Anyone ever play Final Fantasy IX? I have to say, that was probably, at least of the Playstation and beyond generation FF games, the one with the absolute worst story and just about every other feature RPGs typically have. I could ignore the goofy superdeformed appearance of most characters but they royally fucked over the fans with the awful music, the god-awful pacing, the overall structure of the world, and the utterly underwhelming story. Everything about that game was an insult to how the previous two installments set the bar.
Instead of replacing the Triple Triad card game (or maybe go back to the FF7 model and do actual non-card-based minigames) for the incomprehensible and random Tetra Master, simply keeping the original format with new cards, maybe some new rules, prizes, etc., would itself have been a huge improvement.
Otherwise, if they had taken the effort to avoid making certain areas you explore inaccessible afterward (a huge pain in the ass, in my opinion) and spending a majority of the game forced to only use certain party members made the already sleep-inducing plot almost unbearable. That, and the completely unjustified twist near the end was the final insult. FF8 may not have had a very deep story but at least it was consistent and didn't make the separation of the group at times too big of a deal (FF9 went back to the old way of making certain abilities, like stealing, available to only one character).
This is just one other gripe, but the strategy guide was only 1/4 complete because it was supposed to be integrated with an online component which was useless since that was back in the days of dialup supremacy. So completing sidequests appropriately was simply not possible. What's worse is that reviews do seem to still be favorable, which I don't get. C'est la vie. Fortunately FFX didn't disappoint me nearly as badly.
Making it so equipping certain items or skills can give any character the ability to use magic or steal, and making the villains more sinister, less incomprehensible (or simply more like Sephiroth), would have been a better approach. Unfortunately you have to spend a great deal of time on the game before realizing just how bad all these flaws are. No getting your time back, sadly.