Friends, when it RPG rains, it RPG pours, and we're all soaking wet after the last few weeks. With the release of Adventures Of Mana [$9.99] last week and Ys Chronicles 2 [$4.99] this week, you'd think we might be able to catch a breather somewhere in between, but no, Square Enix went and dropped an 800-lb gorilla, on a Tuesday of all days, right in the middle of things. While we knew Final Fantasy 9 [$20.99] was close to release, I'm not sure anyone expected it so soon after a major release like Adventures Of Mana, but there you have it. Now, since this was as much a surprise for us here at TouchArcade as it was for all of you, it's going to take a few days to put a proper review together, so we've got some early impressions to tide you over until then.

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I'm not sure whether this is a bold thing to say or faint praise, but Final Fantasy 9 is by far the best Final Fantasy mobile port yet. Like, comparing it to the port of Final Fantasy 7 [$15.99] we got several months ago is almost embarrassing. Where that game felt like a PlayStation game stuffed into an iOS wrapper, the mobile version of Final Fantasy 9 feels like it was built specifically for the platform. The UI has been recreated from scratch to take advantage of the improved resolution and touch capabilities, the game auto-saves on virtually every screen, and both the polygonal graphics and the FMVs look the best they ever have. Even the pre-rendered backgrounds, long a thorn in the side of any attempts to remake the PlayStation Final Fantasy games, have clearly had some work done to clean them up as best as possible. What developer Silicon Studio Thailand has accomplished with the assets it likely had to work with here is nothing short of incredible.

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As promised, the slow battles of the original Final Fantasy 9 have been noticeably sped up in this version. Loading times have been greatly reduced thanks to the ability to cut the pre-battle camera panning, and the framerate seems to be considerably better, too. I haven't gotten far enough to put that point to the real test, but at least where I'm at right now, I'm very impressed. This is without question the definitive version of the game, and it's so far beyond the PlayStation original that I'm not sure I'll ever bother with that version again. That's the first time I can say that without reservations about any Final Fantasy mobile port. I'm not sure why Square Enix finally pulled out all of the stops, for Final Fantasy 9 of all games, but you know what? I'm not going to question it.

The only issues I've run into so far pertain to the controls. The game has MFi controller support, but it's not working properly at the moment. Things are mapped strangely, and the game is unplayable with at least some controllers as a result. The virtual stick used for moving around is also a little quirky at the moment. Sometimes it takes a few taps for me to get it to appear, which could pose a problem in some mini-games later on. I doubt either of these things are intentional, so they'll probably be fixed in an update.

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As for the game itself? Well, I've always had a soft spot for Final Fantasy 9. In a lot of ways, it was the end of an era for the series, and while it's occasionally a little too self-referential for its own good, it still manages to feel quite sincere on the whole. I'm looking forward to taking the adventure once again with Zidane, Vivi, Steiner, and the greatest Final Fantasy character ever created, Quina Quen. With any luck, I'll be back in a few days to give you all a full report of the results in a review, but for now, I'd say that Final Fantasy 9 is a big win for mobile RPG fans and those who wanted an improved version of the original game alike.

  • iamninja

    Yes! I knew it would have mfi support. Can't wait to try it out on the big screen after work!

  • Rothgarr

    Having never played a Final Fantasy game before, would this be a good one to start with?

    • Ryan Rentfro

      Absolutely its an amazing game. Then hit up FF7 and FF3 (US). Those are the fan top picks.

      • Snow

        No need to call VI--->III anymore. People new to the series will probably be confused, since nowadays VI is VI.

      • Ryan Rentfro

        As a child of the 80's and an owner of the original SNES cart - it's hard for me to do that lol. It's still III to us 🙂

      • fithbert

        I feel you on the nostalgia, but with both 3 and 6 available on the app store it's a misleading $16 recommendation.

    • curtneedsaride

      This was the first Final Fantasy game I played on my own, and it has been my favorite ever since. And due to playing this one, I now own almost all of the iOS Final Fantasy games, not to mention a few PS discs, GBA carts, etc. This is definitely a good one to start with. I also think VI and III are great ones to play on the go.

