Never a 'Final' Fantasy

I am a sucker for nostalgia, anyone who knows me, knows I love the Final Fantasy game series for the most part. Each and every one I find something to like about. I've always had a soft spot for the titular designed Final Fantasy IX with its cheeky protagonist: Zidane. So when we were given an Xbox One review code for the FF IX remaster I had to check it out.

It's Back Jim, and mostly as you know it

The story of Zidane and the Princess, the cast of characters, Vivi, and all of the names I know and love from this wonderfully heart-warming game are back. I have not played it in such a long time so I really relished the chance to get back in there and experience the story once more.

All the beats are still as I remember them, the humour, and the tension.

The game has aged fairly well, and in the remaster the visuals are given a bit of a face lift. I should say however, the higher definition models and objects look out of place against the murky textured backgrounds that serve as the backdrop for the adventures of Zidane and co. You may find this OK, but I really found it quite jarring at times.

The rendered cut-scenes, which were wonderful at the time, now have a retro charm that makes them appear dated, but functional in terms of the remaster.

Every other system in the game is as you'll remember it, or if it's your first time playing, you'll find a wealth of abilities to unlock and battles to fight as you follow Zidane's adventures across the world. Final Fantasy games are often unique, and this one, with the chibi-style models and the character design - it's a good game for younger players - though some of the themes it deals with are certainly adult.

There are a few assist modes in the game, these can be toggled on and off and change the way the game plays in numerous ways. You can turn the random battles off for instance if you just want to power through the story. You can activate an overpowered mode where you'll one-shot every enemy and be as badass as you like.

Each option is listed on the lower right hand side of the screen, and whilst the font is rather small, you can see the options and choose which ones you want to turn on and off.

It all depends just how easy or hard you want to make the game.

With all the assist modes on you're going to find the game is extremely easy, no challenge at all, and a complete walk in the park.

If that's what you want though, they've got you covered.

Nothing's changed in terms of the battle system, or the other systems and mini-games prevalent in FF IX. So if you've never played and you're curious, you can check out some of the streams of the game and even dive into a couple of the reviews that talk about the gameplay. Considering the game's around 20 years or so old, re-reviewing it in that regard isn't really going to mean much.

I think the game's worth a punt if you're a fan of the franchise, and if you really enjoyed it way back - this is the first time it's been on Xbox, so it's definitely worth picking up and remember, the more you support these JRPGs, the more viable JRPGs become on the platform.

Just look at the success of Nier: Automata for example.

The sound effects, music, and so on are all the same as the previous version albeit slightly cleared up.

So, basically, the game's remastered visuals are good, but the use of low-res backgrounds makes the hi-res models pop far more than they really should. The game is what it is, and that's a fun, heartfelt tale of friendships and more.

All wrapped up in Final Fantasy IX's expansive world building, character personality, and fun quirky atmosphere.

If you remember this adventure fondly, then grab this game now. It's cheap, it's enjoyable, and it's a trip worth going down memory lane for.