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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Here.
  • Angst? What Angst?: In contrast to Cloud and Squall, Zidane spends most of the game either chasing skirts, being Garnet's knight in shining armor, or being her knight while chasing her skirt. He spends almost no time at all being moody or depressing despite witnessing multiple genocides, which makes it shocking that his true origins manage to cause a Heroic BSoD late in the game—one he quickly gets over through The Power of Friendship. It is implied that Zidane does feel angst over his lonely past but keeps it below the surface, such as in Disc 2 when he tells Garnet about it without actually telling her.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
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    • Quina. Some enjoy his/her comic relief role and extremely powerful Blue Magic abilities, while others are annoyed by his/her odd appearance, irrelevance to the plot, and because s/he just don't shut up about eating.
    • Kuja. Is he the rare Final Fantasy villain with a sympathetic motive—the desire to break free of a controlling master only to be driven off the edge by the realization of his own mortality—or is he just a petulant Manchild who destroys kingdoms and eventually an entire planet out of narcissism? Some argue both are true, and that it lends him complexity. His infamous outfit is also a point of contention—some think it's simply too outlandish to take seriously, while others argue that it fits Kuja's aggressive desire for individuality.
    • Beatrix. Some people absolutely love her and think she's an amazing character who's a straight up attractive badass, while others think she doesn't deserve such praise and/or is a horribly written mess that's easy to hate on due to her prior attitude-into-a flimsy 180° switch (especially since she's not a main party member meaning she doesn't get that much focus) that is known for being That One Boss seen below.
  • Best Boss Ever:
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    • Every Beatrix battle. Between her hopelessly outclassing your party and her theme music, they're very memorable fights.
    • The climactic Boss Rush at the end of Disc 3, which puts you up against Kuja's silver dragon, then gives you the satisfaction of taking down the two people responsible for most of the game's troubles: Garland and Kuja.
    • Necron. After the satisfaction of defeating Trance Kuja, who retaliates with Ultima, you suddenly find yourself in what seems to be the afterlife, facing down an apparent embodiment of death. The music is amazing and Necron himself is happily challenging if you haven't done any significant Level Grinding.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • The opening sequence. The combination of the play, the kidnapping, the swordfighting minigame, the wacky chase scenes when the kidnapping goes awry, the music (the sequence includes variations on "Melodies of Life", "A Place to Call Home", "Vamo Alla Flamenco", "Jesters of the Moon", and a special battle theme), and the introductions of Zidane, Vivi, Steiner and Garnet—all the game's most charming characters—all in rapid succession is a joy to sit through every time.
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    • The Iifa Tree toward the end of Disc 2, a bizarre undead tree featuring the source of the Mist as a Climax Boss and your first proper interaction with Kuja.
    • At the start of Disc 3 the player is treated to the chance to use Beatrix, previously an invincible foe, along with a highly cinematic scene and a rock version of her theme unique to this sequence. The real Moment of Awesome is when Steiner, who has basically been beat on for the entire game to that point, confesses his love and goes into Trance.
    • The alternative world of Terra. Beautiful music, amazing visuals, and great character development.
    • Memoria. The monsters are challenging but not annoying, the music is awesome and the scenery very interesting.
    • The "You're Not Alone" sequence, is not only a sweet, cool and awesome short battle gauntlet with a boss at the end, demonstrating the powerful bonds among the party and their ability to kick ass. The BGM Override adds to the cool factor.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Several Active Time Events are intended to simply aid in worldbuilding and have close to zero relation to the plot.
    • The Ragtime Mouse is one of the most bizarre enemies in the series. This odd, cycloptic creature with a giant mouth randomly appears in forests to ask you trivia questions, rewards you gil for a right answer, then flees to be encountered again. Do this enough times, and it'll simply drop dead. There is no explanation ever provided for what it is or where it comes from.
  • Breather Boss: Soulcage. Although it has some difficult attacks like Mustard Bomb, you can easily take your time stealing its three (fairly valuable) items then take full advantage of Revive Kills Zombie.
  • Broken Base:
    • The game, naturally, created a huge rift between the people who thought it was a good tribute to the old classical SNES-era games with its lighter tone, idealistic themes, and colorful world, and those who thought Final Fantasy should aim for mature audiences and saw IX as a big step backwards.
    • Another point of contention regarding IX: fantasy versus science fiction. VII and VIII were both basically sci-fi stories that called the flashier attacks magic, while the earlier V and VI featured robots and steam engines—Final Fantasy hadn't been this fantastic since IV.
    • VIII featured the series' most realistic art style yet, and the sharp transition to a more moe look was a bit much for some fans.
  • Character Tiers: Some characters are simply more effective than others; much of this is due to a plot which creates a revolving door of departing and returning party members who can easily end up falling behind.
    • The high tier is Zidane and Vivi. Despite several temporary departures by other party members, these two are almost always available, so they're constantly improving their levels and abilities. Zidane can Steal rare items from bosses, and Vivi's Black Magic lets him deal reliably high elemental damage—both welcome additions in any battle.
    • Plot circumstances remove Steiner, Freya, and Quina from play for extended periods, while Amarant doesn't join until late in disc 2. This means these characters will lag in level and abilities. They can all be highly effective—Steiner is the game's physical attacker; Freya can Jump to avoid party wipes and apply some good buffs and heals; Amarant can also provide support, along with Throwing items for high damage. However, getting them on par with Zidane and Vivi will require deliberate grinding.
    • Eiko and Garnet have a unique situation: both are White Mage/Summoner hybrids with different focuses. Having a healer in the party is basically mandatory, but which one is the better choice? Garnet gets all the best offensive Eidolons and her Trance allows them to attack multiple times for one summons, and her strong link to the overarching plot adds to her appeal. Meanwhile, Eiko's best Eidolons affect status, and she has stronger White Magic with a Trance that allows for two spells in one turn. While she tends to be less popular as a character than Garnet, Eiko's healing focus is a good fit for the lategame, where bosses tend to use such powerful attacks and status impairments that having Eiko spend all her time healing might be wiser than having Dagger juggle healing and attacking.
  • Creepy Cute: The Save-Moogle on the world map: while he acts like a normal Moogle usually, if you call and dismiss him over and over again, he starts to get annoyed, then angry, and then (eventually) threateningly states "I'm sharpening my knife, kupo..."
  • Demonic Spiders: Yans. Just under 20,000 HP, very fast, they use Comet (random damage—one-shot kills are possible) nearly every turn, inflict the Virus status (no AP gain), and will counter attacks with Snort (removes a party member from battle). Oh, and they can attack in pairs or even trios. Sadly, they're the best source of exp. in the game, are the only renewable source of Elixirs to steal, and you need to visit the island they reside on to meet the friendly one and make Ozma easier to deal with, and thus run the risk of running into the ones that ''aren't' friendly.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The fourth disc. The story runs out of steam with the destruction of Terra and Garland, and descends into Mind Screw territory with the final dungeon—Memoria, an odd pocket universe made of the accumulated memories of the world featuring numerous Giant Space Fleas From Nowhere, including one of the most infamous examples (since he's the Final Boss and all) in Necron.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Kuja is a smug bastard that manipulates heads of state into war, kills Dagger's mother, and taunts Vivi with his artificial origins. When he discovers he will die soon, he throws a cosmic tantrum and destroys a planet, and tries to destroy all life after that. Many fans view Kuja as a poor sympathetic guy who is brainwashed to destroy and just needs some affection. While he gets an Alas, Poor Villain death, this assessment is inaccurate.
  • Ear Worm: One of the wormiest soundtracks in Final Fantasy, and that's saying something. Particularly tenacious pieces include Dark Messenger, Melodies of Life, and Vamo' Alla Flamenco to name just a few.
  • Evil Is Cool: Kuja. He purposefully invokes every villain trope he can from his lavish underground palace, and it works.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Black Waltz No. 3, the flying Black Mage who is Made of Iron and features in multiple exciting CG sequences. He gets much more screentime and characterization compared to the first two Black Waltzes and causes the ultimate example of a Heroic One-Winged Angel in Vivi.
    • Blank, the Tantalus badass who appears briefly as an optional party member and makes an excellent Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Also from Tantalus, Ruby. Despite her very brief appearances, her fiery attitude and good looks have resulted in surprising popularity.
  • Epileptic Trees: Fans have come up with any number of theories for Necron's role in the game (See Giant Space Flea From Nowhere on the main page) and some have been listed as "official" explanations on this wiki. The game supports approximately zero of them. For the record, the game only gives hints that he is some incredibly powerful being that watches over all life and has the power to destroy the Crystal. On a meta-textual level, it's clearly meant to be a direct embodiment of the concept of (and fear of) death and a representation of our characters facing such directly (at the end of a journey that's all about addressing mortality), but how this translates to in-universe lore is ambiguous at best. It is possibly a manifestation of 'evil' emotions of sentient creatures.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Amarant with Freya, even though she already loves Fratley.
  • Fanon: Some fans imagine Kraken as being female, because Tiamat and Lich are male and Maliris is female - to give the Chaos Guardians a Gender-Equal Ensemble (and Kraken is fought by two female party members the first time around). Any supplementary materials refer to Kraken as just 'it'.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Kuja and his thong are one of the series' most extreme examples. Yoshitaka Amano, known for his intricate costumes and beautiful men, designed the outfit, and somehow it made it to the game relatively intact. It's hard to even describe what he's wearing, but whatever it is, it looks ridiculous, and the Stripperiffic nature contributes to his Viewer Gender Confusion.
  • Foe Yay: There's enough between Kuja and Zidane to make it the most popular male-male pairing in the game—and possibly the series as a whole, rivaled only by VII. The fact that they're essentially brothers makes it a bit icky.
  • Game-Breaker: Here.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Some secondary villains on the first disk are called The Black Waltzes. Zidane guesses there are only three of them because of the name. The waltz uses a three-quarter beat.
      Zidane: He said waltz, right? Don't you think No. 3 would be the last one?
    • The music for one of the nastier dungeons uses a slowed-down version of the opening of "Dies irae", the best-known of Gregorian chants, as its bass line. Since it's an ominous chant about the Day of Judgment, it's rather appropriate.
