The GWJ JRPG Club: Final Fantasy IX (Q2 2023)


As we draw deeper into 2023, we turn to Final Fantasy IX, the last Final Fantasy title of the Playstation era! It was intended as a retrospective for the series, and returned to a more medieval fantasy setting instead of the more industrial settings of Final Fantasy VI through VIII. This title reflected a greater creative role (vs. VIII) for series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and also is the last game for which the legendary Nobuo Uematsu was the sole composer.

For me, personally, FF IX represents a bit of a gap in my own history. I never owned a Playstation (though I did get a PS2 fairly late in its life cycle), and only played about the first thirty minutes or so of this game. It's one of the four numbered, single-player entries that I haven't played much of. So, I'm excited to give this one a try -- especially on my trusty Switch. By the way, as I write this, Final Fantasy IX is 50% off in the Nintendo eShop.


The others are FF II, FF VIII, and FF XV. I've also not completed FF XIII, but I did play most of the way through that game.

Here's what has to say about the game:


Folks, let's get to it!

Same. Never played 8 or 9, despite owning them both for a decade or so. Skipped to X.

This should be interesting

Count me in, I started yesterday. Movement is definitely janky compared to more modern games, and the pre-rendered CGI and backgrounds are amusingly now of lower fidelity than the remastered character models, but it's still enjoyable.

Sure, I’m in, although it may be a couple of weeks before I really get started. I have it downloaded to the Switch already.

I’m in the camp of people who never played FF9 before, although I haven’t played anything after 7, so that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Anyway, I’ve heard good things about this one, plus it has turbo mode and I think you can turn off encounters so that’s cool. I love the quality of life features that are included in these remakes.

My son and I loved FF9 when it first came out. I bought the remastered version on the PS4 but haven't gone back for quite awhile although I have watched my younger boys playing it more recently.

Just started this weekend. The opening scenes were interesting:


The play scene and "kidnapping" the princess was an interesting opener. I'm now in the forest following the airship crash.

With games in general, but story-heavy games like JRPGs in particular, something I've always got in the back of my mind is, "how long until it feels like I'm actually playing the game?" Obviously that's a rather fuzzy and subjective metric, but some games do it better than others.

FF7 is kind of the gold standard. Short, but very pretty and evocative cut scene, and then, BOOM! You're in a dungeon. Blow up this power plant, worry about the details later!

I do... not get that feeling from FF9. I just hit the two-hour mark and I'm just now, entering the Ice Cave, feeling like I'm actually playing the game instead of pressing A to advance to the next cut scene. And every time I do feel like I'm playing for a second, the game will interrupt me again. It makes for kind of a jarring, staccato pace to these first few hours. I may have to quit pressing the Select button to view these optional little "Active Time Event" cut scenes. So far none of them have felt worth the interruption.

I'm playing the PS1 version on an emulation device (Ayn Odin), and I find myself making liberal use of the emulator's fast-forward button to zip through the swoopy intros to battles, waiting for the ATB gauge to charge, stuff like that. The emulator says it's running at full speed, but at a moment to moment level the pacing feels... "stately" is as kindly as I can put it. Some of that might be because I am coming directly from Final Fantasy 6, which felt much snappier in comparison when it comes to the pace of battles. I swear the ATB bar fills up twice as quickly in that game.

Steiner and Vivi, true to my recollection, are the best part so far. Steiner treating this weird little kid as a wizened elder statesman who must be respected is instantly endearing.

I am definitely in, but still need to wrap up Tales of Arise before I dive into this one. I played it back when it first came out, but basically have no memory of the game.

In for a penny, in for a pound! Might start playing tonight.

I’m in and definitely impressed at how pretty the game looks, especially with the sharp polygons via emulation. What I disliked at the time and still have trouble getting over is the fantasy trope of a world of 90% humans and 10% of humanoid animals from endless species of real world species with no possible explanation of how this makes sense. Also, the human character designs are a mix of the more realistic types found in FF7 and more outlandish cartoonish types. It just lacks consistency. And the soundtrack (so far) isn’t even close to the glory of 7/8. Well, the game’s not putting its best foot forward but let’s push on!

I started last night, playing the PS4 version. So far I'm enjoying the light hearted adventure vibes and it's zipping along at a pretty rapid pace (currently in the ice cavern). Zidane somehow manages to be less interesting than a character called Blank, but the rest of the cast is pretty good so far. Looks great for a gussied up PS game and the score really adds to the atmosphere of adventure. I liked it enough that I'm planning to dive back in tonight.

One thing I wish I'd figured out sooner is that by pressing the touch pad in the menus you get help messages explaining what each item/stat etc means.

