The Great Final Fantasy Retrospective - Let's Mosey

meiam

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Oh no im stupid at that. i know nothing about cracking systems.
It's not very hard and there's enough memory on it to put a ton of game if you want, but since you said you never used it its probably not worth the trouble.
 

CriticalGaming

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Welp now we have officially left the NES era behind and we jump into the first revamp into the FF series that will become a staple of the series pretty much going forward at least until the most recent games.

Final Fantasy 4:


It starts on an airship, you are a dark Knight under orders of your king. Together with the might of your Dark Knight friends you obliterate a town of innocent people...wait a fucking second.....are....are we the baddies? You are Cecil, Dark Knight and leader of the airship armada The Red Wings. You invade a town, kill some people and in typical Final Fantasy theme you steal their elemental crystal.

But it's okay, you go home and you feel really bad about it, telling you wife/girlfriend/idk some chick you sleep with, you tell your best friend, and you tell your boss....errr...you tell the king. In hindsight this probably wasn't the smartest choice. So you get fired and demoted into Dark Knight delivery service. This sets up for Cecil's journey and marks yet another evolution for the series.

Final Fantasy 2 had characters and it tried to have a story. It's hard to say if it was still held back by NES limitations or if the developers just didn't know what to do with the series yet. But Final Fantasy 4 marks the first game in the series to have not only a full realized story, but also fully realized characters with their own motivations and personalities within the overall plot. It's a noticable and welcome step up from the previous games.

Cecil goes on a breif journey, realizes that he has been working for the evil people all along and decides he doesn't want to be a Dark Knight no more and seeks out a path of redemption. His task eventually leads him to wipe away his darkness and become a Paladin....so basically he does the exact opposite of what Arthas does in Warcraft 3, i wonder if there is any connection. It's trope so probably not, but still something I noticed as a former Wow player.

His job in hand Cecil set off to make things right, but saving the world and shit.

Oh, speaking of jobs. Final Fantasy 4 marks the first game in the series where you do not have control over what your characters are. Cecil is a Paladin after clearing his darkness and where you think the player would be given a choice to choice which job Cecil becomes, you do not. His character demands his job be Paladin. And the same goes for Kain the Dragoon, Palom Polum the twin mages. Every character's combat archetype is set in stone and you have no choices to make here. In fact the lack of choice is a thing that will get more and more set as the series goes forward.

Gameplay here is also a new evolution, for the first time you now have ATB or Active Time Battle. Basically the combat keeps moving no matter what. Each character has a meter that fills at various rates and once it's full you can issue a command that the character will perform at the next opening. Character actions can only be taken one at a one, and everything goes into a queue so that commands are executed in the order they are received. If two monsters input a comment before you, then they will do their thing before your character does theirs. This is supposed to make the combat feel more frantic as the player is driven to make choices quickly as combat will not wait for them to make up their fucking mind. However this becomes a problem as more options in combat are given to the player. For example when you have pages of spells to scroll through to select the one you want. Even if you KNOW what you want ahead of time, valuable seconds are wasted by navigating the menu to get to the thing you want.

Or be like me, over level yourself so you can win by spamming basic attack. Whatever. But it showcases how ATB has it's failings. It's an okay system and works well enough for this, and the next few games, but I don't think it was better than just standard turn based combat. However there is an option in the menu to set the ATB system to Wait Mode. In wait mode every character in the battle will have their ATB meter freeze while you go looking for the specific command you would like to use. This doesn't stop the queing of commands, only prevent more from being entered while you dick around in the menu. So it CAN be turn-based, but that isn't the intended experience.

FF4 also introduces Summoning as a thing. Rydia, who is the poster girl for this one, is a black mage AND summoner allowing her to summon creatures that swoop in and hit with an elemental attack. Functionally they are just stronger spells.

However there is one big flaw that FF4 has above all else. The Western release was made stupid. Japan thinks we're dumb, thought....no we're still dumb, anyway they thought the original verison of FF4 was too hard, so they dumbed it down.

You see every character has a job, Dark Knight, Monk, Dragoon etc. And each of these jobs was originally supposed to have a unique thing they could do like Pray, Sing, Jump, Combo, whatever. But they thought that was too complex for the west so they removed it. As a result they also nerfed the bosses that might have required one of those abilities to defeat. So the game is just easy. Steamrollingly easy, and the character jobs are less interesting as a result.

