Final Fantasy IX and Skies of Arcadia now in stores

Two of the most eagerly anticipated RPGs in recent memory, Square's Final Fantasy IX and Sega's Skies of Arcadia, have finally been released in the US. Here are the accompanying press releases, straight from their respective publishers.

We'll lead off with the information on the brilliant Skies of Arcadia:


    Legendary RPG Developer Defines "Next Generation RPG" with "Skies"

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 14, 2000) - Imagine a magic-infused fantasy world where adventurers journey through the air as they discover new continents and combat roving bands of sky pirates. Sega of America, Inc. announced today that this fantasy realm is now a reality with "Skies of Arcadia," a dynamic new RPG for the 128-bit Internet-ready Sega Dreamcast videogame console. Creator Rieko Kodama, who has been dubbed by the industry as "The First Lady of RPGs," has woven an intricate tale that features over 300 unique characters and boasts more than fifty hours of gameplay spanning two discs. Also, by embellishing "Skies of Arcadia" with mini-games and downloadable elements, this old school-styled RPG is packed with a new school punch.

        The adventure sets sail in vast azure skies, where people live on lush floating islands and travel in airships. Yet all is not well. Disrupting the peaceful order is the evil Valuan Empire, intent on bringing the entire world under an iron rule. In order to halt this exercise in terror, players assume the role of Vyse, a boy who must become a hero by collecting magical stones spread across six distinct worlds, each with its own diverse culture, language, traditions, and style of dress. Throughout his adventure, Vyse and his companions can interact with more than 300 characters, cast more than 36 magic spells, and customize 70 different weapons, illustrating the immense breadth of the game.

        Due to her notable work with the original "Phantasy Star" series, Rieko Kodama is an RPG legend. Improving upon her own template, she has created boundless environments, unforgettable characters, and an involving storyline to elevate "Skies of Arcadia" beyond its contemporaries, while still retaining a classic feel.

        "Sega has a deep heritage in delivering an incredible RPG experience," said Rich Briggs, product manager, Sega of America. "With the popularity of RPGs expanding beyond a niche audience, now more than ever is the time to showcase 'Skies of Arcadia.'"

        Skill and strategy are key components in "Skies of Arcadia." Using a classic turn-based combat, gamers will battle hand-to-hand and ship-to-ship. Both modes of fighting require planning several factors, from selecting the choice of weapons to the timing of attacks. Players can also customize their battle ship and headquarters, choose their pirate flag and assemble a crew of up to 22 members, each of which will affect the storyline and gameplay.

        Gamers can enhance their RPG experience by playing special mini-games or by downloading bonus items from the Internet to their VMU (Visual Memory Unit). Combine this with a full 3D world to explore, 360-degree freedom of movement in your sky-ship, and the unique "Spirit Bar" in battle, and "Skies of Arcadia" becomes the first epic RPG for Dreamcast.

        "Skies of Arcadia" is rated "T" for Teen, and available for $49.95 at retailers nationwide and at

Here's the press release for Square's impressive Final Fantasy IX:


        Latest in Best-Selling FINAL FANTASY Series Returns to the Pure Fantasy Roots

    COSTA MESA, Calif., November 14, 2000 - Square Electronic ArtsSM L.L.C. (Square Electronic Arts) today announced the release of FINAL FANTASY IX for the PlayStation game console. FINAL FANTASY IX, the latest title in the highly acclaimed FINAL FANTASY series, is a role-playing game that takes players through an immersive storyline with completely new characters and environments that are rendered using the latest in 3D graphic digital technology. FINAL FANTASY IX harkens back to earlier FINAL FANTASY installments by recreating fairy tale settings and dwarf-like characters that came to define the FINAL FANTASY series.

        "When FINAL FANTASY IX hit store shelves in Japan this July it had pre-sold one million units in a record-breaking 17 days. Since then it has sold 2.8 million units to date," said Jun Iwasaki, president of Square Electronic Arts. "We think this version will find similar success in the U.S. while simultaneously extending the life of the original PlayStation game console."

        Sales of FINAL FANTASY IX in Japan have propelled the life-to-date sales of series to an astounding 30 million units, making the FINAL FANTASY franchise one of the best-selling series in the history of videogames.

        FINAL FANTASY IX begins with a group of bandits, which includes a skilled thief named Zidane, travelling to the town of Alexandria for a pageant being held in honor of Queen Brahne. Once there they befriend a royal knight, a lonely magician and the Queen’s daughter, the beautiful Princess Garnet, who join their party. The group discovers that the Queen has begun using highly advanced magical weapons to terrorize neighboring kingdoms. Helping her is a powerful sorcerer named Kuja, who has been supplying the Queen with magic. The rag tag group must ban together to stop the Queen before she marshals her evil forces to carry out her deadly plan.

        FINAL FANTASY IX features eight different playable characters such as Zidane or Princess Garnet. Each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, making each one completely unique. For instance, Vivi has the ability to cast black magic such as, Fire, to invoke physical harm on the enemies. However, in terms of curing himself or others, Vivi lacks this ability. Characters are divided into categories according to ability, how that character will develop, and what equipment they will be able to use. The game’s battle system, Active Time Battle System, allows up to four people in the party to be active during battle. Players must consider each character’s varying abilities to defeat opponents.

        Players follow the party through eerie dark forests and medieval kingdoms as they encounter fearsome monsters and various level bosses such as a plant monster that traps characters in a viny cage on his head and a creature called Black Waltz who uses both blizzard and fire magic on his opponents. Players defeat these enemies with a variety of weapons and spells. Each character begins with one special power and unique weapon, and collect more as they progress through the game. Players also have the ability to summon Eidolons, powerful spirits who assist the characters in battle. Many of these Eidolons are returning characters from FINAL FANTASY VIII, such as the ice queen, Shiva, who's powerful ice attacks decimate all who stand in her way.

        As with previous FINAL FANTASY games, this latest title offers cutting-edge graphic artistry in both the full-motion video (FMV) sequences and gameplay. Sequences capture visual details such as large, stormy ocean waves that show ocean spray blowing in the wind or brilliant red and gold flames of a building explosion that cascade from the sky like fireworks.

        To assist players in their journey, a complete online strategy guide for FINAL FANTASY IX will be made available to players at starting today. The online guide offers a complete walkthrough, character information, equipment data, bestiary, ability list and more. Square Electronic Arts has teamed with BradyGAMES to create this new interactive format for the online and printed strategy guide. Using the keywords found throughout the printed guide, players can log on to and type in the keyword for in-depth information on that section of the game. Currently, offers a preview to PlayOnline, a comprehensive network entertainment and community service which is scheduled to launch in 2001 in Japan, followed by the U.S.

        FINAL FANTASY IX is compatible with DUALSHOCK(TM) analog controller and has a suggested retail price of U.S. $40. The game carries an ESRB rating of "T" (Teen). BradyGAMES' FINAL FANTASY IX Official Strategy Guide will be priced at $12.99.

Date Updated:
November 17th, 2000

Time Updated:
4:23 PM

Commodore Wheeler