Final Fantasy IX: Best Party Members, Ranked

Final Fantasy IX title card

Final Fantasy IX: Best Party Members, Ranked

The games in the Final Fantasy series may have some compelling protagonists and antagonists, but just as important is the cast of playable heroes and companions that join the protagonist throughout their adventure. In some cases, there’s an argument to be made that the adventuring party, and not the main hero, are the true stars of the Final Fantasy games. After all, the ensemble casts of Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII feature some of the more iconic and beloved characters in the franchise, potentially outshining the true “main character” of their respective games. The same holds true when attempting to pin down Final Fantasy IX‘s best party members.

The ninth Final Fantasy game is interesting in that it has both one of the best protagonists in the series with Zidane Tribal, who is a refreshing change of pace over VII and VIII‘s brooding heroes, as well as one of the best playable casts of characters as his adventuring companions. Each of Final Fantasy IX‘s playable characters bring something different to the table, whether that’s through being melee powerhouses or the party’s requisite summoner, and their personalities are all given ample time to shine in Final Fantasy IX‘s excellent story. There’s a reason that many longtime fans consider Final Fantasy IX to be the best game in the series, and the adventuring party has a lot to do with it.

8. Eiko Carol

Final Fantasy IX Eiko

Eiko may rank lowest on the list of Final Fantasy IX party members, but she’s still a powerhouse when it comes to being able to summon Eidolons. She’s the only character in the game capable of being a Summoner other than Princess Garnett and she also has some pretty great spellcasting prowess as a White Mage. That said, she’s not as powerful or efficient as a summoner or spellcaster as Garnett or Vivi, respectively, and she’s essentially completely lacking in any viability as a melee combatant. To make matters worse, her Trance ability DblWht is useful for staking restorative spells but each casting depletes the Trance guage, making its utility in battle lacking.

Still, Eiko does deserve credit for having some of the best White Magic spells and summons in the game. Powerful spells such as Esuna, Full-Life, Haste, and Holy are exclusive to Eiko, and even without being as powerful a summoner as Dagger she does still get the Phoenix summon. Ultimately, Eiko does alot of the same things that Dagger does, only she does them differently (and, some might argue, not as well) and has less importance to the story.

7. Amarant Coral

Final Fantasy IX Amarant

Players initially meet Amarant as an enemy, so finally getting him to join the party as a member of the team is an exciting moment. He’s a powerhouse fighter who also happens to have some excellent Monk-like abilities with Revive and Chakra. Still, he’s less consistent than Freya in terms of DPS and, while a cool character to look at doesn’t really factor that much into the story to rank any higher than he does here. If players are attempting a primarily melee-based party, Amarant is essential to have alongside other powerful DPS dealers, but otherwise, his spot is better spent on a magic-user or more balanced character.

One important factor that makes Amarant a useful addition to any party is his Trance ability, which allows him to hit multiple targets at once. That, and his ability to Throw weapons gives him a unique bonus to damage against airborne enemies. His melee abilities are unique in comparison to Final Fantasy IX‘s other fighters in the adventuring party, but with only 4 potential slots available they aren’t quite enough to have him be the favorable choice in the place of Steiner or Freya.

6. Quina Quen

Final Fantasy IX Quina

The Blue Mage is one of the more controversial classes in the entirety of the Final Fantasy franchise, and Quina from Final Fantasy IX helps to illustrate why. Blue Mages require the player to spend a lot of time grinding for the various monster abilities that make up their roster of spells, and if players aren’t willing to invest the time to do so they’re practically useless as party members. That said, with the right abilities, Blue Mages can be some of the more powerful party members in the game. Quina is no different, proving to be just as useful in battle alongside some of the series’ other best Blue Mages (looking at you, Quistis) as long as players take the time to have them learn their best abilities.

Alongside their useful Blue Magic skills, Quina also has an excellent Trance ability in the Cook command. Cook transforms Quina’s “Eat” command to Cook, which allows the creature to instantly consume any enemy on the battlefield (except for humanoid enemies and bosses) with 50% of their total health gone. In terms of a great character to have when grinding out battles to earn experience and raise the party’s levels, Quina is an invaluable asset as long as they’re leveled properly.

5. Princess Garnett/Dagger

Final Fantasy IX Dagger

Some may claim that Princess Garnett, aka Dagger, is the weakest party member in the game, but she’s so important to Final Fantasy IX‘s story that it helps to improve her ranking slightly. Yes, she’s not as powerful as a White Mage in comparison to Eiko. However, her summons typically deal greater damage and are cheaper to cast once she has her Eidolons returned to her after having them extracted. She also has one of the best Trance abilities in the game that makes her summons stronger and potentially casts them multiple times for as long as she has any of her Trance gauge remaining.