This game requires no grinding, no tactics which defeats the intention of the ATB thing, and is a lot like a Spam A/X Sim.....hmm I wonder if that will come up again. Nah probably not.

FF4 has a good story if a bit predictable, but it falters with gameplay that's far less interesting than it should be.

Playtime: 22hours Levels: Didn't matter.
 

meiam

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I think you missed a lot of just how ridiculously bonker the story gets, there's literally a giant robot from the moon! You go to the underworld and meet Bahamut who just has a swell kingdom and shit. The drama is off the chart, with multiple character dying and coming back and a love story-ish.

It's really a shame that the gameplay is so boring. I don't know why they decided to remove the job system, Cecil going from dark knight to paladin is a cool story moment, but that doesn't make up for just how boring it is without any form of job/skill system to tweak your party, can't even change character. Even with the original ability its a very simple game.

A remake with good gameplay would be nice, but they'd probably try to tame the story which would lose the entire point of remaking it. Overall I'll probaly never replay 4 but I know it existed as it pushed the series in a new direction.
 

CriticalGaming

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I think you missed a lot of just how ridiculously bonker the story gets, there's literally a giant robot from the moon! You go to the underworld and meet Bahamut who just has a swell kingdom and shit. The drama is off the chart, with multiple character dying and coming back and a love story-ish.
I'm purposely not going super in depth with the story both for spoiler reasons and because I'm playing these games back to back to back to back a lot of shit blurrs together and I don't want to interate a detail wrong.
 
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Dalisclock

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I think you missed a lot of just how ridiculously bonker the story gets, there's literally a giant robot from the moon! You go to the underworld and meet Bahamut who just has a swell kingdom and shit. The drama is off the chart, with multiple character dying and coming back and a love story-ish.

It's really a shame that the gameplay is so boring. I don't know why they decided to remove the job system, Cecil going from dark knight to paladin is a cool story moment, but that doesn't make up for just how boring it is without any form of job/skill system to tweak your party, can't even change character. Even with the original ability its a very simple game.

A remake with good gameplay would be nice, but they'd probably try to tame the story which would lose the entire point of remaking it. Overall I'll probaly never replay 4 but I know it existed as it pushed the series in a new direction.
Yeah, honestly that was one of the most annoying details. Numerous characters will "die" or "sacrifice" themselves over the course of the game, only for you to later find them and they're more or less still alive and kicking. One or two of them may be confined to bed and thus unable to come with you(to enforce the 5 person party limit) but after a while death feels really cheap because you just stop assuming any of these deaths are gonna stick. If Game of Thrones had brought back half the characters who died over the course of the story, the deaths wouldn't have mattered or felt as shocking(yes, I know a couple characters apparently return from the dead).

The other annoying bit is Cain/Kain. At first he's kinda your buddy, then he betrays you, then it turns out he was brainwashed and gets unbrainwashed so he's on your side again, but waddayouknow, it turns out he was still brainwashed again. It's shocking the first time it happens, but after a while it just feels like Kain is a fucking backstabber time bomb waiting to go off and you have to wonder why he's allowed near anything important. Even if it's not his fault and the fault of the bad guys, Kain is the only character this ever happens to for reasons never explained and if he can just be turned evil at the flick of the "evil" switch the bad guys control, he's too much of a liability to come on vital missions. Backstab me once, Shame on you. Backstab me twice, Shame on me.

FF4 also had some wierd censorship stuff. Among the wierdiest is one bit in the story where there's a trap waiting to kill you. In he original Japanese version, it's a big blade. In the US release of FF2, it was a giant steel ball. In both cases, the targeted character dodges just in the nick of time but apparently someone at Nintendo of America decided it was too scary to have a Big Blade almost bisect a character and decided that a big steel ball almost smushing a character would be better. Despite the fact nobody is killed/injured in either case.
 
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meiam

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I think with Kain they were trying to set him up as a love rival fro Cecil but at the same time they realize dragoon are cool and people will want to have him in the party so they wanted him to always have a way to deny responsibility. In the end its really muddle and not really the interesting part of the story, especially since the Rosa side never really goes anywhere in game.
 
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sXeth

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Not super sure what you're getting with the abilities. It's been well, ages since I played the retitled US version of course, but all the FF4 releases I've played had the Jump/Sing/etc. (also as a kid I remember being confused by the Dark Knight ability whatever its called). Jump for that matter is mandatory in one fight (and drastically helpful in another where Kain can jump and dodge Golbez's plot instant TPK then return to help Rydia save everyone)


The story definitely has its weaknesses. A lot of it seems to recycle over and over again (Kain's endless face/heel turns, and theres what? 4 sets of crystals by the end). Not one but two super-ancient sage wizard characters join you, then leave you, then die spectacularly confronting the big bads.


