These Final Fantasy 9 fans spent three years making a gorgeous JRPG remake you’ll never play

A floating ship heads towards Alexandria in Final Fantasy 9
(Image credit: Square Enix / Memoria Project)

After three years of work, a group of dedicated Final Fantasy 9 fans have released a hands-off remake to showcase just how good the JRPG could be with a glow-up – and, perhaps, to make a case for a fully playable one. 

Kem Yaralioglu, the creative director of the Memoria Project - as the remake is known - tells us it all started when two others devs - Dan Eder and Colin Valek -recreated FF9's iconic Tavern location. It quickly attracted the attention of many, including Yaralioglu themself, who reached out to see if the pair needed additional help. From there, the trio set about recreating FF9's Alexandria “in a similar manner to that of a regular game development studio”, leading the project to grow in scope to the point that over 40 people were contributing to it. 

“I think many fans, not just ourselves, have always imagined playing a remake of Final Fantasy 9,” Yaralioglu says.  “With iconic games being remade frequently, we all wonder what a remake of Final Fantasy 9 would be if it were remade as a next-gen game. Final Fantasy during the era of 7, 8, 9, and 10 are considered some of the best, and 9 is often overlooked, but most of the team and I consider 9 to be the best title in the series. 

“It’s that love and passion that inspired us to do what we did, working together to build something that has never been done before and to a standard that retains the style, charm and what made the original so special that we believe fans will appreciate.”

Hands off

Final Fantasy 9's infamous Tavern

(Image credit: Square Enix / Memoria Project)

While much time and effort has gone into the Memoria Project, the fan-made Final Fantasy 9 remake is not one you’ll ever get to play. Yaralioglu explains that’s been the intention from the start, both to help the team achieve its ambitions and, more importantly, to keep the dream alive.

“Myself, Dan, and the rest of the team believe this is the sole reason we’ve managed to come this far,” they say. “Having Memoria non-playable was always the plan from day one because we knew that we could not release whatever we made publicly as that would result in the project being shut down. You see fan projects pop up all the time and then get shut down because they plan to release it publicly. 

“The goal of Memoria is simply to showcase what a remake of Final Fantasy 9 could be. It’s a proof of concept of how we believe the remake of Final Fantasy 9 could be so that it retains the magic of the original but with improved graphics and gameplay. Memoria is unfortunately a product that people will never be able to play for themselves, but they are able to experience it through the demo we’ve released. 

"Hopefully, our remake of Alexandria will keep fans excited and keep wishing that a remake of this calibre or perhaps better will be released one day.”

Impressing the nobles

A wizard approached a tavern in a fan-made remake of Final Fantasy 9

(Image credit: Square Enix / Memoria Project)

Even without the legal eye of Square Enix, the Memoria Project has gone through its fair share of internal challenges. The dev team works entirely voluntarily, and passion for an idea only gets you so far over three years when you have bills to pay.

“Honestly, the biggest challenge was keeping motivation throughout the team,” Yaralioglu says. “It might sound silly when you look at what has been created and fall in love with it, but nothing is linear, and there are always ups and downs like a rollercoaster. Memoria is purely a passion project and requires skilled developers to do additional work in their free time after a full day of work, without any compensation. 

“Most people have full-time jobs and want to relax afterwards, others have families, some such as myself teach on the side and refused freelance jobs so that we could dedicate our time to Memoria.”

The toll of creating the Memoria Project meant being okay with people coming and going during development and encouraging people to do what they could rather than matching the level of effort of the person alongside them. However, seeing and interacting with what they worked on routinely got everyone through it – not only for themselves but also seeing how everyone else outside the development team would react.

“At the end of the day, everyone on the team was sacrificing something, and I think the biggest thing was helping them see what they were sacrificing it for, especially during the early days of development. 

“We tried lots of things to overcome this specific challenge, but ultimately I believe having weekly playtests and reviews really sparked a fire in the team as it allowed everyone to see the progress week in week out. Prior to that, if we did not post updates then the team would not see what work had been done, so these reviews were a massive success.”

A realm reborn

Now that the project has released, the Memoria team might just get its wish of a new take on FF9. Word of a full Final Fantasy 9 remake first got around back in 2021 when it was mentioned in an infamous Nvidia leak that’s only proven more accurate as time has passed. Rumblings around the project have recently resurfaced, with word that a remake "is real" igniting FF9 fans.

For Yaralioglu, nothing could be better than the rumour being a reality. 

“In regards to the rumoured remake, myself and the team hope it is real,” they say. “I personally would like to believe that the work we have done on Memoria has actually had an impact on the rumoured remake, whatever impact that is I do not know. 

“The fans' reception to what we have created has been nothing but positive and it gives a clear insight to what the fans want, what kind of remake they want for Final Fantasy IX, and that information is so powerful that I hope if the rumoured remake is real, perhaps Square Enix has seen what the fans want and have taken it into account.”

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Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.