Final Fantasy IX Event Designer Kazuhiko Aoki recently offered insight into the game’s development on the PlayStation Blog. When he did, he brought up how different elements of the game ended up changing during development. For example, he brought up how the FFIX style influenced character designs and data limits affected the story.
First, Aoki spoke about the designs for FFIX characters. He noted how the team had to use a ore stylized approach. This is because while games like FFVII and FFVIII had people from different heights, the nature of different races and atmosphere chanced things for this installment.
Here’s his exact quote.
From the very beginning, [Hironobu] Sakaguchi said that he wanted Final Fantasy IX to be a return to our roots. Final Fantasy VII and VIII had been set in science-fiction-inspired worlds, and we wanted to go back to the fantasy style established in the earlier Final Fantasy games.
This did cause us a few issues, however. For example, we’d built up a lot of experience depicting taller characters with the two previous games, but in order to best support the fantasy atmosphere of Final Fantasy IX, we needed more stylised designs.
That meant we couldn’t rely on the techniques we’d learned – we had to essentially start again from scratch!
Aoki then talked about how the PlayStation hardware limitations resulted in constant oversight of and cuts to the story in FFIX. Specifically, he mentioned how instead of four shrine visit fights, it ended up cut back to one. He also mentioned daily checks on the games.
Perhaps the biggest problems we ran into when making Final Fantasy IX were due to data limits. Working on the original PlayStation, we were limited by how much information we could fit on a CD-ROM, and even with four disks we were right at the limit of that storage.
Towards the end of the development, we were calculating the data on each of the disks every single day. If we ended up exceeding the storage amount, we’d agonise over how to change the way the story was split over the disks.
It meant we had to make some cuts. For example, at one point in the story, the party splits up to take on four shrines. Initially we planned to make the player use each group of characters to fight, but due to the data limits we ended up only including the Zidane and Quina battle.
Adding to the problem was the fact that we had three months less than originally planned to make the master of the game. The final polishing was incredibly tough!
Final Fantasy IX is available on the PlayStation, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, and mobile devices. It is also available on PlayStation Now.