    • garbui

      Gamers always remember their "first" Final Fantasy game. It's like the first time you fall in love, or something. You'll be partial to the first one you play forever. That being said, FFIX was my first and it's amazing. You get the classic FF mythos, but with a more modern game design. You've got Nobuo Uematsu's brilliant sound and music direction. Characters and story are very subjective, but again, lots of classic and new elements fused into one with FFIX. I'm biased, but I think it's some of the best ever put forward by Square. Nope, you can't go wrong with FFIX.

      • OldSchoolHeel

        This normally seems to be the case, but my first Final Fantasy was 4 but my favorite is 6. I loved 4, but the story in 6 changed the way I looked at gaming. The story was so moving to me that I became hooked on RPGs.

      • QuarterSwede

        Same. FF1 was my first and VI is my favorite followed by IV.

      • XianZhuXuande

        Right there with ya. Except my first Final Fantasy was the first Final Fantasy. I adored IV, but VI is by far one of my favorite games of all time as well as my favorite RPG.

        I've also noticed the same thing among FF fans. People have certain favorites depending on which point they picked up the series.

      • OldSchoolHeel

        No doubt, FFVI IS my favorite game. Kefka is one of the greatest villains from any medium.

    • King

      FF7,FF8,FF9,FF10,maybe FF10-2,

    • jeffmd

      Yes, FF9 nails every mark on the list when it comes to having a great story with gtreat gameplay, and looking and sounding good doing it. The fighting system isn't complex so it isn't hard to get things done and you won't find balance slip-ups like the materia system opened up on ff7. When it comes to the fighting engine, FF9 is the second most fun turn based RPG game to play, (FF12-II being the best. Despite the weak storyline, the fighting engine was amazing and a complete pleasure to play).

    • undead

      don't play this first its more rewarding played after other ones this is like a loveletter to old school ff. play ff 4/6/ b4 you play this

  • delirium38

    After getting the Chaos Rings 3 update last week and now good port of a great game it's definitely a good step in the right direction for Square when it comes to showing their commitment to IOS gaming.
    As soon as the controls are fixed for touch It will be a must buy for me

  • Raja Perumal

    Does this game have icloud save support?

    • gNades

      Yes it does

  • smiffee666

    This port is awesome and although the virtual stick can b a little 'quirky' at the moment, it's no game breaker and I'm loving every minute, I even got 100 in the sword mini game at the beginning so if I can do it, I'm sure anyone can get to grips with the virtual controls, bravo on this one Square!!

    • http://woottwinds.tumblr.com WoottWinds

      Agreed 100%, it's a phenomenal effort from Square and I'm have a total blast playing through one of my all-time favorites again. Still blows my mind that I'm playing this on my friggin phone!

    • bpcookson

      Seems like the D-stick won't engage if you "touch down" inside the static sidebars. Training your left thumb to hover a bit more to the right than usual is the best workaround I've got so far, but definitely hoping for an update to fix this.

      • smiffee666

        Yeah even on iPad, there seems to b a bit of a delay in input when placing the thumb in the normal position, I'm using my right thumb instead for the most part and so far, it seems more responsive, if a little unnatural!!

  • Xytal

    Was never fond of the FFIX combat system, but hearing it's sped up.. Might have to give it another shot.

    Also, please please please give me FFX/FFX-2 on iOS in the next year or so. /pray

    • Milotorou

      I dont care about x-2 (one of the weakest in the series for me by far) but id be thrilled to play FFX again

      • Xytal

        Believe it or not, FFX-2 ended up being one of my favorites. I really can't say why, but I had a ton of fun in that game.

      • jeffmd

        Story wise I think ffx was better, x2 was kind of weak, but the fighting system was outstanding. The way it handled class changing, and the large number of classes available made it an absolute joy to play. I would cause enemies to go into their super powered state, mainly because alot of encounters were easy because mobs would not cast their AoE attacks unless in their berserk state. (I forget what it was called).

    • TimTim92

      If we get X or X-2, (which we can) I will just die.. 😍 Instabuy in so many ways! I don't even care if they charge $30-40, I'll do it!

