Release date: 19th September 2017
Platform: Playstation 4
PEGI Rating: 12+
Last week the Final Fantasy fandom got a pleasant surprise. From out of nowhere, SquareEnix announced a PS4 version of Final Fantasy IX and released it, all in a space of 24 hours. While people expected more information on the Final Fantasy VII remake, which has been pretty sparse as of late, this release of a Final Fantasy classic provided a nice distraction for us fans that want to know how the FFVII remaking is progressing.
Pushing all that aside, it is amazing to see that Final Fantasy IX has been given an opportunity to shine yet again. It is an often overlooked game in the series as everyone talks about the more popular VII, X and XV. FFIX was an excellent entry to the beloved RPG franchise, which is amazing considering it was released in order to provide fans with a Final Fantasy game whilst FFX was in the works and now it is working that same purpose for FFVII. Often considered by some fans as the best in the series, the question is how did the remaster fare?
A Brief Review of the Original
There is no point in basing the critiques on the gameplay or story itself as that hasn’t changed since its original release in 2000. To sum it up, FFIX is a fantastic game which should get all the attention in the world and is seriously in the upper echelons of best FF of all time. The story is fantastic, the characters are memorable, especially the protagonist, Zidane. He was a breath of fresh air when it comes to FF characters because up to that point, all previous protagonists were brooding, troubled youths who learnt to understand themselves and others throughout their adventures. Zidane had charisma, confidence and really stood out as soon as the game started, something which in my opinion has not been achieved since. Basically FFIX is a 10/10 game, without a shadow of a doubt.
And Back to the Remaster
This version is built off the PC remaster that was released a year before. It has a revamped interface which does take some time to get use to if you are an avid player of the original PlayStation version. After a while it works a lot better than the original interface in terms of getting around during a battle and is a welcome addition to the game. Other notable improvements also include the ATB battle system, which was clunky to say the least in the original game. Whilst the clunkiness is still there to some degree, the battles do feel a lot faster and don’t seem to drag as much, it no longer felt that the battles are going a lot longer than they actually were.
Graphically, there are changes. The PS4 version has changes which were not found in the PC release and they look delightful. The sprites are the bulk of the graphical changes, they all have a neat sheen to them with character faces a lot more detailed. Scenes such as Dagger and Steiner’s journey on the cable car are more impactful due to the close-up shots which show faces with more detail which does extenuates the characters more. Whilst this is good, there is the issue of telling what is new and what is old when it comes to graphics. The modern day sprites have been put on the pre-rendered backgrounds built 17 years ago which can be incredibly obvious at times, especially in the first scene when the game switches to in-game graphics, the contrast is startling to say the least. The music is still amazing, it is the original soundtrack cleaned up a bit to fit with a current gen console.
The Big Issue
But there are negative points that need to be addressed. This version of FFIX has come with cheats which have been a feature in all pre FFX re-releases. While the serious cheats are hidden deep in the config section of the game menu, which does disable trophies, the pause cheats do not disable trophies, and they are arguably the cheats that will get you through the game with ease if you feel like avoiding a challenge, which is very bewildering. The buttons to activate the pause cheats are the R and L buttons. This placement is very infuriating as if you put the controller down when you pause the game, you have a high chance of accidently enabling a cheat, which does make you feel dirty when you realise that your characters are now dealing 9999 damage. Why they could not assign the buttons using the analog sticks or the touchpad is beyond me, but then again, why do SqaureEnix have to put cheats into an JRPG where it is all about skill and improving your party of characters?
It’s an ongoing add-on when it comes to re-releasing the old PlayStation Final Fantasies and it just being there and in your face. It is off putting and disregards the challenges that these classics presented to players. It is that whole argument that games are getting easier all over again and SquareEnix is not exactly proving that point wrong. And then there is the price. At the time of writing, FFIX is £16.99, with PS plus members getting a discount, bringing it to £13.59. Why is it so expensive? It is pretty much the same game as the previous version only with prettier visuals and the original version is available for PS3 and Vita for £7.99. It is too expensive for what it is, replacing the sprites does not warrant an extra £10 on the original product.
Overall though, I can’t complain much. Whilst it does have some ridiculous choices in regards to design and price, strip them all away and you still have a wonderful remaster to a wonderful game which should hopefully get more eyes on it and become more of a classic than it already is.
I would say let the price drop before you buy this game, but when it drops, buy it and enjoy it. Seriously, it is that good of a game.
Images taken from DualShockers
- THE GOOD
- New graphic additions are fantastic.
- Runs a lot faster
- Music and cinematic have been up-scaled for HD
- Its Final Fantasy IX!
- THE BAD
- The cheats are too accessible, taking away challenge of the original game.
- Border gets annoying
- Irritating design choices
- Pricing is too expensive, even though the same game is sold as a PSone Classic for nearly half the price
An excellent remaster that, unfortunately, has unnecessary changes to it that takes away from the original experience. The price is way too much, which is strange considering the same game is being sold on PSN for half the price. Wait for the price to drop or just pick up the original.