Final Fantasy IX (ファイナルファンタジーIX Fainaru Fantajī IX) is the ninth installment in the Final Fantasy series, released by Square in 2000. It was directed by Hiroyuki Ito and co-produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Shinji Hashimoto. It is the third and last Final Fantasy in the main series to be produced for the PlayStation. Unlike Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, however, this was not ported to the PC. It was originally going to be a spin-off game, but was eventually decided to be a main game.
After several Final Fantasy installments that featured an increasing sci-fi slant, Final Fantasy IX was intended to return the series, at least temporarily, to its more fantasy-oriented roots. The characters, who had been depicted in an increasingly realistic fashion in previous Final Fantasy games, were deliberately rendered in a more cartoonish fashion to reflect this return to tradition. Among the most notable in the influences of previous Final Fantasy games is the presence of Black Mages, represented foremost by the playable party member Vivi; other Black Mages appeared as a crucial element of the storyline.
Final Fantasy IX was announced and developed in tandem with Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XI. This three-pronged marketing effort was intended to provide gamers with the promise of three upcoming games of varied style and gameplay: an intentionally retro RPG in IX, a smoother evolution in style and design in X, and an online experience in XI.