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Final Fantasy IV – SNES

Final Fantasy IV – SNES

2363827-snes_finalfantasyiiPlatform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square

Release Date: July 19, 1991

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 8/10

Reviewed By Paladin

Ok, I’m confused. The title of this article is Final Fantasy IV yet there’s a picture right there staring me in the face that says Final Fantasy II

Who’s in this game again?

Cecil, Golbez, Rosa, Rydia, Edge. In any true RPG fan, these names invoke excitement and anticipation for what’s to come and nostalgic love of great characters weaving a great story. To someone pretending to be an RPG fan, these names are cause to scratch one’s head and wonder, “Hang on…I thought these guys were from Final Fantasy II?” Time for another history lesson.

images (3)The game that Americans grew up calling Final Fantasy II for the SNES is actually the fourth FF that was made. The original two sequels to Square’s big hit were supposed to come over on the NES, but time constraints made that impossible. Therefore, the second Final Fantasy that came over here was the one that the rest of the world has always called Final Fantasy IV. Looking back, this may have been a good thing.

While it would have been cool to play FFII and FFIII as they were originally intended, the difficulty level of those two may have been too much for young American gamers with no internet. After three innovative games, all with different battle systems and gameplay, FFIV was just what the Stateside RPG public needed at the time; a simple, straightforward game with an intriguing plot and fun characters that didn’t require a learning curve.

This title stands out for two main reasons, the first being that it’s completely normal. Literally every other Final Fantasy in the series has something or somethings that differentiate it, not only from other entries in the franchise, but from other RPGs in general; FF’s I, III, andhave the class/job system, allowing players to change their character’s combat class, II had you leveling up depending on your actions in battle, in VI you learned spells by equipping Espers to yourself, VII had the Materia system, VIII had the Junction System…the list goes on, including spin-offs and direct prequels and sequels. IV is the only one that is a basic role-playing game; the characters move along a linear story path, they level up by gaining experience in battle and learn new spells by reaching higher levels. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just a fun game with a solid execution.

The second reason is that FFIV was the first Final Fantasy, and therefore one of the earliest RPGs, to have a fully developed plot complete with twists, a love story, betrayal and redemption of a hero. Sounds like nothing new by today’s standards, but in 1991 we had never seen anything this in-depth. From the first screen to the last it gets your blood pumping.download (1)

The game begins with our hero, Cecil, coming back from a raid on Mysidia where he led his troops in a massacre of the townsfolk just before stealing the precious Water Crystal…huh? Yeah, Cecil is a Dark Knight for the Kingdom of Baron whose king has ordered Cecil to collect the four elemental Crystals from around the world. Cecil, always a devoted knight, is following orders, but struggles inside with this sudden change in his king. After confronting King Baron, Cecil is reprimanded and sent on an errand with his best friend, the dragoon Kain. The pair arrive at the town of Myst where their package suddenly explodes and engulfs everything in flames, leaving no survivors save for a little girl named Rydia. From there, Cecil digs deeper into the mystery as Baron expands its empire, plots are uncovered, alliances are broken and forged, and the main characters embark on a journey to save the planet that takes them all over the world, under the earth, and even to the moon.

The story is definitely this game’s strongest point. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen a monkey wrench is thrown in. Villains come out of nowhere and heroes make surprising returns. FFIV shows no hesitation in offing main characters either. More than one tearful goodbye follows a noble sacrifice for the good of the group, but sometimes a character survives, so you never know when someone is really gone. Needless to say, it keeps you on your toes.

Admittedly, this is the same area that draws some criticism too. There are, perhaps, one too many surprises and a few too many turns, to the point where it can feel a little forced. The term Deus Ex Machina also surfaces when referring to the many heroic sacrifices and, again, it’s not completely misplaced. For as much as I like the plot it does contain a lot of melodrama. Again, back then this was completely fresh and new, but it’s understandable why some modern gamers may not take to it, especially if they didn’t grow up in the nineties.images (4)

Developers took full advantage of all 16 of the Super Nintendo’s bits. Having this game take place across three vastly different landscapes was a brilliant move as it showcased the system’s improved graphics. The color pallet, shading and definition give a lot more detail to surfaces and sprites alike. I still remember the first time I saw the river of lava in the Underworld, just like I remember every note of every song. It’s a no-brainer that Nobuo Uematsu would compose another masterpiece with this one and FFIV is one of his best. The boss theme, battle theme, Zeromus, Rydia’s theme, every single song is amazing.

Final Fantasy IV was the perfect game for the perfect time. The story can take itself too seriously and it doesn’t take any risks as far as gameplay goes, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else either. It’s Final Fantasy’s version of a beach read; mindless fun, but fun nonetheless. If you were born in the year 2000 or after and looking to get into older games, this is a good one to start with. It tells an entertaining story with strong characters despite the limitations of the time. Give it a shot.

Written by Paladin

 
 

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