    • curtneedsaride

      If they release FFX, I sure hope it's the HD remaster, and that Apple has released phones with 512GB at least. Shoot, make it a smooth 1TB, and I'll be good.

  • matyou98

    Does this have cloud support to play on an iPhone and iPad?

    • matyou98

      Sorry saw this was asked already. Gotta say crash lands cloud saves make it seamless to play on any of your devices. Hoping it works well in this game.

      • Taeles

        cloud support enabled

      • Dragontears969

        Cloud support is enabled though not quite as seamless as in crashlands. I'm fairly certain you cannot transfer your quick save so you can only transfer at save points, but that's hardly a huge detriment, just not quite as ridiculously convenient as crashlands is.

  • Fabricio Barbosa

    I feel I should correct Shaun about the loading times. They are exactly the same as the original. The only difference is the possibility of disabling the camera panning before each battle, which is nice but still disappointing they haven't improved the loading times.

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Maybe it's the age of the PlayStation 1 I used to compare the two yesterday, but the iOS version was loading everything a lot faster in my tests. I'll be comparing against a PS2 running the discs with fast loading turned on and the PSN version before I write the proper review, though.

      • Fabricio Barbosa

        I tested with epsxe. I assume the PSN version will be identical. No idea about how it will be on PS2, though.

      • Shaun Musgrave

        Thanks for the info! Yeah, I didn't have access to my full Shaun-Cave yesterday, and I'd be really unlikely to test it in an emulator anyway, so it's good to get this kind of feedback.

  • J.R. Jalapeno

    I really want to get it. I just don't know if I'll have the time to play it through the end.

  • Sako Hamilton

    I realized games with iCloud save support. When u delete the app their saves remove from the cloud. Does this hold true to everyone else ?

  • Егор Бочаров

    No widescreen = no purchase for such price. It's lazy and the publisher should be punished for willingness to get easy money, IMO.

    • Agkelos

      Hn....I'm playing it on my iPad and it's full screen.....guess it's different for the phones....?

      • Егор Бочаров

        Why, you're right. I didn't realize iPad had the normal 4:3 screen. Thanks! Might consider purchasing then.

    • jeffmd

      Wow I guess it isn't true that all idiots part with their money so easily. The backgrounds are pre rendered, it would be impossible to make it wide screen unless you CROP the image or make it all stretchy looking.

      • Егор Бочаров

        So what? They should have redrawn them, they have all the source files. Man, we're talking a $17 mobile game here. $17 with a discount! It's premium of premium for mobile gaming.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        This is why we have free to play.

      • Егор Бочаров

        With all the due respect, you don't get my idea. I have nothing against $17 mobile games, but I strongly object to existence of $17 lazy ports. Even if we consider SE games only, there's DQ VIII, which was remastered on Unity, looks brilliant on both iPhone widescreens and iPad 4:3 screens, has gameplay tweaks AND is amazingly adapted to be playable with one hand. It was an instabuy for me, has never regretted. We have Adventures of Mana, the game has also been overhauled and generally plays way better than the GB original. Also an instabuy. We have Chaos Rings III, expensive, but designed for mobile platforms as a full-fledged RPG from the ground up. Guess what? An instabuy. But here the game is just poorly adapted for MOST devices it will be played on, i.e. iPhones and iPod Touch'es. Sure thing, it means a lot of work (redrawing of backgrounds), but hey, they are going with a premium price point! Do not want to go through the trouble? OK, give it a $5 price point then.

        As a matter of fact, I'm all for premium games. I own a load of them and always support good premium titles. I also support good ports (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Bastion, Transistor, Geometry Wars, SW: KOTOR, even Bioshock). But a $17 port that cannot be played on widescreen devices is not a good port.

      • Andrew Fretz

        Could you maybe do some homework before you go off next time? This port in particular had huge hurdles to overcome and you just sound ridiculous not knowing.

