|Don't believe the lies: Take 1.|
Available on: SNES, Virtual Console
1991 saw the first of two most important turns in Final Fantasy's existence, as the series was carried over to the 16-bit era and brought back to the United States with the release of Final Fantasy IV, only a year after the much delayed U.S. release of the first Final Fantasy game. Since the two previous games hadn't yet seen release in the U.S., and were not about to for over a decade, the game was awkwardly renamed Final Fantasy II - rendering two games that had a big part in redefining the series unknown to all except the most hardcore role-playing enthusiasts. Despite all the artificial, numerical confusion, Final Fantasy IV turned out to be an excellent sum of all games that came before it and later, a standard for the series' development in several ways.
From darkness to light
|Seems these guys have been huffing on the|
POT OF RECOVERY...
|Excuse me... COCKTRIC? I knew the translators|
were high, but they were also hilariously
|Well, of course it is! This is a Final Fantasy|
Enough with all of this chatter about the cons of its localization, let's talk about Final Fantasy IV as a game. What's it like? How are the characters like? How does Final Fantasy IV manage to expand and enhance the basic gameplay experience of J-RPG's that came before it? Why exactly is Final Fantasy IV called one of the greatest role-playing games of our time? I hope to answer most of these questions, and more, right now.
Final Fantasy IV was released in Japan on July 15th, 1991, 15 months after the release of Final Fantasy III, and 9 months after the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In very early stages of production, Final Fantasy IV was planned to be released as the last Final Fantasy game for the NES, but it was very soon clear to them that the project they were working on was something only the 16-bit could handle. Enter Mode 7 for airships, and a handful of animated backgrounds. Enter a further developed menu design, easier on both the eyes and the mind, and impressive detail in character sprites, which also have an impact on the already unique enemy design. Everyone I know says the game is ugly as sin. Yeah, well, it is. But then again, think of all the different visual material Square had to work on here, for their FIRST 16-bit title. And don't go telling me most of it looks like an NES game. I hate that. And it doesn't. Just compare everything on show to Final Fantasy III and try saying that to my face again. For a game its size and date of release, Final Fantasy IV looks sufficient. Not pretty, but sufficient.
|Just one example of the U.S. localization's|
severe inconsistencies with the plot.
To get back to the story and the characters, now completely placing the localization aside, I must say Final Fantasy IV is a huge leap forward from the first trilogy of games; even Final Fantasy II which was the only game to even resemble a character-driven, branching story. Cecil is by all means the main character of the story, he's not just one member of the group. The whole story revolves around this man's journey from darkness to light, and all the personal challenges and tragedies he has to face to become a better person and fulfill his true purpose in life. He is without a doubt one of my favourite characters in the Final Fantasy universe. It's more than clichéd to say something like this, but I see a lot of me in Cecil for different reasons I'd like to keep to myself. On the complete opposite side of this here cavalcade stands Edward Chris von Muir, the prince of Damcyan who drives me crazy in storyline and gameplay alike. This "spoony bard", as he's called by another character in one of the only instances of good fluffy localization, likes to cry. A lot. And also automatically run away from battles in an untimely case of critical HP, even more. He's, without a doubt, one of the most annoying characters in the Final Fantasy universe. In the between, we have the twin mages Palom and Porom, the ninja prince Edge, the dragoon Kain, the caller/black mage Rydia, the white mage Rosa and chief engineer Cid, and three other characters who all have their major parts in how this grand scheme finally unfolds.
|That's it. I want the same stuff the translators|
had. Weren't they supposed to make the game
Each character class has its own chain of commands apart from Fight and Item - except for Cecil's initial D.Knight, which has no additional commands at all. For example, Rydia has Call, which she uses to summon creatures of the underground to aid the party in battle. Edward has Sing, which he uses to inflict different negative status effects on enemies - as well as Hide/Show, which can be used to manually remove the faggot from battle before he effectively does it himself. Edge has Dart, which enables him to throw extra weapons and items at enemies, Sneak which enables him to steal items from enemies, and Ninja, which is a list of special physical and magical moves becoming of the class.