    • The in-universe play "I Want To Be Your Canary" looks like a Gaia version of Romeo and Juliet but it has more than a few elements of King Lear - which is about a heroic princess getting disillusioned with her once-brilliant father who's now gone mad for power. Quite a lot of Garnet's story parallels Cordelia's, including a Redemption Equals Death for the parent figure.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • The Seeker Bats in Fossil Roo. You're about to get to the Moogle to heal/save, and all of a sudden, woosh! They also like to spam status effects to drag the battle out. Goddamned Bats, indeed...
    • For those attempting to level grind by fighting Grand Dragons on Lanar Island, the Gimmie Cat is incredibly annoying. It appears almost as frequently and acts in a way similar to a Friendly Monster (the lack of their unique theme should tip the player off), by asking for a Diamond. If you give it one, it runs away. If you attack it while it's in that mode, it reacts with Comet. You can defeat it by waiting long enough or using a non-damaging command on it (like Steal), and your reward? One EXP point.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • By adding Auto-Haste and Auto-Regen, and some other things, you can effectively have Auto-Regen fire off so fast that the only way to kill you is to hit for higher than your max HP.
    • Ipsen's Castle screws with the normal battle mechanics so that the stronger your weapon, the weaker your physical attacks are. The intention is to equip weak, early weapons, which unfortunately means your characters won't be learning any new abilities in this dungeon. However, this actually only affects the Fight command. You can use any of your other abilities—Zidane's Thievery, Freya's Jump, etc.—and the damage will be calculated normally, so you can just keep your recent weapons equipped and keep learning abilities.
    • Getting eight items in a single Chocobo Hot and Cold run has Mene end the game early and convert the rest of the time to points. Points are also responsible for leveling Choco's beak, rather than how much distance has been dug, meaning Choco may gain multiple beak levels because a Moogle flew up to him and told him to stop digging.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Ladies' man Zidane forgetting Freya's name is Played for Laughs, but this becomes a lot less funny when Freya's long lost lover Sir Fratley also forgets her name, as well as everything else about her, due to amnesia. To a greater, more meta degree, the quote she's associated with - to be forgotten is worse than death - has come to fruition, and she's largely faded into obscurity as far as the greater Final Fantasy fanbase is concerned.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One that's only hilarious in light of the other Star Wars references: as you proceed into Memoria, Garland speaks to you quite clearly several times before actually saying "can you hear me?"
    • In the Lindblum weapon shop, Zidane comments on a large sword, noting that he remembers a guy with spiky hair who carried a similar one. An obvious reference to Final Fantasy VII, but in 2009, Zidane and Cloud actually met...
    • In Esto Gaza Zidane has the option of hitting on a random NPC. Nothing new there. But if you talk to the girl's boyfriend, right beside her, he says "I hope you get kicked by a horse..." This is twice as funny after knowing the romantic credo of Jade Curtiss:
      Jade: Well, you know what they say. Anyone who interferes with others' romances should be kicked by a horse and die.
  • Ho Yay: Zidane to Vivi while they're pissing into the ocean together:
    "This is an age-old ritual between male friends!"
  • Hype Backlash: A small but growing segment of the fanbase is getting tired of hearing this game getting praise and acclaim while VIII and X get spat on.
  • Junk Rare: If you manage to get Vivi to win the Festival of the Hunt (which is luck-based even if you purposefully KO both Zidane and Freya), you get a Theatre Ship card. You'd expect it to be strong for this point in the game considering the circumstances, right? Nope, it's complete crap and perhaps slightly better than the cards you're getting free from chests and the like.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Kuja is an Artificial Human created by the warlock Garland to spread war and destruction across the planet of Gaia in order to make it a copy of Terra, Garland's homeworld. Aware he is not trusted and will be disposed of once Garland can afford to be rid of him, Kuja pulls double-duty on his villainy, aiding Queen Brahne in taking over much of Gaia while discreetly seeking Eidolons, the one power Kuja believes Garland fears. When Kuja learns of Trance, he shifts focus to acquiring the power for himself, and does so. Trance Kuja is strong enough to kill Garland and pushes the playable characters to the brink of death, only sparing them so he can come up a more poetic way to kill them later. If not for the maddening revelation he will die soon and his subsequent Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, Kuja was set to declare himself the ruler of both worlds, and no one would have been able to stand against him. Along the way to this near-victory he manipulates hero and villain alike to pursue his goals, adjusts his plans on the fly to accommodate for setbacks, and never loses his sense of style and charisma.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Zidane has reached this status in some circles due to his ability to create blasts of energy despite apparently having no magical powers.
    • In a way, Stiltzkin is this In-Universe to the other moogles, being a traveler who has been to a number of dangerous places and always survived to tell about it.
  • Memetic Molester: Kuja. Just look at this screencapture from Dissidia.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • CLANK CLANK CLANK. A reference to Steiner's noisy armor.
    • Garnet's formal gown is surprisingly popular cosplay material.
  • Moe: Vivi is perhaps the best example in the series. He has many of the standard moe traits: he is clumsy, shy, young and innocent. Add in existential angst to justify his social awkwardness and a doll-like appearance and you have a character that most players just want to hug.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Black Waltz No. 3 cruelly slaughters a group of Black Mages, his own allies, just because they were in the way of his mission. And when an enraged Vivi calls him on it, he laughs it off and casually declares they're easily replaceable, which pisses Vivi off more.
    • Brahne uses an Eidolon to annihilate a city, laughing about it, then coldly stating that now Garnet is no further use to her she'll have her executed (in a rather gross manner).
    • Kuja crosses this over and over. He was created to wipe out all life on Gaia, and doesn't actually care for his orders, but works at it of his own will to prove his superiority to Zidane. He manipulates Brahne and creates the Black Mages, which, as he gloats, are short-lived weapons created from souls of the dead. His worst moment is when he learns how little time he has to live, and decides to destroy all reality just because he feels the universe shouldn't exist without him.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • The weird screeching sound preceding a spell cast.
    • Also the constant CLANKCLANKCLANK whenever you have to play as Steiner. This is usually redeemed by the fact that every sequence (except for one time where you may end up in control of him in the Desert Palace) in which you play as Steiner is absolutely hilarious, though.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • "K-KWEEEHHH! Found a treasure chest!"
    • "Choco says he can't find any more Chocographs here for now."
    • As always, the victory fanfare.
  • Narm:
    • Kuja's thong constantly runs the risk of robbing serious moments of their drama.
    • In the English translation, some of Freya's dialogue has her using overly long words that just sound a bit much ("the tempest subsides" as you first enter Cleyra). It's also at odds with the dialogue in her first scene with Zidane - "I'm gonna whip your butt."
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Though not as negative as some examples, Zidane will always be famous for a scene on disc 1 where he accidentally grabs Dagger's behind as they ascend a ladder and remarking, "Ooh, soft!" Zidane is a Chivalrous Pervert, but he's more the former than the latter and tries to apologize afterward.
    • Garnet is frequently criticized for her decision to ditch the party with Steiner and return to Alexandria. While it does go badly, some of these critics forget that Garnet had no idea Brahne was after her Eidolons—and judging from the sackings of Burmecia and Cleyra, Alexandria could take on anyone with just the Black Mages and Beatrix's army. It's not as if acquiring the Eidolons turned the tide in Brahne's favor.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Atomos's rampage on Lindblum. An enormous, demonic maw about the same size as Lindblum suddenly appears out of thin air and begins inhaling vehicles, buildings, people...
  • Player Punch:
    • The mindless Black Mages aboard an airship. They all resemble the party member Vivi, and they get annihilated by Black Waltz No. 3 as they try to protect the party.
    • The destruction of Cleyra and Lindblum, thanks to Queen Brahne's Eidolons. The former is horrible, because it's performed by Odin, a summon that most players have likely used in previous games and was generally righteous. And the latter lets the player see the inhabitants getting sucked into the abyss within Atomos.
    • Vivi's voiceover saying his goodbye to everyone in the ending. It's strongly implied that Vivi dies, or is about to die, at the end of the game.
  • Polished Port: The High-Definition Steam/smartphone/PS4 version has been refined in just about every way. The graphics are much higher resolution than their native PS1 counterparts (although unfortunately the backgrounds are only slightly upscaled) and the FMV cutscenes can now be skipped. In addition, Square Enix added several game boosters which are Purposefully Overpowered, including "all attacks hit the damage cap", "always in Trance", and "no encounters". You can also set all attacks to maximum damage and cause characters to instantly learn abilities from equipment. However, all of the game boosters are optional, so you can still play the normal way. Finally, there's a button that greatly increases the game speed while the game's clock still runs in normal time, making the insane "reach this one spot in less than 12 hours to get the Excalibur II" sidequest a bit more feasible. In short, whether you want to Play the Game, Skip the Story or Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game, there's something for you in this port.
  • Porting Disaster: The improvements in the ports do greatly improve the experience, but there are problems as well. Interface elements are optimized for mobile device touch screens and are oversized for the PC and PS4 versions. All the pre-rendered backgrounds are low-resolution and clash with the high-resolution character models.note  Unlike the PS1 version, these ports don't feature analog movement: instead of following whatever angle you hold the left stick, you can only move in the basic eight directions. The mobile version also necessitated compressed sound files, which is reasonable for a mobile game, but these low-quality versions are also used in the Steam port. The port also misses out on a much-needed update: while the FMV cutscenes can be skipped, in-engine, text-based scenes can't be sped through.
  • The Scrappy: Zorn and Thorn are annoying lackeys to Queen Brahne who habitually repeat what the other just said. All the time. They also like to use a status effect that blocks AP gain during their boss fight, which will slow down your characters' skill growth.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Here.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer:
    • The Tetra Master card game got so popular that PlayOnline released a pay-to-play online version of it along with Final Fantasy XI.
    • "Chocobo Hot and Cold", a minigame in Chocobo Forest where you search for items and "Chocographs" pointing you to rarer items hidden in the field. These rarer items include some of the game's very best equipment. It's also mandatory to access the Bonus Boss. Put in a few hours of work, and you'll have Game-Breaker-level power. And that the music was catchy like nothing else.
