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Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide: A Disastrous Attempt at Innovation

Exploring the Failures of the Final Fantasy IX Brady Games Strategy Guide and Its Impact on Gamers

The Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide by Brady Games is often considered one of the worst strategy guides of all time. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the key issues, misguided innovations, and the impact this guide had on the gaming experience for fans of the iconic RPG.

A clue as to why it was so disastrous can be seen prominently on the front cover…

Misguided Innovations

Final Fantasy IX is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation console in 2000. The game’s official strategy guide, published by Brady Games, is notorious for being one of the worst strategy guides ever made for a video game at the time of its release. The reason for this was Squaresoft’s decision to host essential tips and secrets on the PlayOnline website in an effort to promote it, forcing Brady Games to accommodate the change in the printed guide by directing readers to the website.

The PlayOnline website was an online gaming service owned by Square Enix, launched on June 6, 2000, and served as the launcher application and internet service for many of the company’s online PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360 games. One of its most notable uses was as an online companion to the Final Fantasy IX strategy guide.

Instead of providing comprehensive information within the guide itself, players were frequently directed to visit the PlayOnline website to access essential tips and strategies. This misguided attempt at innovation proved to be a major inconvenience for players, as they had to pause their game and go online to find the information they needed.

The blue notice boxes appeared throughout the guide directing readers to the PlayOnline website

Brady Games was against the idea, as they knew their consumer base would not like it and understood that buying a strategy guide was worthless when the information they needed was available online for free. Not only did this reliance on an external website disrupt the flow of gameplay, but it also created frustration and added complexity to the gaming experience. Players expected the strategy guide to be a comprehensive resource, providing all the necessary information within its pages. The reliance on PlayOnline undermined the convenience and practicality that gamers expected from a strategy guide.

However, they complied because they did not want to lose the exclusivity rights to making a strategy guide for Final Fantasy X. In the end, Squaresoft abandoned this cross-platform strategy guide format following the negative reception from Final Fantasy IX’s guide and stuck with printing physical strategy guides for future games.

Incomplete Information

Another major shortcoming of the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide was its lack of complete information. Due to its heavy reliance on the PlayOnline website, the guide failed to include crucial details on hidden items, side quests, and character abilities. This left players with an incomplete and frustrating experience, as they were unable to access the comprehensive guidance they expected from a strategy guide.

The purpose of a strategy guide is to provide players with the tools and knowledge they need to navigate a game successfully. By omitting essential information, the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide fell short of fulfilling its intended purpose. Players were left feeling cheated and deprived of the comprehensive guidance they had paid for.

To get more than 3 bullet points of info for a boss fight, you would need to visit the PlayOnline website…see below

In recent years, a fan of the original PlayOnline website and the Final Fantasy IX strategy guide rewrote the navigation menus in CSS and restored the keyword search functionality, making the site accessible by modern web browsers. This restoration effort allows fans of the game to revisit the infamous strategy guide and its online companion, providing a nostalgic experience for those who remember the original website.

The info you would receive on the PlayOnline website

Poor Organisation and Clarity

In addition to its misguided innovations and incomplete information, the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide suffered from poor organisation and clarity. The guide’s layout was confusing, with information scattered across different sections and pages. This made it difficult for players to find the information they needed quickly and efficiently.

Moreover, the explanations provided in the guide were often unclear and unhelpful. Players struggled to understand the instructions and strategies presented, leading to further frustration and confusion. A well-designed and organised strategy guide should offer clear, concise, and easily accessible information. Unfortunately, the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide failed to meet these expectations.

Images within the guide were small and difficult to follow

Impact on Gamers

The numerous shortcomings of the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide had a significant impact on gamers. Instead of providing a helpful and comprehensive resource, the guide added frustration and complexity to the gaming experience. Many players found themselves relying on alternative sources, such as online forums and fan-created guides, to find the guidance they needed.

The guide’s reliance on an external website not only disrupted the immersion of the game but also created an additional barrier for players seeking assistance. It became clear that the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide was not the reliable companion it was intended to be. Gamers felt let down by the guide’s failures and turned to other sources to fulfil their need for comprehensive guidance and support.

In conclusion, the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide by Brady Games is a prime example of a disastrous attempt at innovation in the world of strategy guides. Its misguided innovations, incomplete information, and poor organisation left players frustrated and disappointed. Instead of enhancing the gaming experience, this strategy guide became an obstacle, tarnishing the reputation of both the guide and the game itself.

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