If players put in the work to stack 99 of each corresponding gem to all of Dagger’s summons, they consistently deal max damage with every time they’re cast. This kind of consistency, along with having access to the best non-elemental attack with Bahamut, make a strong case for Dagger to be a mainstay in the player’s party. She doesn’t do anything that other characters don’t already do, but her strength as a summoner makes her one of Final Fantasy IX‘s best party members.

4. Adelbert Steiner

Final Fantasy IX Steiner

Steiner is the frustratingly stubborn and loyal knight with a heart of gold who truly undergoes a transformation throughout the events of Final Fantasy IX. That, and he’s the party’s prominent melee fighter during the initial hours of the adventure. Steiner does lose some effectiveness as a melee combatant as players expand their party to include Amarant and Freya, but he does have the distinction of being the sole wielder of the game’s single most powerful weapon — Excalibur II. With the Excalibur II in his possession, Steiner becomes one of the more powerful party members available, and his ability to synergize with Vivi’s magic spells is an excellent plus.

Steiner’s Trance ability makes his physical prowess even more significant thanks to it tripling his normal attack power. With the right accumulation of levels and experience and right equipment, Steiner can easily deal the maximum 9999 damage with ease in every encounter. Having the Excalibur II and using it to learn the Shock ability transforms Steiner from being an average Tank-type party member to being the resident damage-dealer and practically necessary for taking on any of Final Fantasy IX‘s “super bosses.”

3. Zidane Tribal

Final Fantasy IX Zidane

Not only is Zidane the protagonist and main character of Final Fantasy IX, he’s also one of its most well-rounded and valuable party members. Aside from the Excalibur II, Zidane’s Ultima Weapon is the most powerful piece of equipment in the game and makes him a consistently reliable damage-dealer. His speed is also second-to-none, meaning Zidane will likely be able to get in more hits per-turn than any other member of the party. Add in his ability to steal valuable items from enemies (and later, damage them in the process) and Zidane is quite possibly the best Thief-type character in all of Final Fantasy.

Zidane’s Trance ability changes every one of his attacks into a more powerful version that also drain MP, and it just so happens to be one of the best all-around Trance abilities in the game. Players are pretty much stuck with Zidane for all of Final Fantasy IX‘s main quest, and even though he’s not the warrior archetype that so many of Final Fantasy‘s protagonists are, Zidane is no less useful in battle or practical as a party member.

2. Freya Crescent

Final Fantasy IX Freya

The top two positions on the ranking of Final Fantasy IX’s best party members belong to both its most consistently reliable melee fighter and the game’s most powerful magic user (and, arguably, the best character in the entire game). Freya not only is a great party member, but she’s a compelling and tragic hero with a devastating backstory and unshakeable faith and commitment to her heroism in the face of adversity. She acts as Final Fantasy IX’s version of the classic Dragoon class, complete with being the only character in the game capable of using the Jump command.

Jump is very useful in terms of dealing a respectable amount of damage and keeping Freya out of harm’s way in the process, but it’s her Dragon Crest ability that’s the true star of the show. Dragon Crest is one of the most reliable and consistent ways to regularly deal max damage in battle, and with Freya’s Trance active, she remains airborne while raining down death from above against all enemies on the battlefield. She’s consistent, powerful, and an excellent character in Final Fantasy IX‘s narrative.

1. Vivi Ornitier

Final Fantasy IX Vivi

Vivi doesn’t have a lot going for him on the surface. Players control Vivi for the first bulk of Final Fantasy IX‘s opening segments, and these scenes paint him as a bit of a pathetic figure. It’s not until later in the game that players learn the dark and tragic backstory of Vivi, highlighting just how strong and brave he truly is. His magic doesn’t start off as being something too worthwhile in comparison to melee attacks, but as he levels up he grows much in the same way that his character develops in the narrative to become one of the most powerful party members.

Vivi is a tiny little powerhouse, the embodiment of “big things come in small packages”, and a brilliant callback to the iconic Black Mage from the Final Fantasy series’ origins all-in-one. His Trance ability, Dbl Blk, allows him to dualcast two spells back to back, and combining the all-powerful offensive spell Flare with the MP-draining Osmose means always being able to deal consistently high damage while never needing to dole out Gil for expensive Ethers. Some players argue that Vivi is largely useless, but there’s a case to be made that they’re just not using him effectively.

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