I get it. I finally get why so many people consider Final Fantasy IX to be the best of the era. This is a game that did an insane amount of things right. It looks and sounds great, plays amazingly well and it actually fixed a lot of things people complained about in Final Fantasy VII and VIII.
A lot of the story and talking is optional, so those who don’t feel like going through it on their second play through, or even on their first, can easily skip it. As for myself, I enjoyed every moment of the story, and probably would do so again.
The part I did make use of are the optionally long summoning animations. Apparently, there was a lot of understandable complaining about the long summoning animations in Final Fantasy VII and especially VIII, so Square did what was probably the best solution. The first summoning of an eidolon shows the full length sequence. Future summoning only show the short version, unless the Boost ability is enabled on Dagger/Eiko. In that case, the full sequence is played, but the summon also does more damage. This way, people who are willing to wait through it get rewarded a bit, but most of the time, the extra damage is not needed.
In one of my earlier posts about this play through, I complained about the frequency of random encounters, but over the course of the game, I’ve noticed it really isn’t a huge issue. Most of the time, the encounters are frequent only in areas where your characters could probably use some training. Other than that, I only rarely had trouble with to many encounters.
As I said, the game looks and sounds great. It’s probably one of the best looking games of the era and the soundtrack is something I often listen to as part of my regular playlists. It’ not just about the quality of the graphics, though. It’s design that makes it timeless and provides the atmosphere and charm. Everything just blends and works together perfectly.
Yes, Final Fantasy VII still is my favorite, simply because the story and the setting are probably the most developed (or the most familiar to me personally), but would have to agree that overall, Final Fantasy IX is probably the better game. Any fan of what JRPGs used to be should play this one.