Final Fantasy 4

Final Fantasy 4

TITLE: Final Fantasy IV
MAX LEVEL: 99 (two opportunities to achieve it)
ORIGINAL IDEA: Actual plot (original when it was released)
LENGTH: 25-30 Hours
PLATFORM: Super Nintendo (1991), PlayStation (2001), WonderSwan Colour (soon)
GENRE: Traditional RPG
COOLEST NPC: King Bahamut

This was it. The RPG that revolutionised...RPGs. Before this, your typical RPG consisted of four characters that you customised and named yourself. The story consisted of going around from town to town and solving the crises that plague each one, sometimes with an overall goal. They were boring, and helped give future RPGs a bad reputation that would take six years to demolish (thanks to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Final Fantasy VII). But it was this legendary SNES RPG that started the modernisation of RPGs. Love it or hate it, you all owe everything you love about RPGs to this game. While it's not a modern RPG, technically, it began well over half of the features seen in them today.

There are thirteen characters in Final Fantasy IV. One can be accessed only with a Game Genie code. There is no character switch option throughout the entire game, so you only have five people at any given time. This non-feature does a lot for the plot, though. While one could say that there are only five true characters in this game, that would be no different than calling Aeris a temporary character in Final Fantasy VII, no different than Sephiroth. So, I called the five characters you have at the end of the game, Yang, and Tellah as permanent characters, because one or the other is with you for well over half of the game, and Yang is possible to recruit as a permanent character instead of Kain.

Onto the soundtrack. The music in Final Fantasy IV was outstanding for 1991, but only a few songs rival modern RPG music (Golbez's theme, At Zero, Lunarians' Theme). Still, the melodies don't go under obnoxious, so it's fine.

Anyway, one thing about these old-school RPGs: they're challenging, if you're used to 'hold Confirm button to win' games like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII. You have less HP than in the other Final Fantasy games, and the enemy's attacks do about the same amount of damage as in the more recent ones. This means that a powerful enemy spell will 'swoon' (bad translation on kill) the good majority of your party. Not only that, but you do less damage than in the newer ones, way less; I'm talking 2500 damage at the end of the game with you're strongest character's normal attack, and the bosses have about twice as much HP as they do in the new FFs. You'll quit playing the game for days when you discover that FuSoYa's new godlike Meteo attack will only restore 9999 HP to the four fiends. The only way to deal 9999 damage without butchering thousands of monsters is with good luck on Rosa's White attack.

You'll get used to the SNES version, though. It's the PSX version that'll kill you. It's about a thousand times more challenging than the SNES version, which has always been regarded as quite difficult. You'll never get used to the PlayStation version included with Chrono Trigger in Final Fantasy Chronicles.

So, if you're in desperate need of a challenge, pick up either version of Final Fantasy IV (oh, yeah, it's Final Fantasy II on the SNES). This was the only game that made me drop all other RPGs (I usually find myself playing around twelve at a time) until I completed it.

Shadow of the Sun's Reviews
Final Fantasy IV Reviews

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