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 Final Fantasy IV

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PostSubject: Final Fantasy IV   Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:36 pm

Knowing a few of my friends, this is the game they were longing for me to get to the most.  Before I get to the review, I'm going to give a little backstory with this one.  The only Final Fantasy games I grew up with were Final Fantasy VI and Mystic Quest.  For the longest time, this is THE Final Fantasy game I heard about the most that wasn't VII.  Be it from my family members, friends at school, or folks on the internet. I just kept hearing people say how great it is.  It wasn't until the mid 2000s when I got into emulation, and this was the first game I decided to try out to see if it was as good as everyone was making it out to be.  To be blunt, I down right hated this game.  I wasn't digging the visuals, the characters didn't interest me that much, the soundtrack was kinda dull for me (It grew on me over time), and I just kept running into things that pissed me off.  As the years went on I kept picking it up just to end up putting it down. I kept questioning "What exactly is it you people are seeing that I'm not?" After many attempts, I did manage to finish the game, and I just couldn't figure out what it was that people saw in it.  I figured that this was their first RPG so nostalgia was probably a huge factor.  I eventually managed to score a copy of the PSP version which I kept hearing was the best version.  Though I wasn't exactly a fan of the game, I did find myself enjoying this remake and agreed that this was the best version.   Anyways, that's enough with the backstory.  Time to sit down and see just how much my opinion has changed about this one.

The game starts off with a Dark Knight named Cecil.  He is essentially the prince of a country called Baron, and the king ordered him to go to a town called Mysidia and steal their elemental crystal.  He was also ordered to use force if he must.  After stealing the crystal and killing countless people, Cecil and his men question if this was the right thing to do.  When they return, Cecil asks the king why this task was needed, and the king refused to answer Cecil.  Instead, the king flat out demoted him into a delivery boy.  He tells Cecil to take a bomb ring to the Village of Mist, and to have his best friend Kain go with him.  After turning down his girlfriend's offer for pity sex, Cecil and Kain go to the village, and surprise surprise, it was a bomb that destroys the village.  Cecil manages to save a little girl, but Kain goes missing.  It's here that Cecil decides that the king has lost his mind and needs to be stopped. 

You know, there's being loyal, and then there's being down right stupid.  Cecil takes the latter to a COMPLETELY different level.

At this point, Cecil learns the little girl is named Rydia and she can use Black Magic, as well as cast summons.  The two decide to team up with neighboring countries to try and bring the king of Baron back to his senses.  During this trip, he discovers that the king is being manipulated by a man named Golbez, and that he wants to use the crystals to obtain some ultimate power.  Cecil meets up with his girlfriend Rosa, and they go to defend one of the crystals Golbez is after.  It's here that Kain appears and reveals that he's working for Golbez.  Kain defeats Cecil easily, takes the crystal, and Golbez kidnaps Rosa.  At this point, Cecil decides to launch an attack on Baron by sea since they are a country that specializes in flying instead of sea travel.  However, Cecil and his gang get attacked by Leviathan.  Cecil washes ashore all alone, and becomes depressed after learning that his crew was eaten alive.  To make things more depressing, or hilarious depending on how you look at things, he ended up washing ashore at Mysidia. 

Cecil sure is one hell of a jinx.  Spoiler alert, he has bad luck like this all the time.

Cecil goes to meet with the elder of Mysidia, and despite the hostility the people showed him, the elder felt no ill will towards Cecil.  Instead, he can tell that Cecil truly regrets what happened, and offers him a chance to redeem himself.  He sends twins to tag along side Cecil, and travel to a mountain to the east to change from a Dark Knight to a Paladin.  Cecil goes to accomplish this, and while doing this, Golbez sends one of his men to stop Cecil.  This guy turns out to be the Elemental Fiend of Earth, and he's defeated by Cecil and his team of mages.  Cecil also meets up with an old friend named Tellah who also has a bone to pick with Golbez, and traveled to the mountain to unlock the spell Meteor.  Tellah knows that if he uses it, he will die, but he is determined to stop Golbez at all costs.  They reach the top and both Cecil and Tellah achieve in their quest to become a Paladin and obtain Meteor.  So they return to Mysidia and travel to Baron.

