Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi is back in the news this week with the announcement of his two new games Terra Battle 2 and Terra Wars. However, nobody can resist asking him the biggest question of all:

“What’s your favorite Final Fantasy game?”

We all have our favorites, and Sakaguchi is no different. I already know his favorite since he has stated it on multiple occassions, but hey, opinions change. Mine do all the time! Sakaguchi’s hasn’t however because, in a recent interview with YouTuber ProZD, he confirmed that Final Fantasy IX is still his favorite.

His reasoning is that it is the closest to what he always envisioned Final Fantasy being when he first created the series. It makes sense too because Final Fantasy IX was developed with the intention of capturing the spirit of the first five games with the most cutting edge technology (via. 1999, of course).

As their writer and director, Final Fantasy through Final Fantasy V are the games Sakaguchi had the most creative input in before Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII took the series in a new, darker direction.

Sakaguchi both wrote and produced Final Fantasy IX, and the game clearly tapped into the original genius that made the series popular in the first place. Likewise, it went on to be one of the most critically praised games in the whole series. In a way, it’s sort of the culmination of all his ideas wrapped up into one epic Final Fantasy game before he passed the series on to others and left Square Enix in 2003.

My own history with Final Fantasy IX is that I played it as a young teenager and didn’t quite get it. I had played all of the games released in North America besides of the original NES by that point, but I didn’t have the nostalgia to appreciate Final Fantasy IX’s intentions, armed only with the memory Final Fantasy IV from those early days.

After finally playing the older games as an adult, I went back and tried Final Fantasy IX again once it became available on the Vita, finally realizing the true genius behind it.

I’d still put several other games above it, but I think it holds up the best of the three main entries on the PlayStation. It’s better than VII and VIII, that’s for sure.

And for the record, my favorite Final Fantasy game is still Final Fantasy Tactics.