passing Ramuh's trial, giving Garnet the power to summon him, the three witness the invasion of Lindblum by a black mage army and another eidolon, Atomos. Sneaking into the surrendered city, Zidane and Garnet meet with the now powerless Regent Cid who reveals Kuja is the one supplying Brahne with the black mages. It is rumored the origin of Mist lies in the Outer Continent and the party sets off to locate Kuja there.
They run into Quina at Qu's Marsh who had escaped Cleyra and returned to his/her home. Quina helps the party locate the entrance to Fossil Roo, an ancient route said to lead to the Outer Continent, where the party is accosted by Lani on her quest to retrieve the Princess for Queen Brahne, but they defeat her. On the Outer Continent the party finds the Black Mage Village where many sentient black mages like Vivi live, having defected the Alexandrian army and founded a settlement far away from conflict. Vivi discovers black mages have a lifespan of about one year, and many of the earliest builds of black mages have already started to "stop".
After passing through the dwarves' village of Conde Petie they meet Eiko Carol, a young girl and last of the summoner tribe, who leads the party to her home of Madain Sari. They find Madain Sari is a ruined village where Eiko lives alone with a group of moogles, and Garnet learns the truth of her past: she is a summoner born in Madain Sari, but in the aftermath of the village's destruction ten years ago washed up in Alexandria where she replaced the recently deceased Princess Garnet. Having lost her memories in the calamity, Garnet was raised believing Queen Brahne was her mother, never having learned she possessed eidolons.
Zidane convinces Eiko to open the path to the Iifa Tree, a colossal tree that towers over the landscape and is mysteriously shrouded in Mist despite the rest of the continent being free of it. The group descends down the trunk all the way to the core of Gaia where they encounter Soulcage, who reveals the Mist's true purpose; Mist is 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 as Mist on the Mist Continent via the Iifa Tree's roots that cover the whole planet within its crust, and the malevolent substance is responsible for the monsters that roam the depths of the continent, and was the culprit for inciting war among the nations until Mist-powered airships were invented.
Upon Soulcage's defeat the Mist dissipates, and the heroes return to Madain Sari where they find the bounty hunter Lani and her brooding companion Amarant. Upon finding an identical crystal in Madain Sari to that of Garnet's royal pendant, Lani takes Eiko hostage but Amarant no longer tolerates her methods and turns against her, driving her away, and joins Zidane's party.
They leave Quina in Madain Sari and return to the Iifa Tree and find Kuja. Queen Brahne and her navy appear off Iifa's coast to challenge him as Brahne no longer considers him useful, having deemed the black mages disloyal for defecting, and already having attained the power of eidolons. Kuja summons his Silver Dragon and monsters of Mist to repel her, and Brahne retaliates by summoning Bahamut. Kuja calls the airship Invincible to enslave it. Now under Kuja's command, Bahamut wipes out Brahne and her soldiers with a devastating Mega Flare.
A dying Brahne washes up on the shore and with her final words apologizes to Garnet who must now become the Queen of Alexandria. Alexandrian forces retreat from Lindblum and Garnet inherits the jewels her mother had stolen from the kingdoms she had conquered. Garnet shares the jewels with Eiko—each keeping two—to reinforce their bond as the last of the summoner tribe. Zidane is distraught he must part with Garnet for whom he had begun to have feelings for, and departs to Treno with the others to participate in the local Tetra Master tournament.
The ceremonies of Garnet's coronation are short-lived as Kuja summons Bahamut to destroy Alexandria. The others fly in from Treno with Regent Cid's experimental airship, the Hilda Garde II, that can operate without Mist. Eiko and Garnet bring together the fragments of the ancient divided summoning gem, the true reason Brahne kept pursuing Garnet's royal pendant, and summon Alexander, the holy eidolon guardian of Alexandria. Alexander vanquishes Bahamut and Kuja, in awe of its power, calls for the Invincible to enslave it. A mysterious elderly man appears with the Invincible, reproaches Kuja for his rebellion, and destroys Alexander and a majority of the city. Kuja, left without an eidolon, flees.
Garnet is rendered mute by the trauma of seeing her kingdom decimated, and she, Zidane and their friends, now including Steiner and Freya, take refuge in Lindblum. Cid's mind is not what it used to be as an oglop, and thus his newest airship, the Hilda Garde II, is poorly designed. The party sets to find a cure for Cid but turn him into a frog instead. The party is reunited with Quina who has washed ashore in Lindblum and Cid gives the party the ship Blue Narciss to track down Kuja, accompanying them on their quest.