Did anyone play the card game much? The tutorial left me confused even after playing a few rounds. So, I read through a detailed explanation online that got into what the numbers on the cards actually mean and, yeah, I'm not really feeling it so far. From what I gather, it's completely superfluous to the rest of the game so I'll be fine to ignore it.

I think you only have to play it once in the story, and then you can forget it even exists.

That's good to know. I actually dug up my physical manual from the original game to explain it! On a side note the manual is written really nicely, like a kind parent shepherding you into the game. The things we have lost etc etc.

Anybody playing Steam version with Moguri Mod?

Looks like an insane graphical upgrade.

I started the game up tonight and was very confused by the graphics options. Couldn't seem to select 1080p on fullscreen or windowed. I usually play borderless window anyway. Googling FF IX resolution stumbled me onto this mod from some reddit threads and Steam discussions.

Downloading (slowly) from NexusMods to try it out.

I loved Triple Triad in FF8 so it’s a bit of a shame.

Had a few hours to spare, so I started and managed to make it to Dali tonight. Took a bit of time to get some AP for skills, but otherwise bee-lined for the story objectives.

I haven't fired up the game for this playthrough of FF9 but I recall playing the card game here much more than FF8 where it made no sense to me and didn't seem to be required for anything. There is a required sequence of the card game later in FF9 where you have to win a couple of games to continue the story. Since you get cards from battles and treasure chests, I think that you can just stumble through that section if you aren't feeling it. I remember trying to get all of the cards in one playthrough but came up three or four short.

Stele wrote:

Anybody playing Steam version with Moguri Mod?

Looks like an insane graphical upgrade.

I might have to look into this.

Mod install was painless. Orchestral music and several things are optional from the start menu when you hit play on Steam. Apparently turn based mode can break certain fights so I'm leaving stuff like that off. I think it's technically part of another mod that's bundled with Moguri? Anyway I just wanted the shiny.

I still didn't actually start new game because I was having controller issues on the menu with my Dualsense. That also happened before the mod. Think I finally figured that out, so maybe next time.

Also is there no exit from the main menu? Had to kill the game in Steam to quit

The changes in that mod look pretty substantial, and make the backgrounds look much better. Really love Pontus Hultgren's work, too. Makes me wish I could install that mod on my Switch...

I'm a few hours in already (in the Ice Cave), and I think I'll give that shiny mod a shot. Hope it doesn't totally screw up my cloud save.

Stele wrote:

Also is there no exit from the main menu? Had to kill the game in Steam to quit

This is true even without the mod installed. You can Alt+F4 and it'll give an alert prompt about exiting without saving. Otherwise, you can quit the game from the in-game menu -> Settings -> "Exit Game" way down at the bottom.

Progressed a bit further last night and I'm now fooling around in Lindblum. Quite impressed at how they establish the setting and give the impression of a bustling city. Also disturbed to see Zidane casually use his tail like a third arm.

I was all set to get started on my PS5, but that Moguri Mod convinced me to try the PC version instead, so I bought it and installed it this morning. I will be testing it out in the coming days. Most likely tonight.

I have now made it to Treno. I have made liberal use of the speed-up enhancement, which has been very helpful in getting through a ton of areas and events, though I have found that I need to turn it off for boss battles as it is a quick way to get my derriere handed to me. Likely won't be playing until next week, since I'll be out of town again as of tonight. At this rate, I think I might be able to to put this one in the dirt by April's end.

Looking at the trophies on PS4, I think I will not be hanging around to hunt them, since the skip-rope related ones are absolute BS. Not looking to spend any time on that just to get a Platinum.

Alternatively, use remote play and scripting to get the skip-rope trophy for you!

Auto hot hey is the best. Guess that will work for PC version too.

For what it's worth, there are a ton of easily-missable achievements, including one that can be missed within the first hour. I usually enjoy hunting for achievements, but I think I'm going to pass on this one.

I did a playthrough of this game five or six years ago with a guide in hand thinking, "I'm going to go full completionist, do all the side stuff, get the ultimate weapons, etc. etc. etc." only to find that this is one of those games where playing that way turns it from a fun experience into a tedious, maddening, frustrating ordeal.

I've got my emulation handheld set up to track Retroachievements because why not, but I am not planning on going out of my way for anything or engaging with the card game any more than necessary.

merphle wrote:

For what it's worth, there are a ton of easily-missable achievements, including one that can be missed within the first hour. I usually enjoy hunting for achievements, but I think I'm going to pass on this one.

One key reason I got the Switch version! It’s nice to not even have the temptation.

beanman101283 wrote:

Alternatively, use remote play and scripting to get the skip-rope trophy for you!

Guess I'll have to look into that. Hadn't thought of it, honestly. Maybe a second playthrough - second in 2023; I've played this game from end to end at least 3 times before on ye olde PS1 - will be worth the trouble for trophy clean-up.