Since I’m going to be unemployed for a little while, I decided I should take this time to play a video game. I was really unsure about which one, but after going off for whatever reason about Final Fantasy IV for a little while, probably in some drunken praise of it, I figured that would be the one. This is my third play-through, so it’s very been-there, seen-that. It’s a fun game though, the best of the early games (pre-VI here). My first time playing was on the PlayStation, in it’s re-release with Chrono Trigger in 2001, and then I bought the DS revamp five or so years ago.
The game blew minds when it originally came out back in 1991. It’s the first game in the series that I really consider an entertaining classic, as FFI-III lack the expansive character narratives and game cohesiveness. The game also has a coolness factor that I don’t believe the first three games have. You have Cecil, who starts off on the wrong side but converts through the sheer power of his honor, he has a dubious best friend that likes his girl (who I saw as far more conflicted before the DS version adopted the dopey voice actor), there’s a shit ton of wizards and awesome spells, and there’s an impressive character tango that occurs throughout the majority of the game that has led me to appreciate all the characters individually. Seeing as how the game forces you to figure out how to utilize them.
That can be annoying, like when you need to fight the Dark Elf and you’re stuck with Cecil, Cid, Tellah, and Yang. After persevering through the limitations, however, you then get to do a little happy dance when you get Kain and Rosa back and then, a grander happier dance when you get Rydia again instead of useless gnarled-lookin’ Cid.
The Nintendo DS version of FFIV includes an entire new look, with improved graphics and cooler looking everything. Case in point, here’s the early battle with Octomammy:
Now you can get an even better look at Octomammoth’s winning grin.
Besides the graphics, there are some other differences with the DS version of this game. There is a new ability via augment system, some new spells accessed via Twin Magic (like Bubble and Pyroblast). There are new cinematic sequences with voice-overs, and this latter is the worst added feature, as the voices are very, very lame. Not as bad as Bravely Default, but still pretty painful. And unlike BD, you can’t turn on the Japanese voice actors, so you’re stuck with Kain sounding like a bad Shakespearean actor.
Rydia now has Whyt, a little marshmallow-looking summon reminiscent of Eiko’s Mog. You can design his face with the stylus, which is very difficult to do, and not very worth it. His stats are related to math mini-games you can play with Fat Chocobo, and until you put in the time to mess with his stats Whyt is borderline useless. It’s best to just focus on the rest of her Summons; I moved him to the end of the list.
Namingway can’t change people’s names anymore in this version, so he is going through an existential crisis and keeps reinventing himself. It’s kind of cute, and he gives you useful things based on whatever identity he chooses to go with. There are also now items you can receive after attaining 100% exploration of a map—free things are always good! Especially since sometimes you can get something incredibly useful, like say, 3 Ethers at the beginning of the game, and currently where I am now in the Tower of Babil, an Elixer! Woo woo!
The old-school storyline is presented poorly with the hokey voice acting, but when playing through a plot from 1991, it’s really best to remember that this is coming from a simpler time for JRPGs and there will be no Inception-style absurdity, such as with the recent trends.The game doesn’t get exceptionally deep, and the love story is as dull as any love story in a FF game, but I still love the characters and their designs. In fact, one of my favorite things about this game is the characters and their unique designs. It’s nice to see Amano’s drawings interpreted into cutesy DS graphics. Going with my favorite example here: Rydia! I fucking love Rydia, and look how adorable she is there with her green color palette and storm cloud hair. Edge, Palom and Porom with their button noses, Cecil as a Paladin, Yang (who honestly looks like some Germanic predecessor for Cyan). I like seeing these attractive cheese balls save the world
Another interesting addition to the game is located in the menu. Whatever character you have as the lead reflects on thoughts and feelings in a little thought bubble above their head. I was hoping I could use it as an indicator of what to do next, and sometimes this is the case. Not always, though—often it’s just meant as a means of giving voice and development to a character after an event. Meh. I still like the look of it, though.
I believe the plot in FFIV parallels directly with the plot of FFIX, the latter doing this as an homage to the former. When I get further into the game, I will elaborate more on the specifics of this, because I feel as if this is really obvious and sometimes people will tell me, “Eh, not that much.” Um, yes that much. It’s essentially the exact same plot structure. I would like to recall more of FFIV’s plot before I talk about this, and dump all of the spoilers in that post rather than this one. I just cozied up to ol’ King Giott down in the Underworld, so I still have some ways to go. I don’t have all the characters yet, either, and I’m eagerly awaiting Edge and FuSoYa… whatever the hell he is.