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Final Fantasy IV - Review

A Legend In Its' Time

By: ASV


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 8
   Localization 3
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

15-30 hours

 
Overall
6
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   In the early 1990's many producers virtually refused to send RPGs across the ocean because of our apparent lack of interest in the genre. Yet, SquareSoft, continued to produce their beloved 'Final Fantasy' saga, regardless. After having missed the second and third in the series, we received the fourth with open arms and a new awareness of the ties to our gaming youth. The contrast between the original and this new adventure astounded many; offended some; and drew, still others, into the folds of the Final Fantasy fandom.

   The battle system of the game was revolutionary. It encompassed three distinct types of magic, several 'job' like character skills, and a wide array of nasties to practice against. By today's Final Fantasy 'conventions', the battle sequence is more-or-less standard. Each character has several options in battle (e.g. Fight, Black, White, Aim, etc.) which have some effect. Magic can be used to heal, damage, or cause status anomalies such as sleep, frog, and mute.

   Levelling up is very easy in this game. You gain EXP for defeating monsters and (about every 10th to 15th battle...) you progress a level. HP and MP are gained as you go up in levels, with the warrior-class characters gaining a much greater degree of HP than their weaker, magic-user counterparts. Just like HP and MP, the characters that can use magic gain the spells from their level increases. Some spells, such as the dreaded Meteo, can take a very long time to learn (e.g. level 60+).

   Your interaction with the menus outside of battle, is possibly the least enjoyable part of the game. Many times, the menus are set up in such a way that you are forced to reselect something a number of times to accomplish simple tasks. This is especially apparent when either using healing magic on your group, or using curative items. Every time you use one, you must go back and select it again before you can use another. Unfortunately, as you get closer to the end of the game, the experience only gets worse because you come across powerful equipment that needs to be equipped. Good luck with this aspect of the game...


Dark Knight to the... Rescue?
Dark Knight to the... Rescue? 

   The music is very possibly the games most redeeming quality. It's widely varied, set to the moment, and - best of all - a fine example of the progress that Nobuo Uematsu has made throughout his career. The sound effects of the game leave something to be desired but they prove their point; which is really all that can be expected.

   By today's standards, the game is not especially creative, but back in the days of its' appearance, the concepts that FFIV brought forward (e.g. character death as a plot device, villain and hero having a mysterious connection, etc.) were quite new and unfounded. This is especially evident as you are lead through the rapid plot of the game and come to suddenly realize; this is so cliché it's pathetic! Nay, friends! It's merely that FFIV helped to pioneer the things we now think of as 'old hat'. In essence, it can have its' name traced to virtually every RPG after it in some way or another.

   Essentially, the story boils down to this:
The Kingdom of Baron is using its' vastly superior force of arms to steal the elemental crystals from the surrounding areas. Cecil, the Dark Knight, and his companions turn against the evil deeds of their homeland and discover that it is not the King alone behind the scheme but a plethora of villainous scum all being controlled by a mysterious power on the moon.
The plot is extremely linear (if you discount fighting all the Summoned Monsters) but that helps move the story along apace. There are very few times when you will be at a loss as to the next step in your progress.


What did he say?  O_o
What did he say?  O_o 

   As we move on down the line, we inevitably come to the games' translation. I must admit that I was personally disheartened by Square's apparent lack of effort here. Virtually every other phrase, sentence, or word is - in some way - miss-spelled or improperly grammarized. The complete lack of contractions in what serves as the plot, makes each character seem unnecessarily blocky and formal. In short, if you don't mind trying to read through and decipher the text, the plot is a miracle to behold.

   The Replay factor of the game is merely for those adventurous few (like myself) that want to try and beat the game silly in sixteen hours and thirteen minutes  >;)  Aside from that, there really isn't a whole lot of point in playing the game a second time unless you get really attached to the characters.

   Quite simply put: the game is easy. There is no levelling up involved at any point and even the final boss can be swiftly defeated with but a few castings of White, Meteo, Bahamut, or Nuke. Sadly, the physical prowess you attain with both Cecil and Kain is mostly pointless at the end. Magic makes the game they say, and in its' first appearance, Meteo makes quite the impression...


Pre-CD game nudity..? Nah!
Pre-CD game nudity..? Nah! 

   The time of game play can range from months of insanity trying to decipher where the invisible holes in the wall are (TIP: Set your T.V.'s contrast really high when playing...), or a matter of having the patience to sit for a day and beat it. It really depends on how good you are and whether you're familiar with the other Final Fantasy games. The more you question what you see, the more likely you are to be fast.

   Retrospectively, Final Fantasy IV is an awesome game to behold. Yet, compared to its' modern day brethren, it is somewhat lacking. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't occasionally play the good ol' cartridge games just for the amusement of it, but it also doesn't keep you (at least for very long) from thinking about the future and what Final Fantasy IX, X, XI, XII... might hold...







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