Haha, we think exactly alike and wow you even have an avatar of Elly who just so happens to be my favourite Xenogears character!
Let's just say that a long time ago, I used to think that Final Fantasy IX would be my most favorite PSX JRPG classic because I grew up with it, and nothing would dethrone it. Maybe even favorite video game overall if I wanted to go there. Playing Xenogears in my first playthrough easily changed that significantly.
The combat system both in foot and Gears are solid with the awesome deathblows. The characters (Fei Fong Wong is possibly one of the best video game protagonists I've ever met), party members and villains are written excellently well. The soundtrack for the game still holds up imo.
And the story man... everyone speaking about this games story is true. Disc One was magnificent and I'm just almost done the game. I could go on and on about how the story blew my mind the first time I played through it. I would definitely opt for a remake of this classic.