So apparently Final Fantasy Explorers came out recently. I was almost interested in it (because the 3DS is my most played system, so any time there’s a new game out for it I get excited). But then I realized that there wasn’t a single representative from Final Fantasy IX in the game’s Trance system, and my curiosity immediately died. Does it really need three representatives from Final Fantasy VII? It’s when stuff like this happens that reminds me of how underrated Final Fantasy IX is, and that disappoints me.
I’ve hinted at my love for Final Fantasy IX quite a bit, but I’ve never gone into much detail here on At The Buzzer. But since it’s my favorite game of all time, I think it’s only fair to talk about how wonderful the game is by ranking my favorite moments in the game. The entire game is fantastic, and these are just some of the moments that stick out in my mind the most.
Warning: spoilers ahead revolving around Final Fantasy IX! If you haven’t experienced this incredible game yet, don’t read any further unless you’re okay with major spoilers.
5. Introduction of Kuja
At the end of Disc 1, the team confronts Queen Brahne, General Beatrix, and the main antagonist, Kuja. Beatrix dispatches the party with ease, and as they take their leave the party gets their first good look at Kuja. The music is awesome in this scene with the strong percussion accompanied by the imagery of the pouring rain. Kuja’s outfit may be completely ridiculous, but he is a fantastic villain despite that. I’m also amused by the fact that Quina, even if he is in your party, does not appear in the CG cutscene. I know it was originally because of technical issues, but it’s so meta for Quina to be ignored and left out in various parts of Final Fantasy IX and it entertains me.
4. Raid on Alexandria
Kuja attacks Alexandria shortly after Dagger is crowned the new Queen, and a lot of crazy exciting things go down. Part of what makes this moment so great is that you get to play as several of the characters, from Dagger ordering her knights to take action and summoning Alexander, Steiner and Beatrix fighting off horders of Mistodon, and Zidane rushing to rescue Dagger as the castle collapses. It’s a really exciting moment, and because of the divided perspective that the event is framed in, it allows the player to truly get a full, complete experience. It’s got grand visuals, exciting action, and intense urgency throughout the entire sequence.
3. Assault of the Silver Dragons
At the beginning of Disc 4, the party is determined to take down Kuja. They set out to the Iifa Tree where he awaits only to be attacked by thousands of Kuja’s Silver Dragons. When it seems hopeless for the team to get through this attack in one piece, several key characters from earlier in the game bring their own airship fleets to take on the dragons. It’s a really cool scene with epic music to go along with it.
2. The Ending
This is the perfect ending to a video game. It seems like Zidane has died after selflessly going to save Kuja from the Iifa Tree. A year later, everyone has moved on in their lives and hung onto the lessons he taught them. Dagger is now queen, and Tantalus is performing her favorite play. At the climax of the play, the cloaked figure playing Marcus reveals himself as Zidane, and Dagger rushes out to embrace him in a very beautifully animated cutscene.
Not only is the ending “happy” but it resolves many of the character’s arcs, providing a glimpse of their lives after their adventures together and I really love it for that reason. One other cool thing about the ending is that I actually remember watching it when I was seven. I happened to be in the room when my brother beat the game, and the moment when Dagger is punching Zidane in the chest stuck out in my mind. Experiencing the full ending as an adult with the sliver that I remembered as a kid was a pretty neat experience that I haven’t really had with any other games.
1. You’re Not Alone
Zidane discovers that he’s an “Angel of Death” created by Garland with the purpose of destroying Gaia. He rejects the support of his friends and tries to fight several enemies back-to-back on his own even though it’s clear that he needs their aid. Eventually, he realizes how important their support is to him, and how he would have done the same for them, and gains resolve to take down Garland and reject his true purpose.
This is by far my favorite moment in the game for a lot of reasons. Not only is Zidane justifiably upset and angry, but instead of being “emo” for the rest of the game, he learns from this experience. He resolves his problem quickly and doesn’t spend all of his time wallowing in self-pity. It’s an incredible sequence in the game because of what it adds to his character and the dynamic with the rest of the cast, not to mention that the music is fantastic. It’s a very somber track that plays for the entire sequence, and it helps to create this awesome moment in the game. Every time I play this game, this is the moment that I look the most forward to getting to.
In a lot of ways, Final Fantasy IX is the perfect game for me. The story is fantastic and engaging. The fantasy setting is immersive and fun to explore. The cast of characters are all unique and memorable, and they all have their own story arcs. The combat is fun (even if the Trance system’s random nature doesn’t really work in your favor, but even then I don’t really mind since everyone is awesome when they Trance), the pre-rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and the music is some of the best I’ve ever heard in gaming.
While I would love to see the game realized in new graphics, I really think the game is perfect the way it is and I think the new, touched up port to PC’s and Smartphones is the best of both worlds. The game still maintains its original look and feel while having a cleaner look and adding in some new features without including terrible voice acting or drastic changes the combat system. Final Fantasy IX a classic game that will always have a special place in my heart no matter what system I play it on.