Final Fantasy IV

Posted by ahoodedfigure (4237 posts) -

Today I managed to beat the main game in Final Fantasy IV advance.  I'm glad I wasn't cooking anything while the ending scenes were playing, otherwise I would have missed them (or let the house burn down).  At times I felt like the narrative was pretty straightforward, that there wasn't much of a difference between the moon, overworld, and underworld in terms of actual exploration or gameplay, just that I had different ships to explore different places and could see different caves and cities, some of which had interchangeable personalities living there and only varied in terms of equipment for sale and inn prices.
 
The little chibi character designs were off-putting to me, especially when they would do their interminable dances or spin around and raise their fist in their (yet again), but I was touched by the story sacrifices made mid-game by many of the characters.  That said, the impact of their supposed deaths was robbed when they appeared unharmed later.  Really, game?  I think it would have been cool if you actually went through ordeals to bring people back, rather than have them pop up again like they'd just had a booboo (instead of, as in the case of Cid, getting BLOWN UP BY A BOMB! ! ).   I also felt it was touching when the party left behind prayed for you.  It was a nice sentiment to think such things are possible.  I just wish these moments could have been better sustained; this game could have had a stronger emotional impact if it made the sacrifices more real.
 
My final team had Yang, Cid, Rosa, and Rydia (who I renamed Lydia, guessing that it might have been one of those L/R translation things).    I also stumbled upon Ragnarok, and Cid had a nice hammer that devastated robotic enemies.
 
I tried, I really tried to have the spoony bard in my team, because I admired his character and willingness to mourn the loss of his lover longer than most characters in games, but in gameplay terms, the guy was a liability.  When heavily wounded, he runs away, meaning if you can't heal him in time you waste healing and time that could be spent fighting the enemy, no matter how useful it is for him to be out of the battle when a powerful area effect spell hits.  His potion-use ability is great, but hard to manage.  His singing and special effects with his lutes only affect lesser enemies, and despite his high level when he joins your party again, the guy has very few hit points.  It was disappointing to have to deal with that.
Many of the spells seemed useless.  Perhaps there were some lesser enemies that could have been adversely affected by some of them, but I leaned heavily on the three elemental spells,  protective spells, healing (of course), and tons of summons.  Combat, also, felt like chipping away at rocks at times.  I would set up a nice strategy and then just pound on the a button, often having conversations with other people while holding my GBA micro and slapping the a button while I killed things.  I noticed that the Behemoth doesn't attack if you use Yang's Power skill on it, so I wound up doing that when the behemoth showed up again, but it didn't make it any less boring.  It would have been nice if enemies had symbols on them for the effects currently affecting them, or something to make them seem less like pretty drawings.
 
It's an old game, so it's hard to pick on the interface, but I didn't appreciate having to cycle through spell and item lists in order to get what I wanted, while being pounded on.  At least a page skip would have been nice; if I remember correctly, later games let you cycle quicker through your inventory, making this less of a hassle.  I still spent a while reorganizing spells and items so the more useful stuff would be near the top.
 
What's really cool is this extra dungeon past the basic ending.  I think I'm enjoying this more than the latter half of the basic game.  Very surreal, with a lot of variation.  Anyone play Final Fantasy IV/II when it first came out?  Or have you had a chance to try it out recently?  I think the last time I played this game was about 20 years ago, which is as mind-blowing for me as it may be for you.
 
The game didn't have a lot of depth (either in plot or mechanics), so I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked, but it had some nice surprises and rewarded my curiosity, which is always a plus in games for me. 

#1 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4237 posts) -

Today I managed to beat the main game in Final Fantasy IV advance.  I'm glad I wasn't cooking anything while the ending scenes were playing, otherwise I would have missed them (or let the house burn down).  At times I felt like the narrative was pretty straightforward, that there wasn't much of a difference between the moon, overworld, and underworld in terms of actual exploration or gameplay, just that I had different ships to explore different places and could see different caves and cities, some of which had interchangeable personalities living there and only varied in terms of equipment for sale and inn prices.
 
The little chibi character designs were off-putting to me, especially when they would do their interminable dances or spin around and raise their fist in their (yet again), but I was touched by the story sacrifices made mid-game by many of the characters.  That said, the impact of their supposed deaths was robbed when they appeared unharmed later.  Really, game?  I think it would have been cool if you actually went through ordeals to bring people back, rather than have them pop up again like they'd just had a booboo (instead of, as in the case of Cid, getting BLOWN UP BY A BOMB! ! ).   I also felt it was touching when the party left behind prayed for you.  It was a nice sentiment to think such things are possible.  I just wish these moments could have been better sustained; this game could have had a stronger emotional impact if it made the sacrifices more real.
 
My final team had Yang, Cid, Rosa, and Rydia (who I renamed Lydia, guessing that it might have been one of those L/R translation things).    I also stumbled upon Ragnarok, and Cid had a nice hammer that devastated robotic enemies.
 
I tried, I really tried to have the spoony bard in my team, because I admired his character and willingness to mourn the loss of his lover longer than most characters in games, but in gameplay terms, the guy was a liability.  When heavily wounded, he runs away, meaning if you can't heal him in time you waste healing and time that could be spent fighting the enemy, no matter how useful it is for him to be out of the battle when a powerful area effect spell hits.  His potion-use ability is great, but hard to manage.  His singing and special effects with his lutes only affect lesser enemies, and despite his high level when he joins your party again, the guy has very few hit points.  It was disappointing to have to deal with that.
Many of the spells seemed useless.  Perhaps there were some lesser enemies that could have been adversely affected by some of them, but I leaned heavily on the three elemental spells,  protective spells, healing (of course), and tons of summons.  Combat, also, felt like chipping away at rocks at times.  I would set up a nice strategy and then just pound on the a button, often having conversations with other people while holding my GBA micro and slapping the a button while I killed things.  I noticed that the Behemoth doesn't attack if you use Yang's Power skill on it, so I wound up doing that when the behemoth showed up again, but it didn't make it any less boring.  It would have been nice if enemies had symbols on them for the effects currently affecting them, or something to make them seem less like pretty drawings.
 
It's an old game, so it's hard to pick on the interface, but I didn't appreciate having to cycle through spell and item lists in order to get what I wanted, while being pounded on.  At least a page skip would have been nice; if I remember correctly, later games let you cycle quicker through your inventory, making this less of a hassle.  I still spent a while reorganizing spells and items so the more useful stuff would be near the top.
 
What's really cool is this extra dungeon past the basic ending.  I think I'm enjoying this more than the latter half of the basic game.  Very surreal, with a lot of variation.  Anyone play Final Fantasy IV/II when it first came out?  Or have you had a chance to try it out recently?  I think the last time I played this game was about 20 years ago, which is as mind-blowing for me as it may be for you.
 
The game didn't have a lot of depth (either in plot or mechanics), so I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked, but it had some nice surprises and rewarded my curiosity, which is always a plus in games for me. 

#2 Posted by ArbitraryWater (10994 posts) -

I played and almost beat Final Fantasy IV advance once when I was around 12 or 13 (I literally got all the way to Zeromus), but because I had bought a shady, most obviously pirated copy from amazon the data got corrupted or something, so that was the end of that journey.
 
Did I enjoy it? Certainly. I am with you that bringing everyone back from the dead at the last second was pretty lame as far as plot devices went. Other than that, I really couldn't fault the plot for feeling cliched in some parts when you consider that Final Fantasy IV most likely created those cliches. Of course, I like Final Fantasy V more on a gameplay level and Final Fantasy VI more on a story level, but when put together those are the only 3 games in the series I can stand playing. Maybe it's my general dislike of the genre, or maybe it's because the PS1 games especially have aged poorly while the PS2 games seem like an endless torrent of cliches and melodrama on the story side (or, in the case of X-2, fanservice and hot pants.)
 
Speaking of hot pants... Might and Magic VI.

#3 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (5794 posts) -

You've mirrored most of my feelings towards Final Fantasy IV.  It was enjoyable but ultimately I doubt I'll ever play through it again.

Moderator
#4 Posted by Organicalistic_ (2954 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure said:
" Today I managed to beat the main game in Final Fantasy IV advance.  I'm glad I wasn't cooking anything while the ending scenes were playing, otherwise I would have missed them (or let the house burn down).  At times I felt like the narrative was pretty straightforward, that there wasn't much of a difference between the moon, overworld, and underworld in terms of actual exploration or gameplay, just that I had different ships to explore different places and could see different caves and cities, some of which had interchangeable personalities living there and only varied in terms of equipment for sale and inn prices.  The little chibi character designs were off-putting to me, especially when they would do their interminable dances or spin around and raise their fist in their (yet again), but I was touched by the story sacrifices made mid-game by many of the characters.  That said, the impact of their supposed deaths was robbed when they appeared unharmed later.  Really, game?  I think it would have been cool if you actually went through ordeals to bring people back, rather than have them pop up again like they'd just had a booboo (instead of, as in the case of Cid, getting BLOWN UP BY A BOMB! ! ).   I also felt it was touching when the party left behind prayed for you.  It was a nice sentiment to think such things are possible.  I just wish these moments could have been better sustained; this game could have had a stronger emotional impact if it made the sacrifices more real. My final team had Yang, Cid, Rosa, and Rydia (who I renamed Lydia, guessing that it might have been one of those L/R translation things).    I also stumbled upon Ragnarok, and Cid had a nice hammer that devastated robotic enemies. I tried, I really tried to have the spoony bard in my team, because I admired his character and willingness to mourn the loss of his lover longer than most characters in games, but in gameplay terms, the guy was a liability.  When heavily wounded, he runs away, meaning if you can't heal him in time you waste healing and time that could be spent fighting the enemy, no matter how useful it is for him to be out of the battle when a powerful area effect spell hits.  His potion-use ability is great, but hard to manage.  His singing and special effects with his lutes only affect lesser enemies, and despite his high level when he joins your party again, the guy has very few hit points.  It was disappointing to have to deal with that.Many of the spells seemed useless.  Perhaps there were some lesser enemies that could have been adversely affected by some of them, but I leaned heavily on the three elemental spells,  protective spells, healing (of course), and tons of summons.  Combat, also, felt like chipping away at rocks at times.  I would set up a nice strategy and then just pound on the a button, often having conversations with other people while holding my GBA micro and slapping the a button while I killed things.  I noticed that the Behemoth doesn't attack if you use Yang's Power skill on it, so I wound up doing that when the behemoth showed up again, but it didn't make it any less boring.  It would have been nice if enemies had symbols on them for the effects currently affecting them, or something to make them seem less like pretty drawings. It's an old game, so it's hard to pick on the interface, but I didn't appreciate having to cycle through spell and item lists in order to get what I wanted, while being pounded on.  At least a page skip would have been nice; if I remember correctly, later games let you cycle quicker through your inventory, making this less of a hassle.  I still spent a while reorganizing spells and items so the more useful stuff would be near the top.  What's really cool is this extra dungeon past the basic ending.  I think I'm enjoying this more than the latter half of the basic game.  Very surreal, with a lot of variation.  Anyone play Final Fantasy IV/II when it first came out?  Or have you had a chance to try it out recently?  I think the last time I played this game was about 20 years ago, which is as mind-blowing for me as it may be for you. The game didn't have a lot of depth (either in plot or mechanics), so I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I would have liked, but it had some nice surprises and rewarded my curiosity, which is always a plus in games for me.  "
i loved ff4
#5 Posted by ricetopher (1046 posts) -

Played FF4 Advance when it came out and really enjoyed it, though its definitly archaic in some elements.

What were you thoughts on the soundtrack? Personally it's one of my favorite soundtracks in the series, and I noticed you didn't cover that in your blog

#6 Posted by AgentJ (8778 posts) -

I hope to play IVDS sometime this summer, and I'm really excited to do so.

#7 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4237 posts) -
@ricetopher:  The music IS one of the strongest elements in the game, you're right. It's funny that you point this out; I've had the final battle music stuck in my head all day, and that's a good thing.  The initial flight theme, too, was huge for me, something I remembered years after playing the game on the SNES.  I guess the reason I didn't mention the music was it wasn't really a review.  People who played the game know about the music, people who are interested in playing will discover it.  I guess if they thought the music sounded interesting but weren't interested in playing the game they might miss out, but I didn't think that far ahead. Wasn't really the focus of the piece because while my experience of the music was a strong one, it feels separate from the ups and downs of the mechanics enough that it didn't even occur to me.   Probably also had something to do with my knowing most of the people who might read about this had already played, so I was more giving my particular angle on the things that I felt I could write about fully.  Good point, though.
 
@Sparky_Buzzsaw: If I did play it again, I'd know exactly where to go and would probably remember where to pick stuff up and what techniques to use against what monsters, but I don't think I'd get much more out of the game.  A lot of the combat is me just holding down the fire button on the easy ones, so only the boss battles are interesting.  There's not much exploration to it, either, since you know where everything is.  I liked it, I'm glad I got it, but yeah, diminishing returns.  Maybe in many years, if the cart's still working.
 
@AgentJ: By all means publish your impressions if you do!
 
@ArbitraryWater: I didn't want to talk about it in my reflections because I'm in any way a Final Fantasy scholar, but I felt like a lot of those cliches did seem like they were starting in this one.  I was sort of amazed at some of the details that have worked their way into subsequent games, in part because it annoys me that they hadn't bothered to innovate at all with regard to enemies, weaknesses, that sort of thing.  I do admire it, though, for being its own thing.  The first game borrowed heavily from old Dungeons and Dragons, but it's managed to be its own monster for quite a while now.  
 
I don't think I've seen much of V, does that use a job system?  I loved Tactics back in the PS1 days.  VI seems like it managed a lot from what I did play of it on the PS1, but I never got more than halfway through the game (in time to see the twist).  I'm assuming there's more to be discovered, and I hold out hope I'll see it some day.

I think they've been a bit movie heavy lately, but I haven't played anything all the way through since IX, which I enjoyed more than many.  Lessee...  I've played a chunk of the first one, all the way now through the standard version of IV, halfway through VI, all of VII (liked it, but felt like a lot of the secret special stuff was too obtuse), VIII (maybe I was too old to appreciate all the brooding crap), and IX (really cool aesthetic and great themes), as well as Final Fantasy Tactics multiple times.  I was an oldschool RPG and maybe Phantasy Star kid more than FF, though, so I've always felt like a bit of a guest in someone else's house when I play them.
#8 Posted by ArbitraryWater (10994 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure: Yeah, V uses a job system to great effect, although the story is fairly half-assed and it can get a little grindy at times. Also, oddly enough, the music isn't quite as good. VI is very much character focused, giving every non-secret party member their day in the sun, but as a result it sometimes lacks a strong lead. And if you have gotten to the part where the world is destroyed, then you are far more than halfway done. The rest of the game is literally just finding all your party members again in an non-linear manner and then going and taking the fight to Kefka. Of course... I haven't gotten there yet. I still have a few hours left for when I have some time to kill on a car trip or something.
 
I actually bought Final Fantasy Tactics the same time I bought Devil May Cry 3 and really couldn't get into it. Maybe it's the ludicrously slow pace? Maybe it's the mangled translation? (I have the original PS1 version) In any case, I still have it on my shelf... waiting to be actively played. Will that day ever come? Maybe. 
 
And that random callout to Might and Magic VI was supposed to encourage you to play it, dang it! If you have time to finish a final fantasy game, you have time to play something I would consider much more entertaining. I need someone else to talk Might and Magic with or else I feel like a madman raving about something nobody understands.  Still have a link to the fan made patch that should make it work reliably on XP if you want it. 
#9 Posted by Hailinel (22696 posts) -

The only thing I really liked about FFV was the job system.  Everything else was pretty bad.  Its story doesn't even stand up to Final Fantasy II.
 
As for Final Fantasy IV, I love that game.  True, the game may show its age now, but there's still a great deal about it that remains timeless.  It's still one of the best games in the series.

#10 Posted by WilliamRLBaker (4777 posts) -

are you talking about final fantasy advance or final fantasy 4 ds? you should definately play the ds version.

#11 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4237 posts) -
@WilliamRLBaker:  Advance.  I don't really need the cutscenes that the new one offers, although I hear they flesh out the characters more.  I'd almost rather spoil what they do than play the whole thing again, unless the scenes really add to it.  Advance is also the only version, as far as I know, that has the extra dungeon at the end, which I'm enjoying a lot (except for the Odin part.  Odin is a jerk in this game). If I ever do get a DS, though, I'll consider it.
 
@Hailinel: IV was the first RPG I saw for the SNES, so maybe some nostalgia's wrapped up in there, but I realized I cared enough about the characters to feel bad when they "died", and the music and the escalation of exploration abilities appeals to me even now (start small, work your way up to big, even if there's less to find than I would have liked).  Also, being a Phantasy Star kid, the technological sorta mixed with the archaic was fun.  The battles feel a bit too static to me at times, though, and there are other little issues, but I still respond well to this game after so many years.

 @ArbitraryWater: Grinding is another thing I wanted to discuss but forgot to.  I did almost no grinding at all in this game, and certainly not on purpose.  If any game actually requires grinding, I'd consider it broken.  I've gotten through most RPGs I've ever played without having to repeat battles to gain experience, and in this one I was pretty much always behind in XP for most of the game, but I seemed to get along OK.  It's funny, I was getting spells AFTER the main game was over that would have been pretty useful to have way before :)
 
Right now my gameness is focused on an old, fucked-up Activision title from the 90's.  I'm glad you don't lean on the Might and Magic VI button too often, but I appreciate your wanting to talk about it.  Not trying to torture you, but the prospect of exporting it to my laptop and rearranging my files right now does not appeal to me--  it's much easier to pop a cart into the GBA and play a marathon session in bed or on the throne than wrangle for time on the better gaming machine in the house.  
 
When I start playing it you will definitely be the first to know, but you'd still have a while to wait before I'd complete it; I like to be thorough.  
#12 Posted by orangefrys (106 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure: i suggest the ds version as well.
#13 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4237 posts) -
@orangefrys:  One thing I'd say about the cutscenes is that they'd probably be easier for me to stomach than the characters jumping and raising fists. Might make them seem less like little blobs of pixels and more like actual characters.

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