Shock and horror! Yes it’s true, that title reads correctly; there are actually negative things I can say about Final Fantasy IX. I thought that because my comments on the weekly feature posts and anytime I’m on the podcast will be overwhelmingly positive, I would counter my legitimate praise with some legitimate criticism. A few of my issues may lie with points that occur in Disc Four – at the time of this writing, Lusipurr.com is officially playing the second disc – but those issues will spur a more general editorial at that time, so bear with me!
Kuja’s character gets a little confused –
Now don’t get me wrong, I really like Kuja as a villain. He’s more than just world domination rants and maniacal laughter (although he has his share too). He has some great moments and I think his motivations make sense. However, because of the generally light-hearted tone of the game, there are moments in which Kuja attempts to play both the comic relief and dramatic semi-crazed villain and it falls flat. Characters like Steiner do a far better job of including genuine hilarity by staying true to their personalities. Kuja is great as a dramatic, jealous narcissist and the writers should have strictly kept him to that.
The Multi-Perspective Story-Telling Ends –
The thing I probably yell from the rooftops about the most is FF9‘s unique story-telling technique. Splitting the party into parts helps give more intimate looks into the characters and breathes extra life into the world. Not only that, it keeps the game from getting boring. Jumping back and forth between characters at just the right time creates interest in the new set of characters while building anticipation for the team just left behind. So it blows my mind that this technique is largely abandoned in later parts of the game (I’m aware there is the rare odd exception). There are still intriguing plot points and there is still good character work, but I definitely miss the well-paced story switching from earlier on. Although it is not nearly as bad as…
The Attempt at Bad Philosophy is Entirely Out of Place –
While I am a complete sucker for the final cinematic and all the story elements after the final boss, I cannot say the same for the final hour or so leading up to that moment. Final Fantasty IX works best when it strikes genuine emotional chords with a character focused approach. The drama is more believable because it stems from the characters and their natural actions and reactions. The end of the game, however, tries to attach irrelevant philosophical concepts to explain fairly recently introduced plot points that feel entirely detached from the rest of the game. It goes against what the rest of the game does so well and it’s a little baffling.
Freya Sucks –
I’ve really had to come to terms with this conclusion. I love Freya’s character design, her late-game battle prowess, and the culture and history of Burmecia, but in the story she represents the largest missed opportunity. Her obsession with the lost Sir Fratley is less believable than every other romantic theme and character hook, and her dramatic way of speaking doesn’t have Steiner’s charm or Dagger’s subtext. In fact, the Burmecians speak far more casually than Freya herself, and she hasn’t even lived there in years, Dragon Knight status be damned. Frustratingly, Freya’s best scene is her first one which depicts a far more playful tone in the bar with Zidane than any scene I can remember after. Granted, I’m currently on Disc Two on this particular playthrough, but I have beat the game enough times to trust my memory on this one.
So that’s it! I have other minor gripes here and there, but these are really the only ones that sting me when I think of what could have been. What about you guys? We’ve been focusing on the many positives of FF9 so far, but what are some of your complaints? Do you disagree with mine? Let me know in the comments section below.