Mon, 9 February 2015
Final Fantasy IX began development shortly before the release of Final Fantasy VIII.
A small glimpse into the early process of the game was revealed on the internet by Sakaguchi in 2010.
On Mistwalker’s blog (Sakaguchi’s company), Sakaguchi posted early notes for the opening of Final Fantasy IX. Although the blog post is now impossible to find, an amature translation was jotted down in a forum deep inside the internet:
This is probably the biggest glimpse we’ll ever get into the process of the making of any of these games:
The game’s title and then fade to black.
Light emerges as the camera glides over an ocean following a landscape of trees, rivers, and fountains. The sky nears sunset as the camera moves onto the surface of a light fog and behind an airship called the Utsutsu. A large shadow approaches from behind revealing the Theatre ship.
Loud rings of machinery fill the area. A dark figure walks forward curiously.
The player makes an input for the character’s name. The default name is Zidane.
The protagonist Zidane lights a match brightening the room with a dim glow. (The match can be moved without the risk of the flame extinguishing, but it will go out in a short period of time. Ignite the match quickly and light the lamp at the center of the room.)
The lamp brightens the room completely revealing an arrangement of strangely shaped vases and boxes crawling on the pipe wall at the end of the room.
This is the cargo bay area of an airship.
Three thieves walk in when the player opens the door. One of them jokingly asks Zidane for an autograph. The player can respond to it.
Thieves: “Zidane, a Hayakatta.”
Zidane: “What happened to the boss?”
At that moment, footsteps sound from the ascending staircase. Zidane and the thieves turn towards the interruption.
“Achoo!” The sneeze sounds boss lol.
A tall rotund man with a thick beard steps down from the staircase. He runs toward the gang of thieves and the battle transitions to the battle screen.
-Boss Battle- Boss
Sometime during the fight; “Oh, you guys are pretty good,” “I like it!” says the Boss. After a certain amount of damage is dealt, Boss leans over weak and says “That’s enough for today.” (Toitaro???)
Inside the airship (continued)
Boss: “Ha ha ha,… Nice shot as usual.” (“I’ll ask today.” Almost loud, Zidane nodded???)
“Everyone, gather around!”
The screen fades and transitions to Zidane and the thieves gathered around a table with a map spread across it. Boss sitting at the head of the table, initiates the meeting revealing a plan to kidnap a princess during a play held on a theatre ship.
The screens transitions to the play. The first act has just ended at a pulling scene and the audience stands up with applause as the lights dim and the curtain closes. The stage director steps forward and informs the audience that there will be a short intermission before the second act begins. At the balcony sits the queen and her daughter Princess Garnet. The knight standing beside Garnet, asks her and the queen if they would like some more tea. The queen answers yes and insists her daughter to have some.
The knight fixes the tea and slips a drug into Garnet’s cup. He hands the cups to them and watches carefully when Garnet takes a sip.
She yawns a couple of minutes later after a few more sips. About a minute later another knight walks in from behind carrying a present. The knight that fixed the tea takes the package and presents it to the queen.
“A gift to you, from the theatre,” he says.
The queen hurries to open the lid and a dozen of oglops jump out. The queen jumps out of her seat panicking. The other guards hurry to her aid. With this distraction no notices that Garnet has fallen asleep and that the knight has run off with her.
Inside the airship (continued)
Boss: “Hmm, perfect.”
Thief: “It’s a brilliant plan.”
Thief 2: “This is very rich--!” (or maybe “This will make us rich!” ???)
(Pose to pose a big jump in one of the robbers.
Vibration, the model falls theater airships.
Sakaguchi’s notes for movie 4:
Close up of Princess Garnet Close up of her breasts. View of her breasts inside the clothes (a little). Also a view of her pendant of royalty....
-Hallway- She rushes away from the hallway. Two stare at each other.
Zidane: “Hey, was that..”
Thief: “Her breasts look comfortable..”
Zidane: “No, no, she was wearing the pendant of the summons permitted by only royalty.”
Thief: “I fell in Love at first sight..”
Zidane: “Deep blue stone… “The Legend of Leviathan”, was it Princess Garnet?”
Thief: “What are you talking about?”
Zidane: “Never mind, change of plan, let’s follow after her”.
Final Fantasy IX would be the last Final Fantasy on the Playstation, and as the series planned to move on into the next generation, it was 9 that was left to fittingly end the single-digit series of Final Fantasy games.
Here’s a little excerpt form a Famitsu interview with The Gutch.
