Final Fantasy IV - Retroview

A True Classic

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization 2
   Replay Value 4
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

25-30 Hours


Final Fantasy IV

   Final Fantasy IV was the first RPG many people played for the Super NES, and a lot of people have fond memories of this game, for a variety of reasons ranging from the cool story, to the fun battles, to the utterly retarded "You spoony bard!" line. So what does everybody's favorite game reviewer have to say about it?

   Well, firstly the game has a decent little story. You play Cecil, a Dark Knight serving the Kingdom of Baron as Captain of the Red Wings. One day, you are ordered to go to the town of Mysidia and rob them of their magical crystal. You do so, but deeply regret it, and when you bring your concerns to your lord, you are demoted to messenger and are ordered to take a package to the Village of Mist. Accompanied by your best friend Kain, you embark on a journey of discovery, heroics, betrayal, and love that will keep you intrigued, as plot twist after plot twist makes this, among other things, perhaps the most unpredictable Final Fantasy game.

   This game was the first appearance of the Active Time Battle System, which made appearances in all the Final Fantasy games that followed, except FFX. It combines the turn based battles of traditional RPGs with the real time approach of most other games. What this means is that the battles are still menu driven, but enemies won't wait for you to decide what you want to do in a battle, they'll just attack you if you take too long. This means that you are required to think a little quicker than you do in most RPGs, and took some getting used to. Fortunately, Square was kind enough to put a pause button in there if you need to grab a sandwich in mid battle.

The Castle Baron
The Castle Baron  

   The graphics were a mixed bag, in that the backgrounds were very detailed, and showed that Square was trying to get the most they could out of the new platform, but then on the other hand the characters, both overworld and battle sprites, as well as enemies could have been accomplished on the NES. Not actually bad, but I think if they tried, they could have done a little more in the visuals department. Unfortunately, it would take them longer than usual to get up to speed on the SNES.

   This game has many memorable tunes. Even eleven years later, I still get a bit of a chill when climbing the Tower of Babel, and get that little heroic feeling when the game opens. Although not as many as in future installments of the series, there was a decent variety of tunes, and in fact they were so good that this is the first game soundtrack I ever bought. The sound effects weren't quite what I'd call "good", but were decent and memorable in their own special little way, and were enough that the aural efforts will get a good score.

   Okay, here's the part of the game I'll really hate talking about...the LOCALIZATION FROM HELL. I'm sure most people know that Nintendo had them severely tone down the game before bringing it to North America, and while it had become squeaky clean, most of the gist of the story had been left intact. Of course, they apparently got monkeys to do the translation, as you can tell by the infamous "You Spoony Bard" line and many other bizarre, poorly translated phrases. A lot of the lines sounded like riddles, when they shouldn't have and should instead have been a lot more clear and straightforward. Additionally, the North American release toned down a few other things, like the game's difficulty, taking out some attacks that the heroes and enemies used, and of course the secret programmer's room with the porno mag. I like this game a lot, but I'm going to hit it hard here.

The stupidest line in any RPG ever
The stupidest line in any RPG ever  

   Final Fantasy 4 didn't really have much in the way of side quests, so if you've been through it once, you've probably seen everything. The game is short, too, to the tune of 25-30 hours. If you really enjoyed it, though, it's short enough that you can give it another play through if you want to. There also wasn't much in the way of originality for this one. Aside from the ATB system and being one of the first RPGs on the SNES, this game was pretty much a standard classic style RPG.

Final Fantasy 4 was a sort of transition point for the series. They did the new and slightly improved graphics and music, which became staples of the series from here on out, but they did not have any special identifying mark such as the Job or Esper systems that would sort of become each subsequent FF game's identity. Still, worth a look because a lot of people, myself included, really enjoyed this game a lot and have many fond memories of it, though a lot of that might just be nostalgia.


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