When I was younger, my mom used to take me to Blockbuster to rent something every friday. A time-honored tradition to most 90’s and even 80’s kids we would usually pick a video game. I distinctly remember finding the newest Final Fantasy at the time on the shelf and I instantly knew I had to at least try it. And boy oh boy that was an experience I will never forget. Moreover the game was one of the games I rented more than once. In fact I had rented the game so many times that by the time I bought the game I was already starting Disc 3 of the 4 disc masterpiece.
There are numerous reasons why Final Fantasy IX stuck with me so much more than any other game during that time. Final Fantasy VII was great, absolutely, but IX? It had such a realness to it, almost like a storybook. Something I am astounded caught my attention as much as it did. During this time in my life I was an early teenager, so you’d think after playing VII and VIII I would be all grown up, ready for more mature games. NOPE, I sat there and grinded away at IX for months. Everything to the music, the battles now having 4 players instead of 3 (Damn me not playing IV till my later years), Abilities being tied to equipment versus being learned or just being able to pick and choose. Oh and one of my favorite meta thing.
BEING ABLE TO STEAL FROM BOSSES
No no no! You don’t understand what makes this so amazing, being able to steal from bosses is one of those prime meta features that players never really thought you could do. What makes IX even better is that if you are determined to steal, you will get rewarded with the good loot, and easily some of the best equipment in the game. Oh and how can I forget the Synthesis system that allows you to use older equipment and turn it into stronger and otherwise unobtainable equipment which has the unfortunate side effect of punishing players who mindlessly sell off old equipment because it’s useless.
Now here we stand Final Fantasy IX has made its glorious entrance on its first Nintendo console. This alone would be enough for me to talk about it, though given how long its been since I’ve picked up IX I felt like it would be a great time for me to talk about what’s it like going back and looking at such an iconic game looking polished and better than ever.
Since I made that statement, the character models look incredibly polished? I mean absolutely amazing. Thats been the weird thing about these HD remasters lately, they either just up the resolution of the entire game, or they just polish up a few assets. IX? As far as I can notice every single character model has been polished and made to “HD”, even on the Nintendo Switch, the game looks stunning as ever. It certainly makes me appreciate many of the finer elements like how well the characters emote emotions or how they move during the conversations. The cutscenes have also seeming took quite a polishing as well, especially the opening scenes that look like they were made for the modern era and screens. Honestly it is quite eye-popping to see these cutscenes in such stunning detail, handheld or not you can rest assured the game will look great.
During my near 10 hours of gameplay, I tested and played the game in handheld and docked and not once did the game ever stutter or hitch, one problem I do have is with the menus. Freaking gross man, I get it the game was on mobile and it would be easier to bring THOSE versions over to modern consoles but at the same time, these mobile ports all have a habit of “Boxing” UI elements. The Battle UI looks very much like it was meant to pressed with a finger on a screen.
I’ll be honest while that bothers me one of the things I have been seriously miffed by is how blurry and nasty the backgrounds are? Especially some of the early game ones like in Alexandria or the evil forest. I get these backgrounds were drawn or something (Excuse my lack of knowledge on the subject). More surprising was how much this detail stood out to me let alone that I noticed it so easily. They look terrible in comparison to the rest of the game.
Prior to writing this I was unaware of a quirk in the game, originally when I found out about it I had no real desire to mention it. A large amount of my friends are either massive Superfans, or FAQ writers. so when I asked, they basically either didn’t notice or didnt think it to be a big deal enough to warrant it was even there. After some research, it appears to be less a glitch but more the game is missing audio cues and a couple of odd visual quirks in a handful of battles. Now, is this enough to dissuade someone from buying this version or any of the current HD remaster versions?
Personally, No, but feel free to decide for yourself.
Pretty sure this makes me a heretic amongst the fanbase but consider this, I didn’t even realize these were issues during my near 10 hours of play. Personally I barely believe the “issues” presented are enough to warrant a negative response from anyone but the absolute purists in the community. To everyone else, I think the game itself, the enhanced visuals, and the ability to play it on the go, will likely be more than enough to warrant a purchase and a great experience.