They stop by the Black Mage Village and discover Kuja has tricked the black mages into following him by claiming he knows how to extend their lifespan. Now knowing where Kuja resides, the group infiltrates his Desert Palace but falls into a trap and becomes imprisoned. 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. It turns out Kuja possesses Hilda Garde I, Cid's new airship model that can fly without Mist that Hilda took with her when she left him after having turned him into an oglop.
Oeilvert turns out to be an ancient archive from a lost Terran civilization with many artifacts, including an ancient eidolon, Ark, which must be defeated to obtain the Gulug Stone. To Zidane's surprise, only he can decipher the language of Terra though he has never heard of this other world.
Meanwhile, Regent Cid and the remaining party members break free and shut down the palace security system, Valia Pira. Kuja snatches the Gulug Stone from Zidane and absconds with an abducted Eiko to Mount Gulug where Kuja wishes to obtain an eidolon stronger than Alexander to fight Garland with, the old man who had appeared aboard the Invincible. The heroes pass through Esto Gaza to track him down, and witness Zorn and Thorn, who now obey Kuja, attempt to extract Eiko's eidolons but she is too young to withstand the ritual. Mog, Eiko's pet moogle, reveals her true eidolon form through Trance, a surge of powerful emotions that momentarily enhances one's inner capabilities, and with her help the court jesters are destroyed.
Having witnessed the power of Trance Kuja deduces he doesn't need a new eidolon after all. Unable to naturally enter Trance, Kuja formulates a plan to assimilate enough souls to enter a form of permanent Trance; as Kuja is a Genome originally constructed as a vessel for Terran souls, he can absorb them and wishes for all the gathered souls to simultaneously enter Trance to become all-powerful. While Kuja flees Zidane's party finds Queen Hilda, Cid's estranged wife who fled Lindblum after an argument with her husband, and escorts her back to Lindblum. She makes amends with Cid and turns him back into human. Cid puts the finishing touches on his new airship, the Hilda Garde III. The black mages have realized Kuja was using them and return to the Black Mage Village. Garnet returns to Alexandria to visit her mother's resting place. When Zidane follows her she recovers from her silence, takes his dagger and cuts off her ponytail in a promise to continue to fight for her people and her adoptive mother.
Queen Hilda had been abducted by Kuja after she went missing as he had needed her airship, the first Hilda Garde. While captive she learned of his plans and tells the party of Kuja's ambitions and that he hails from the planet of Terra, directing them towards Ipsen's Castle on the Forgotten Continent. Within the inverted structure the party finds four elemental mirrors: seals to the portal to Terra. After defeating the worm-like Taharka and rescuing Amarant from his own arrogance, Zidane forms four parties to secure each elemental shrine simultaneously. The defeat of the four Guardians and placing the mirrors to the shrines opens the path to Terra through the Shimmering Island.
Terra is a mysterious dead planet that exists on the inside of Gaia. Millennia ago Terra had an advanced magical civilization and its inhabitants wished to become immortal and preserve their culture for all time. The life source of all planets in the cosmos is a crystal at the planet core that collects the memories of all living beings when the souls of the dead return to it at their life's end. Terrans' wish for immortality disrupted the natural order of things and when the Terran crystal weakened the Terrans assimilated other planets' crystals to preserve themselves.
Thousands of years ago Terra attempted to fuse with Gaia but it ended with disaster and Terra shifted to the inside of the planet of Gaia. Terra's red moon moved to Gaia's orbit, and many Terran landmarks appeared on Gaia, such as Terra's magical tree of Iifa, and Oeilvert. Terrans tasked the android Garland, the old man who annihilated Alexandria and whom Kuja wishes to vanquish to become the overlord of Terra and Gaia both, with restoring Terra to its former glory before entering a deep rest. Garland crafted the Genomes to be used as vessels for the Terran souls when the time would be right for Terra to assimilate Gaia whose crystal has been deprived of its natural soul cycle by the Iifa Tree for thousands of years. Kuja was one of Garland's creations whom he sent to Gaia to incite war to amplify the rate the souls would attempt to return to the crystal, but Kuja's will was strong and he rebelled against his creator, knowing that if Garland's plans were to succeed he would no longer need Kuja and make him into a regular Genome.
