As with any game series, there has always been an argument about which is the best. Final Fantasy is no different. Typically, three always boil to the top; Final Fantasy VII, VI and IV. For many, FFIV was their first FF game, or even RPG. Originally named Final Fantasy II on the Super Nintendo, as II and III proper weren’t localized at the time, IV introduced many concepts that have become mainstays for the series, even through today. While I can see the appeal, FFIV never really clicked for me.
There are many elements to a Final Fantasy game, most of which started here. FFIV is the first game of the series that created characters with defined abilities. The three previous games all featured malleable characters, allowing players to mold them as they see fit. This allowed for greater depth in character development, as more could be done with characters having specific skills. The Active Time Battle (ATB) system, where battles continue regardless of player input, was first conceived here. One element setting IV apart from the rest was allowing battle parties of up to five characters. No mainline game has done this before or since.
Stories are only as strong as their characters, and IV features a deep cast, strengthening players connection with the game. There’s Palom and Porom, the mage twins, Yang, the warrior monk, Edge, the ninja prince (creative name, I know), Tellah, a crazed black mage, and more. Headlining the game is knight Cecil, his love Rosa, and brother in arms Kain. The story between these three is an interesting one as the game plays out. Kain had the mysterious angst about him that has become cliche in many Japanese stories.
Localization (translating) is a funny thing. Often times it results in nonsense speak. Occasionally, it provides something so oddball, it becomes legend. FFII (the original SNES version), had such a moment. Tellah, in the heat of battle, called his opponent a “spoony bard.” I have no idea what a spoony bard is, but I would be greatly insulted if I was called one. Later translations have kept that line intact.
FFIV has been re-released more than any other game in the series (note: I’ve done zero research on this fact, though it’s probably true). First released as FFII for the Super Nintendo, the game eventually came to Playstation One (with Chrono Trigger) in Final Fantasy Chronicles, Game Boy Advance, remade for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo’s Virtual Console (in its original FFII form), the PSP/PS Vita with the Complete Collection, and probably on IOS too. That doesn’t even count a handful of Japan only re-releases.
Of all of these, the Complete Collection is the version anyone interested should play. In 2008, Square began releasing The After Years. Spread across a few episodes, the game returns to the FFIV world years after the end of the game (hence the title). Strangely, these episodes released on the Wii in North America at first. Eventually, they were put into the Complete Collection, with a new chapter called Interlude, bridge the two sections.
I didn’t play this until it was remade for the NDS with the horrible 3D chibi/big head-small body graphics. I greatly abhor that art style. While I found the game enjoyable, completing the 40+ hour campaign, I never really connected with it. The graphics greatly hindered my experience. I would like to play the game again, this time on the more palatable Complete Collection.
I understand why this game is revered by many, but for me, it’s forgettable. I could make a better case for FFX being in the top three than this. Just because this isn’t the best of the best, doesn’t mean it’s lacking. FFIV still far outstrips most of what’s being released today. This is just mid-tier for me.
Which iteration of FFIV did you play? Do you hate the chibi art style too? Comment below!
Why doesn’t FFVI get the same treatment?