Final Fantasy IX is a 2000 role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation video game console. It is the ninth game in the main Final Fantasy series. The plot focuses on a war between nations in a medieval fantasy world called Gaia. Players follow a thief named Zidane Tribal who kidnaps princess Garnet Til Alexandros XVII as part of a ploy by the neighboring nation of Lindblum. He joins Garnet and a growing cast of characters on a quest to take down her mother, Queen Brahne of Alexandria, who started the war.
Game development occurred in parallel with Final Fantasy VIII. Envisioned by developers as a retrospective for the series, it departed from the futuristic settings of Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII by returning to the medieval style of the earlier games. Consequently, it draws heavy influence from the original Final Fantasy and features allusions to the rest of the series. The game introduced new features to the series despite this approach, such as “Active Time Event” cutscenes, “Mognet”, and skill systems. Final Fantasy IX was the last game in the main series whose music was composed solely by Nobuo Uematsu.
Final Fantasy IX was released to critical acclaim and is considered one of the greatest video games of all time. Often cited as one of the best games in the series from critics and fans alike. Final Fantasy IX was commercially successful, selling more than 5.5 million copies on PlayStation by March 2016. It was re-released in 2010 as a PS1 Classic on the PlayStation Store—this version was compatible with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable; PlayStation Vita support arrived in 2012. Square Enix released ports featuring minor gameplay and graphical enhancements for various other platforms in the late 2010s. An animated series adaptation by Square Enix and Cyber Group Studios was announced in 2021.
In Final Fantasy IX, the player navigates a character through the game world, exploring areas and interacting with non-player characters. Most of the game occurs on “field screens” consisting of pre-rendered backgrounds representing towns and dungeons. To aid exploration on the field screen, Final Fantasy IX introduces the “field icon”, an exclamation mark appearing over the lead character’s head, indicating a point of interest. Players speak with Moogles to record their progress, recover their energy, and purchase items. An extensive optional quest involves sending and receiving letters from Moogles and other non-playable characters via Mognet, an in-game postal service.
Players journey between field screen locations on the world map, a three-dimensional representation of Final Fantasy IX’s world presented from a top-down perspective. Players can freely navigate around the world map unless restricted by obstacles such as bodies of water or mountain ranges. To traverse these impediments, players can ride chocobos, sail on a boat, or pilot airships. Like previous Final Fantasy games, players enter battles caused by random encounters with enemies while traveling across the world map or hostile field screens. Final Fantasy IX offers a new approach to town exploration with Active Time Events (ATE). These allow the player to view events unfolding at different locations, providing character development, unique items, and prompts for story-altering decisions. ATEs are occasionally used to simultaneously control two teams when the party divides to solve puzzles and navigate mazes.