Released immediately following Nintendo’s Direct event this month, the classic RPG lands on the Switch almost nineteen years after its initial launch on the original PlayStation. How does it hold up after nearly two decades?
Any title carrying the name “Final Fantasy” will always have expectations placed upon it, and Final Fantasy IX is no different. Returning the franchise to its more fantasy-based roots after Final Fantasy VII and VIII’s melodramatic steampunk entries, Final Fantasy IX tells of a theatre troupe that are actually travelling bandits.
These bandits put a plan in motion to kidnap a princess (who actually wants to be kidnapped), and plays out a lot more like a fairytale, packed with charm. Final Fantasy IX features a strong ensemble cast, each with plenty of backstory, and it’s easy to see why this entry is so beloved among longtime fans. Unlike it’s highly serious immediate predecessors, Final Fantasy XI’s highly deformed characters add to the whimsy of the story, and have actually allowed the game to feel a lot easier on the eyes all these years on.
Combat is entirely turn-based, with a focus on each individual character’s unique abilities such as Zidane’s ability to pilfer items mid-battle, or Vivi’s devastating magic attacks. While this may sound archaic, the Switch port offers the ability to speed up battles – particularly helpful when faced with some the game’s initially impressive, but soon tiresome, summon animations.
Other new additions are auto-saving, an optional cheat menu to allow characters to level up (essentially making grinding irrelevant), and the game’s video scenes now play through a lot more smoothly than before.
Arguably the most helpful addition is the option to skip the random encounters that have long been a turnoff for newcomers to the franchise. All of this feels conducive to playing the game on a handheld device, allowing for bursts of play on a morning commute and making good on the promise of the Switch.
The Verdict – 3/5
- An all-time classic RPG
- Excellent story and characters
- Great pacing improvements for those short on time or newcomers
- Blurry backgrounds
- Music glitch remains from earlier ports
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