Final Fantasy IV introduces the concept of sidequests... sort of. In later games, it has become a standard to include as many secrets as humanly possible. Hard ones, even so hard that they're plain stupid, such as the hunt for the Excalibur II in the otherwise magnificent Final Fantasy IX; who the hell wants to speedrun an RPG for a weapon that you have no actual use for? Or the Zodiac Spear in Final Fantasy XII; who would ever leave even one treasure chest unopened in an RPG in hopes of getting one damn rare weapon? You get the idea. Well, in Final Fantasy IV, the few locations for taking a break from the story are easy to find or even in plain sight, and they're pretty much the kind of stuff you must do to level up enough and see the game to its surreal end. The world maps are still quite plain even in all of their king-sized glory. Did I pluralize the word "map"? Yes, I did. Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy game to include multiple world maps. Believe me, the game's still quite big even if the amount of different locations is nothing compared to the complex, thoroughly inhabited lands from Final Fantasy VI onwards. The minimap's still beyond a cryptic puzzle; the old "Square code" is replaced by having to use the white spell Sight to see it, but you don't need it. It's all clearly laid out, and even the Mode 7 sequences manage not to fuck up your vision on the earth below.
|Here we go! Thanks, little dude. It's funny,|
though, that the dwarves are actually taller
than our sprites.
Certain types of weapons, armour and accessories can be equipped to certain classes only, just like before. The first situation in which you have the opportunity to change gear is where in my mind, the game breaks its biggest flaw. The menu is still a mess, even if it seems to look and play out a lot better than ever before at first. In the stores, you aren't shown how many weapons or armour of a certain type, like Short(sword), you already own or whether it's stronger or weaker than the piece of equipment currently equipped, just the characters who can wield it. Unless you want to pay your ass sore for all the shit on sale, you need to keep double- and triple-checking your inventory, and your active equipment. The stronger-weaker comparisons don't even show on the menu when you're sorting through all your crap, you simply need to test it by equipping it and keeping a tight eye on the numbers indicating changes in your strength, defense and magic. You can't use more than one item or one spell from the menu at a time. Simply curing some severely wounded party member on the field, regardless of the method, takes time and patience. Same items gained on different occasions - let's say you buy 10 Cure1's, then get 10 Cure1's more in the next dungeon - don't stack, unless you take a small break to stack them manually. Your inventory's limited, so you have to manually discard your belongings from time to time, sell them or give them to a rare Big-Chocobo for safe keeping. How rare is a Big-Chocobo? Well, I remember encountering the first one about seven hours into the game, a second one another seven hours later and the third one while travelling to my final destination. That rare.
|How'd you like my foot up your ass?|
|Dude. Your parents are real ugly.|
|You can change the field sprite at any time by|
pressing the L and R buttons. A cool little
It's hell to read, but heaven to follow. Final Fantasy IV started a whole new age for the Final Fantasy series, and it was followed by several of the best video games of all time; the series was a constantly progressing masterpiece as long as it stood up to the standards partly set right here, in this very game. If you haven't experienced Final Fantasy IV, you don't know what a pure Japanese RPG is. It has its flaws, but it's still the most impressive role-playing game of its time.
Graphics : 6.8
Sound : 9.5
Playability : 8.8
Challenge : 8.0
Overall : 8.7
Nintendo Power ranks Final Fantasy IV #28 on their list of the Top 200 Nintendo Games of All Time.
The game was re-released for the Sony PlayStation as a stand-alone title in early 1997. This version of the game was released in a bundle named Final Fantasy Collection, with similar enhanced re-releases of Final Fantasy V and VI, two years later. Another two years later, the game was released in another bundle named Final Fantasy Chronicles, with the unrelated Chrono Trigger. In 2002, the game was finally released in Europe, as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology. The game was remade for the Game Boy Advance, with a much improved localization in 2005, and again for the Nintendo DS in 2007.
A direct English translation of the game would make Final Fantasy IV the most explicit game in the series, as the Japanese version includes several verbal references to sex, as well as words that translate to "fuck" and "whore" in English. Also, numerous graphical changes were made to the attires of female sprites, that of the enemies as well as NPC's on the field. All direct notions to death and religion were removed, as well as Kain and Zemus' in-depth backstories. Edge's ultimate Dart item "Cleaver" was changed to "Spoon" in an example of the general, toned down violence of the North American localization.
The debut of recurring summon creatures Ifrit and Ramuh, who are known as Jinn and Indra, respectively.
The original Japanese version included a secret programmers' room, a penthouse, in which the party could communicate with the programmers of the game. The room was cut entirely from the North American version due to a porn magazine which could be found there. The basic concept of a secret programmers' room was used again as a secret ending in Chrono Trigger.
Cecil Harvey (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) and Golbez (voiced by Peter Beckman) are rivals in Square Enix's all-star anniversary game Dissidia - Final Fantasy, released on the PSP in 2008.
The game spawned a direct sequel named Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (a.k.a. Return of the Moon), released on Japanese mobile phones in 2008, and internationally as WiiWare in 2009.