Final Fantasy IX: Memoria Project is a loving, unplayable recreation of Square Enix’s whimsical 2000 era RPG, and work on the tribute is moving along quickly. After its reveal five months ago, the team behind Final Fantasy IX’s reimagining is ready to share some of its opening moments—including your introduction to the game’s darling Black Mage, Vivi.
Final Fantasy often drops you straight into the drama, the intrigue, conflict, whatever it may be, but there’s something extra charming, timeless even, about FFIX’s relaxed greeting. Beginning the adventure as Vivi, perhaps the game’s most endearing character, bonds you to a party member that gradually reveals himself as a troubled soul in the midst of an existential crisis. His wide-eyed amazement upon entering Alexandria, excitement to see a theatrical performance, and unplanned ‘heist’ with the rat boy Puck all occur when you have no knowledge of what’s really brewing behind those castle walls—a good juxtaposition for your later return here.
All of this is to say, there’s a mood there that’s hard to capture, but this Memoria Project video nails it. In less than a minute of footage, the team behind the love letter makes it clear they’re paying attention to detail. There’s a hidden chest, one of those terrible children that invite you to jump rope, cobblestone roads, familiar NPCs, and the precious boy himself, Vivi.
Alex Moukala, a professional musician and Final Fantasy fan that often breaks down the series’ themes for others, is also working on the project. The new teaser includes a short snippet of his work on Vivi’s Theme, originally composed by Nobuo Uematsu over two decades ago. Project Lead Dan Eder has quickly grown the team, recruiting industry veterans at a rate that seems to be moving progress along steadily. “Earlier this year, we shared an early screenshot of our ambitious #FinalFantasyIX fan project with the world, and as a result, our team was able to grow from 2 to 28 people,” Eder said on Twitter. “And now, I’m excited to share the first teaser trailer. Welcome to the world of #MemoriaProject!”
The update to Memoria Project’s website back in June noted they’re a 15-person team, so they’ve almost doubled the size since then. New roles include additional animators, 3D artists, and now voice talent—so perhaps future videos will bring Vivi’s crushing metaphysical monologues to life.
FFIX is perhaps one of my favorites in a series full of greats. I spent years on team “Don’t Touch FFIX With A Remake, It’s Perfect,” but I’ve since changed my tune after seeing what a bunch of fans can do when crafting a tribute to something so beloved. Even as something unplayable, it’s enjoyable to watch and see a clear vision of the world in a modern take that’s still loyal to its fairytale-like atmosphere.
According to the Memoria Project site, they aren’t making any profit on the endeavor and “will never do anything to infringe upon Square Enix’s copyright.” To which I say, you hear that, Square? Y’all leave these folks alone and let them do their thing. It’s incredible, and I can’t wait to see their take on the game’s rambunctious southern belle, Ruby.