Also on: Xbox One, Windows 10
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Does anyone remember Final Fantasy IX? Oh yeah… pretty much everyone and their grandma! Especially grandmothers since this game is almost 20 years old. That?s like a hundred years in video game time! But enough history because the first in a series of Final Fantasy poets to the Switch has finally arrived and we had a chance to see how it turned out.
So if you?re familiar with this classic PlayStation game then you might also know it was ported to iOS and PC and then to PS4 not too long ago. It?s a sort of HD remaster of the game in its original form with a couple added features that you may or may not have any use for. And now it?s on the Switch so you can play it on the go!
Okay so that?s not entirely true, because the original PSOne version of FF9 is available to play on the Vita in all its original glory! More on this in a bit. But what every version has is the thing you’re wanting and that’s a charming fantasy adventure with memorable characters who I always remember as having voices even though there’s no voice at all in the game. I guess that goes to the credit of how much of an impression they left on me back in the day.
What you do get here is a higher res looking version of Final Fantasy IX and the perks of the portable/docked Switch hardware. That?s enough for most people to make a decision on where they?ll play this game, but those extra features I mentioned might appeal to those looking for ways to cut down on the grind of the original.
Just like in the PS4 port you can alter things like the speed of the game, random battle frequency, damage etc. You do this by pressing the start button and reading some very small text on the bottom right to see what options the shoulder buttons will give. For instance if you press R it will run the game at 3x speed. Another option is to toggle attack damage to be 9999 on every hit.
While I do welcome these buffs, that all feel like overkill. The speed of 3x feels too fast where maybe 2x or 1.5x would be a better option. For my aging brain the 3x speed in battles actually makes things more difficult. Other options like doing 9999 damage will one-shot enemies and is so overpowered that battles will feel pointless. Now it?s not like you?re trapped with these options being on for the whole game since you can toggle them freely as long as the game isn?t loading between an event or battle, but something like a slider or levels of effect would have been very welcome since these options all more or less break the game in your favor. I?m more of a fan of how other ports will modify the game by rebalancing XP earned or something. But that?s just personal preference and honestly we already knew what we were getting with the options this port would offer.
There are some options you can enable like teaching a party member abilities immediately which can?t be undone, but the worst you?ll get out of any of these changes is a lower difficulty for yourself. So modify what you want and enjoy the ride!
And there?s still a ride to enjoy below these new features, because the original game is still here as represented very faithfully. Well with one exception and that?s the UI which is a carryover from the iOS port. I do feel this lessens the charm of the game compared to the original PlayStation text and UI but Square doesn’t seem to mind.
The other thing I do notice is how the characters don?t blend as much into the prerendered backgrounds. This is due to the models having a facelift while the backgrounds look muddy in comparison. I went to compare this for myself against the PlayStation version which I was able to look at on the Vita, and if I?m being honest I almost prefer the more pixelated look of the original. The lower tech of the time used a lot of tricks that just don?t age well when you only improve one aspect without changing the others. So if you?re like me then you might have an initial problem with the visuals feeling half-baked but I found that they actually work better on a TV where it almost had a watercolor look to them.
Again these cosmetic complaints don?t do anything to the gameplay but I mentioned before versions play on consoles and Vita and for some it may be a more viable option by having a more cozy and charming overall appearance. It?s also cheaper!
But all that said this is Final Fantasy IX just like you remember and the complaints I have are nit picky. The sound and gameplay both hold up and there?s something cool about playing this on a Nintendo console after all the history shared between them and Sony. It’s also the same port we’ve seen with options to speed up the time spent in battles. So if it?s the first time you?re experiencing the game then you?re in for a treat and I?m glad to see it on the Switch, but at a current price just over $20 for those with other options you may want to wait for a sale.
Note: Square Enix provided us with a Final Fantasy IX Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.