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My Thoughts on Final Fantasy 4 - Potential Redemption, Full Party Combat, and a Contender for the Top

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I have been playing video games for many years, and yet there are several classic and otherwise essential games that I have no experience with. In many cases, this involves entire franchises. When Archengeia was going through the Final Fantasies during his marathon I was prompted to start digging my way through my backlog instead of letting it sit and fester. Now, I am playing through the Final Fantasies and have decided to share my thoughts on the games I play as I go here on the forum. I have already covered the first three FFs and will be playing FF V - FF VII, FF IX, and FF XII. Hope you enjoy!

     Unfortunately, because I'm in the process of playing through the whole series, I blazed through FF4 way too fast. I feel like it's the type of game that gains more meaning the more you play it. That being said, I do feel that the story would have been stronger if more of Cecil's backstory demonstrated in the beginning of the game (without spoiling his origins obviously)
     It would also have been nice if Golbez's finale allowed him to live instead of him running away from being alive after having being controlled for most of it. The fact that he never got a chance to live actively makes me angry and the fact that Cecil could have said "Look dude, you did nothing wrong. Zemus screwed you over just like he did Kain, and just like he almost did to me. You have nothing to apologize for, in fact you are his most damaged victim. Let me help you learn how to live on your own." and that he didn't bugs the crap out of me. Admittedly I don't know anything about the after years or any other story outside the initial game so if this story is resolved there I am unaware of it.

     Another thing that I think could have been done better is, instead of having so many fakeout kills, just have Tellah's. This way it has emphasis and meaning, as opposed to being put on a list that seems to function as a revolving door. Minwu's, Joseph's, and Ricard's deaths were all infinitely more impacting than Tellah's, who I forgot about until the end where I saw him in a situation that made me question whether or not hea had actually died. I know he did now but still, the emotional impact just wasn't there. 

     One thing that I noticed repeatedly in my cheat heavy pseudo-speedrun is that Cecil's story arc feels like the prototype for Zidane's over in FF9. I do think that Cecil would have been a more relatable character if we were more aware of his inner demons before he became a paladin, kind of like a certain scene in Final Fantasy 9. (If you've played the game you know what I'm talking about.)

     It would have also been nice if we got to see more of Kain's personality instead of just occasionally jealous, repeatedly being possessed, and being an emotional shut-in. Basically I really liked what I saw from him in the beginning of the game as the loyal friend who could be counted on in any situation. We know that's who he is and I would have liked to have seen that side of him in the later part of the game. I guess what I'm saying is that it would have been nice to see an actual redemption story in this game instead of seeing someone who was always good being deceived into committing horribly evil acts and eventually coming to his senses. 

     I don't mean to sound overly negative about this game. In fact I feel like I'll be learning more and more about it over the years and appreciating it more and more as I go. Many of the flaws that I've talked about above aren't actually things done wrong so much as things that I know are happening in the background and are just missing from the actual game. It's because of this that things like The After Years works as a concept. Again I haven't experienced it so I can't attest to its quality but it is definitely a justified concept.

     In regards to the gameplay, I love the fact that the entire party is in battle instead of choosing just three or four characters. I understand why this isn't a regular feature in games but I'd love it if it was from both a gameplay perspective and a plot perspective. For instance, (SPOILER ALERT) when gearing up for the end-game, Cecil tells Rosa and Rydia to stay behind. In basically any other Final Fantasy that wouldn't be much of a problem seeing as these two characters aren't in the party all that often they wouldn't be that high leveled and as a result them being left behind wouldn't impact the player. Instead, because of the fact that all of the characters in the party are constantly battling, Rydia and Rosa are just as capable, if not more so, than the rest of the party. In my playthrough for example, Rosa was my main healer and Rydia was my tank. Because of this, when Cecil told them to stay behind, I cared. A lot. My reaction was something along the lines of "Cecil, you moron! I need those guys!". You can imagine my relief when I got to the point where it was discovered they stayed on the ship in hiding before rejoining the party for the end-game. (SPOILER END) That level of gameplay-story integration is likely to be one of my strongest memories of the game, and it was only possible because of the mechanic that put all the characters in combat at once. While on the subject of the end-game, I've gotta mention this really quick. This is the first of the FFs where I had more trouble with a regular boss fight than the final boss. While Zeromus is by no means an easy fight, the only one that actually brought me close to death was the fight against the four fiends. Now granted, that's because you are down a man in your party AND facing off against FOUR boss level characters but still, it was by far the most brutal fight I experienced in the game and there were multiple times when I thought I couldn't have won.

     Bottom line, I feel like I am growing to love this game even as I'm thinking about it now but for the moment I will say that I at least respect it and will continue to look into it's surrounding works. So far it is the only game that I have played in my marathon that rivals FF2. While I prefer FF2's story, the characters in FF4 show more potential and the gameplay is leaps and bounds ahead of it. And the lack of troll rooms is nice too. Smile The setting is more fleshed out in FF4 but I also feel like if Final Fantasy 2's setting were more fleshed out I would have preferred it. One thing that I can say FF4 has over FF2 is that it feels like a world that the player could live in alongside the characters whereas FF2 felt like you are experiencing a moment in time with the characters. Remembering what I said about the final boss, FFs 2 and 4 are the only ones that don't feel like they require the best gear in the game to beat the final boss. They help a great deal, but are not necessary, whereas in FF3 the gear was definitely needed to win that last fight and FF1 needed even more than that. Heck, even at max level with most of the best gear in the game I still lost to Garland twice. It wasn't until I figured out that status spells worked on him that I even had a chance of winning that one. FFs 2 and 4 make that leveling and gear something worth doing because it gives you that edge over your opponents that you shouldn't be able to have, rewarding the time and effort that would go into achieving such things, whereas FFs 1 and 3 require them if you even want to have a chance at winning. As I begin preparing for my playthrough of FFV, I hope that it at the very least manages to rival the two even numbered FFs as they seem to have come out deadlocked in a tie of such epic proportions it would put one of Arch's viewer opinion polls to shame.


Last edited by The_Real_Shurue on Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:13 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : A few grammatical errors. Nothing major. No real change.)

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Admittedly FFIV is an amazing game for me, but I do agree on several of your negative points (most notably the fact that the other deaths didn't stick). I also apparently suck at this game since I had a hellacious time on several bosses of the DS version, also known as the hardest version of the game by far, but you breezed through 'em heh. Ah well. I will say that FFIV didn't really nail the gameplay all that well, but its immense focus on characterization is really what helps sell it for me.

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I breezed through it because I had max levels and the best gear in the game due to cheats. I had no intention of playing the game legitimately. I might one day, but right now I'm trying to carve a chunk out of my backlog so saving time is something I have to take into consideration.

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This is nowhere to near as tough as ff6 imo and a most of the others I've played. Best way I can describe it is that I felt it was easy to succeed with the correct tactics, whereas a lot of the others through up many more successful walls in my way. Am I right in thinking there is much less side content to 4, because that would explain that somewhat. Many of the side Espers and getting to them was tough (as its supposed to be).

Not that I'm saying that the other games tactics aren't as well tunerd, but that's just how I feel. The damn spirits or whatever they are called and the last boss of ff4 were solid tbh, but that kind of experience was much more common for me in 6,7 etc. (Probably because of the content and the contiuining challenge that should come with balancing that).

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