In an effort to whittle down my backlog of games, it seems I am starting back with a game that is bordering on ancient. Remember back to the good old Playstation? That thing was fucking awesome. It had a whole bundle of instant classics in just about every conceivable genre, pumping out what seemed to be billions of games in its lifetime. A high point for this console however, was the fact Squaresoft (Now Square-Enix) jumped ship from Nintendo and produced a ton of quality RPGs, not least of which were no less than three numbered Final Fantasies. Final Fantasy 7 took the world by storm, 8 to me was amazing, but 9 was something I was never could get into. I have no idea why, but I did not like it the first time through. Well no idea why, but the point is, things are changing to a degree with this go-around, and let’s explore why.
Final Fantasy 9 is something that has been impressing me this time, a lot. I think a huge reason for this is setting. I originally played Final Fantasy 9 on the heels of 7 and 8. Both of the games that came beforehand were tied in with a lot of sci-fi elements. This was something that was…somewhat started with FF6, but really taken to the next level with 7 and 8. Final Fantasy 9 eschews all of this though for a return to the purely high fantasy setting. Well maybe not pure high fantasy, but steam machines are a far cry from electric-blue monorails and basically…well anything else in Esthar, Let alone Cocoon (take a shot). This setting is a lot more…SNES feeling, with towns a fair distance away, and a sense of mystery still exists in the world, because frankly, there is no real form of mass fucking transportation. Not every nook and cranny is explored, and you still get the sense that you’re the first person seeing some things for the first time in the world of Gaia.
But still…some of my original complaints from this game still persist. First of all, the personalities of the characters, while not as shallow as I once thought, are not nearly as good as the deep characters presented in any of the previous PS1 entries. Everyone to a large degree is shackled to the normal interpretation of their character class. The kind priest, the loyal to a fault knight, the brave lance knight, the silent, yet tough monk. The only one to break the mold is Vivi, but his moments of brilliance are so spread out throughout the game, it is not nearly enough.
The game is definitely impressing me past my old opinion of what used to be a least favorite game ever. There are far better games out there, but in the end it’s certainly no FF13. And as it stands right now, that may be enough for me to press on.