|Despite being an orphan raised by the King of Baron, Cecil has risen to become a respected Dark Knight and the Captain of Baron’s elite air force, the Red Wings. However, after a mission to Mysidia where the Red Wings violently steal the Crystal of Water, Cecil begins to have doubts about the King’s sanity and motives. However, when he voices these opinions, the King threatens to sack him, and only the intervention of the Dragon Knight Cain abates the King’s anger. Instead, Cecil and Cain are ordered to deliver a package to Mist, a small mountain village known for its Summoners. Cecil departs for Mist, his mind uncertain about his future, and the future of Baron.
|Version Reviewed: Final Fantasy IV SNES Hardtype, J2E Translation
Before fancy six hour long cinematic summons, before celebrity voice acting, before hackneyed plots that were overshadowed by shiny graphics, and before Final Fantasy was a household name in North America, there was Final Fantasy IV. It wasn’t a graphical powerhouse, nor did it have famous voice actors. It just had innovative gameplay, an active and dynamic plot, and some of the greatest musical pieces ever composed by Uematsu Nobuo. It also had something that a lot of the later Final Fantasies utterly lacked: a challenge.
There are two major gameplay mechanisms that greatly benefit the plot and characterization aspects of the game. The first is that each character has their own particular skills and cannot learn those of any other character. There are no materia and no junctions to turn all the characters into generic carbon blobs. This has two very important effects. First, it makes the game much more challenging since the player now has to stop and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each character. The fact that magic users have next to no physical attack ability combined with the scarcity of MP restoring items makes the player beg for a Save Point at occasions during the game. Second, it enhances characterization. A unique fighting style and strategy adds much more to a character than say, obscenely large mammary glands.
The second is how the party composition cannot be changed manually. This not only adds a strategic element where the player is forced to draw from a limited resource pool, but also acts as a plot driver. With twelve playable characters and only five party slots, one can easily foresee that there will be a lot of party transition. Final Fantasy IV incorporates these transition moments seamlessly within a greater plot that is unpredictable, engrossing, powerful, and memorable.
Graphically, FFIV is adequate, with good and varied usage of colour. The palette is very strong, and could have been improved by the incorporation of some lighter tones. None of the graphics are overly complex, most consisting of just a few shades. The use of Mode 7 and the introduction of spell and attack effects to combat add a nice touch to the World Map and combat respectively. The soundtrack is utterly magnificent, with many memorable tunes such as “Theme of Love” and “Rydia’s Theme.”
Final Fantasy IV has always been overshadowed to some extent by its famous SNES brother Final Fantasy VI, but FFIV is by no means any less worthy of recognition. Featuring a superb soundtrack, outstanding characterization, Mode 7 graphics, arguably the best plot in any Final Fantasy game, and most importantly, an actual challenge, FFIV is a worthy addition to any RPGer’s portfolio. Despite a few minor annoyances like the item storage system, FFIV is an absolute classic, and should not be avoided!