Platform: SNES(reviewed), PS1, GBA, DS, Wii Virtual Console, PSP
I didn't play Final Fantasy IV, or Final Fantasy II as it was known at the time, until long after it's initial release in 1991. However, when I finally did, it instantly became one of my favorite games and I realized why this Final Fantasy thing I've heard so much about was so damn popular. Final Fantasy IV is a Japanese role-playing game where you take control of dark knight Cecil on his quest for redemption after he realizes the evil of his king and the dictator who controls him. It is a dark tale with a surprisingly mature tone for the time. A word of warning: this post is going to be a long one and will contain SPOILERS so if you have been planning to play the game, do it now! You wont regret it. (NOTE: my story summary is purposefully tongue-in-cheek, so please try to have fun with it)
|Man, Cecil is so good at genocide that he doesn't even have to try.|
Cecil finds that his misfortune will never end though when he finds another of his friends, Rosa, dying of an illness that can only be cured by a so called sand ruby from the next kingdom over so they set off for Damcyan. Along the way they meet an old sage named Tellah who is on his way there as well to find his daughter so they join forces. People group up and journey together at the drop of a hat in this game's world I guess. As they approach Damcyan, it gets bombed to hell and back by Baron's air force who were after the kingdom's crystal of fire.
|And a legend was born.|
They soon retrieve it ,cure Rosa's sickness and march to the kingdom of Fabul where the next attack by Baron is likely to happen for their crystal of earth. On the way there, they are joined by a monk of Fabul named Yang. I'm starting to see a pattern here.
When they arrive they set up a defense and like clockwork, Baron's air force shows up and bombs the crap outta the joint. They put up a valiant fight but Golbez bursts in along with Kain who make quick work of Cecil and pals, and kidnap Rosa for good measure. The party soon recovers and makes their way to Baron by sea but are attacked by Leviathan, the king of the seas, and are separated.
|Cecil's bad luck is just getting silly at this point.|
The party heads back to Baron to confront Golbez and are rejoined by Yang after they cure him of a bout of amnesia. As they infiltrate the castle they find another of Golbez's minions, Kainazzo, and defeat him. All is not well though as they fall into a wall crusher trap. Palom and Porom turn themselves to stone to keep the trap from crushing the others who quickly escape and join up with Baron's airship maker, Cid. They escape on Cid's prized airship, The Enterprise, probably the most originally named ship ever, and are confronted by Kain who commands Cecil to retrieve the last of the 4 crystals in exchange for Rosa.
The crew heads to Toroia where the last crystal is located but find it was already stolen by a monster called the dark elf. After an annoying dungeon involving magnets and stupid equipment restrictions, Cecil and Co. defeat the dark elf and take the crystal of earth back to Toroia where Kain escorts them to Golbez's Tower of Zot. When they reach the top of the tower, Tellah attacks Golbez in a rage and uses his life energy to cast a powerful spell known as Meteo which succeeds in wounding Golbez and forces him to retreat. Unfortunately Tellah soon suffers from a plot death so no phoenix downs allowed. Kain comes to his senses and reveals that he was under mind control by Golbez. How original. They rescue Rosa just in time before she becomes a Rosa sandwich and are attacked by Golbez's third minion, Valvalis. After defeating her the tower decides to explode so they teleport back to Baron. Apparently they can teleport now.
|It's really powerful! Especially against living things!...Man, my references are outdated.|
|Pictured: Weirdness from Japan.|
Cecil and the Sunshine Band make their way up the tower until they are attacked by Edge's parents who have been turned into mutants. After Edge talks sense into them, they commit suicide, saying that they don't belong in this world and what is a man, a miserable little pile of secrets blah blah enough, have at you... Anyway, Rubicant appears and no, spell checker, I'm not trying to spell lubricant so stop trying to correct me. Oh man, this is getting really stream of consciousness here. Rubicant, the nice guy he is, heals the party before being killed by them. Behind him is the crystal room which is, of course, a trap that sends the party to a lower floor where they find another airship.
|Aww, what a nice guy. Now kill him!|
Cecil and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat take the lunar whale to the freaking moon and forget that there's no oxygen there long enough to meet FuSoYa, a lunarian. He explains that Golbez is under the control of a bigger bad known as Zemus, another lunarian. He also exposits that Cecil's father was a lunarian named KluYa, FuSoYa's brother. Remember all of that 'cause it will be on the test. FuSoYa joins the party in hopes of bringing Golbez to his senses
|Normally a a statement like that would sound hilariously sarcastic.|
|Pictured: Cecil's reaction to the revelation that Golbez is his brother...I think...|
Anyway, the party makes their way through one last, grueling dungeon and find FuSoYa and Golbez fighting Zemus. They seem to defeat him but of course he comes back to life and obliterates them, now named Zeromus for whatever reason. Cecil and the NO! Gang get pimp slapped by Zeromus, which the people of the world can sense somehow so they all start praying which gives our heroes the strength to fight. They manage to edge out a victory against the cosmic being and return home. In the epilogue we see Cecil and Rosa about to be married and become the new king and queen of Baron. While Kain sits atop a mountain pondering, the rest of our heroes attend the wedding and wave a final goodbye to the player. Aww...
|What's wrong with being sexy?|
The graphics were clearly an up-scaled version of the NES Final Fantasy games but that gives it a certain amount of charm to me. Its pretty bad if you compare it to Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger but you have to remember it came out in the console's first year and may or may not have started out development as an NES game; history isn't entirely clear on that one.
The music, as is standard with all the Uematsu composed games in the series, is amazing. The normal boss theme is probably my favorite RPG battle theme ever and the whole soundtrack is just so melodic and beautiful. The sound effects are good. They don't do anything to stand out but they get the job done.
For me, the gameplay is a mixed bag. It starts out pretty well balanced but eventually it gets to the point where you have to grind for hours to progress, especially at the very end. Maybe it's just me. I do enjoy playing the game overall though.
Final Fantasy IV is available on so many damn platforms that you really have no excuse not to own it. It is a wonderful experience that deserves all the respect that it has in the RPG community. The prayer scene during the last boss fight stands out to me as absolutely magical. You owe it to yourself if you have any love for RPGs to experience this game for yourself.
My game of the year 1991!
Perhaps the finest adventure of our favorite Italian plumber.
I'll leave you with Final Fantasy IV's wonderfully foreshadowing introductory song, The Red Wings, courtesy of YouTube user PeyserConley: