Final Fantasy IV

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JaySevenZero
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Final Fantasy IV

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:26 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Final Fantasy IV for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by duskvstweak » April 3rd, 2018, 7:41 pm

Final Fantasy IV was one of the wilder rides I had been on as a teenager. The graphics were basic for a SNES, never looking as good as the system could allow, but the sprites still had a charm to them. The story was crazy, with characters fighting mighty empires and switching sides in dramatic fashion. And the way characters kept getting snuffed out! Blown up, turned to stone, it seemed like every character had a moment of self-sacrifice! It was like watching a Final Fantasy written by some kids on the playground, "And then this character fights a dragon and this guy becomes good but his friend is bad and this person blows up and then they have a flying boat and then they go to the MOON!..." It's that sort of youthful abandon that keeps the story so much fun.
The game will never be my favorite in the series, not even in my top five, but it's not hard to see why it has so many fans,

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Re: 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by Chaos9001 » May 28th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Final Fantasy IV on SNES was the very first RPG that I ever played. It was a gift from a family friend for my 9th birthday and it blew my mind. Before this game I had mostly played Mario games, so to be hit in the head with immersive story from the onset was fantastic. I had a lot of trouble when I first started with the ant lion because my only strategy was "hit monster with sword" and if that didn't work my next strategy was "hit monster with sword". Thankfully the kid next door helped me with a little bit of strategy, and after that I would just use summon to send that dastardly antlion to the sweet hereafter. I went on to beat this game several times in the SNES era. This game is wholly responsible for my love of the Paladin class due to the epic redemption arc Cecil goes through on Mount Ordeals. This game has continued to be one that I go back to from time to time. The DS remake got me though a particularly tedious Army Reserve annual training or two. I recommend this game to anyone who loves turn based RPG. To counter something that was said in the FF3 show, I'm pretty sure the Fat Chocobo shows up in the space whale that you fly to the moon. Thanks for the awesome show!

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Re: 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by MHninjabear » May 30th, 2018, 11:25 pm

With the end of the semester and the increased free time that comes with it I began my first play through of Final Fantasy IV. Popping the cartridge into my Gameboy micro I was greeted with a wonderful song and beautiful opening scene. The journey was exciting and series mainstays such as Cid, airships, and Crystals helped to acclimate me to the new world. Cecil proved to be a compelling lead who had a certain charisma that the warrior of light lacked. With the help of a guide I was able to see the journey through to the end and decided that 30 hours in this beautiful game was sufficient with the knowledge that post-game content awaits should I wish to pick the game up again.

Gameplay:
I had heard before that this is the first use of an ATB system and I was curious to see how it would function. At first it seemed overwhelmingly fast, but after playing with the settings and making it stop when I accessed my items and spells I was able to adjust with battle and enjoyed the increased level of attention that it required of me. I did however have difficulty figuring out which characters gauges filled faster and determining when the enemy would attack.
As far as leveling up went I found that fighting every battle prevented me from having to grind and it allowed me to enjoy the story with the caveat that the journey to the moon and the final boss required me to grind for 7 very long hours to beat the game. I imagine if I did not have a guide and I wondered around more I may have been able to avoid this.
This games use of spells is similar to past games. There are many options, but ultimately only a few find any real use, that being said, I can see how this might allow for challenge runs.

Visuals/Sound
I did not look into what the original SNES visuals looked like, but the artwork in the remake was very well done and it made it easy to imagine the characters locked in combat with the many frightening foes. The in engine cutscenes were also very fun and it is great to see where the series has come from compared to the more recent games. It really is the beginnings of making a cinematic story. The sound track was a treat as well. Nobuo Uematsu seems to have really hit his stride with this game and the use of the main theme in the final battle was exciting, if it didn’t take me 5 attempts it probably would have given me a huge adrenaline rush.

Story
Going in blind I did not know what to expect out of this games story and I was happily surprised by the attention to detail and the more coherent plot compared to FFIII. As each character joined my party I was able to experiment with different job classes. I did not expect death to play such a large role in this game. When the twins sacrificed themselves, I became very concern at my sudden loss of magic users. The reintroduction of Rydia helped to alleviate my fears. As a whole I enjoyed seeing the party travel the land in order to stop Golbez and found great joy in the fact that the underworld was almost solely inhabited by tank driving dwarves. Traveling to the moon was unexpected and as long as I allow for suspension of disbelief the lack of oxygen should not be a problem.