I always wondered if they had a Shadow in FF6 thing going on with the fakeout deaths. Like are Cid, Yang, the Twins etc actually dead in the original version. Given they only show up bedridden and barely present, then in the final "world prayer" cutscene after their various heroic sacrifices.


And the final party always felt kind of lackluster. Edge is such a last act non-entity from a character perspective, and mechanically requires you to have saved every random sword you find to throw by the end. Two white magic users feels like overkill. Rydia is a summoner as her biggest theme, and storyline power, but the black magic is just better.
 
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CriticalGaming

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What interesting is the FF games seem to have a hard-on for killing party members or just side characters around you. FF2 constantly has "guest" people join you for a dungeon only to die or sacrifice themselves constantly throughout the game. FF3 has story characters that join you (but don't fight or anything) only for them to die as if they couldn't figure out how to get characters to leave the group without just killing them outright.

It's a strange thing that they wont get right or give up on for several games yet. (foreshadowing)

FF4 sits in FF history as the most "meh it's ok" title in the series imo. It's not bad, but it's also not very good either. It sits painfully somewhere in the mehddle (HA)!
 
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sXeth

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What interesting is the FF games seem to have a hard-on for killing party members or just side characters around you. FF2 constantly has "guest" people join you for a dungeon only to die or sacrifice themselves constantly throughout the game. FF3 has story characters that join you (but don't fight or anything) only for them to die as if they couldn't figure out how to get characters to leave the group without just killing them outright.

It's a strange thing that they wont get right or give up on for several games yet. (foreshadowing)

FF4 sits in FF history as the most "meh it's ok" title in the series imo. It's not bad, but it's also not very good either. It sits painfully somewhere in the mehddle (HA)!

I mean, 6 manages to split the group or have people leave all the time (including splitting into 3 separate storylines at one point wiht different characters).

7 and 8 mostly blob the party together but only 3 of them ever fight. 9 and 10 have some split/defined character segments back again.


There is a certain gravitas to "the party member, unique model/sprite and all is not safe". but it is somewhat overplayed. 4 constantly throws fakeouts. 5 has a fairly well done one. 6 doesn't actually kill anyone. 7's is dumb because the twist is dumb and nullifies any aura the villain had. 8, 9, and 10 don't really touch the party (well, 9 and 10 have the main character vanish in the ending in what is an implied death, neither sticks)
 
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CriticalGaming

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8, 9, and 10 don't really touch the party (well, 9 and 10 have the main character vanish in the ending in what is an implied death, neither sticks)
After 7 the party death basically just stops entirely. As you said there are main character fake-outs toward the end of 9 and 10 but they arent' the same thing. Though there are people who would say that once they stop trying to kill everyone, the stories get better.

TBH the whole series between 6-15 kind of just become a hodgpodge of stories that either work for you or don't and I can't really pinpoint the reasoning behind why one story stick with someone versus one that doesn't. Except 13 and 15, those are obvious.
 
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meiam

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There is a certain gravitas to "the party member, unique model/sprite and all is not safe". but it is somewhat overplayed. 4 constantly throws fakeouts. 5 has a fairly well done one. 6 doesn't actually kill anyone. 7's is dumb because the twist is dumb and nullifies any aura the villain had. 8, 9, and 10 don't really touch the party (well, 9 and 10 have the main character vanish in the ending in what is an implied death, neither sticks)
10 stick, you can't really blame it for its sequel wanting to fuck things up (there's even a sequel novel to the sequel that's even more fuck up). 8 has the Squall fake out, would have been cool if that one sticked since changing main character is really rare, maybe have Seifer feel remorse and take over? He always had way more chemistry with Rinoa anyway. 9 has a fakeout with Garnet, but it last exactly one scene, it also tries one with Eiko iirc. 12 doesn't and I wish 13/15 killed every party member.
 

CriticalGaming

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Excellent work.

But yeah, the version I played had the role-specific commands like Jump and Pray etc.
Turns out that remakes and rereleases did have these commands added back in, but the original release (which I played on PC through unmentionable means) did not. Not that big of a deal, but I figured I would talk about it as a little factoid about the game that not many people may have known. These abilities were added back in later releases and remakes.
 
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