      • Егор Бочаров

        But I don't care about the hurdles! Why should I know every drama behind every port? I have a commercial product from a huge publisher (not a 5 people indie studio) which I judge. And it does not support widescreen. In 2016. Selling for 17 bucks.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        O_O

      • Егор Бочаров

        I'm frankly puzzled at people's reaction in this thread. FF IX is a great game without any doubt, but it's not a holy cow for everyone. I understand the very option to play it legally on an iOS device means a lot to the fans, but I don't see why SE can do a half-finished job of porting it and sell it for $17. The same way I didn't understand why their lazy port of the great FF VII got so much praise.

      • Andrew Fretz

        I bet you are indeed puzzled. ignorant people usually are.

      • Егор Бочаров

        Could you elaborate instead of just throwing accusations? Why not being a blind fan of FF IX (a game, for God's sake!) means cultural ignorance is beyond me.

      • Andrew Fretz

        I guess being ignorant is culturally acceptable these days. Have fun with that.

      • Егор Бочаров

        You're a fan, aren't you? I can understand the feeling very well, but there are people who are not fans of this particular game. Yep, they exist. And the very fact it was ported to mobile devices doesn't make them tremble in pure joy. It should have been ported properly. In that case I would have been the first one advocating for spending $17 on it.

        As for "cultural ignorance", I assume you mean being not familiar with the game is unacceptable. Well, I disagree here, because it's just a game. When it came out in 2000 I had a Nintendo 64 and was all into Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Not everyone had a chance to play FF.

      • Andrew Fretz

        I think you misunderstand me. I'm not talking as a fan. I am talking as someone who knows a small fraction of the problems that surround certain ports like missing assets etc etc. These can cause huge problems for certain games. Some games cannot do widescreen without just completely cutting off important parts of the screen. I'm sure you payed more than $17 for Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask but it doesn't seem to prevent you from assuming every port should be perfect and always have every feature, regardless if they are even possible with the source material. Being aware of porting issues doesnt make me a blind fan.

      • Егор Бочаров

        Now I better understand your logic, but still don't understand, why it's applicable to a commercial product. If fans were doing their best on just pure enthusiasm to bring FF IX to iOS devices it would be strange to be picky. If SE had released it for free, It would have been hard to complain. If they had priced it lower, I still would be willing to understand all the troubles of porting. But it's a commercial product, pretty expensive for it's market. Why should I be forgiving when people try to sell me an expensive thing which lacks polish? You want $17? Be so kind as to remaster the backgrounds. You do not want to? Have no sources? No human resources? Well, why are you asking for $17, then? The pricing model in the mobile gaming market stabilized years ago, and $17 is a lot by the market's standards.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I'm not sure what your end goal is here. If you think $17 is too expensive, or you don't like the port, don't buy it. I promise Squeenix isn't reading TouchArcade going, "Oh man this guy wants us to remaster the backgrounds before he downloads it, get our top men on this."

      • Егор Бочаров

        Just sounding off my opinion, that is all. Aren't first impression article comments meant to provide ground for multiple opinions on he game in question? Not that I want everyone to agree or something. Just an alternative opinion.

      • Andrew Fretz

        If you want to ignore every report about how well polished the game is and stamp your feet in the group and continue saying that just because it doesn't have widescreen it's lazy peice of garbage port, I cant stop you. I'm just trying to show you that you are ignoring a lot while you throw your tantrum.

      • Shaun James Musgrave

        What you're asking for is unrealistic. It's like asking for a sports car for Christmas. Or for your Big Mac to look like the one in the commercials. Which doesn't mean you can't ask for it, but at a certain point, you have to understand you're not likely to get it.

        Basically, millions of Sony console owners are happy buying a 320x240 emulation with no frills beyond some very rudimentary texture filtering for $9.99. For another $10 (it's on sale right now), we get higher resolution character models, some with new texture maps, higher resolution FMVs, a custom UI, more convenient save options, added cheats for those who just want to play the story, the ability to speed up some of the game's slower functions (this is the biggest/most frequent complaint I've heard for the original version), manually retouched backgrounds, and a few other things I'm probably missing.

        For what you're asking, there are only two options. This is because they no longer have the original background 3D assets, so all they have to work with is the 320x240 images generated for the PS1 version. So, the options are as follows. First, they could stretch the image to fit widescreen devices. This would make the already-rough background images look even worse, and they'd have to stretch the other objects too in order to maintain the hit boxes and such. When they've done this in the past, people have gotten very angry and stated they would not buy the game.

