Inside Final Fantasy IX Day

Squaresoft rolled out the red carpet at the San Francisco Metreon yesterday for Final Fantasy IX, presenting the latest installment of their flagship series in style and a day early to Bay Area fans. The Final Fantasy Day events were scheduled to begin at 2 pm, although by that time the line had grown well out of the store and down the halls of the Metreon.

An enthusiastic fan

Eagerly awaiting the opening hour, hundreds of people peered through the glass walls of the PlayStation store, trying to get a glimpse of the game's demo running repeatedly on every one of the store's two-dozen display monitors. The crowd consisted of all ages of fans, and despite the chilling rain pouring down outside, there were even a few hardcore fans in costume. Conversation during the wait passed over a myriad of topics, as some gamers recalled the early days of the series, while others listened intently, having only experienced the previous two PlayStation Final Fantasy titles. The release of any new Final Fantasy game is a time of nostalgia, and this was no exception. However, after the line suddenly began to move at a few minutes past 2, the conversation centered unwaveringly on Final Fantasy IX.

The whole package

The line moved remarkably quickly, considering the number of people present at the event. Upon reaching the front counter, fans were greeted by a salesperson who promptly inquired as to how many copies of the game they would like to purchase. Surprisingly, it was quite common for a single person to purchase three or four, and in one case, a small girl with a large duffle bag bought fifteen copies. Fans didn't need to worry, though, as the promised "goodies" were in large supply. Along with their purchase, customers also received a plush Vivi doll, a Final Fantasy IX wall calendar, featuring some stunning new images of the game's characters, and last but not least, a special edition of the complete Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack.

How many Vivis did they smash in there?

After purchasing their copy of the game, some headed right out of the store to go begin the adventure. For those who stuck around, or those who merely came to watch the excitement, the Metreon PlayStation store was filled with consoles running demos of various games, as well as several interviews playing in the mini-theater with past and present Final Fantasy designers. Just outside the store was the "Vivi Mobile," a bright red Volkswagen Bug which was absolutely packed with the Vivi figures. Anyone was welcome to take a guess as to how many were stuffed into the car's interior, with an absolutely tantalizing prize of a new PlayStation2 console and a large collection of Squaresoft titles and merchandise.

Final Fantasy Day was a great success, with a strong presence by Sony and Squaresoft, and a fantastic turnout from local fans. Everyone in the store was excited about Square's latest work, already being hailed as a masterpiece. A store employee briefly commented that not only was Final Fantasy IX "anticipated to sell better than any previous installment of the series," it was also "arguably the best RPG ever to hit the PlayStation console." Final Fantasy IX goes on sale today in stores across the nation.

by Matthew Wanlin
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