Final Fantasy IX is the role-playing game developed for Sony Playstation by the Japanese entertainment company Squaresoft Corporation which was released in the year 2000. The game had some innovative features like “Active time Event” and a renovated skill and equipment system titled “Mognet”. The story is set is the virtual world of Gaia where the plot focuses on war between various nations in Gaia. Zidane Tribal is a young thief, who forms a group of allies to conquer Queen Brahne of Alexandria who originated the roots of the war. There is a twist in the plot when characters find out that Brahne acts as a puppet for Kuja, an evil arms dealer.
The game was developed in parallel with FFVIII, but had a different style similar to earlier versions with more classic settings. The music was scored by longtime series composer Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy XI was both commercially and critically successful with more than 5 million copies sold worldwide with 93% rankings.
In Final Fantasy IX, players can navigate a character through the game world to explore new places like caves, dungeons and towns and also to interact with other characters. The “field icon” was introduced in Final Fantasy IX which is an exclamatory mark appearing over the head of the lead character to indicate that there is a sign or item nearby. The journey between field screen locations is done through over world map, which is a 3D scaled-down representation of actual world. Players can navigate around the over world map easily unless they are restricted by mountains or water. Players can use Chocobos, air ships or boats to overcome such obstacles. Like earlier versions, there are random encounters with enemies during travel to new places.
There is new feature for exploring towns called the ATE (Active Time Events) system which allows special items, character development and prompts for important decisions. In certain points, players shall view events which occur simultaneously and use ATE to control two teams simultaneously in case the party is split up to navigate through mazes or solve puzzles.
Whenever a character has a random encounter with an enemy, the battle screen appears in which enemy appears in opposite site of playable character. The traditional ATB system (Active Time Battle) is used during combats with the command list displayed in separate window opposite the gauge list. Though characters attack each other physically and use items to defend attacks, each character has special abilities. For example, Zidane, the thief can steal items from opponent, Garnet and Eiko can beckon “eidolons” for helping the party and the character Viva can make use of black magic for hurting the enemies.
There is another game play mode called “Trance mode” which gets activated for smaller duration when gauge gets filled as the character faces damage alike “Limit Breaks” in FFVII. The strength of the character is amplified when the ATB gauge gets filled completely and players can choose special commands for attack. The players can customize the battle system to allow 2 players to control any group of characters during combats but two controller should by plugged into the PS for this option to work. The performance of each character in the battle field is determined through “experience points”, strength, magical power and speed.
In Final Fantasy IX, there is no option for customizing the characters unlike previous two titles. So, each character will have only its own ability which is unique from others. For example, Steiner is the only character with sword skills and Vivi is the only character that can use black magic. The game had very good visual effects with real time battle scenes featuring extraordinary 3D recreations of pre-rendered backgrounds. The spell effects were charming and character animation was outstanding. The pre-rendered backgrounds are exclusively drawn with interactive elements, beautiful artwork, plenty of animations to make them more realistic and memorable.
The music for the game was composed by longtime composer Nobuo Uematsu which was his last exclusive score for the series. He composed more than 160 tracks out of which 140 tracks appeared in the game. The original game sound track has 110 songs and most popular song is “Melodies of Life”, a J-pop ballad similar to FFVIII and FFX.
Overall Final Fantasy IX has an amazing music with engaging battles, an epic story and a remarkable presentation. The graphics is perfect with detailed modeling and 3D visual effects.