Final Fantasy IX

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Final Fantasy IX is a single-player role-playing game developed by Squaresoft and released in 2000 on the Sony PlayStation as the ninth instalment of the Final Fantasy series. Unlike the previous two instalments, Final Fantasy IX is set in a more medieval fantasy setting, a world ruled by monarchs and driven by steam engines rather than the dystopian futurism of Final Fantasy VII or the present-day-military-technology-plus-magic of Final Fantasy VIII. The characters attempt to have both a comic book quality and to fit within realistic proportions.

Like previous Final Fantasy games, the gameplay is split between a variety of modes - the field mode where one interacts with non-playable characters against a pre-drawn background, the menu-driven battle mode, and a three-dimensional world map explorable by foot, by ship and airship, and on the back of various chocobos. The characters are in pre-defined classes including thief, black mage, white mage, red mage, blue mage, knight and summoner. Character advancement is based on the award of experience points (EXP) during battle, which leads to eventual increase in level. Characters have hit points (HP) which are a measure of the amount of health the character has (when they reach zero, they are knocked out and can be revived with a Phoenix Down), and magic points (MP) which are used up by magic and skills. Both are increased by levelling up. In addition, combat earns ability points (AP) which are used to get new abilities. As a whole, the skill system is considerably simpler than the rather complex junctioning system of Final Fantasy VIII and somewhat simpler than the materia system in Final Fantasy VII, although the downside of that simplicity is that you cannot produce as complex or varied skillsets for your characters and have to play it pretty much as it's been designed.

In combat, characters can use physical, magical or skill-based attacks and actions selected from a navigational menu, following the principles of Active Time Battle from the previous games. The performance of attacks is determined by their "statistics", a set of values that are calculated together in unspecified probabilistic formulations with enemy statistics to cause the damage. For instance, the damage caused by a physical attack may be determined by the strength characteristic of the attacker, the strength of the weapon used, the defensive characteristics of the target, and by modifiers of fitted equipment and selected skills. This allows the player to change the combat function of the character to some extent, but the storyline-defined class of the character does determine a large part of the character's combat functions (there's no way you are going to get Quina, the heavily chance-based blue mage character, to be able to do strong physical attacks like the knight character Steiner, for instance).

The currency in the game remains as Gil which can be used to purchase items and weapons - it is obtained from battles, can be stolen from opponents, can be gained by selling items and from subquests. Tetra Master is the card game played, which derives some of the rules from Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII. Other minigames include Chocobo Hot and Cold, a hide-and-seek game played while riding a chocobo, and Mognet, where one carries and delivers items of mail between Moogles, which reside all over the world in the game: some for storyline purposes, but mostly serving as save and rest points (a small number of these also offer items for sale in Mogshops).

The music in the game was composed by Nobou Uematsu. The soundtrack has been released on a number of CDs and has been performed in a number of solo piano and orchestral performances, and by The Black Mages, the progressive metal band which plays Final Fantasy music.