Final Thoughts
Final Fantasy IV was a rip roaring adventure and I am very excited to begin playing FFV soon. I am very interested to hear what the host at Cane and Rinse have to say about this game and hope they enjoyed it as much as I have.

Three word review
Dark Knight Redemption

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 2nd, 2018, 12:35 am

Final Fantasy IV is such an interesting game for me... It sits right on the boundary of "love it" and "hate it". But I wouldn't say it's average, either. It has a lot of REALLY great ideas, but doesn't really know what to do with them. It's got a huge cast of characters that rotate out in service of the story, but very few of the characters are fleshed out or interesting. It's got a hard shift in tone from Medieval fantasy to this really industrial sci-fi tone, but it's done without a narrative to justify the shift in a convincing way. It's got great music for the most part, but a few tunes are quite grating. The battle system is mostly fun an engaging, but the game has several difficulty spikes that require excessive grinding to overcome. Some of the artwork is absolutely mind-blowing and convincingly otherwordly, and some of it looks garishly 8-bit and ugly for SNES standards.

To me, Final Fantasy IV is something of a prototype - it's the transition from the dull, numbers-driven affairs on the NES to the narrative-heavy sagas of Final Fantasies 5 through 10. Several of the ideas they experimented with here were implemented in later games to much better effect. It has an important place in history for being a narrative turning point for the Final Fantasy franchise, but as a standalone entity, it's kind of half-baked.

Three word review:
Zeromus, who's that?

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by blueallday » June 6th, 2018, 5:48 am

Final fantasy 4. I have so much to say and so many feelings attached to it. I will do my best to keep it brief.

My anticipation for this game was off the charts in 1991. I was 9 years old and I pored over the Nintendo power issue that featured the then known as Final Fantasy II before release. I made sketches of dragons, giant quids, Cecil, Rosa, and of course Kain. Kain was immediately my favorite character. I don’t think I had seen a design like that before. The mere fact that I would be able to have a party of five warriors completely blew my mind. As soon as it was released, I had my dad take me to the rental store. I completely lucked out, because they only had one copy, and it hadn’t been picked up yet. I played it that entire weekend. I was immediately gripped by the music the SNES was pumping out. The horns chirped while airships flew over a mode 7 world... and I was IN. My dad ordered some pizza and I had already seen tragedy, met an old sage, and come upon a castle in the middle of the desert. That weekend, I took Cecil through Mt Ordeals to become a paladin, was so upset that my favorite character, Kain, was a turncoat, and finally made it back to Baron. It took me a few tries, but I was able to make it to the story sequence where Palom and Porom sacrifice themselves to save their friends. We had to return the game after that, and for a while, I was completely consumed with thoughts of Final Fantasy II (err, 4). What would happen to Cecil and Rosa? Would Kain ever turn back to the good side? How would the heroes defeat Golbez?
I later got the answers from my friend Joey, the other big Final Fantasy fan at my school. When he mentioned going to the moon, I think my head exploded. I wasn’t able to own the game myself for a few years. I rented and played the same parts over and over (because, naturally, other renters would delete your game save) and sketched characters, scenarios, and battle screens in my notebook. When I finally owned a copy of my own, I played through it twice very quickly. To this day, it is the one Final Fantasy that I have played through the most.

For whatever reason, this game holds a special place in my heart. It was the first game that I played that attempted a narrative and defined characters. I was invested in the world, its people, their allegiances, and their fates. Even today, I enjoy the storyline and characters. They aren’t complicated in any way, but the moments that are there structurally to make you care for the characters are there in a very clear way, which is something that later installments have trouble doing. In the simplicity, there is a comfort. It allows you to care for the characters: the Cecil/Rosa/Kain love triangle, Tellah’s vengeance, Rydia’s tragic rite of passage, Kain’s road to redemption, etc. In all, this was a big leap forward for the series, both in narrative and in character. Especially for me and other western fans, coming off of the original game.

The gameplay works well to support your attachment to the characters. By tying specific abilities to specific party members, I had a better idea of who each character was. Yes, it takes away player choices, but it’s for the sake of character. The active time battle system was revolutionary for the time, and brings urgency to fights. It should also be mentioned that this is one of the most playable installments due to its length. It isn’t a grind-fest, it is well paced, and can usually be beaten in under 40 hours if you’re being leisurely.

