Final Fantasy IX was released for the PlayStation in 2000 and was later re-released on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and mobile phone.
The game is set in the land of Gaia, which is made up of four nations: Alexandria the warmongering monarchy, Lindblum the technologically advanced airship travel hub, Burmecia which is showered by an endless rain storm, and Cleyra the sandstorm-ridden desert that hails from a giant tree.
Zidane Tribal, a member of a group of bandits called Tantalus, which masquerades as a theater troupe.
Garnet Til Alexandros XVII (alias Dagger), the princess of Alexandria.
Vivi Ornitier, a timid young black mage with an existential crisis.
Adelbert Steiner, a brash knight captain who is Garnet’s servant.
Freya Crescent, a Burmecian dragoon.
Quina Quen, a cuisine hunter.
Eiko Carol, an inhabitant of Madain Sari who is one of the last summoners of Gaia.
Amarant Coral, a bounty hunter hired to return Garnet to Alexandria.
Kuja, a flamboyant and narcissistic gunrunner with fine taste in art and monologues worthy of a theater play.
The story begins when Zidane is sent to kidnap Princess Garnet, but instead he ends up joining her and a group of others on a quest to take down her mother Queen Brahne who started a war between the nations of Gaia, although they later learn she was influenced by Kuja to do so.
Final Fantasy IX was written by Hironobu Sakaguchi (the first time the series creator had written a Final Fantasy game since FFVI). It was directed by Hiroyuki Ito with concept art by Toshiyuki Itahana, Hideo Minaba and Yoshitaka Amano.
The game introduced a new ability system that was less complex than the ones in the last two PlayStation Final Fantasy games and it also felt like a bit of a throwback to old FF games and their class system. This system allowed you to upgrade your skills with support abilities, action abilities and learning abilities.
It also introduced the Active Time Event, which allowed players to view events in two different locations, which could change the course of the story, show new character developments and even allow special items to be won. It was also used to solve puzzles while your team was divided into two groups.
Plus it introduced a lengthy side-quest involving a mailing system run by the cat-like moogles called the Mognet, which led to great rewards. It was another innovation of mastermind director Hiroyuki Ito.
The game was well-received upon release. It was widely viewed as more user-friendly than the previous two games. The story was lighter in tone but the characters were three-dimensional.
Sakaguchi had said that FFIX was his favorite Final Fantasy game, as it more closely reflected his ideal view of what Final Fantasy should be, and in many ways the game feels like a throwback. It is less futuristic than VI, VII and VIII and more medieval with a basis on Norse mythology. The game was intended as a culmination of the best elements of the series up to that point while returning to its fantasy roots.
The next game would be another technological leap as Final Fantasy came to the PlayStation 2.