Walking into a Coles Bookstore, my first year of college, The Art of Final Fantasy IX was probably the first art book that I had ever bought. It’s one of the favourite books that I continue to hold onto because I feel that the drawings are really charming and different. Unlike other Final Fantasy art books, there’s an extremely high ratio of traditional art in it versus cg, and it comes complete with turnarounds, and height charts that were especially great for me to examine when I was first beginning to take drawing seriously.
I remember at the time, being impressed with it’s graphics. It maintained the “futuristic” style of Final Fantasy VII and VIII, but it made a return to more cartoony proportions that I was familiar with in the SNES era of Squaresoft games. Of course, looking back now, it’s… a little rough around the edges. What seemed “futuristic” in the year 2000, doesn’t quite hold up the same way as a lot of crisp pixel-art from just a few years earlier does. There just isn’t a good way to preserve detail nicely when you downscale a beautiful painting to 320×240.
Over at NeoGAF, however, one of the contributors recently came across a library of some of those original paintings from FFIX. This is artwork that was used to create the in-game graphics, and is not to be found in the above mentioned book. Seeing this stuff makes me long for a FFIX HD Remake. There’s been a storm of these recently, from the one that started the trend (God of War) to the upcoming Final Fantasy X/X-2, and Kingdom Hearts 1.5. But after looking at these stunning backgrounds, I doubt that there’s many games that could benefit from a good old fashioned re-mastering as much as Final Fantasy IX.
Go now, and let your eyes bask in the glory of Final Fantasy IX’s original artwork.