Final Fantasy Chronicles: Final Fantasy IV – PlayStation
Developer: Square / TOSE
Publisher: Square EA
Release Date (NA): June 29, 2001
Nerd Rating: 9.5/10
Reviewed by TimmiT
I’ve always had a bit of trouble getting into the Final Fantasy series. After playing Final Fantasy VIII to the very end, only to have my fourth disk scratched and waste 70+ hours of my life, it was hard for me to get into another game in the series. I didn’t play another Final Fantasy game until years later when I gave Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy III a try. These two games, for me at least, were unbeatable without massive amounts of grinding. As someone who isn’t a fan of grinding, I never finished them, so after playing three games in the series and failing to beat them, I finally gave up on the series.
When I tell people about my experience with Final Fantasy, I am usually told to go play Final Fantasy VI, VII, or IX. I have planned on playing these games for awhile, but with my previous experience of the series, I’ve been a bit apprehensive. So what inspired me to get around to Final Fantasy IV? Being a huge fan of Chrono Trigger, I picked up the game because it was packaged in the PlayStation title, Final Fantasy Chronicles, which came with Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV. Though I only bought the title to get Chrono Trigger, I figured I would give Final Fantasy one last try while I had the chance.
Starting up the game, I’m immediately swept into the action with the story of Cecil, a Dark Knight following the demented orders of the King of Baron and his mysterious right hand man, Golbez. After leading the slaughter on the town of Mysidia to steal their crystal, Cecil begins to question the King’s orders, only to be stricken of his position for questioning the King. Cecil is accompanied by fellow sympathizer and warrior in the King of Baron’s army, Kain, and soon after, Rosa, Cecil’s romantic interest, joins the party. After the intro to the game, I am pleased to be greeted with a familiar sight.
If you don’t recognize this, this shot is almost directly taken from the opening scenes of the first Star Wars movie. In fact, without getting into spoilers, a good majority of the story of this game seems a direct homage to Star Wars, complete with Darth Vader and Death Star equivalents. I don’t mean this in a negative aspect, either. For the time that this game was made, a game having a story that could be compared to something as massive and cinematic as Star Wars was unheard of. If you’re going into this game with the same expectations of a modern movie or modern video game, some of it may seem cliché, but if you go into it expecting the story to be similar to other games circa-1991, you will probably be honestly surprised and taken aback by some of the plot twists here.
I definitely enjoy the story in this game the most out of the Final Fantasy games I’ve played so far. Not as minimal as I or III, but with more of a humor and lighter side than VIII, despite having some emotional moments. The gameplay, however, is what I enjoy most about this game. Two of my major problems I had with I and III were the unforgivable dungeons with no save points and seemingly unbeatable bosses that force you to grind. As a refreshing change of pace, Final Fantasy IV is much more forgiving, and is possible to be completed without grinding. One of the best features in the game is save points in dungeons. The lack of this feature drove me crazy in I and III, so I am happy to see this issue fixed.
The bosses are still challenging and the dungeons are still difficult to make it through, so having save points doesn’t take away from the challenge, it only makes it fair. The battle system is similar to other games in the series, with attacks, magic, special abilities and summons (thankfully with much shorter animations than Final Fantasy VIII). The game also has the option to use an active battle system, which gives the game more of an action feel that forces you to think on your feet. Another element I really enjoy is the bosses. They aren’t made difficult by simply having better stats, but by using different strategies that makes no two boss battles in the game alike. Two of my favorite bosses are Dr. Lugae, who reverses the effects of your spells, and Demon Wall, who is essentially a race against time. The difficulty in this game is rarely frustrating, but instead rewarding when you finally find the perfect strategy to defeat a difficult boss.
The only negatives I can say about this game are the graphics and the final boss. The graphics, while they get the job done, clearly weren’t the focal point here. They’re not bad, and there are some interesting boss designs, it’s just not as detailed as future games in the series. The final boss almost drove me insane, though. There is no save point in his dungeon, and you have to go through a lengthy cut-scene before fighting him, leading to about a 30-40 minute play time on each attempt, not to mention he is easily the most difficult boss in the game, for me anyway. However, defeating him, and seeing the ending of a Final Fantasy game, something I’ve been waiting to see over 15 years, was one of the most elating things I’ve ever experienced. For the first time I see why this series gets the praise it deserves. I recommend this game to people who are fans of the series who may have overlooked this entry, and also to those, like me, who have had trouble getting into this series. Plus, who wouldn’t want to play a game with spoony bards?
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