Final Fantasy IX – Throwback Thursday

It’s not uncommon for people to speak about songs, movies or books that have changed their life. Not many people mention a video game, at least not seriously, when referencing media that had such a profound impact on them that it altered the way they thought or saw the world afterwards.

Perhaps because video games are still just being accepted as a regular and normal hobby for adults. Many people still associate video games as something boys play as kids even though the average gamer is 30 with 47% being female. The average age of the frequent game buyer is 35. This is according to a google search which pulled data from a study done by G4TV.

I mention all that because I view video games the same way I view any media and just like TV, Movies and Music they too can reach out a captivate someone in a meaningful way. Today I am going to talk about my experience back in the early 2000s when I finally played through Final Fantasy IX.

PS1_Sony_OfficialI had just moved back to South Carolina from Oregon and was in need of a new game console. Before I moved back I slimmed down what I owned because I had very little cargo room and my video games had to go. A decision I still regret to this day. Anyway I went to Best Buy and at that time you could get a slim PS1 for $50 and FFIX (green label) was on sale for $9.99. So for $60 I was out the door with my new console and a RPG I had been wanting to play for a while anyway.

I loved Final Fantasy VII, still do, and had been longing for an experience similar to it. From the screen shots and reviews I had read, which in that day weren’t many, I decided it would be fit the bill. I didn’t realize that it would stick with me as long as it had.

If you have not played the game you need to know that while you are on an epic adventure to save the planet, this is first and foremost a love story. And a damn good one. The game actually received some criticism from fans of the series for that but those that played it through were rewarded. Anyone who reads my articles know I do my best to avoid spoilers by not talking about the actual storyline of a game out of respect for the person that hasn’t played it yet regardless of how old the title is. However I can’t talk about how this game impacted me without spoiling anything. But since the game came out in 2002, I feel a little ok with that.

FF9The story centers around the main protagonist Zidane and Princess Garnet til’ Alexandros. From here on out we will call the princess Dagger as she takes that name early on in the game. So the love story is between Zidane and Dagger. Dagger is a princess who was raised to speak and act properly and Zidane is basically a thief who has little manners. Your typical Romeo and Juliet. Yes that kind of story is done a lot, but it works so well that we all just kind of accept it.

But that isn’t the only “love” story going on in the game. Early on as you are building your party you meet a mage named Vivi. For many this storyline had the biggest impact for them.  You see, it turns out he wasn’t born but created and you help him uncover this, cope with it and learn to live life like any other “normal” boy. By the end of the game he figures out what it truly means to be alive. They way the game presents this is by making Vivi so innocent, it’s like watching a child learning about the world for the first time but with a wisdom and maturity beyond his years.

“You taught me that life doesn’t last forever. That’s why we have to help each other and live life to the fullest. Even if you say goodbye, you’ll always be in our hearts. So, I know we’re not alone anymore. Why I was born… How I wanted to live… Thanks for giving me time to think. To keep doing what you set your heart on… It’s a very hard thing to do. We were all so courageous… What to do when I felt lonely… That was the only thing you couldn’t teach me. But we need to figure out the answer for ourselves… I’m so happy I met everyone… I wish we could’ve gone on more adventures. But I guess we all have to say goodbye someday. Everyone… Thank you. Farewell. My memories will be part of the sky…” – Vivi, in the end

This ties in great to the main narrative with Zidane and Dagger. Both Vivi and Dagger want to find where it is they fit into the world and there are some great scenes and dialogue as the story progresses and they figure out what it means live like a normal person. They are both trying to achieve the same thing but coming at it from two entirely different angles and backgrounds. That alone makes for a good story.

Zidane helps them out and we get to learn a lot about him. While he is a thief he also has a good heart. He helps people out just because it’s the right thing to do which sounds odd given his profession but just go with it, it works.

“You don’t need a reason to help people.” – Zidane

“In the end, it boils down to two simple choices. Either you do or you don’t. You’d think with all the problems in this world, there’d be more answers. It’s not fair… but that’s the way things are. The choice is yours.” – Zidane

“Sometimes, you can’t think everything out. You have to listen to your heart.” – Zidane

The above quotes do more justice to how I feel about Zidane’s character than I could possibly type. He’s a good guy. And througth his actions he affects the lives, for the better, of those around him. It sounds silly, but when I played through this game for the first time I set the controller down and decided that’s how I want to be. Everyday I try to just be a good guy to be around and hopefully enrich those around me.

I could go on for hours about this game but I will leave it here. If you have not played this game I can’t recommend it enough. The graphics are still just as charming now as they were a decade ago. The music is some of Uematsu’s best and stays with you long after the credits roll. So set aside a few hours when you can, this is an adventure you want to take.