The last Playstation installment of the FF series sees the return of classic FF themes like character class abilities and a fantasy setting. It was the second-last flagship Final Fantasy game published by the Square Electronics Arts joint venture. A simple mission once again grows into a worldwide adventure. New character development systems and improved game graphics mark this entry. New York-based artist Yoshitaka Amano returns to do the character designs, just as he did from the first FF to the sixth.
Progression generally revolves around exploring the 3D world map to reach destinations. While the camera can be rotated on the world map, the individual locations themselves remain pre-rendered backdrops which players explore using characters represented by 3D polygon models. As a result, these backdrops feature fixed camera angles with NPCs or "hot spots" that players interact with where necessary.
Battles are triggered by random encounters both on the world map and at various locations, and remain turn-based affairs which take place on a different screen from the current area itself where the player's current party of characters face off directly against their foes on separate sides of the battlefield.
Turn order can be surmised using the series' Active Time Battle system where the time remaining until the character can make their next action is visually represented by a special gauge for each party member. Actions are chosen through menu selection. Unique to FFIX is the Trance system, where a character can temporarily "transform" into a more powerful form when a separate gauge becomes filled, usually due to taking enough damage from enemies.
Like FFVIII, FFIX features a card game which can be enjoyed outside of the main game. Instead of FFVIII's well-received Triple Triad, FFIX introduces Tetra Master which features different rules and mechanics. Players can engage in Tetra Master matches simply by conversing with NPCs who are capable of playing the game themselvs, and accepting their challenge.
- 8 unique characters that use a variety of weapons, magic and abilities
- A magical world with superbly detailed pre-rendered environments
- Almost one hour of seamlessly integrated full motion videos
- Many Mini-games to try out