    • The Blackjack mini-game after the end credits is a totally meaningless and yet addictive thing to throw in just for fun. You can basically play it forever; they give you a 1000 dollar payload to start.
  • Signature Scene:
  • Signature Song: "Melodies of Life", the game's main theme. It appears in-universe as a song of Madain Sari, tying it to the central mystery of Dagger's identity.
  • Special Effect Failure: The game was ported to Steam/Android/iOS/PS4 ports updated all the character models with higher resolution textures that make everyone look smooth and crisp. However, these improvements also work against themselves: the port uses slightly upscaled versions of the low-resolution PS1 backgrounds instead of the high-resolution originals, which are believed to have been lost due to the decentralized production and a fire in Square's offices. You can see the worst of it as Vivi enters Alexandria, where his updated model walks across a low-resolution, prerendered Full Motion Video background featuring hardcoded NPCs, and he sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • Surprise Difficulty: This is considered one of the easier games in the series, without breaking it. Now tell this to the people who thought it'd be easy when they suddenly had to fight Gizmaluke.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • The opening song sounds like "Stairway to Heaven". Uematsu has said Led Zeppelin is one of his favourite bands. The main battle theme sounds like a cross between those from the sixth and eighth entries.
    • Kuja's theme, "Immoral Melody", is basically "Slumber of Ancient Earth" from Final Fantasy V with the drumbeat of Queen's "We Will Rock You" (though Kuja's theme goes "stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp-stomp-clap" rather than "stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp-clap"). "Immoral Melody" also bears unmistakable similarities to "Shinra Corporation" from Final Fantasy VII.
  • That One Achievement: Getting 1,000 jumps on jump rope on the PS4 version is even more reviled than getting Excalibur II. It's so infamous that there's an automated script available to use with Remote Play to just get it over and done with, and nobody blames anyone for using it.note 
  • That One Attack:
    • The spell Curse inflicts various status ailments and deals high damage. Bonus Bosses Hades and Ozma use this spell—without warning, in Ozma's case.
    • Necron's Grand Cross is similar to Curse—inflicting a variety of status ailments—but without damage. One of its possible ailments is Zombie, which will remove the afflicted from your control and cause White Magic to damage them.
    • Along with the above-mentioned Curse, Ozma also has Meteor, which turns the whole battle into a Luck-Based Mission, as it deals random damage (but probably 9999) to your whole party. It also has a habit of casting Curse right afterward.
    • Flare Star, shared by Trance Kuja and Ozma. It costs 0 MP (so there's nothing keeping them from spamming it), it ignores Reflect, and it deals damage equal to 40 (Kuja) or 50 (Ozma) times the target's level. Obviously you're going to be at a high level against either of these bosses.
  • That One Boss:
    • Black Waltz No. 1 and the Sealion is a unique fight in that across the series, you typically outnumber the boss. Here's, it's only Zidane against two enemies. The Black Waltz is a pushover, but if you decide to attack the Sealion first you're going to have a bad time—the Black Waltz will heal it and will summon another one if he's alive when it dies. Once you kill the Black Waltz, you'll still have to deal with the Sealion's high HP and rising attack power with only Potions to heal yourself. These two are also carrying some great items—will you be able to pull off the risky balancing act it takes to keep Zidane alive to steal them? This is the second boss, by the way.
    • The second-to-last boss of the first disc, Gizmaluke, is no slouch either. Picking up Quina can even the odds, if you know how to get him/her that early. Gizmaluke has a highly damaging Water spell and physical attacks that can hit the whole party. To make matters worse, he also loves to Silence Vivi, preventing you from using any damaging magic. Much like Black Waltz No. 1 and the Sealion, he also has some nice equipment you'll want to steal. It is possible to make the fight much easier by using a Tent on him. This can inflict Blind and Silence, which respectively causes him to whiff his physical attacks and disables his magic.
    • Ark can also be a pain in the ass, especially because you're stuck with the party you selected with entering its dungeon to battle it. It loves to spam all-party targeting Confusion and has an attack that brings a character down to 1 HP.
    • If you don't know what you're getting into and aren't well-equipped for the fight, the Earth Guardian can be one hell of a boss. You're stuck with a character most people haven't really worked with (because said character has been gone for about 70% of the story up to this point), and while it's possible to win the fight with Zidane alone, it makes for a long and difficult fight if you can't snag a Trance in a pinch.
    • Nearing the end of the game, the party has to fight three bosses in a row, each one harder than the last—Silver Dragon, Garland, and Kuja. All of them can deal huge damage, and Garland can cast "Stop" to render a party member motionless—by the way, if all your living characters are Stopped, that's game over. What makes this gauntlet so difficult is that there are no breaks for healing in between—when one battle stops, the next begins.
    • As you may have guessed from the first two entries, the prospect of stealing good equipment can significantly draw out boss battles and expose you to more damage. Beatrix in her first fight, Hilgigars, and Tantarian in particular are all fairly difficult and hold items you only have a 0.39% chance of stealing, which can take hours. Beatrix is especially tough, since this fight only lasts 8-10 rounds before she ends it with Stock Break—if you don't get her Mythril Sword you'll have to reload and sit through a long cutscene to try again.
  • That One Level:
    • Fossil Roo forces the player to deal with puzzles where flipping switches will cause gargants to take you to different places. If you miss an item and try to leave to reset the puzzle, it doesn't work. Random encounters occur every three steps, and the enemies all have annoying status effects; there are so many that you probably won't be able to block them all.
    • The Desert Palace. Unnecessarily complicated light puzzles, filled to the brim with deadly random encounters, and finished with a potential That One Boss, who can be almost unkillable if you missed a few of the "bloodstones", completely optional item pickups that the game doesn't tell you about. The hardest monsters in the Oeilvert run are found in the short segment leading to the airship dock. Which, incidentally, is the Desert Palace.
  • That One Puzzle: The "red light, green light" game where Cid has to evade the notice of a Hedgehog Pie enemy.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Obtaining the Excalibur II sword for Steiner, which requires you to reach the final dungeon in 12 hours. In the PS1 era, you'd probably even need to open the console's disc drive to skip FMVs just to save yourself another 30 seconds. This time limit also means you're deliberately avoiding much of what the game has to offer. Even worse, the PAL version of the game actually runs slower but the timer is still accurate—for years it was actually thought to be impossible for Europeans to get there in time. The game's timer does eventually roll over to zero again...after three years of continuous play. Fortunately, the HD remaster adds game altering mechanics to speed up gameplay while the game's clock ticks away at its usual speed, making it much easier to complete this sidequest.
    • Quina's skills, like most games' Blue Magic, qualifies. Instead of merely being hit by the attack, Quina must "Eat" enemies at 12.5% HP (25% in Trance), with no indication whether the enemy will give a skill or not.
    • Getting the highest score in Tetra Master. There are hundreds of different cards in the game and you can carry 100 at once. For max points you have to get 1 of each, some of which are only used by one player in the entire world. If you’ve found the right player, you may still have to play several times against them before they actually use the card. Even if they use it, you have to win the round with the card turned to your color. That battles between cards are often randomly decided doesn’t help either. Then you have to have a different arrow combination on each of your cards. If two cards have the same arrow combination, you get less points, even if the cards are unique otherwise. And then you have to get each card to rank A. Normally cards start with either rank P(hysical) or M(agical). Then, when you use them in the card game, they get randomly (and very rarely) upgraded to rank X, if you have them battle other cards. Then, when you use them after they turned X, you use them again and they may turn to rank A (what is even more rare than turning to X). And you have to do this with all 100 of your cards. Oh, and while you’re trying to get them to rank A, you may loose a game and the other payer takes your unique card, meaning, you have to win it back from him. And the best of all? You don’t even get a reward for doing all this. Not even a Bragging Rights Reward. Nothing, except the score shown in your card menu.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Most of them, really. Other than Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi, every character has a point where they not only stop contributing to the plot but almost stop talking completely.
    • Freya. She has a focus during the Burmecia and Cleyra plotlines in disc 1, but after that she becomes almost completely irrelevant to the story, with her plot around Sir Fratley being left unresolved.
    • Steiner's story arc is that he has to deal with his doubts over his loyalty and sworn duty to Queen Brahne after learning she started a violent war and was willing to hurt and kill Garnet to gain more power. His story doesn't have any real proper resolution and it becomes a moot point after Brahne dies and Garnet ascends the throne. Beatrix goes through a similar story line that also goes nowhere.
    • We never learn anything about Amarant's backstory or why he detests teamwork so much.
    • Quina, Eiko, and to a lesser extent Mikoto and Lani fall victim to this as well.
    • The Black Waltzes, powered up and self-aware Black Mages, are all killed off in disc 1. If any of them survived we could have seen how they would react to learning of their limited lifespans. Would they have reacted violently, like Kuja did, or would have they accepted it peacefully?
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Brahne spends the first part of the game laying waste to the Mist Continent until she is betrayed by Kuja, who kills her and lays waste to Alexandria. It would have been interesting to see victims of Brahne's campaign treat Garnet and her friends harshly, forcing Garnet to try and make some form of reparation to appease them, or even to see the angry war survivors try and attack the devastated Alexandria out of revenge.
    • When trying to break the seal on the Shimmering Isle so the party can get to Terra, the party splits up into four teams of two. Each pair of characters is attacked by a Guardian based on the Final Fantasy I Four Fiends. Only the Earth Guardian is actually fought. Two others appear briefly with detailed character models, but their fights only appear as snippets in cutscenes. They are all later fought in the Memoria, and Maliris's dialogue implies they are the same ones. The game's dummied content hints that they were supposed to be fought individually in the planning stages.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: It's important to note that unlike other examples, all of these party members can be good, they just require either specific setups or extreme patience:
    • Amarant's characterization is relatively popular; maybe not as much as Vivi or Steiner, but he has his fans. Gameplay-wise, not so much. Of course, it doesn't help that you get him towards the end of Disc 2, long after other characters have joined and learned plenty of abilities. His level is on par with everyone else's, but he'll have to learn abilities from scratch, making him easy to ditch.