The music. Oh the music. I think most tracks are wonderful. Not the heights of Final Fantasy 6, but some incredible tracks nonetheless. The Red Wings, the Battle theme, The Love Theme, and the world map/main theme are all ear worms.

In closing, I think this is one of the best jumping on points for a first time final fantasy player, if they can look past 16 bit graphics. I think it is very accessible. I don’t think it’s the best Final Fantasy game ever made, but it just might be my favorite. I think I’ve stayed a Final Fantasy fan for all of these years because of this game.

PS - I don’t know if The After Years is being discussed, but I’ll give my short thoughts. It was an odd experience. It felt like someone going to the well a few too many times. A lot of the maps and enemies were used again. Ceodore wasn’t as compelling as the original characters, and many of the same story beats were revisited. Furthermore, it was a grind and a slog to get through much of it, which was not the point of Final Fantasy IV.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by AndrewBrown » June 6th, 2018, 8:07 pm

What draws me to videogames, and what I wish I could talk about more, is the way they tell stories in ways other mediums cannot. Unfortunately, most videogames "tell stories" by removing the player from the environment temporarily to watch a cutscene that moves the plot forward, then dropping them back in to kill something in a new area which may or may not be related to the cutscene they just watched. Good stories may still be told using this process, and many have been, but it's not design which really takes advantage of videogames' strength as a storytelling medium. Good videogame storytelling draws the player into the moment and tasks them with performing a seminal moment of character development instead of removing the player from the equation and imposing that performance on the avatar.

With this in mind, instead of talking about Final Fantasy IV as a whole, I'd like to talk about one particular moment which has always stuck with me: Cecil's transformation into a Paladin on Mt. Ordeals.

Cecil begins Final Fantasy IV a villain of the "I Was Just Following Orders" variety, having voluntarily become a Dark Knight at the behest of the King of Baron. But when his conscience starts to get the better of him, he outlives his usefulness and Baron sends Cecil off on a suicide mission. These events begin Cecil's redemption arc, but as a Dark Knight he is too corrupted to defeat the villain. At the peak of Mt. Ordeals, Cecil is purified and confronted by his Shadow Archetype: His Dark Knight self taken hostile form.

Cecil's Dark Knight and Paladin classes are contrasts. The Dark Knight is concerned with violence and cruelty; Cecil may harm himself to damage enemies, and he offers no defense or support to his allies. The Paladin, while a powerful warrior in its own right, is also concerned with defense and healing, able to directly intervene and take hits meant for his less stout allies. These lessons are underscored in the unorthodox boss encounter. Cecil, newly transformed into a Paladin, cannot defeat his shadow through violence, but rather through non-violence. The Dark Knight uses its self-harm ability to bludgeon Paladin Cecil, and if Cecil responds in kind he will succumb first. But if Cecil defends every turn instead, the Dark Knight's blows will be muted, and it will eventually succumb to its own self-harm ability. Purified of the darkness within him, Cecil leaves the mountain with his companions a changed man, ready to challenge the King of Baron once and for all.

This mechanically simple boss fight, by subverting what we've come to expect from Final Fantasy mechanics, carries with it a lot of subtext: The evil Dark Knight Cecil would eventually destroy itself in its struggle, while the noble and selfless Paladin Cecil will endure the darkness and emerge victorious.

This is underscored later when the plot introduces Golbez, Cecil's brother who embraces the darkness within himself for power. Where Cecil the Paladin protects and supports his allies, Golbez the Dark Sorcerer manipulates and controls them. Like Cecil, Golbez's corruption is the result of an outside force, but Golbez embraces his darkness. In the epilogue, as Cecil becomes a hero to the world and becomes a King, Golbez is rejected by his brother and goes into exile. Where Cecil lives on as a triumphant, redemptive hero, Golbez retires a tragic anti-hero.

Final Fantasy IV is one of my favorite in the series because of the stellar character work that exists under its limited script.

And remember: The term "Spoony Bard" is completely accurate and correct.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by Mr Ixolite » June 8th, 2018, 10:37 pm

Hailing from the PAL region I didn’t get to play FFIV until the anthology version came along, at which point I was intimately familiar with its playstation successors. So, like III for the DS, the game was a significant step down in terms of, well, everything to me– but unlike III I’ve revisited IV multiple times since then.

A big part of that is the propulsive plot and revolving roster, which keeps battles from feeling too repetitive despite your limited customization options. Replaying the game recently, one thing that surprised me is how limited the partys’ physical offense often was – a lot of the time it was just Cecil and several mages. This meant that “pressing “Fight!” to win” was seldom a viable strategy, and you had to use characters according to their strengths. My favourite was always Cid, the loveable hot blooded bearded mechanic, despite his somewhat limited utility in battle.

The games writing is simplistic by todays standards, and I can’t claim to have ever truly cared about Cecil and his transformation, but the game is propelled forward by an excellent pacing that constantly propels you between colorful setpieces, while maintaining an easily followed story. The excuses might be flimsy, but when the game has you fighting a dark elf in a magnetized cave, you know it is done in order to thwart Golbez’ schemes.

Sadly the plot of the game goes slightly off the rails at the end. I don’t mind the death-fakeouts too much as they seem to fit the tone of the game, but it alsofalls victim to one of the series most unfortunate tropes: The last minute replacement final boss. The player has spent the entire game fighting an evil moon-man who had mind controlled your friend; there was no reason to add another evil mind controlling moon-man on top of that. Golbez was fine. You even fight Zemus well after you’ve neutralized the Giant of Babil, which makes him feel even more of an afterthought, and undermines the urgency of the final confrontation.
However, the gameplay of fighting Zeromus and the gauntlet of bosses leading up to him is so good that my younger self never considered such storytelling shortcomings.

Despite all FFIV did for the franchise I can’t call it one of its best games, yet I still enjoy playing it a great deal. I’d say it reminds me of a cheesy but charming old fantasy cartoon show, but that’d be jumping the gun for its superior sequel.


The DS Remake
After having it on my shelf for literally a decade I finally tried out the DS remake in preparation for this podcast. I expected some quality of life improvements and a graphical overhaul; What I did not expect was the completely revamped difficulty. Low difficulty has been to the occasional detriment of the series, so I initially embraced the increased challenge and altered boss behavior. However, in time it grew more frustrating than fun, with the game practically daring you not to grind. The option to switch on auto-battle seems like a cruel joke, considering how easily random monsters can destroy a mindlessly attacking party.

In terms of aesthetics the 3D overhaul still feels kind of inferior to the clean sprites of the original, and I’m not sure the occasional fully voiced cutscene added much to the experience. In contrast, the seriousness of the presentation could undermine the melodramatic nature of the text. Seeing a chibified Cecil spread his arms and scream “WHYYYYYY?” as the camera zoomed out made me snort with laughter, which I don’t think was the intended response.
Plus, what they did to Cids design is downright criminal.

3WR: Start from here

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by arry_g » June 9th, 2018, 1:03 pm

I have nothing to add that’s not already been said and it is already on the record that I first found 4 and 6 via emulation after reading that my beloved Mystic Quest was tied to a series called Final Fantasy.

What I will say, is that it is worth listening to the relatively recent Watch Out for Fireballs on FFIV. Their approach and coverage is different to CaR but they do cover it well and especially the fatigue that sets in with the later extensions.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.6.18) - 323: Final Fantasy IV

Post by MajorGamer » June 9th, 2018, 7:02 pm

This is probably going to be too late for anything podcast related, but whatever.

I think people's thoughts on this game may differ greatly depending on what version of the game they play. The "easy type" version that was the original released outside of Japan may be good for beginners to the genre but it is very true to its name. Many status effects are removed and enemy damage is decreased by a ridiculous amount, to the point nothing in the game is a threat. Then there is the original release that despite their worry of pushing people away with its difficulty, is still easier than any of the prior games in the series. Lastly you have the 3DS remake that pumps things up greatly where most things are a threat but remain manageable as long as you use the resources that are available to you.

The 3DS one happens to be my favorite. The game remains the same but with an added augment system that is poorly explained in-game. Getting those character unique commands onto other characters enables new strategies. For example you can get Edward's bard songs onto Rosa for extra support or Yang's Kick to someone like Edge for that extra damage output.

The story beats have been mentioned previously in this topic but I do need to mention how much I like Tellah's journey of merging story and gameplay. He is locked to 90MP and as a gameplay mechanic, it is to prevent you from using Meteor to clear away the enemies with ease. As a story mechanic, it is there to show he can't normally cast a spell this strong due to his frailty and he would need something more to cast it to try and get his revenge. Doing so led to the only real death of the game. As an oft missed addition, Tellah's level ups actually decrease his stats.

This is something I wish games did more often. Treating story and gameplay as a combination of elements instead of completely separate entities.

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