        Second, they could recreate all of the assets from the original game so that they could re-render at a higher resolution. This would probably take around two years and some of their best 3D modelers, and would most certainly require a delay to either Final Fantasy 15 or Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The costs would be in line with a brand new console release in the series, and would need a price tag and expected sales to match. Instead of $19.99, you'd be looking at $69.99 or more, and you wouldn't be looking at it on mobile, because no paid game at that price is going to move the 4-5 million or so units it would need to turn a profit. The original release barely managed those kinds of numbers on consoles where that price was the norm. Any remake, no matter how good, and even on consoles, would not be able to match those numbers. But if you were willing to pay $69.99, that might be a start, I suppose. Would you be?

        Again, it's fine to want things, and I'll admit, not keeping the original assets around was pretty bone-headed even if it was kind of normal for the industry at that time. But things are how they are, and as it is, this was a relatively high-effort, high-expense project for Square Enix. It's okay for you as a potential customer to not care about their reasons for failing to meet your expectations. But it's also okay for Square Enix to determine certain expectations to be unrealistic given the potential returns. And everyone on both sides just has to accept what comes out of that. You won't have the $17 FF9 with full widescreen that you're craving. Square Enix won't have your $17. That's business.

        What it isn't is laziness on Square Enix's part. Your request is financially unreasonable given the circumstances. Their failure to comply is not laziness, it's making a judgement call that will allow them to continue making money and stay in business. It's no more lazy than if you refused to wash my bathroom for a nickel.

      • Егор Бочаров

        Now, this sounds very logical. The thing I could never imagine is that they were dumb enough no to keep the original assets. Heroes III HD came to my mind at once, where there was a special trailer about remastering the game for modern screens, at it costs even less.

        Anyway, I personally still think that $17 and no widescreen is not acceptable, but at least it became clear to me it's not laziness.

        Thanks for the explanation.

      • jeffmd

        You want them to re-render literally HUNDREDS of scenes of which there is probably missing 3d data because of edges not intended to be in the camera view, thus changing the game from what it original was? These ports are so lost on you, don't buy it. Quit your bitching.

      • Егор Бочаров

        I would like them to somehow adapt the game to widescreen. I'm not a game designer to know exactly how to do it.

        Regarding the rest of your post, it's my opinion and it's not up to you to tell me to quit.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        But you have to admit it reaches a point where it's just silly to insist a company to do so much stuff to satisfy you when you can simply just not buy it, right?

      • Chris

        There are much higher res pics of the backgrounds available than there are in the game, FYI. Widescreen with them would be possible if they decided to do it.

        Either way that's the only flaw I can pick at it. For once, Square did FF at the quality of DQ.

  • Inaba-kun

    Agreed, this is the best SquareEnix port by far. That doesn't sound like it's saying much, given how bad most of them are, but this is genuinely a nice job.

    I'd like an Apple TV version ideally, and less compression on the FMV sound, but other than that, good job.

    Excellent RPG too, my personal favourite FF.

  • Brendan Charles

    My god I can't believe the quality of this game... The environments, the music? I've never played this game before but wow is it ever good... another notable thing is the variety in gameplay even early on in the game... It's not just wander around/random battle on repeat but there's exploration elements, a card game, sword fighting, and I love how the cutscenes roll seamlessly in to and out of combat. It's great!

  • Vlaid

    I wonder how the jump rope minigame is on this port!

    • jeffmd

      It seemed ok, I am getting a kind of slow down in game. I %100 nailed the duel on the first try through. I think the time out is longer than the original.

  • chuii

    Are they making a FFVIII port as well or did they just skip it entirely?

  • Snow

    Whaaaaaaat. I must say, Quina was one of the worst characters in this game, let alone the whole series. Maybe better than Amarant, but personally couldn't say better than any other FFIX character. Quite unique taste you have 😉 Not saying I didn't like him/her, just not even in my top 20 of FF characters.

  • Jason Sacuta

    Okay I'm sick of all this bashing, I'm going to explain why 9 is the worst.

