With the ever-impressive Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn coming out today, I’m left to ask important questions. Questions of deep thought and heavy weight, the sort that hang in the mind of all JRPG fans everywhere. The one, single question that’s been burning in our minds for years upon years at this point. Whatever happened to Final Fantasy IX?
Certainly, everyone remembers that Final Fantasy IX existed. It had to, since we’re now on number fourteen (sixteen if we’re counting sequels, twenty if we’re counting Game Boy games). You can find Zidane in Dissidia for the PSP, and you can certainly find evidence of people having enjoyed Number 9. But when you get right down to it, no one talks about it.
I have an opinion on that: It was not a bad game. I liked it well enough. After Final Fantasy VIII, which sucked out loud, Squaresoft promised a return to more traditional Final Fantasy themes, and that’s exactly what they gave us. The story was a touch slapped together, but certainly better than the previous game. The ability system was leaps and bounds ahead of the junction system. It was, quite frankly, a breath of fresh air.
Only, then the next game to come out was Final Fantasy X. Another game I liked well enough, but it’s rather polarizing. People either love it or they hate it, and they want to talk about that. They want to complain about Blitzball, or the sphere grid. Or they want to tell you how Blitzball was fun, and the sphere grid was perfectly intuitive. They want to talk about how whiny Tidus was, or their pet theory that the game plays better if you imagine that Tidus was actually Yuna, and Yuna was the only one who could see him (okay, that’s my pet theory, but think about it!)
You see what’s happened, though? In an article about Final Fantasy IX, I’ve talked about Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X, and said almost nothing about Final Fantasy IX. I’ve said nothing about the story, the gameplay, or the characters. Not because they were bad, but because they weren’t particularly good, either.
That, then, is the answer. What ever happened to Final Fantasy IX? It had the misfortune to be a mediocre-to-decent game that came between two games that were surrounded by incredibly strong opinions. Which is too bad, because Vivi was the most awesome Final Fantasy character ever.