Sakaguchi: I was thinking [of] it as an end. FF10 and FF11 are going to be on PS2 as well as PlayOnline. So with those, we were wanting to concentrate less on the feel of a world but more to use visuals which would push the hardware's ability. In that sense, because FF9 is the third in the series on PlayStation, instead of making it by pushing the abilities of the present hardware, we thought of making the feel of a Final Fantasy world once more...
Interviewer: In the previous interview, it was explained that it [FF] was going back to its roots. And when you look at the logo, the crystal is there. It really is going back to the roots of the FF series. Why is that?
Sakaguchi: Well, I wanted to try it out. (laughs) I said that it was because it was the last single numbered FF, but, yes, I like the number 9...(laughs)
Sakaguchi served as producer of the game (with Shinji Hashimoto), and was the scenario writer for this “send-off”. It was not originally planned to be a main line final fantasy game, and had been given the title “Final Fantasy Gaiden” during the conceptual stages of the game. It wasn’t officially announced as Final Fantasy IX until late in 1999 when Final Fantasy IX, X, and XI were announced simultaneously.
As a return to the fantasy genre that began the series, Final Fantasy 9 may not seem like the natural sequel to FF6, 7, or 8. The most notable difference is of course the controversial design and look of the game. Anime, realism, and steampunk gave way to old castles and more of a western fantasy approach. Hiroyuki Ito stated that they pulled from Norse and Nothern European Mythology, and to cap off the retro feel, there were some nice deformed character models to match the pre-FF8 Final Fantasy games.
Hideo Minaba: Art Director:As this is the last single-digit Final Fantasy, we wanted to give the feeling of a series watershed, a sort of grand collection of what has come before.
This old fantasy feel, not only affected the look of the game, but also the soundtrack as scored by Nobuo Uematsu. “I was shooting for subtle, classical-sounding tunes that fit the general setting and feel of the game…” he states, although he did start to steer clear of that feel. This departure and “boredom” with the sound he was originally going for may have to do with the 160 tracks he recorded for the game. The game ended up using around 140, including some remixes of other FF Soundtracks.
Uematsu: I wanted to remix some of the older songs. Some of the character and location names were the same, so I thought that it would cool to use something from the past series.
Some staff for Final Fantasy IX were returning from other Final Fantasy games. However as Yoshinori Kitase (Dir. FF7 and FF8), was moving onto FFX, the directing duties, as well as battle design duties, were put onto the shoulders of Hiroyuki Ito. Ito took much of the staff of Final Fantasy Tactics to work on the game. And as the game was mostly created in Hawaii (possibly due to Sakaguchi’s involvement with both FF9 and Spirits Within), many of the staff members were not Japanese. Yet another reason the game has more of a “western” sensibility.
Many take umbridge in the speed of the battle system of Final Fantasy IX: At one time designed to be the fastest battle system in the series, yet turned out to be the slowest. The reason for this, apparently (according to a superfan, Alex Donaldson, that was interviewed on the podcast “My Favourite Game”), was that the system couldn’t handle the battle system, and the framerate wouldn’t be acceptable at that speed. Sakaguchi said, with the speed down, the game almost feels like turned based. *personally, I think he’s talking out of his ass.
Despite the slow system, which we’ll talk about plenty in this episode, Final Fantasy IX was still a success.
Delayed to avoid conflict with the release of Enix’s Dragon Quest, the game was released on July 7th, 2000 in Japan, and made it to North America on November 13th. A couple months later, Europe got it February 2001.
The game didn’t sell as well as the previous 2 entries in the series, but it was still a hit. ultimately selling 5.3 Million copies by 2003.
Its legacy now is a quiet one. It’s never had a sequel, it was the smallest release on the Playstation, and was released when the PS2 had already arrived on store shelves. Many gamers, perhaps unfamiliar with the roots of the series, were turned off by the art design. Perhaps something as simple as a logo not designed by Yoshitaka Amano could throw someone off.
But alas, the game was still critically acclaimed, receiving many accolades at the playstation awards, and having very positive reviews from multiple gaming publications. As it now stands, Final Fantasy IX has the highest Metacritic score of any Final Fantasy.
If anything, there’s at least one person who thinks the game a bigger success than 7 or 8....
IGN interview with The Gutch:
Sakaguchi: The upcoming Final Fantasy IX. This title (currently under development) is based on a reflection of all the previous works in the series. The coming installment is my "favorite," it's closest to my ideal view of what Final Fantasy should be.
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