Once at Baron, Cecil discovers that one of his friends that was attacked by Leviathan named Yang survived.  Yang tags along and they launch an attack at the king.  It's here that they learn the real king has been dead, and the king Cecil has been serving since the start was another Elemental Fiend in disguise.  Cecil quickly takes care of the guy, but he sets a trap hoping to kill them.  However, the twins sacrifice themselves by turning themselves into stone to save the rest of the gang.  Cecil then meets up with the chief engineer for Baron named Cid, and they get a new airship.  It's here that Kain appears and orders Cecil to get the fourth and final crystal from the north west, and trade that for Rosa's safety.  Cecil does just this, but then Golbez does the typical douche thing of saying that he doesn't know who this Rosa is.  It's here that Tellah uses Meteor on Golbez hoping to kill him.  Golbez is injured, but he escapes.  Tellah dies, Golbez's spell on Kain is broken, and Cecil rescues Rosa.  After a make out scene, Kain reveals that despite being brainwashed, a part of him wanted Cecil and Rosa apart since he likes Rosa.  At this point, Cecil/Rosa/Kain/Cid/Yang return to Baron where Kain reveals that there's a second set of crystals Golbez is after, and they exist in the underworld.  So the gang leaves to protect this set of crystals.

The gang travel to the underworld to find that Golbez's minions and the inhabitants of the underworld which are dwarves are in the middle of a war.  They travel to the main base of the dwarves and Cid leaves to fix the airship.  The group meet with the king of dwarves who reveals that not only does Golbez already have two of the crystals, the third one is within their base and Golbez himself is about to obtain it.  The group confront Golbez, but they get crushed.  Before Golbez can deliver the finishing blow, a much older Rydia saves the gang and they defeat Golbez.  He one again manages to escape, and with the crystal at that.  Rydia explains that when Leviathan attacked, it took Rydia to the Land of Summons where they trained her to become stronger.  Since time moves much faster there, she aged much faster than normal.  The party discover that Golbez's main hideout is a tower to the north east, and that the crystals are there.  After raiding the tower, they are unable to find the crystals.  Instead, they find that a giant cannon is about to go off and destroy the dwarves in one shot.  Yang kicks everyone out of the control room and destroys the cannon, but gets caught in an explosion.  The party leaves the tower only to find that the war is still going on.  Cid appears to pick up the party, and decides to keep Golbez's men off their tail.  So Cid jumps off the airship above a giant pool of lava, into the middle of the warzone, and blows himself up so the party can escape.

Are you guys noticing a trend here?  People are getting caught in these crazy situations where they have no way of surviving.  First Kain when the village blew up, and then Rydia/Yang/A spoony bard when Leviathan attacked.  After that, the twins turning themselves to statues to prevent walls from crushing the party.  Now we got Yang blowing himself up in a cannon, and Cid doing this crazy stunt.  Giant sea snake eating people is one thing, but explosions?  No way they are making it out of these, especially with Cid's case. 

After escaping the underworld, the team learns that they can sneak into the tower from the overworld by a cave nearby.  While going through it, they come across a ninja prince named Edge, and he decides to tag along.  They break into the tower but fail to retrieve the crystals.  Instead, they find an enemy airship and decide to steal it.  After taking it, they realize it can't fly over the lava in the underworld.  They go to the dwarf base to see if there's a way to upgrade the ship and learn about the last crystal's location.  The dwarf king opens up the path to the last crystal, and they find Cid ALIVE AND WELL complaining about food.  They team up with Cid to upgrade the new ship to fly over the lava and reach the final crystal.

Just a side note.  It's one thing to have Cid do that crazy stunt just to bring him back from the dead roughly half an hour later.  What really bothers me is that this enemy airship can't fly over the lava to begin with.  First off, all the other airships could fly over it no problem.  So this one enemy airship not being able to is just stupid.  On top of that, they aren't flying directly above it.  No, they are a good 200 feet above the lava.  There's no reason it shouldn't be able to anyways.  So they bring Cid back just to upgrade this one ship that shouldn't need an upgrade to begin with.  This kind of stuff pisses me off.  There's literally NO reason to have him come back.  On top of that, if you go to a side area here, you learn that Yang is also alive and well.  He's just busy hanging out with some butterflies.  That's FOUR times the game has done this bullshit of having a character face something that they SHOULDN'T live through, but bring them back because fuck you.  I admit that Fantasy III did this one time, but that's just once.  Not only that, but they stated that there was a possible chance this guy would live from the ordeal he would have to face.  People were dying left and right in Fantasy II, but you didn't see them coming back to life.

The gang obtains the last crystal, and out of nowhere, Golbez fills the room with his voice telling Kain that he works for him and has to retrieve the crystal.  Kain tells the gang that he wont listen to Golbez, and then INSTANTLY takes the crystal and leaves. 

.......Either the spell wasn't broken to begin with, Golbez replaced it after the encounter at the dwarf base, or fuck this writing.  I like the third option more.

Now that Golbez has all 8 crystals, Cecil isn't sure what to do.  He travels to Mysidia for advice, and the people summon a spaceship for Cecil.  He takes this ship to the moon and finds a palace there.  Within the palace, he meets the race living here called Lunarians, and that the leader of the Lunarians is Cecil's uncle. I can not remember his name for the life of me.  I just remember it being stupid. On top of that, it's revealed that Golbez is NOT the one behind everything.  Instead, there's some dick Lunarian named Zemus who wants to use the crystals to summon a transformer, and use the thing to destroy the planet.  So he's brainwashing Golbez to do all of this.

