I think I have a fever right now. I can’t really tell. I’m definitely feeling mildly delirious. I can’t think of a better moment to listen to some progressive rock and write about Final Fantasy IV. This is a game that I’ve attempted to play at least 3 or 4 times, but I’ve never managed to finish the game.
… until this summer.
Dang, if that transition doesn’t excite you, you might be sicker than I am. Read on!
Like I said, I’ve played this game before. I tinkered with the original Super Nintendo release. I gave the divisive Nintendo DS remake a solid effort. I even made a really respectable attempt at completing the gorgeous PSP edition. Each time that I reached the third act of the game (the moon), I would lose interest. I’d inevitably end up playing a different game for a bit and forgetting about Final Fantasy IV altogether.
I couldn’t claim to be a fan of classic Japanese role playing games, while continuing to ignore the beloved Super Nintendo Final Fantasy trio. So I decided that I would complete this RPG rite of passage. I was going to man up and play through Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI this summer. And I was going to like it!
I’ve come to really enjoy the opening act of Final Fantasy IV. It has all the drama of a daytime soap opera—one that’s full of rebellion, love, betrayal, heroism, and redemption. Meanwhile, the battle system adds a layer of strategic complexity to the JRPG mechanics that would have felt old school even when the game was originally released 15 years ago. It’s not difficult enough to require grinding, so the melodrama just carries you from one exaggerated pot point to the next. A decade and a half later, the game still holds up. In fact, the PSP edition (which is definitive version of the game, by the way) feels like a comfortable compromise between a straightforward modern RPG and the brutal 8-bit throwbacks that are popular among the vocal hardcore elite.
The well-paced spectacle of the game grinds to a halt the moment that Cecil steps off of his whale-shaped spaceship onto the moon. It’s an entirely new environment populated a race of dwarves. This section seems like it was meant to be one final escalation of the scale of Final Fantasy IV to show the player what the Super Nintendo was capable of. This would have blown my 6-year-old mind in 1991, but the context is missing, therefore so is the wonder of that moment.
Alright, the final act is a bit of a slog… so what?
I finally managed to finish Final Fantasy IV, and I was glad that I did. I understand why—moon dwarves aside—the game’s status a classic 16-bit JRP is uncontestable (unlike another beloved game that I was too hard on). I’d recommend it.