Final Fantasy IV (1991) was the turning point of the series; its predecessors before it focused more on presenting a huge
epic quest rather than a compelling narrative, with FFIV finally Sakaguchi and his crew finally managed to combine a compelling
(at the time) tale with a globe trotting quest. So in its time FFIV was the best there was, unfortunately because this game
was pretty much the first to get it right (compelling story can coexist with epic quest), means that all other RPGs after
this one followed on its steps and most surpassed it. So the game has aged rather poorly.
If you pick up FFIV today in the Chronicles package, do not expect to play an ageless classic. Unlike Chrono Trigger, Everything
in FFIV (except music) has been done better in other newer RPGs that are out in the market, I dare say even some of the average
RPGs today provide more entertainment value than this one.
The Story of FFIV is a simple one by today’s standards. An evil man named Golbez is trying to collect all of the
world’s crystals to destroy it, of course there is more behind Globez than meets the eye. Cecil the main character along
with Kain, Rosa, Rydia, and Edge must stop him. A simple story this is indeed, however all the characters in the game have
rather interesting back stories. At the time this game was released this was totally unheard of, however today in 2004 I could
predict exactly where this story was going to end, and that is because I had seen this tale over and over again before from
the dozens upon dozens of RPGs that I have played that came after FFIV.
By today standards this is an unimpressive predictable tale, even if in it’s time (1991) it was revolutionary. The
characters for example seem much more alive and real than the ones in the first three FF games, and that is because no two
characters dialog reads the same. For example Edge reads like an egotistic teenager who can’t find a girl, while Cid
reads like an old drunken pilot, which is exactly what they are in the game. The game is full of twists and shockers which
once upon a time more than a decade ago where fresh, today some of these twists seem awfully predictable and silly.
I would recommend most players to approach FFIV’s story as an educational experience to appreciate how far the FF
series and the RPG genre in general has come since the late 80’s early 90’s.
Musically the game is superior to its predecessors, but it’s surpassed by the rest of the series music and other
modern game music. Still this is Nobuo Uematsu (Series composer) almost entering his prime (FFV-FFVII), the musical compositions
are the only aspect in the game that even today remains competitive and entertaining. Like in all FFs a lot of the tunes here
can still be heard in the newer Fantasies, only that now they sound much better of course.
Graphically the game was no doubt a marvel in the early nineties but against some of the later great SNES RPGs, the game
looks a bit dated specially when compared against Trigger and FFVI. The sprites in here are quite small, and the backgrounds
not as realistic and detailed, yet the RPG Hardcore fans will be able to look past this and enjoy the rest of the game.
Gameplay wise the game makes leaps forwards from the first three Final Fantasies, by refining the active battle system,
and adding more hidden secrets for dedicated players who bother to search every nook and cranny of the game. The battle system
offers different classes of characters that are not customizable, for example: Kain is a Dragoon and his attacks and abilities
are already set, you will only earn new abilities by leveling up, you have no control of what spell your characters will learn
for they have already been set. This system allows up to five party members in the battle screen at once, however while a
leap from the previous iterations, FFIV’s battle system is really nothing more than a slightly more advanced version
The difficulty of the game is about average, however expect to spend the vast majority of the 30-35 hours it will take
to finish doing long boring leveling up sessions.
FFIV has the blessing of being re-released in the FF Chronicles package along with Chrono Trigger, because honestly without
the excellent Trigger, FFIV would not be able to hold itself in today’s market. The game sadly lacks any rewards for
finishing it (Bonus Gallery and Audio menus etc.), but it’s worth a look to appreciate the beginnings of the FF’s
narrative structure that the recent games have followed and mastered. Mastered is the key word here, the narrative while some
what entertaining seems amateurish at times, maybe I have just been spoiled by playing all those other newer RPGs.
A masterpiece in its time, but a mildly entertaining and somewhat average RPG by today’s standards. A worthy piece
of software to invest your time with after finishing Chrono Trigger.