In Terra the party meets the Genome girl Mikoto who leads the party to the Genome village of Bran Bal. Garnet glimpses the Invincible stationed outside the village and reclaims the memories of the time the airship destroyed Madain Sari and passes out. While the others care for her, Mikoto tells Zidane he is a Genome from Terra made by Garland to one day succeed Kuja, as after Kuja was created Garland had seen the errors in his design of having created him as an adult rather than as a child capable of emotional growth. She leads Zidane to Garland who confirms everything and, horrified by what he has learned, Zidane attempts to fight him. Garland reluctantly decides to discard Zidane and make him a regular Genome and seals him within the Pandemonium, a palace where the ancient Terran souls rest. Garland fails to remove Zidane's soul and Zidane's friends free him and they confront Garland together.
Kuja has followed the party into Terra on his Silver Dragon and stolen the Invincible. He showcases his new mastery of Trance, achieved by draining the souls held within the airship and using the soul of a hateful person—Queen Brahne—as catalyst. Kuja dispatches the party with an Ultima spell and announces he will rule both Terra and Gaia. Garland warns him that his power is meaningless but Kuja kicks his old master off Pandemonium's precipice to his death.
Garland remains as an omniscient voice and from beyond the grave tells Kuja his new-found goal is for naught; a limit on his lifespan was set when he was created, and his demise is fast approaching. Kuja's euphoria turns into rage and in his vanity he deduces that if he is going to die, he will take the world with him. Kuja obliterates Terra with wave after wave of Ultima spells, and the party and resident Genomes escape aboard the Invincible back through the Shimmering Island to Gaia. Mist has returned to the world, now enveloping the entire planet, flowing once more from the Iifa Tree.
While the Genomes move in with the black mages in their village, the party finds the foreboding entrance to Memoria hovering above the Iifa Tree, where Gaia's memories and Kuja await. The armies of Alexandria and Lindblum stave off the horde of Silver Dragons blocking Memoria's entryway and Invincible breaks through, carrying the party into Memoria that leads them back in time. Memoria is a place made manifest from the memories stored within Gaia's crystal and the party witnesses the significant 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 time does not exist, only memories of every life originating from the first Crystal where all planets are born from.
Saving Reality / EpilogueEdit
After traveling through Memoria to the beginning of all time to the Crystal that is the lifesource of the universe, they find Kuja, intent on destroying it. Zidane and his friends face Kuja in battle and in a last effort Kuja unleashes Ultima on the group, devastating them. The party awakes on the Hill of Despair, finding themselves in the presence of Necron, a deity-like being roused by Kuja's nihilism that arises to deny all existence by returning the world to the Zero World, a world without a Crystal, as he sees the suffering of living beings arising from their fear of death. The party defeats Necron in a final battle, who marvels at the party's will to persist even knowing they cannot escape death, and heeding their desire, departs.
Kuja uses the last of his strength to teleport the heroes onto the banks of the Iifa Tree. The others return to Alexandria on Cid's Hilda Garde III while Zidane searches for Kuja. He locates Kuja deep within the dying Iifa Tree, and as the latter accounts for his sins the collapsing tree's roots converge on them both.
Some time later Tantalus returns to Alexandria to perform I Want to Be Your Canary for Queen Garnet. Vivi has died, having come to the end of his lifespan, but as a legacy copies of him have been made, now known as "Vivi's sons." Though Vivi was unable to say goodbye to Zidane, he reminiscences on his time with the party in a soliloquy, thanking Zidane for helping him come to terms with his existence. Everyone gathers up in Alexandria to see the play, Freya having found her lost love, Sir Fratley, and the two are repairing their relationship despite Fratley's amnesia. Amarant arrives with Lani, Quina works as a chef in the Alexandria Castle, and Eiko has been adopted by Cid and Hilda. Beatrix and Steiner, now a couple, act as Garnet's bodyguards and accompany her on the balcony where she watches the play. During the play a shrouded form masquerading as Marcus casts off his cloak to reveal a returning Zidane. Alexandria celebrates, old friends cheer from the stands, and the Queen runs through the crowd and leaps into Zidane's arms.
- Main article: Final Fantasy IX: Original Soundtrack
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.
