04 Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy IV took the least amount of hours to complete of any game thus far, yet somehow took the most days to complete.

I finished the story of Final Fantasy IV on Day 79: March 20, 2015.


Thanks to review after review after review after review of other games that demanded my attention before this, it took me a whopping 33 days to complete Final Fantasy IV. I limited myself to 24 days per game, but since I had 22 days up my sleeve from the speedy runs through FF, FFII and FFIII, I was able to press onward to completion. At this point I feel the worst thing I could do is leave a game unfinished. So now I’m down to a spare 13 days to use for playing catch-up, but I’m hoping beyond hope I won’t need to use any on Final Fantasy V. Anyway, enough about my schedule – let’s talk about the game!

I know the last two weeks’ round-ups have been nothing but complaint after complaint regarding the constant deaths followed up by cheeky revivals, but that’s all out there now and out of my system. It still bugs me, but now I’d like to take the chance to stress just how much better Final Fantasy IV was than any iteration leading up to it.

First and foremost, as I’ve mentioned in the past, are the characters. As the main protagonist, Cecil undergoes the greatest change and development, but nearly everyone to join your party has their own life, their own story, and their own dramas to overcome. My heroes are not just a random mish-mash of “Warriors of Light” like in Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy III. Firion and company of Final Fantasy II infamy had their own lives as well, and the Dark Knight ended up having the twist of being Leon, which was admittedly a high point of the game, but FFIV took it to the next level.

Rydia’s family is killed during an attack led by Cecil and Kain, and she must look past that and believe that Cecil is trying to change for the better. In the end, they are all comrades. Meanwhile Kain must cope with constantly playing the puppet, forced to perform acts of ill and attack his friends. Palom and Porom, mere children, make the mature decision to sacrifice their lives for Cecil’s cause.

I did find Yang and Edward’s stories to be a bit lacking, and Edge didn’t have much to say either – but they still added to the dynamic of the group in interesting ways, and they each played their pivotal roles throughout.

Moving along, FFIV showed further evolution in the series as it made the battles more involved than simply “hold the action button to attack until the enemy is dead.” Sure, you’d have to pay attention for the more difficult bosses in past titles, but it was not uncommon to enter a fight and literally spam attacks until victory. FFIV made you pay attention. Many of the bosses had unique abilities or actions or transformations that made it necessary to strategize my battle tactics, especially since the player characters (12 in total – the largest set yet!) each had their own strengths and weaknesses and applicable weapons.

Two bosses I took particular note of were the Mist Dragon and the Demon Wall, due to their extreme similarities to bosses from Final Fantasy VII. Mist Dragon is FFIV’s first boss fight, and it employs the exact same strategy as the Guard Scorpion, VII’s first boss fight.

That’s seriously the same battle. It makes me love FFVII even more, for the throwback that would be obvious to series veterans. Then there’s the Demon Wall, which looks exactly the same and even shares the same name, In FFIV it appears in the Sealed Cave, while in VII it’s in the Temple of the Ancients. In both instances it is a defense mechanism to protect something of great power and value, and will kill your party if left too long. Another excellent throwback in FFVII that I never knew about until now.

Final Fantasy IV truly had some excellent moments in it, from the battles and the (sort of) sacrifices, to the plot twists and THE SPACE WHALE. While I’m not sure how well it will fare on my ranking later in the year, it has certainly earned the top spot so far.

Before hitting the end-game wrap-up, I’ve got two more notes to make. Since I finished Final Fantasy IV early in this week, I was able to spend the weekend with Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, courtesy of the fine people at Bandai Namco Australia. My thoughts and impressions on it will be going up tomorrow, so look forward to that.

Also, I fully intended to start Final Fantasy V yesterday, but then Cricket World Cup semi-finals happened. Then tonight I’ve been too busy with writing, writing, another review game, and more writing. So tomorrow I will be making a concentrated effort to get well and truly started with it, with currently zero plans over the weekend. Expect much FFV gameplay to happen real soon.

Time to complete: Uncertain – no timer present – Estimated ~24 hours, 20 minutes
Modes of transportation: Walking/Running, Cid’s Airship (Enterprise), Chocobos (yellow, white, black), Hovercraft, Airship (Falcon), Lunar Whale
Chocobos: Present! Fat Chocobo item storage returns, white chocobo introduced (cannot be ridden, but restores MP), black chocobo introduced (can fly around the world – lands only in forest areas). Their battle cry is “Coooc coooc!”
Mogs/Moogles: Not present. On hiatus following Final Fantasy III.
Overworld: Yes. Underworld, too!
Summons: Present! Total of 15 (!!) to be learned and earned. Usable by Rydia only.
Cid: Present! Cid Pollendina is a master engineer who designs airships. The first playable character Cid.
Biggs & Wedge: Not present.

Notable series firsts:
Introduction of non-yellow chocobos. First (and only to date) game featuring a 5-member party maximum. First Save Point aside from the World Map.

Current ranking:
1) Final Fantasy IV
2) Final Fantasy III
3) Final Fantasy
4) Final Fantasy II

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