Final Fantasy IV ReviewJustin Moore
Final Fantasy IV, isn’t that an oxymoron?
Gather ‘round, and I’ll tell you how that name came to be. Square entered the video game market in the 80s and at the time Final Fantasy was being developed, was a small company struggling to make ends meet by making simple racing games, RPGs, and other games for Nintendo’s Famicom Disk System. Hironobu Sakaguchi (?? ??,), our hero, was working on an RPG in a fantasy setting hence the “fantasy” part. Sakaguchi was planning on retiring from Square upon its release, hence the “final” part. That’s the way one of the legends goes, the other says that the game was called “Final Fantasy” because Square put all its hopes in the game to pull its company out of its financial woes and if it didn’t, they wouldn’t be making games anymore. Either way it goes, the first installment of the turn based series was a stellar success. So much so that 85 million copies of the franchises’ 28 different titles have been sold since the first game hit shelves when I was 10 months and one day old.
Many of the titles have reached our shores, in a weird way that was not in the order they were released in Japan, luckily we are in the midst of Square (now Square-Enix), re-releasing titles on U.S. consoles. The latest of which is the re-release of Final Fantasy IV, a game that released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy II, on the Nintendo DS. The original Final Fantasy I and real FFII have since been rereleased on the PSP, and FFIII was released last year for the DS, hence the “IV” part. But FFIV is not a simple ported copy of the original Super Nintendo game. Square-Enix went all out with updating this game for a new generation to experience it. The first thing you will notice when you pop the cartridge into your DS are the incredible visuals. FFIV has been given a complete visual upgrade and the game starts off in classic Final Fantasy fashion with a beautiful full motion video and accompanying musical score. The musical score, like most other FF scores, is a masterpiece.
Speaking of classic Final Fantasy, many of the staples of the franchise were introduced in FFIV. That means turned based action with initiative determined by a time bar (a la FFVII), item collection, leveling up, and a character-centric plot complete with love story.
The character in the character-centric plot is a guy named Cecil, a “dark knight” from a kingdom called Barron. I put “dark knight” in quotations because as the story goes on, it becomes clear that Cecil is a good guy, he just wears dark armor. Cecil must fight his way through three different realms to fight Golbez, who is trying to collect a set of crystals in order to become extremely powerful. Along the way Cecil is joined by a cast of characters including his love interest and his best friend, and he learns who he really is and who he can really trust.
FFIV has random battles, boss battles, item collection, leveling up and all of the other good things one has come to expect from a linear JRPG (which were pretty much defined by FFIV). In terms of combat, Final Fantasy has been moving further and further away from straight turn-based for a long time, and FFIV was the game that started it all off.
FFIV introduced the Active Time battle system, which was used all the way up until FFXI. The active time battle system is the system that includes that little initiative bar that determines when the player can choose the action that the character will take during combat.
Those are all of the good things associated with linear JRPGs. One of the most annoying things about FFIV is the fact that the game does not auto save, so if you play for 3 hours and forget to save then you die in a fight, expect those 3 hours to be lost. The overall plot is good, but the dialogue is atrociously written and performed even worse by whatever people Square-Enix picked up off of the street to do the English dubs. The only other downside to FFIV is the fact that the game is so linear, something fans of the series have come to expect, respect, and even love.
Final Fantasy IV is a classic game, and in its time a true innovation. The game has voice acting, that’s a plus, the voice acting is bad, and that’s a minus. The game is linear, that’s a minus, but it was designed to be so, and the plot is good, so that’s a plus. The game is harshly unforgiving for people who forget to save frequently, that’s the biggest problem with the game but that’s how most FF games are. Overall, FFIV is a must own title for any fan of the series. If you are not a fan, then FFIV will not make you one, don’t bite into this apple expecting it to taste like an orange; you’ll just be disappointed.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.