The main theme of Final Fantasy IX is the meaning of life and death, mainly represented through the characters of Vivi and Kuja, although the other characters follow this arc as well. Vivi struggles to understand his purpose in life after learning he is an artificial being made in a factory for the purpose of war, and has to confront the reality of possessing a fixed lifespan. Kuja knows of his purpose since birth, but comes to rebel against his life as a tool for Garland. Despite being similar to the black mages he helps Queen Brahne produce, he does not feel empathy toward them, instead viewing them as dolls that are beneath himself; Kuja denies his origins and to this effect hides his identity as a genome.
While Vivi comes to learn the purpose of life is to simply live it, as the experiences he accumulates throughout his journeys become memories that will return to the planet's crystal at his death thus contributing to the circle of life, Kuja is driven mad upon learning of his mortality and impending death. Rejecting the point of life entirely if one is doomed to die, Kuja tries to destroy the origin of all life, the crystal. His will to end all life summons Necron, a being who wants to take the world to the Zero World where nothing can exist, to release Kuja and all other beings of the world from the suffering of existence. The word "Necron" means "death", and thus gives the final battle a symbolic meaning. In the end, life triumphs over death when Zidane and his friends prove to Necron they want to live despite the knowledge they will die one day.
Life and death and the circle of life play a key role in many aspects of Final Fantasy IX, with the Iifa Tree being the symbolic tree of life, a prominent symbol across many cultures, and Terra being a dying world populated by dormant souls and soulless vessels, genomes, whose lives can never be complete if they are not assigned a soul like Kuja and Zidane did. Terra's struggle to continue existing despite its time being up by exploiting other planets goes against the circle of life, and in this way Kuja's fear of death and non-existence is the same as the Terrans'. In the end Kuja accepts his mortality, but as the continuation of memory is a strong theme in Final Fantasy IX, his memory lives on and in a final soliloquy Mikoto comments how Kuja's example gives hope to all remaining genomes, of how they can decide to be something more than tools and carve their own path in life. Vivi is also implied of having died in a final message that plays during the ending, and ends his farewell by saying his memories are now part of the sky, an allusion to the circle of life.
Another major theme in Final Fantasy IX is to pay homage to the earlier installments of the Final Fantasy series, especially from the Nintendo era; Final Fantasy IX was meant to capture the "essence" of Final Fantasy, and the theme of crystals that had been present since the beginning of the series is brought back, the crystal now representing the life force of the universe. The game world was designed with traditional Final Fantasy world in mind, and the game makes numerous allusions to previous games.
Release and ReceptionEdit
According to Metacritic, Final Fantasy IX is the most critically acclaimed Final Fantasy game to date. It is also the favorite Final Fantasy game of series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. At the PlayStation Awards 2001 held on 11 June 2001, Final Fantasy IX was awarded the "Double Platinum Prize". It also swept the PlayStation User Awards at the same event, beating Dragon Quest VII to walk away with the awards "Best Graphics", "Best Scenario", "Best Characters", and "Best Sound". The results of these User Awards were obtained by polling PlayStation users nationwide.
|Executive Producers||Tomoyuki Takechi, Hisashi Suzuki|
|Conceived and Produced by||Hironobu Sakaguchi|
|Main Program||Hiroshi Kawai|
|Art Director||Hideo Minaba|
|Image Illustration||Yoshitaka Amano|
|Original Score and Music||Nobuo Uematsu|
|Event Design||Kazuhiko Aoki|
|Real Time Graphics||Akira Fujii|
|Battle Design||Yasushi Kurosawa|
|Battle Program||Takayuki Niwa|
|World Map Program||Tatsuya Yoshinari|
|World Map Graphics||Masahide Tanaka|
|Field Design||Mozomu Yamagishi, Takeshi Endo|
|Field Data||Hidetoshi Kezuka|
