The Final Fantasy series is a hallowed relic from the era of yesteryear, a series that has not necessarily gotten better with age, but is known for the ponderous gravitas of its early-to-middle installments. Arguments rage to this day which of the games is the best, with VII, VI and even Tactics often coming up as top contenders for the number-one spot. Though, among the throngs of casual gamers who war over this topic probably rarely even bring up Final Fantasy IX, some of the most hardcore Final Fantasy fans hold it up as one of their favorites. This, of course, brings me to the review of the Android port. Is there anything lost in the translation to the small(er) screen?
The answer is no. There are few games you are going to find for the Android and iOS platforms that will have the depth, character development and story-telling in Final Fantasy IX. It should be kept in mind that this large amount of content and complexity on a mobile device is costly both in terms of money and storage. The game costs a whopping $20.99 on Google Play, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. It’s by far the most expensive game I have purchased yet. Compare this to the Playstation Network, where the game is a mere $9.99, and you may wonder to yourself why there is such a disparity in price.
The answer is the portability. You don’t have to quarantine yourself in your room and play through the story for 40-60 hours. You can hit the town, pick up a bit here and there, on work-lunch, on the subway during your commute or simply outside under a tree. The freedom of the mobile platform is worth the price tag alone, not to mention it is for one of the best RPGs to hit the Playstation as it was phased out in favor of the next generation of gaming.
For the uninitiated, Final Fantasy IX was first released in 2000, following a string of games that experimented with the traditional fantasy setting. The sixth installment combined traditional high fantasy with steampunk, seven meshed fantasy and sci-fi, and eight mixed sci-fi and…Soap Opera…but nine was the first in this line of releases to eschew experimentation in favor of the tried and true high fantasy that made the series so iconic. Out were the more complex and esoteric magic systems that involved “materia,” and “junctioning,” (which, while innovative, tended to make every character the same) and back were the jobs of the older installments. Thieves steal cool stuff, knights beat the piss out of things, black mages cast black magic, priests cast white magic, and summoners…well, summoners summon things.
The story follows the main character, a lovable rogue by the name of Zidane Tribal, who schemes with his cohorts in order to kidnap a princess only to find out that she wants to be kidnapped. What ensues is one of the most complex stories ever told on the original Playstation. Sure, it ends as most Final Fantasy’s do, with existence hanging in the balance as you are forced to fight the anti-christ before he/she/it destroys existence/compresses time/wakes up Mother, (Cthulhu) but there is so much more to this particular installment. The characters are real, fleshed out to ridiculous degrees, which is truly impressive considering how many there are. The only installment to contain more was Final Fantasy VI. Each story is poignant and adds another dimension to the “save the world” formula, and there are more than a few times where you may find yourself being moved to tears by the enormity of a character’s situation, perhaps the most infamous being Vivi, the young black mage in the game.
There is no question that Final Fantasy IX is worth it. The only question in your mind should be “should I buy this game again if I already have it?” My answer? Absolutely.
About as good as it gets.
All the power of the original made mobile.