    • Eiko, a Bratty Half-Pint combined with a Squishy Wizard that in the long run isn't very useful. Of the two summoners in the game, Eiko has only half as many potential summons as the other option, Dagger. Worse, Dagger has all the best summons, including the Game-Breaker summon Ark (if you know how to get it), so Eiko doesn't even have quality over quantity. This also means that Eiko absolutely needs the Boost ability, which costs a whopping twelve ability orbs—and she has the lowest orb gain in the game (and, as result, the lowest overall orb total), which means setting Boost leaves her lagging in almost every other area. Even though she's the only character to get the Full-Life spell, there are plenty of easier ways to revive characters. Sure, Carbuncle can cast Haste on the entire party but you can also compensate by getting Auto-haste. The sequences where you are forced to use her are basically just so you will eventually use her, instead of ignoring her altogether. In all, her main problem is Crippling Overspecialization—you don't need two White Mage characters, unless you intend to use Garnet to nuke which many think just drags the gameplay on (as the main purpose behind Garnet's summon animation, aside from Visual Effects of Awesome, is to patch the entire party up with Regen and get ready to unleash a truckload of hurt.)
    • Freya and Steiner fall into this for some people, for similar reasons. Both spend a lot of time away from the party, during which they will not gain experience. As a result, it's not uncommon for them to be starved in levels and possibly abilities. That said, if you take the time to use them, they will indeed pay off—Steiner is easily the strongest character in the game in terms of raw physical power, and the late-game Sword Arts are nothing short of amazing, and Freya is similar - her Jump ability allows her to avoid nastier enemy attacks if it's timed right (which makes her very useful in the fight against Necron).
    • Quina is this to some - how useful s/he is depends pretty much entirely on one factor: How much work you put into them. Due to the gimmicky way to learn Quina's abilities and equipment (Going out of your way to catch frogs, eating every enemy you can). While you have plenty of time to build them up in disc 3, there's a good chance s/he may be left behind - especially if you did not obtain them in disc 1. S/he is only really mandatory for a few dungeons outside of disc 1, meaning that like Amarant, s/he's very easy to ditch.
  • Toy Ship: Many shippers interpreted Eiko's bossiness and Vivi's nervous compliance as cute enough to warrant one. Which, canonically, would end in tragedy, since Vivi is a very short-lived creature.
  • Unfortunate Character Design:
    • Garnet's Trance form makes it seem like she has a bare bottom. Made all the worse by how lovingly rendered her (tightly) clothed bottom is, even out of Trance.
    • Likewise, it wasn't such a good idea to give Eiko skintone pants, since it makes her look like she's nude from the waist down. Add to that the fact that she's six years old and most fans react with Squick. Most other art and her in-game model make her pants a much darker red to avoid this.
    • Stroper looks like a penis with waving tentacles. There's no way around it.
  • Values Dissonance: Many critics and analysts note that the game's central themes (the inevitability of death, duty versus personal aspirations, conformity versus individuality, and having a place to belong) are all expressions of important Japanese cultural mores. Zen Buddhism is centered around the inevitability of death and how one should live in the meantime (represented by Vivi and the mages). The Pillars of Moral Character are about how one juggles a divide between personal feelings and duty (represented by Dagger, Steiner and Freya). Zen Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism and Shintoism are largely about knowing one's place in the world and how an aggressive ego leads to suffering for oneself and others (represented by Kuja), while over-conformity leaves one soulless (represented by Garland). Japanese society in general is based on in-group culture, where everyone needs a place to belong and can both achieve more and live happiest once they've found a place to fit in (represented by Zidane, Eiko and Amarant). For these reasons, FFIX is very poignant and beloved in its native Japan while in the Anglosphere, the reception to it was a bit more mixed and some of the characters and messages (Zidane, Garnet and Kuja especially) are interpreted a little differently. In particular, Western audiences tend to think of Kuja's fear of losing his soul as being akin to losing out on an afterlife from a Christian perspective. In comparison to the principally Shintoist Japan, Western fans can very much relate to doing anything it takes to save your eternal soul.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Kuja, very infamously. He's fair-skinned with soft features, has long silver-white hair, paints his nails, and walks around in revealing clothing colored purple and lavender. He even has feminine hips and waist, which arguably fall into "cheating". The only thing keeping him from being a woman, visually, is the lack of a bust. This is lampshaded when he confronts Queen Brahne after she (expectedly) turns on him, and she says, "It's about time you showed your girly face here."
  • Vindicated by History: Despite selling less than either of its immediate predecessors and often being overshadowed by VII in particular, both new and old fans of the series have come to appreciate the narrative and character development of IX far more than when it came out—and so, generally speaking, this is the least "contested" of the PS1-era Final Fantasies, and the one to most widely have its virtues acknowledged. Word of God also has this to a certain extent, as seen on the main page.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: True to a Square-Enix game, this is a very beautiful game. While it may not have been as big a jump as Final Fantasy VIII was to Final Fantasy VII, the pre-rendered backgrounds and character models are top notch. Some also argue that unlike VIII, the art-style helped the FMVs age better, whereas VIII's fall into the Uncanny Valley.
