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Final Fantasy IX Remake Could Be Good

Final Fantasy IX was a timeless celebration of everything the franchise had been up to that point. It celebrated the best of the SNES classics, while improving on what we had loved about VII and VIII. With X, a new era began, and things have never quite been the same.

And that’s why fans are rightfully worried about the upcoming Final Fantasy IX remake. It hasn’t been officially announced yet. But it was on the Geforce leak and insiders have since confirmed it a couple of times.

My gut reaction was that it needs to be left alone. But the more I think about it, the more I think it would benefit from a remake. Because although it has many strong points, there are areas that need definite improvements.

Side Quests

This is top of the list because the side quests in Final Fantasy IX are terrible. There may be some leftover anger from the official guide asking you “jump online for tips” for every single side quest, but I stand by it.

The quality of the side quests are revealed within a few moments of playing. The easiest way to get the jump rope trophy in the PS4 version of the game is to remote play to your PC and use a program to tap the button for you. And sometimes the robot who does it for you GETS IT WRONG. Even though it’s literally what it’s set up for. It would be thankless and depressing to get the full 1,000 jumps, especially this early.

The rest are mostly on the same level. Reach the end of the game in 13 hours? Great idea for an RPG, and something that’ll net you the most powerful weapon in the game. The complicated Nero family has you leaving the final dungeon nine times for cutscene half way across the world.

The world’s least complete monster arena? Included, and completely missable. Tetra Master is fun, but less interesting than Triple Triad. Collecting treasure chests. Chocobo Hot and Cold feels like busywork after a while.

I do love the Moogle letters though.

I guess the point of this section is that if Square just fix the side quests and make them anything approaching interesting, I’ll buy. Day one. Even with no other changes.


This is specifically about Amarant, but could apply to almost any of the other characters in IX. Eiko, Quina and, to a certain extent Freya, all have similar issues.

And that issue is that they suck a little bit. The world of Final Fantasy IX is awesome, and part of that is the characterisation. Zidane, Vivi and Steiner (plus Beatrix), in particular, add a charm that would seem strange in other entries in the franchise.

But at some point the team clearly just needed to fill out the team to a decent amount. Eiko reveals a bit about summoner culture, Quina has a mini-game, Freya’s quest for her lost love adds some shallow tragedy to the game (but it isn’t bad).

But Amarant adds very little. He’s a bounty hunter sent after Dagger, and then he decides to come along for the journey. Why? There are a couple of vague reasons that don’t really make sense in the grand scheme of the plot. And once he’s revealed his background, he plays no other role in the game.

Change that, and bulk up the roles of the other characters, and the world becomes richer for it.


This might seem like an obvious one.

Final Fantasy IX is utterly unique within the franchise. Never has there been a more stylised entry in the mainline series. The characters look nothing like those in other games. And the PS1 helped to bring that to life in a way that perhaps wouldn’t have worked so well on consoles that were more capable of high-end graphics. I can’t see Square Enix leaning into cartoony visuals on the PS2, the PS3 or the PS4 like they did for the Gamecube.

And so it remained one of the nicest looking PS1 games, and it still stands up today.

Firstly, it doesn’t matter how great something looks from that era, to some people old is old. And whether it looks fantastic or not, Final Fantasy IX is still a PS1 game, with all the shortcomings that entails.

And secondly, modern consoles would allow a new take on Final Fantasy IX. You could build that cartoony look in a way that was never possible twenty-something years ago.

I’m not talking about changing the style or redesigning a single thing. I’m saying that the developer’s original intention can now be handled in a way that would never have been possible. All that colour, all that detail, all that cute. Today’s devices could really make that shine, especially if the fixed perspective is retained.

A remake of one of the most gorgeous games in one of the most gorgeous franchises needs to look amazing, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott