Final Fantasy IX
has been described by many as "underrated". But on the internet...it isn't. At all. In fact, an annoying tendency has developed to put it on a pedestal as to what Final Fantasy
"should be" and bash other games in comparasion to it (except VI, of course...for some reason, these people are often on the VI side of that stupid VI vs. VII debate.
So here's my unpopular opinion: I think it's not that different from Final Fantasy VIII
. A shock, I know, as online VIII is a black sheep and IX has claimed godhood. And let's face it, they really are
both polar opposites of each other in many ways.
But to me, they have more similarities than differences. Art style aside, they have the same style of graphics both in-game and in FMV sequences. They both have wonderful music composed by Nobuo Uematsu
. And they both have very good happy endings. But in categories where VIII falters, I find that IX succeeds, and where IX falters, VIII succeeds.
For instance, the gameplay in IX is balanced and fun, and the story very well-written and paced. And the villains (Kuja, Garland, Queen Brahne, Zorn & Thorn, the Black Waltzes, etc.) are all excellent and stand out in their own way. Such was the opposite with VIII.
However, I found that VIII had the far more interesting world, as the world of IX is a generic medieval fantasy world. And yes, I knew that it was meant to be a callback to past FF games, but after so many inventive, interesting worlds before and after it, Gaia really seems weak by comparasion.
Also, the cast of heroes was more of a mixed bag to me here than in the past three games. Zidane was very likable, but he had little to no character depth. I don't mean Zidane needed to be angsty like Cloud or Squall, but it has to be said they were byfar deeper heroes. And Freya and Amarant were terribly underutilized and were neither very likable or developed. It was fitting they spent alot of their time being boring together. I loved Vivi, Garnet, and Steiner though, as they were both well characterized, likable and
they grew and changed throughout the story.
In the end, FF9 is, like FF8, not the best RPG, but still an excellent one. I don't like it being underrated OR overrated, and it should be taken as it is: another great entry in a legendary franchise.