I am a late gaming bloomer. Though I have extensively played newer Halo games, Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Oblivion & Skyrim, my knowledge of games pre-2006 is limited to Nintendo 64's SuperMario. So when I popped in Final Fantasy IX (released in 2000) into the PS3, I had no idea what to expect.
And what I found was an absolute treasure.
- Storyline: Final Fantasy IX has a rich, imaginative storyline. Everytime you think they're reached the pinnacle of the story - the limits of what the writer's can do to their poor characters, you are taken along for another devastating surprise. Moments in the first disc relate directly to major plot evolutions in the third or fourth disc.
- Storyline: So important it should be mentioned twice. Alongside the epic main storyline, the game is riddled with side-plots, quests, and extra characters with their own interesting stories. The game writer's took every single character and gave them personality, motivation, and style. Even the characters with just one line.
- Graphics: Even though they were limited to heavy pixels, Final Fantasy's graphics were extraordinary. The character's actions are often hilarious as they speak, and the cut-scenes appear like moving art.
- The Card Game: Also called TetraMaster by some, this is a weak point in the game play. The rules are confusing and the gameplay is inconsistent. A general frustration comes from the player since, when playing, they often are unaware of the specific risk-reward system. You can lose a card you've worked hours to get in an average card game...and not even be sure why you lost it. However, if you just want to collect cards, it can be a lot of fun. Cards can be found in every corner of the game, in new and interesting ways.
- Items & Loot: While it's technically possible to play the game through with just the basic items you loot from monsters and quest rewards, you also have the option to synthesize new weapons from combined outdated weapons - giving you more powerful rewards.
Featuring your basic turn-based combat gameplay and epic storyline, Final Fantasy IX is not only fun to play the first time, but even better the second and third time around. Keep in mind that one average play-through will last upwards of 30 hours, making this game a huge bang for your buck.