Final Fantasy IX was originally released on the first PlayStation in 2000 in Japan and North America, with the European and Australian version available the following year. It is the ninth instalment of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy franchise - although they were known as Squaresoft back then - and was the last Final Fantasy game on the first PlayStation. Like many of the older Final Fantasy games, it's been released on other systems since then and is easy to get. It was released on the Playstation network in 2010 for Playstation 3 and PSP, and in 2016 it was released for PC on Steam, as well as on iOS and Android.
The game was a departure from the styles of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII - the two very successful FF games preceding it. While they had more modern settings and sci-fi elements, Final Fantasy IX went for a a more retro Final Fantasy slant with a more traditional fantasy setting. Even the style of the characters was drastically different, with a much more cartoonish look compared to that of VII and VIII. But despite some criticism levelled towards the game due to what was considered by some a more childish look, the plot and themes of IX are anything but – the game deals with some heavy and dark matter (heh). Don't let the bright and colourful world and character designs trick you into thinking that this game is shallow.
The main player character of Final Fantasy IX is Zidane Tribal, seen here to the left. He is a member of the Tantalus Company - a group of thieves that work under the guise of a theatre group. Zidane is one of these thieves, and he himself is also a huge change from the main characters of Final Fantasy VII and VIII. Zidane is cheerful and positive, an extrovert who easily befriends people, and someone who is always ready to help others, despite being a professional thief. While that's something which may cast aspersions on his moral character, Zidane's character quote is, after all, "You don't need a reason to help people". A thief he may be, but Zidane is not a bad person.
Of course, Zidane isn't the only important character in the game. Like any Final Fantasy worth its salt, you meet a range of interesting and colourful characters - many of whom end up in your party in the quest to save the world. And while Zidane is mainly the character we follow, in many ways the story we're being told feels more like it's the story of Garnet Til Alexandros XVII - the princess of the kingdom of Alexandria.
Final Fantasy IX's story actually kicks off in Alexandria, which is one of the nations located on the Mist Continent. The Mist Continent is, unsurprisingly, covered in a layer of Mist at lower elevations, meaning most people live on higher ground. The mist is known to spawn monsters and is also used as a power source - particularly for airships. Other notable kingdoms on this continent are Lindblum, Burmecia, and Cleyra. Lindblum is ruled by Regent Cid, and at the beginning of the game he has sent Tantalus to Alexandria. As far as nearly everybody is concerned, they are there to perform the popular play I Want To Be Your Canary to a large audience that will include Queen Brahne and her daughter in celebration of Garnet's sixteenth birthday. But their real reason for travelling to Alexandria in their airship is to steal the Princess Garnet and take her to Lindblum.