|Field Graphics||Shinichiro Okaniwa, Jun Sakurai, Kazuyuki Ikumori|
|Character Design||Shukou Murase, Toshiyuki Itahana, Shin Nagasawa|
|Character Modeling||Hiroshi Arai, Tomohiro Kayano|
|Character Animation||Jun Uriu, Tatsuya Kando|
|Computer Graphics Movie||Hiroshi Kuwabara|
|Sound Effects||Terukai Sugawara, Eiji Nakamura|
|Sound Program||Minoru Akao|
|3D Character Programmer||Thomas Shih-Ta Peng|
|Production Manager||Akira Kashiwagi|
|Project Manager||Kenji Takemoto|
|Publicity Producer||Michio Okamiya|
|SQUARE VISUAL WORKS CO., LTD.|
|SQUARE SOUNDS CO., LTD.|
|Sound Programmer||Minori Akao|
|Production Manager||Kensuke Matsushita|
|Executive Director||Hiromi Masuda|
|Localization Specialists/Staff||Ryosuki Taketomi, Maki Yamane, Brody Phillips, Richard Amtower, Matthew B Rhoades|
|Localization Assistant||Rika Maruya|
|Localization Manager||Yutaka Sana|
|QA Staff, Senior Manager||Jonathon Williams|
|Senior Lead Analyst||David Carillo|
|Lead Analyst||Jaime Bencia|
|Assistant Lead Analysts||Jeff Love, Chris Manprin|
|QA Translators||Dana Kwon, Kenji Nakamura, Rintaro Yoshida|
|Analysts||Aaron J. Adams, John Carroll, Bryan Chen, Kelly Chun, Mat Clift, Michelle Elbert, Mike Erickson, Aron Gutierrez, Eric Lee, Jonathon Mankin, Greg Melancon, Jennifer Mukai, Michelle Ng, Tam Nguyen, Nicholas Pisani, Terry Stone, Dan Vanderputt, Stephen Wong, Hugo Yeh|
|SQUARE ELECTRONIC ARTS L.L.C.|
|Senior Customer Service Manager||Rick Thompson|
|Customer Service Manager||Fernando Bustamante|
|Assistant Customer Service Manager||Alaine DeLeon|
|Senior Customer Support Representatives||Mark Abarca, Ryan Riley, Anthony Montana, Arec Nevers|
|Marketing Communications Manager||Kyoka Yamashita|
|Assistant Marketing Communications Manager||Francine DeMore|
|Product Coordinator||Ken Berry|
|Sales Coordinator||Sean Montgomery|
|Creative Services Manager||Keiko Kato|
|Creative Services Associate||Patrick Cervantes|
|Product Associates||Andy Hsu, Troy Boren|
|Product Administrative Assistant||Mari Nishikawa|
|Assistant Product Manager||Irene Sam|
|Product Manager||Andrew Shiozaki|
|Marketing Manager||Kenji Mimura|
|Vice Chairman||Yoshiro Maruyama|
|Senior Vice President||Kenzo Nogimura|
|Packaging/Manual Design||Beeline Group, Inc.|
|Special Thanks to||Beeline Group, BradyGames, Kenwood Group, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angelas, Virtual Interactive, Kristopher Byrne, Charles Callistro, Jesse Cheek, Michael Christoffers, Scott Coventon, Roberta D'aprea, Justin Dornan, Jared Ellot, Reiko Fukuen, Ryan Gibson, Jason Haderlie, Natsu Ishigami, Takuya Ito, Drew Jennings, Terry Jung, Sonoko Kanayama, John Kim, Yoko Kondo, Yoshinobu Matsuo, Shigeto Matsushima, Hideaki Morishita, Haruko Nagata, Camilla Ortiz, Mayuu Salazar, Susan Stayer, Junko Takasawa, Mohammed Wright, Junichi Yanagihara, Hideo Yotsuya|
- Main article: Final Fantasy IX/Allusions
Final Fantasy IX was intended, in many ways, to be a salute to the series' history, and as such, is filled with allusions 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 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 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 though 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 the release of Final Fantasy IX, Square joined forces with Coca-Cola to produce a Final Fantasy IX themed Coca-Cola television commercial.
- Final Fantasy IX Concept Art
- Final Fantasy IX Merchandise
- Final Fantasy IX Timeline
- Final Fantasy IX Translations
- Final Fantasy IX Wallpapers
- Final Fantasy IX Walkthroughs
- Official North American site
- Archive of European PlayOnline guide
- Wikipedia's entry on Final Fantasy IX
- Final Fantasy IX Screen Shots
- ↑ http://www.metacritic.com/search/all/Final+Fantasy/results?sort=score
- ↑ http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation/final-fantasy-ix
- ↑ http://uk.psx.ign.com/articles/077/077571p1.html
- ↑ http://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/20010611/psa.htm
- ↑ http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/66126/final_fantasy_ix_big_winner_playstation_awards_2001/
- ↑ http://ps3.ign.com/articles/980/980580p1.html
- ↑ http://www.1up.com/features/final-fantasy-thirty-things-you-did-not-know?pager.offset=2
- ↑ http://psx.ign.com/articles/085/085276p1.html