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Final Fantasy IX Interview

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PSM recently held an interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Shinji Hashimoto, two important members of the Final Fantasy IX development team.
  PSM recently held an interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Shinji Hashimoto, two important members of the Final Fantasy IX development team. Together, the two provided valuable details on Final Fantasy IX, one of the gaming world's most anticipated titles of the year. Here's what they had to say:

PSM: How long has FFIX been in development, and how many people worked on it?

SQ: About a year and a half. We had approximately 300 people working on it, including external resources.

PSM: What was the main reason for taking the series back to a pure fantasy style?

SQ: This is the last of the Final Fantasies with a single digit, and we wanted to go back to the original idea. Both FFVII and FFVIII take place on cyberworlds/universes, so we wanted to create some kind of medieval universe using the technologies applied in FFVII and FFVIII.

PSM: How much FMV is in the game, compared to the past sequels on the PlayStation?

SQ: Like FFVIII, I believe there is a little under one hour of FMV.

PSM: How is the game structure in FFIX different from FFVII and VIII? What new features have been added?

SQ: The biggest departure from FFVII and FFVIII is that FFIX brings back the fantasy setting from earlier Final Fantasy games. Although not explicitly stated in the game, each character in FFIX has a job class, which is also similar to the earlier games.

PSM: Specifically, could you please talk about changes to the combat system, such as how Guardian Forces work now? Are the summoned monsters still called Guardian Forces? Will a majority of the GFs in FFVIII return in this game?

SQ: The combat system in FFIX is a wonderful fusion of the past FF combat systems. FFIX uses the ATB (Active Time Battle) system, like VII and VIII. Each character learns abilities and commands appropriate to his or her job class. There are two major ability types: action abilities and support abilities. Action abilities are commands like Black Magic, Steal, White Magic and Summon. These abilities use MP. Support abilities assist characters in battle with skills like Auto-Regen, Auto-Potion and Chemist. Both types of abilities are learned by equipping items and acquiring AP in battle. For support abilities, once they are learned, they must be equipped by using Magic Stones, which are also received from battle. Characters can go into Trance after repeated physical attacks from enemies. When the Trance gauge, located below the ATB gauge, reaches maximum capacity, the character will go into Trance. Commands change and attacks become more powerful during Trance. Up to four people can be in the active party. Guardian Forces are called Eidolons in FFIX. They are called in battle using the Summon command. Many of the Guardian Forces in FFVIII return in FFIX, including Shiva, Ifrit, Odin, Leviathan, Bahamut, Carbuncle.

PSM: What sort of vehicles can we expect to see in the game?

SQ: There are actually several different vehicles.

Airship: Airships allow you to fly anywhere in the world.
Ship: When airships are not available, you can travel across the ocean on an ordinary ship.
Chocobo: A chocobo named Choco allows you to travel the world without encountering enemies. At first, Choco can only travel over land, but if you raise him properly, he can carry you over water and through the air as well.
Gargant: Gargants are giant bugs that you can ride to travel quickly through underground caverns.

PSM: What role will Chocobo play in FFIX?

SQ: Chocobos are a form of transportation, just like in any other FF game. You can also raise and evolve a chocobo by playing a minigame called "Chocobo Hot & Cold." This minigame leads to a major side quest involving a chocobo, so don't miss it!

PSM: This game seems different from the rest of the series in that there doesn't appear to be one main character, like Cloud or Squall. Could you talk a little about this unique "ensemble" approach?

SQ: This approach has been seen in FFVI, where there was not a single "main" character. For FFVII and VIII, the story was actually created after the main characters (Cloud, Squall) were created by Tetsuya Nomura. On the other hand, the story became the base for FFIX, with other elements (including characters) falling into place as the story developed.

PSM: We've heard that the Triple Triad Card Game from FFVIII will return -- are the rules, or its purpose in the game, any different from before?

SQ: There is a card game in FFIX, but it is not Triple Triad, so the rules and purpose are different.

PSM: Will FFIX feature a lot of minigames? Can you give us a few examples?

SQ: There are a ton of minigames in this installment of the FF series. Most are not very difficult and are not completely necessary to finish the game. For example, one of the younger characters comes across some girls playing jump rope. He can try to break their record and do some pretty interesting jumps to get a prize. In another part of the game, the main character is an actor performing a duel before an audience. Your partner calls the moves, and you must respond quickly and pull it off well. If the finicky nobles like your performance, you can get some extra money thrown onto the stage. Either way, you have the option to come back for an encore. Occasionally, a minigame is necessary to advance the story. For example, at one point, a character must retrieve a key hung on a cage that houses a terrifying beast. He must creep up when the monster turns away and come to a stop when it turns back [kind of like the game Red Light, Green Light], or else the monster will scare the timid character away.

PSM: Can you tell us a little about the PlayStation2 versions of Final Fantasy?

SQ: We have yet to make any announcements on FFX or FFXI. Information will be made available in a timely manner on

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