I LOVE Final Fantasy games. They are the reason that I still have my NES and SNES. This really does take me back to the early days of Square. Admittedly, I've gotten older and my tastes have changed in the past 15 years (I think its been that long since FF1 was released), but this game just makes me smile.
Completing the Chocobo Side Quests, making sure mognet gets back online, defeating Hades and Ozma, power leveling like a mad man, laughing at Zidane for being as bad with the ladies as I am. All in all, the important parts of the game are what kept me playing. Now, I will say there are a few annoying parts.
You should never sell any equipment. The Synth shop is a wonderful idea, but for some items at the end of the game, you need weapons that you got at the beginning of Disc 1. Also some weapons disappear from the face of the planet as you switch discs. That little fact causes quite an annoying problem for those of us who like to see every ability fully mastered for every character (if you cant tell, I was the kid that spent 3 months in the downed Shin-ra plane getting everyone to 255 stat points).
Overall this is an outstanding game. It keeps me wanting to play, it makes my chronic insomnia relapse, and I love just watching Vivi dance during fights and watching Zidane get shot down over and over in the interim.
The Graphics of this game are simply beautiful. Its not something that will ooooo and ahhhh you, but if you give them a second look (after you get over the cartoon-like feel) you'll notice that they someone took their time with this production. Someone made sure every single detail was perfect. FFVII felt 2D and while you knew the scenery was a 3D endeavor, it felt like a 2D isometric drawing rather than a fully 3D rendered scene. When you look at FFIX you KNOW you are looking at a fully 3D environment. It was a really great thing to see especially on the PSX (even though the XBOX 360 is now out).
Characters...what can i say about the characters. I love them. They all make me smile. I relate completely with Zidane's social life, and then his story took me off guard the first time i heard it (I wasn't expecting it, and it made me want to play longer). Garnet is interesting. She is that naive girl we all knew in high school. It just seems every character has their own story and it is pretty well explored (really, what do you know about Yuffie, Zell, Quistis and Irvine) .
Do you ever wonder how Reeve controlled Cait Sith while he was talking to Scarlet and Heidegger? I really do not have a lot of unanswered questions like that with FFIX, just some things that could have been elaborated on (like the summoner's village), but all-in-all i think the story was pretty perfect. My only BIG complaint and is the length of the game. There is a lot of stuff to do, but the end of the game can be reached in UNDER 12 hours (4 months of work to get a certain sword....stay with Ragnarok if you are reading this...saying "I got Excalibur II" is not worth the heartache).
This game gets 4 stars because while it is a good game, I just wish there was more of it. There's plenty of side quest stuff, just not enough story time. 12 hours of story is just about as long as Aeris stays breathing in FF7.
Hope this makes your purchasing decision a little easier. Its definitely a great game and heck, if worse comes to worse, it's a good time killer for a rainy weekend.