572nd played so far
Year of Release: 1991
It’s been a while since we covered the Final Fantasy series, isn’t it? Last time is a year and a half ago, for Final Fantasy X, a game I’ve finished since then, although before that it was back in 2011, when we had just gotten started.
I’ve given it time to let time catch up, so we were more fairly through it, with five more games in the series left about this – about one every hundred (as I suspect one will end up on our Special List).
Today we start with the oldest on the list, initially placed in an odd place on the list (based on a rerelease), hence its high number. Also known as Final Fantasy II in the US and Europe, here we are with the fourth game in the series, the first to be released for the SNES.
I’m not sure I can quite grasp how this game might have stepped up the Final Fantasy franchise. The active time battle system moved it away from simple turn based battles, instead introducing an additional element to keep track of and making it a bit more exciting. The characters you play as get more evolved, and unlike the earlier games where you had the same four from the beginning, here they switch in and out as they advance. I think this might also be the first Final Fantasy where they had predefined role, making the story more revolve about what you do.
It means the characters have fairly predefined development paths, giving less customization for them than some other games in the series, but this also leads to more interesting gameplay mechanics. We get a mage who knows powerful spells, but can’t always remember them. Characters change classes and abilities as the storyline demands. Some spells are learned based on story reasons, rather than just character advancement. It’s far more interesting and makes for really fun gameplay moments.
When it comes to looks, the game is a lot simpler. Even the later SNES games end up looking better and animated a bit simpler. Playing the PSP version, it luckily looks a lot better.
Final Fantasy IV combines a bunch of good elements – interesting, deeper characters. A good story that slowly unfolds. Gameplay that builds and keeps adding facets, at least so far. There are some places where it’s not quite there yet, but as a purely fantasy JRPG, it’s a lot of fun. This game is starting to convince me that the 2D games certainly have some advantages over the 3D Final Fantasy games – I certainly feel like I enjoyed it more than some of those.