Thanks to fenreir1 for the inspiration!
Final Fantasy IX is a “love letter to the fans” due to its nostalgia factor. Now we have Dissidia Final Fantasy, World of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy XIV for fan service. Yet, as a send-off to the PlayStation generation, Final Fantasy IX contained the most Final Fantasy reference. These weren’t just the usual Chocobo, Moogle and Crystal tropes. These were actual homages to past games. According to fenreir1, this might have been intentional, as:
I believe, however, that the 8 main characters of FF9 are actually meant to “embody” the previous 8 Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy IX is the first game that contains eight characters. That alone must hint to something symbolic. So below, fenreir1 provides his opinion on which characters represent when games.
Vivi’s, for example, is “How do you prove that you exist…? Maybe we don’t exist…“. Well, that happens to be his emotional dilemma in the game, trying to deal with the idea that he may have been artificially created.
Does that sound familiar? It’s the same dilemma that Cloud Strife faces in FF7.
Eiko’s is “I don’t wanna be alone anymore…“. She’s been living alone and convincing herself that she’s fine without anybody else, but when Zidane shows up she falls in love with him and decides she wants to rejoin the world.
Does that sound familiar? It’s the same dilemma that Squall Leonhart faces in FF8.
Fenreir1’s interpretation of Final Fantasy IX’s characters depends on the game they represent. However, also their age.
Garnet, from a town of summoners, corresponds to the “main” character of FF6, Terra, and Steiner’s misplaced sense of duty to a corrupt government corresponds to Cecil of FF4.
Furthermore, look at the ages of these characters. Eiko (6) represents FF8, the “youngest” game relative to FF9. Vivi (9) represents FF7, which is the second-“youngest” game relative to FF9.
Interesting, if not brilliant. The character’s chronological age determines which game they represent, as a further hint.
The only character that doesn’t really fit here is Zidane. He’s supposed to be 16 years old, but if the age correlation is true, that means Steiner would be FF3, and as someone who’s played through FF4 six or seven times I can tell you he DEFINITELY fits the emotional struggles presented in FF4.
I agree. But it’s not just Steiner. All of Alexandria’s Knights seem to have this dilemma. In fact, Beatrix’s main complaint is similar to Cecil’s. She too has doubts about the Queen’s motivations, yet reluctantly carries out her duties.
Well, it turns out that Zidane is one of the Genome, a race of artificial beings created thousands of years ago that only age once they’re given souls. We’re told that Zidane was “created”, but not what that means, so it’s likely that his soul is 16 years old, but his body is thousands of years old.
This idea is supported by Vivi’s age. Vivi is physically 9 years old but was created 6 months prior to the events of the game, and he DEFINITELY represents FF7. Therefore it looks like the character’s physical age is what matches the age of the game they represent. That would make Zidane the oldest, and therefore his age means he would represent FF1.
I thought so.
You may disagree with this. I completely understand it’s a little bit of a stretch. However, the idea that Zidane represents FF1 is further strengthened by the fact that the man who created him is Garland, the final boss from Final Fantasy 1.
Ferneir1 later lists the others in order:
Zidane – age ? – FF1 – “You don’t need a reason to help people.” As stated above, I believe Zidane to represent FF1, and his attitude represents the simplistic motivations of the light warriors. They appear and battle evil without needing further reasons to do so.
Quina – age 89 – FF2? – “I do what I want! You have problem!?” I didn’t play much of FF2, but I remember it’s an odd entry in the series because of its criticized leveling system which only developed skills that were used.
Amarant – age 26 – FF3? – “The only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty.” I didn’t play FF3. Perhaps someone has a suggestion as to why Amarant would match it?
Steiner – age 33 – FF4 – “Having sworn fealty, must I spend my life in servitude?” Cecil from FF4 also struggles with doing his duty vs doing what’s right. At the beginning of the game he resists his soldiers who question the King of Baron’s decisions, and later it’s discovered that the King has been replaced with an evil entity, similar to how Brahne is being manipulated.
Freya – age 21 – FF5? – “To be forgotten is worse than death” I never got far in FF5, but Freya’s two main emotional dilemmas are preventing the genocide of her people and her search for Fratley, who has amnesia. Exdeath commits genocide by removing towns and kingdoms from existence, and amnesia plays a part in the story. Perhaps someone has a suggestion.
Garnet – age 16 – FF6 – “Someday I will be queen, but I will always be myself.” Terra from FF6 and Garnet from FF9 are the last members of a powerful race somehow involved in summoning magic. Both of them are used as pawns in a power struggle, and both of them struggle with being more than just somebody else’s weapon.
Vivi – age 9 – FF7 – “How do you prove that you exist…? Maybe we don’t exist…” Both Cloud from FF7 and Vivi struggle with the idea that they were created artificially. Both are extremely disturbed by the idea but come to the conclusion that where they came from matters less than what they do.
Eiko – age 6 – FF8 – “I don’t wanna be alone anymore…” Both Squall from FF8 and Eiko are loners who believe they’re fine on their own, but who are pulled out of their loneliness by falling in love.
Ferneir1 wasn’t able to fill out the list completely, as they didn’t play all of the games. This might be why some of the explanations are questionable.
For example, Quina doesn’t seem to embody the main themes of Final Fantasy II, as well as Garnet, might. Garnet is a Princess who fights against a powerful sorceress. However, Zidane is like an orphan, so perhaps he fits with Final Fantasy II? Meanwhile, Final Fantasy III’s story is about several orphans from the surface world. This mirrors Garnet’s in a
Quina’s age remains unknown. Why is she 89? It’s probably just a placeholder to emphasize where she might fit in this theory. We don’t know how old Quina is, but considering her relatively carefree attitude, maybe she represents Final Fantasy V. Then, her age would be roughly 17 as well. Why not? It’s possible.
Garnet and Freya’s quote could also represent Cloud just as well as Vivi’s. Cloud has identity problems. Who is he really? Can he really be himself? Has he forgotten himself, when he became Zack? Did he die to himself, like Zack died?
Not only Amarant’s quote, but his personality trait mirrors Squall and Final Fantasy VIII. Like Squall, Amarant kept everyone at a distance. He feared change and the uncertainty it brought. He felt it was safer to do things alone. A large part of their character arc revolved around feeling strength through their vulnerability. Both learn to open up to others, and the future, to become healthier people. Relying on others is the lesson they have to learn.
Zidane’s character quote could match any and all of the Final Fantasy games, both before and after Final Fantasy IX. In this sense, Zidane might be the spiritual representation of Final Fantasy. Yet, couldn’t he also represent Final Fantasy V’s character Bartz as well, with his wanderer, adventurous spirit?
Of course, these objections completely throw off ferneir1’s theories. It doesn’t quite fit neatly. Still, I believe Ferneir1’s on to something. Sure, the premise might not be correct. But there’s something substantially true about Final Fantasy IX as a representation of all Final Fantasy.
The references in Lindbulm and Alexandria aren’t just fun little Easter Eggs. Final Fantasy IX was a lighthearted reflection on the series as a whole. Many of the character quotes embody the eight themes found within the franchise up to that point. That is, everyone’s character quote appears in every game, to varying degrees.