  • What an Idiot!: Dagger is kidnapped by Zidane under the order of Cid, ruler of Lindblum, to protect Dagger from her own mother, a queen gone mad with power. It turns out that Dagger noticed herself that something was off and wants to be taken. She talks to Cid about Brahne and hopes he can do something. Cid assures her that everything will be fine and he'll form a plan to deal with her mother. Dagger then wants to go with Zidane to Burmecia so she can see why Brahne attacked them. Zidane and Cid tell her it's too dangerous and she could be killed.
    You'd expect: Dagger would stay put in Lindblum and let her companions get to the bottom of the situation without risking her life as Alexandria's princess.
    Instead: Dagger drugs everyone's food but Steiner's so they can sneak out of Lindblum and back into Alexandria so she can talk to Brahne herself (keep in mind Dagger's original plan to leave the country to address her mother's mental state). This results in Dagger getting knocked out, Zorn and Thorn extracting her eidolons to use them for war, and Brahne herself preparing to execute Dagger for "treason". If it weren't for Zidane overhearing Brahne's plans, Dagger would have died. It's the main example of her Fatal Flaw: feeling the need to be responsible as the princess. She also does it as a form of rebellion against what she perceives to be Zidane treating her like a child.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The Chocobo upgrading scenes. You open a treasure chest and suddenly a white mist consumes you. The next thing you see is your Chocobo walking through a field of stars to arrive at a planetoid topped by a temple full of various-colored Chocobos and ruled over by a giant Chocobo who grants him new powers, then suddenly the sequence ends and you and your powered-up Chocobo are back where you found the chest.
  • The Woobie:
    • Vivi. You spend the first half of the game visiting places the Black Mages have been to, cuasing townspeople to demonize the poor boy while he just shakes, cowers, and protests he has nothing to do with them and doesn't understand the situation. This comes to a head when he finds out that he's the prototype to a more controllable make of Artificial Human, and that he will probably stop moving one day just like them. The ending heavily suggests that he had less than a year from when he found out. There's even an optional, easily-missable cutscene that makes it even worse: his adoptive "grandfather" Quan actually wanted to fatten up the boy into something more edible, but innocent young Vivi completely missed this subtext. Granted, it's implied that Quan changed his mind along the line and instead found fulfillment in raising Vivi (established in a special cutscene with Vivi, Quina, and Quale), but yeah, it still counts big time.
    • Princess Garnet, or Dagger, had her father die when she was young, has her once-loving mom go insane and try to take over the world, is hunted down when she tries to tell her "uncle" about her mother's genocidal tendencies, has her magic ripped out of her by two freaky clowns, is sentenced to death by her mother after she stops being useful, sees that stolen magic destroy entire cities, and finally watches her pathetic mother die at her feet. This is all before she finds out that she wasn't the queen's real daughter and her real mother had also died getting her to safety. Eventually, this gets to be too much for her, and she has a nervous breakdown and goes mute.
    • Freya Crescent, who loses everything she has during the first half of the game. Everything. She suffers a massive Trauma Conga Line over the course of the game that sees her forgotten by her lover and her entire civilization destroyed. Her quote is also particularly chilling given how the game promptly forgets her existence.
    • Zidane. He spends the majority of his life trying to find a place where he belongs, being that he had dreams about Terra and all. When he doesn't find it, he returns to his adopted father Baku. Just like Tidus, Zidane is welcomed back with a punch from Baku. When he finds out he is not from Gaia and realizes he was created to be Garland's puppet, he has a breakdown rejecting his friends and all. The whole game for him, he's basically a Stepford Smiler.
    • Eiko, at only six years old, is the sole survivor of the summoner tribe aside from Garnet, making her an orphan with only moogles to look after her. As her quote in the game suggests, she doesn't want to be alone anymore and is overjoyed at Zidane coming to her home. In the third disc, her love letter to Zidane is misplaced, she's kidnapped by Zorn and Thorn (who are now working for Kuja), loses her guardian Mog, and finds out Zidane loves Garnet more. After all this she gets her happy ending when Regent Cid adopts her.
    • It's implied that your chocobo ran away from an abusive owner before being taken in by a Moogle.
    • Even the eventual true Big Bad himself Kuja could qualify, though he's probably a Jerkass Woobie. He's a product of an assimilation plot started by the Terrans and while he did have a good life, Zidane and Mikoto came along, and were to replace him, meaning he'd end up having to give up his soul just because Garland didn't think he deserved to live after better prototypes were made. And he does eventually redeem himself by teleporting the heroes out of the Hill of Despair, using the last of his strength. With all this, can you blame his selfish outlook on life and eventual Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum? Even Zidane and Vivi felt sorry for him by the end.
  • Woolseyism: In general, this game is the moment when Square's post-Woolsey-himself localization practices really clicked into place - see here for more info.
    • The game localized the protagonist's name from Jitan to Zidane. The intended reading of Jitan is unclear—it was possibly meant to be "Gitan", French for gypsy, which would pair nicely with his surname Tribal. Several other European translations went with other interpretations of Jitan, possibly to avoid association with French footballer Zinedine Zidane: Djidane in French, Yitán in Spanish, and Gidan in Italian.
    • Despite it being one reason they're so hated, Zorn and Thorn's repetitive, Yoda-style speech patterns are an example. The Verbal Tic they have in the Japanese text was too difficult to adapt to English, so the localization team came up with a new quirk.
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