To further accentuate this popular oxymoron, Squaresoft has created yet another not-so-final Final Fantasy game to lure us into the RPG realm for a good month or two of our lives. With one of the best storylines of its series and excellent sound and graphics, the classic Final Fantasy IV will absorb you into its planet-saving conquest. By this breathtaking adventure’s end, one will be awarding extra brownie points all over for being such an influential masterpiece.
Easy and smooth gameplay lets you worry less about mastering buttons and focus more on getting pulled into the story. You have a simple execute of actions and the option to parry, a more presentable word for defend, or change characters to front or back line during battles. Also featured are customized magic and item lists for easy use. There are a variety of weapon types and options for your team, therefore not tying them to only one class of gear or arms. Hence your Caller can use the standard staff or you can equip them with the more powerful bow and arrow. The magic system in FF4 is not only useful, but essential to meet the end. It is set in such a linear fashion, beginning with Fire 1, Ice 1, and Lit 1 and working up to the powerful Fire 3, Ice 3, and Lit 3, that it’s ideal for RPG noobies. The same elemental properties are in effect when you kill the Flame Dog with a blast of Ice 2. As for the summons, they aren’t found lying around in secret dark corners, but are earned through side quests of good deeds or battling against beasts to be able to call on them. Be highly leveled and well equipped if you want to win Asura, Leviathan, or the most powerful summon, Bahumut, and the reward will be well worth it.
The Final Fantasy series has always been recognized for its breathtaking music. Don’t expect high-pitched ear piercing NES sounds that now make good polyphonic ring tones. The widely acclaimed composer Nobuo Uematsu does a good job enhancing the classic piano opening theme, which is to be continuously implemented in the generations of Final Fantasy games to follow. Many characters get their own personalized tunes, like the infamous Golbez with the creepy Dracula organ music and the always-familiar chocobo jingle when riding them. For the heartwarming romance scenes there is lovey-dovey music, and a spine-chilling tone plays in the minutes before an upcoming boss fight. The thrilling boss fight music is enough to provoke a triple bypass after hours of tedious random monster battling and gets you into serious strategy mode. During the critical emotional battles, you’ll encounter beautiful orchestra-like background music. The symphonic sounds of Final Fantasy IV are distinct and unforgettable. Rest assured that you’ll feel a warm-fuzzy nostalgia after years of gameplay.
Final Fantasy IV outdoes itself graphically for the early 16-bit era. Especially for the first game in the FF series, moving from the 8-bit NES console to the Super Nintendo. Everything from the title screen of the legendary crystal sword to the highly detailed monsters and character profiles is impressive. The astonishing 2D art enhances the game as well as the story. But there are cases where the breathtaking graphics clash with the cheesy 8-bitish look. A prime example is during the fight between the heroic gang and the Demon’s Wall in the underworld Sealed Cave. We have the evils of hell pouring out this terrorizing and extremely graphic wall on the left, while on the right there are visually weak, though cute little people waving around what appears to be batons. Other less enchanting art in the game includes the world maps, airships, towns, and the characters when walking around the land. Introduced first in FF4 are multiple expanded world maps. Players get to roam around the earth, its underworld, and the ever-so-mystic moon. Also new is the window color adjustment scheme, but most people might choose to remain loyal to the default blue color over the bright blinding colors offered. Squaresoft makes up for this with one of the most incredible and well-written storylines in the RPG genre. Disregarding such miniscule flaws, Final Fantasy IV has phenomenal art that is worth over a thousand words.
Final Fantasy IV slowly unravels each character’s story and gradually reels us in similarly to the effect of addictive soap operas on housewives. Drama, camaraderie, chivalry, and all that good knighthood stuff will have you wanting more. You start the game immediately as the dark knight, Cecil, doing the king’s dirty work. Then you go on to team up with the Dragoon Kain, who is your best friend and all-time traitor, your persistent and demanding girlfriend Rosa, Cid the master engineer, Rydia the Caller, Tellah a master wizard, Yang the karate guru, and many others. There are many exhilarating revelations in the story – Cecil’s Paladin self-discovery and transformation, which resembles much to that of the puberty process, emerging family ties, and dramatic boss battles. One gets drawn into each character’s persona as they join you throughout the story on the quest to save the crystals and the planet, which has become a traditional theme for all Final Fantasy games to come. Make sure you do a lot of exploring to uncover all the game’s secrets for those sweet surprises. The all-time favorite dancer girls in every town that have a different traditional tango will have you traveling the world until you master the Lord of the Dance. And the loving chocobo inspires you to innocently peek in for a new bird breed at your local pet store after playing it for so long. There is no avoiding the bonds you will develop with the memorable characters of this enlightening story.
The game itself is lengthy for an early age console game, especially due to the high levels needed to defeat the Zemus psychopath at the end. The combination of excess gaming exhaustion and perfect-ending bliss will leave you with a priceless taste in your mouth with no need to season it further. But as for the compulsive must-get-everything-in-the-game player, there is a lot to discover. Especially after realizing, once you pick up a strategy guide, how much you missed.
Whether you are playing it for the first time or revisiting a classic for old times sake FFIV is definitely an engaging must-play for any RPGer or Final Fantasy fan. Playing the older games in the series gives you some background before jumping into the new world of advanced and graphically revolutionized games of today. I urge everyone to dig deep into the old school roots of the beloved Final Fantasy lineage. And let’s be glad this fantasy is a never-ending story.