Yeah, the plot is really going there....

The group return to the planet only to find the transformer is active and fucking shit up.  At this point, all of the allies Cecil has made come to give support.  Also, the twins are no longer statues. 

TBF, I'm not exactly going to go on a rant with this one.  I mean sure, it's still the same thing of introducing folks to kill them off, and then bring them back because fuck you.  At the same time, stone isn't the same as death in RPGs, and it can be undone if done right.  So I'm going to kinda give it a pass here.

The gang go into the robot only to get jumped by the Elemental Fiends who got in the way throughout the game.  These guys are so forgettable I forgot to even mention some of them in this review.  They all die, and the party destroys the batteries that are running this transformer.  Golbez then appears to confront the party one last time.  When the fight is about to start, the Lunarian (I really can't remember his name) goes up to Golbez and tells him "Cut this shit out."  Afterwards, Zenmes' spell is broken and Golbez is no longer a bad guy.  It's also revealed here that Golbez is Cecil's older brother.  The old man and Golbez then travel to the moon to confront Zenmes.  Kain reappears, and despite Edge not trusting Kain, he rejoins the party and they travel to the moon to follow Golbez.

...............................................REALLY GAME?   Now I'm legit calling bullshit.  Ok, lets do the entire brainwashing cliche.  Hell, lets make it more cliche to have Cecil and Golbez be siblings.  Fuck that, lets make them like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  It's almost exactly like that, except having them be siblings.  Ok, fine, I can get behind this.  Just give us one epic fight between the two to break the spell.  Nope, we can't even have that.  Instead, it just takes an old man saying to cut this shit out, and the spell is magically broken.  Then main douchebag of the game is magically a good guy.  NO, I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THIS.  To make it worse, you only get one actual fight with the guy, and it wasn't really a fight.  It was more of a cutscene so Rydia could give Death a giant fuck you.

Cecil and co. reach Zemus at the core of the moon to find him killed by Golbez and the old man.  However, some demon rises up from the corpse calling himself Zeromus, and says he's going to destroy everything.  He then curve stomps Golbez like it's nothing.  Golbez then pulls a crystal out of his ass and tells Cecil to use it to defeat Zeromus.  Cecil does just this which reveals Zeromus' true form, and the party curve stomp his ass.  Golbez decides to stay on the moon with the old man while the rest of the party returns to the planet.  Cecil and Rosa get married, become the new king and queen of Baron, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Good lord this writing.  Ok, ignoring all that bullshit, it's really the typical crystal trope that the series has been going with not counting II.  Again, they added more meat to it, but it still falls into the typical dick who wants to use their powers to destroy stuff.  If you look at it from that angle, the story works for what it wants to do.  But this doesn't excuse this bullshit.  When the game constantly kills off characters just to have them magically appear just fine, then that's stupid.  If it happened once then I wouldn't be offended as much by this.  The fact that it happens so frequently is what angers me.

There's also the entire relationship between Cecil and Golbez.  They build Golbez up as a force to be reckoned with, and he does constantly fuck shit up throughout the game.  From time to time, there are subtle hints that the two are related, and they build up an epic fight to that would be the end all be all between them.  It's completely ruined though when the old man destroys all of this by telling Golbez to cut the crap, and the spell on Golbez breaking from that.

Yes, this stuff actively angers me, but at the same time, I can somewhat forgive Square for this one.  This is the first real time they tried giving all of the characters their own backstory and personalities.  The same can also be said when it comes to folks having relationships with others.  Everyone starts off somewhere, and my god you can tell that this is where they tried to start.  It's never been perfect, but they have gotten better over time with it.  Also, while I can get behind the Cecil Golbez being brothers thing, I can't stand Cecil and Rosa as love interests.  We get it, they are lovers.  Ok, this is fine, but they shove it down our throats so much.  You'll hear all the time how Tifa is beyond obsessed with Cloud and all that junk, but this takes it to new levels.  The only thing these two actively care for is each other, and it gets annoying.  I don't mind when relationships appear in this kind of media, but there's a fine line to a relationship between characters from being interesting, and OMG we get the point.

Ok, I'm done bitching about the plot now.  Lets just get onto the gameplay.  Final Fantasy IV decided to completely remove class building.  Instead, every character has their own class, and you will only have access to these characters at certain points in the game.  Not counting end game in later releases, you'll always have given party members at specific points of the game, and there's no way to switch.  Granted, this understandable considering how many times the game "kills off" characters or puts them in a position where you can't use them.  Personally, I'm not a big fan of this.  It's all preference, but I enjoy being able to choose who I want and when, or being able to choose their classes and abilities.  I'm not saying this is bad or anything.  Final Fantasy IX did the same thing, and that's arguably the best game in the series.  With that said, both games share one problem.  Unless you played the game before hand, you would never know when party members would leave the party.  So you might get someone all sorts of expensive shit just for them to leave you right after.  Not only that, but they may have stuff that an upcoming character could benefit greatly from.  It's both annoying in this and IX, but for completely different reasons.  This game does it way too frequently, but the stuff in IX could have abilities that people in Team B could use.  That's the only real bad thing about this approach.

