No cloud nor squall could hinder this game. This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
19) Final Fantasy IX (PS)
Chris: Final Fantasy IX was certainly a strange game when taken in the context of the other titles in the series. At one point in development, IX was seen as such a stark contrast to the more realistic VII and VIII that it was considered more of a side title than a main release. It’s not difficult to see why — the switch to a medieval art style and seemingly bizarre characters like Quina and Eiko are like night and day compared to the futuristic, humanoid offerings of VII and VIII. Still, IX carved out its own niche with a lot of fans because of those differences. The equipment and skill system is fantastic, and has been emulated by several titles since (like Tales of Vesperia). The soundtrack is one of Nobuo Uematsu’s best offerings, and it’s amusing to think that he was told to compose 20-30 tracks and basically said “nah, here’s 140.” It also has one of the best endings in the series. Sometimes I think that fans love IX because of what it isn’t (aka VIII) as much as what it is, but it’s still a very good game and one that I have no qualms with being on the list.
Shaun: The hipster of Final Fantasy games, IX has actually grown in popularity since its release. At the time, IX’s cartoonish characters and upbeat protagonist were a stark contrast to Spikyhair Cutwrists and Brooding McScarface. However, that’s what made the game so endearing; for the first time, Square took players back to the heyday of earlier Final Fantasy titles, where story mattered, and a sense of enchantment took priority over angst. The characters were diverse, likeable, and complex, and learning abilities through your equipment was fun and encouraged experimentation with a variety of weapons and armor. Add in a great plot, interesting locations, and a traditional FF feel, and it’s easy to see why Final Fantasy IX is now regarded by many as the best PlayStation entry in the series.
Dave: Full disclosure for me on this one: I never beat it. I got to the Gizmaluke Dragon and could not, for the life of me, beat him. I must have tried that thing about 100 times. Nonetheless, this game has always been one of my favorites for Final Fantasy. Despite the fact that they returned to a more cartoon-y animation style in this version as opposed to the previous two titles, the story and level system far outweighs any graphics concerns people might have. FF IX also did a great job of adding features while not forgetting the parts of a game that made people like Final Fantasy in the first place. Why do you have to steal your magic from monsters (I’m looking at you, FF VIII) or why do you have to have a plot where all of the characters’ actions mean absolutely nothing in the end (FF VII)? The formula is simple: have a strong main character who’s good at a little of everything, have a strong physical attack player, a strong white magic player and a strong black magic player. Then throw in some side characters, a straightforward plot and Cid, and you’ve got yourself a Final Fantasy game. I’m glad FF IX didn’t mess that up.