Image via Square Enix

We don’t need a Final Fantasy IX Remake, but I sure want one

The future of fantasy

Recommended Videos

Remember that big old GeForce NOW leak from 2021? The one that supposedly revealed a list of in-development projects at various AAA studios? I’ve been thinking about that leak for just over a year now. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about one title on that list: a remake of Final Fantasy IX.

Recently, another, much less reputable rumor surfaced on 4chan (the thread has since been deleted, but its contents are cataloged on Reddit), suggesting that the Final Fantasy IX remake’s announcement is imminent. I’m not sure whether or not I believe that rumor, but it got me pondering the prospect of this FFIX remake again. Do we need a remake of Final Fantasy IX at this point?

Image via Square Enix

Well, the short answer is, no, we don’t. The long answer is, no, we don’t… but I certainly wouldn’t say no to one.

A personal favorite

Final Fantasy IX is one of my favorite Final Fantasy games. I played it for the first time within the last couple of years, and it holds up astonishingly well. It’s available on modern platforms for cheap, it doesn’t make any egregiously dated design decisions, it looks and sounds amazing – I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best games you can play on current-generation consoles and modern PCs. It is decidedly not in need of a remake.

But I want to put Final Fantasy IX in perspective. It was the last Final Fantasy game on the original PlayStation, and that’s an interesting place for it to be. Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII were both games about rude dudes with lots of ‘tude, badass leading men in cool jackets occupying distinctly cool worlds.

Image via Square Enix

Final Fantasy IX was – I say this with all the affection in the world – dorky. Steiner’s armor is not an epic tactical suit of some kind, it’s just a big slab of molded metal. One of the party members is a straight-up princess from a far-off kingdom. Where other Final Fantasy games of the time were so eager to push into a sci-fi future, FFIX was content to chill out with the vaguely European high-fantasy aesthetics of its NES ancestors.

FFIX is also uncommonly chill. Even when it inches into the realm of sci-fi in its weirdly introspective final act, its characters are less self-serious than those found in other FF games of the time. Its tragedies are softer, its colors more vibrant. It just has a nice, cozy vibe about it.

Why does that matter?

I think that we’re currently in another “badass” era of Final Fantasy. The last two numbered FF games both occupy the same general space; one is about a bachelor party with a cool flying Cadillac and the other is a literal remake(-ish) of Final Fantasy VII. They’re both pretty good at representing “chilled-out” Final Fantasy (FFXV in particular is very vibey), but they’re just not quite on the right wavelength.

The forthcoming Final Fantasy XVI looks like it’ll embrace high fantasy, but with much less of the cozy downtime found in Final Fantasy IX and much more little brother death and god-fighting. Final Fantasy XIV is… listen, I don’t want to make anyone mad, so I’m not going to go in-depth on my Final Fantasy XIV thoughts. It’s fine. It’s pretty good. Eric Van Allen really likes it, and he’s way smarter than me.

Final Fantasy XIV
Screenshot via Destructoid

I am desperate for a new Final Fantasy game that feels like Final Fantasy IX. Ideally, I’d like that to be a new game (Chained Echoes is almost scratching the itch), but I would also welcome the chance to just chill with my old FFIX party again. I like the badass Final Fantasy games a lot, but they only represent half of what I love about the series. Obviously I can just play other games – the aforementioned Chained Echoes is great, and I’ve dipped in and out of Atelier Ryza – but I adore Final Fantasy for its tonal diversity.

I’d love to see more of the things I love about these games represented by the modern Final Fantasy landscape. A Final Fantasy VII Remake for when I want to disappear into a very cool world with very interesting storytelling flourishes, and a Final Fantasy IX Remake for when I want the video game equivalent of a blanket and a cup of tea.

But my enthusiasm for a Final Fantasy IX remake is almost entirely contingent on one name.

Hey, what’s Ito been up to?

Hiroyuki Ito is one of the best Final Fantasy directors of all time. He directed Final Fantasy VI, which many consider to be the single best entry in the series. He designed the battle system in Final Fantasy VIII, which is actually good, and I’m willing to fight about it. He directed Final Fantasy IX, a game that I like so much that I’m writing about it right now! He directed Final Fantasy XII, another top contender for “best in the series.”

And then, he… kinda disappeared. For about fifteen years after the release of Final Fantasy XII, Ito didn’t have a single director credit. His sole design credit was on Deadman’s Cross, a middlingly-received PlayStation Vita deckbuilder. Ito wouldn’t make his triumphant return to the director’s chair until 2021’s Dungeon Encounters. And guess what? Dungeon Encounters owns.

Image via Square Enix

I firmly believe that Hiroyuki Ito’s most recent game is the best thing he’s ever worked on. It’s a stripped-down, combat-forward JRPG with almost no written plot, and it’s better than any Final Fantasy game. Ito, the original designer of the Active Time Battle system, whittles it down to its barest elements and unearths an unsurprising secret: this guy is so good at making video games. Dungeon Encounters is endlessly engaging and elegant in its simplicity, and it’s enough to demonstrate to me that Ito is better now than he’s ever been.

If the Final Fantasy IX remake exists, and if Hiroyuki Ito is involved, I will put my preorder money where my mouth is. If not… well, like I said, Final Fantasy IX holds up really well, so I can always play that again. In fact, I might go play it again anyway.

Destructoid is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article If FF7 ever sees the live-action treatment, here’s who we would cast as Cloud and the gang
Read Article Where to find True Aohige Aojiru in Persona 3 Reload
Read Article Persona 3 Reload Quest 39: Where to find a CD associated with Gekkoukan High School
Related Content
Read Article If FF7 ever sees the live-action treatment, here’s who we would cast as Cloud and the gang
Read Article Where to find True Aohige Aojiru in Persona 3 Reload
Read Article Persona 3 Reload Quest 39: Where to find a CD associated with Gekkoukan High School
Sorrel Kerr-Jung
Freelancer - Sorrel Kerr-Jung has been playing video games for as long as she's been capable of pressing buttons. She's been writing news and features all over the internet for just over a year, and she started throwing words at Destructoid in late 2022. Find her on Twitter: @sorrelkj.