If there's one thing I will give this game.  The game is about 10 hours give or take, and there's next to no fluff in the game.  If you're just going for the story related stuff, there's nothing but constant action, and it never gets dull.  Other games always have those moments that make you wonder "Why is this even here?"  and while they do exist here, they are so short that they aren't worth mentioning.

Now onto the battle system.  For the most part, there's not much to say.  The White Mages use support and healing magic, and the Black Mages use debuffs and offensive magic.  If there's one thing I could say, it's that the SNES American version removed a bunch of the special abilities that certain people had.  Mages had a ton of spells removed, and characters like Cecil had their special abilities removed so all they could do is wack folks with their sword.  Speaking of Cecil, he sucks as a Paladin.  There's so much potential to have with a Warrior that can use White Magic, but the best spell he learns is Cura.  Not only that, but his healing magic pails in comparison to all of the mages who can use White Magic. 

If there's ONE person I can't stand playing as, it's Tellah.  You first meet him in the second dungeon in the game.  At this point, all you have is Dark Knight Cecil and Rydia with next to no magic.  Tellah's stats are godly compared to yours, and he has a huge pool of White and Black Magic.  He completely destroys the dungeon.  After the dungeon, he leaves the party until after Mysidia.  At this point, you have the twins Palom and Porom, and you start to realize Tellah's downsides.  His stats barely rise at all when he levels up, and it takes him forever to level up.  The twins on the other hand level up quickly and learn magic incredibly fast.  On top of that, their stats skyrocket very quickly to where they trump Tellah before you know it.  To make matters worse, you have the twins for two dungeons, and Tellah for four dungeons.  After the twins leave, you learn another problem with Tellah.  Not only does his stats move ever so little when he levels up, they actually go DOWN as he levels up.  It doesn't help that his MP as stuck at 90 and his spells take a good 20 MP to use.  So he runs out of MP very quickly, and at this point, he's nothing more than a meat shield.

I know I said there's no way to build up your characters, but I am aware of the DS/Steam version.  From what I hear, aside from jacking the difficulty to insane levels, I hear that you can teach characters different abilities to use in battle, and even transfer character abilities to other members.  I've played this version once a LONG time ago so I don't remember it too well, but I do plan on playing it at one point later down the road.  However, because you don't have options on how to build the characters, this means the game is more stream lined with ability teaching.  The characters level up, and at certain levels, they learn some new spell and what not.  So if you're someone who prefers things nice and simple, then I can see this appealing to you.  I stated I'd rather building them my own, but again, it's all preference.

If there are a few nitpicks I have, I can't help but feel that this game has the most ambushes or back attacks in the series.  It's probably because of Cecil's horrible luck, but I had a lot of deaths from frequent back attacks or ambushes.
I also can't help but feel the encounter rate is a little too high.  I found myself having many moments where I'd have random encounters after one or two steps.  It's not Final Fantasy II bad, but I still found it a tad annoying.  Even more so in the original since you can only walk, and your walking speed is painfully slow.   My last nitpick would have to be the limited inventory space in the PSP remake.  The PSP remakes of I-III replaced the limited inventory with an unlimited inventory, but they kept it here.  I can't figure out why they'd keep that for the life of me.  Especially considering how quickly your inventory fills up.

For this review, did two runs through the game.  I played the SNES version, and the PSP version.  This was my first time completing the SNES version BTW.  Guess I can scratch that off my bucket list.  I have to say that I don't find the game nearly as bad as I once did.  I want to like the story despite how simple it is, but this writing pisses me off.  The gameplay is a little too basic for my liking so I get rather bored quickly.  I'd argue this game is even more basic and bare than even the original game, but I'm not going to keep talking about the building thing.  I'm thankful that later versions allow you to swap party members at the end of the game, the extra dungeons, the auto battle, and the ability to run.  The SNES playthrough was beyond painful due to how slow the game was. 

Looking back at it, I still don't see where all the hype comes from.  It's a decent game sure, and it's probably a good pick for someone who wants to get into the RPG genre.  If you're looking for more meat to your RPG experience though, I'd pick any of the later games.  The game has grown on me greatly, but I still don't find it anything special.  It's an ok game, but that's just it.  Maybe I'll see something with the DS/Steam version when I get around to it, but until then, I'm fine playing other games in the series.

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