    FF9 for me storyline wise is the worst game in the series, the love story is horrible written and the game pretends that the love story is one of the main focuses when it isn't, the story is FULL of plotholes, some of the characters are obnoxious, and some of them make really stupid decision (especially garnet) and has a really unsympathetic character that the game acts like is sympathetic (kuja). In a top 10 list that lists everything wrong with 9:

    10: the trance mode
    9: necron
    8: the eidolons and Brahne
    7:Freya and fratley
    6:alexander
    5: terra, Garland and zidane's angel of death powers
    4: beatrix
    3: kuja
    2: garnet's disk 1 and 2 actions (returning to Alexandria)
    1: zidane and garnet's love story

    I won't get into too much detail because I'm better at explaining this when I'm talking on a video I plan to make, but I'll say some things. The only reason for Necron's existence was for him to serve as a cheap excuse for kuja to try to redeem himself, because kuja completly deserves to redeem himself (being sarcastic), kuja was an unsympathetic monster the whole game and then during terra the game pretty much pulls out of nowhere And forces to make kuja out to be a "tragic and sympathetic" character despite there being no build up before, and the game pretty much started treating kuja like a draco in leather pants (term for character who has his negative traits down played), and NECRON was just something the writers pulled out of their rears as a forced attemped to make kuja atone.

    Beatrix is an annoying God-mode Sue who never looses a fight, which is especially annoying because the guy who fights her each time was zidane the guy who was created to be the most powerful person in 9: the shadow the hedgehog/mewtwo of 9. In the final fight with Beatrix; Zidane should have transformed into a more powerful incomplete angel of death trance mode and curb stomp Beatrix and actually have Beatrix loose a fight, there's a bunch of other problems I have with Beatrix but I won't state that here.

    And Zidane and Garnet I consider the love story to be the worst done in the final fantasy series, people act like it's so great but I don't understand why, it's supposed to be a spin on the classic peasant princess love story but it's not very well written, there's barely any chemistry between them, Garnet spends more time wangsting about her mother and kingdom than she does focusing on Zidane, let's not even get started on the mute segment (and people think Cloud and Squall are emo). and Zidane barely ever gets upset over what happens to Garnet, personality wise Zidane is a mary-sue, Zidane is WAY too optimistic, Garnet has TOO MUCH angst and zidane has too little, and then there's Garnet's stupid decision during disk 1 and 2, she completely betrays Zidane's trust, stabs him in the back, and abandons him, and end up making the intire beginning of the game (the kidnapping and trip to lindblum) and first several levels of gameplay completely pointless, what kind of thing is that to start off a love story or even put into it? The player is pretty much forced to play through her section of stupidity with an extremely obvious conclusion, you pretty much Hand over the eidolons to the antagonists, and Garnet is responsible for all the city's getting blow up due to her ridiculous behaviour, not to mention leaving a scar on Zidane and Garnet's love story, I consider that to one of the worst moments in the final fantasy series. The game acts like the love story is one of the main focuses, the main musical theme is a love song (melodies of life) that plays consteadly throughout the game and even serves as the world map theme! Yet there's barely ANY focus due to Garnet barely focusing or having chemistry with Zidane aside from random scenes that come out of nowhere and then are immediately made irrelevant and pointless afterwards and never mentioned again.

    And honestly Garland should have been the main antagonist he was really interesting and unique with his moral ambiguity and instead he has to play second Fidel to Kuja and Brahne, two really 2d and cliche characters who are overhyped, and personally I think Beatrix should have garnet's adoptive mother, it wouldn't have sent out the unfortinate implication that ugly people are bad. And Kuja shouldn't have been a straight up antagonist but a complex character that was basically a darker version of Zuko, from avater the last air bender.

    Both halves of ff9 were pretty badly witten. I think 9 would have been better told as an anime, in fact most of the ff games should be retold as animes. FF9 in my opinion should have been a deconstruction of the nes and snes FF games. You should also check socksmakepeoplesexy's review of the game. And Final Fantasy Whatever's review.

    • Martin Meier

      I have a 1000-words reply for you, but I can't get my mind beyond these three: you're entirely bonkers.