Platform: SNES, GBA, Playstation, PS3, PSP, Wii
This ranking is likely blasphemy to many who are reading. I know at least two people who would rank this game #1. And I have to admit, it’s just about as flawless as you can make an RPG. Proving how subjective these rankings can be, it only gets knocked down for me because despite playing it twice, I found the story and characters virtually unmemorable.
Final Fantasy IV introduced so many great things to RPGs. The active time battle system provided some urgency and suspense to battles. The graphics were miles ahead of anything ever seen before in an RPG (and are still great to look at today). The soundtrack is great. And for the first time in the series, a cohesive story was written with set characters with set character classes.
The story was also refreshing because it wasn’t simply good versus evil. The characters in the game have their own motivations, both good and bad. I just wish I would have cared about them more. At first I thought it might be the translation from Japanese (you spoony bard!) but I’ve also played the GBA version which significantly improved the dialogue; I still didn’t care about anybody. I have no explanation other than personal preference.
I would highly recommend this RPG to anyone, even those fans who were born after it came out. The SNES version is pretty easy, while the GBA version is much closer to the Japanese version, and can be brutally difficult at times (though always fair). Both versions are fairly tight, without an exhausting number of side quests.
8 thoughts on “10. Final Fantasy IV”
Ooh. Blasphemy indeed. I don’t even know how to respond to someone finding these characters and this story unmemorable; I think Rydia, Kain and Cecil are some of the best characters this series has ever done, and there are scenes with Cid, Tellah, Golbez, Palom & Porom that all will stick in my mind forever. Even largely-useless Edward has his moment of glory. I’d be hard-pressed to list nine games ahead of this, let alone nine RPGs, and I’ve played thousands of games.
Now, I have played this through probably 10-12 times, and it was the first RPG I ever played. These things could matter, even though nostalgia really isn’t my thing. Still, I think it’s got the second or third best story in this series (this one is tough…they’ve hit some real high points at times), and utilizing the characters correctly makes this stand out so much more than VI, which is more commercially popular but allows every character to learn every spell, homogenizing the whole experience.
As one who played 6 before 4, I initially wasn’t all that impressed by 4. It seemed like everything that 6 did, 4 did worse. But then it dawned on me this meant that 6 was really just an upgrade of 4, and that made me respect 4 more.
That being said, I also didn’t find any of the characters that memorable, I think because the story and situations were so juvenile (not like 6 was adult-themed or anything). Perhaps I would have liked them more if I played the game around 10-14 rather than in my late 20s.
The story isn’t juvenile when you read a decent translation. Cecil is much more complex than any character in VI.
I’m actually interested to hear what VI did better than IV, because I’m coming up kind of empty. VI told some pretty strong single-character stories, but it attempted too many of them, and made very little attempt to tie them together in a cohesive manner. The ending of VI left me cold and unfinished, like rather than a big world event, I’d played a game that was…just a bunch of stuff that happened.
That said, I did play through it at least ten times and put forty hours into it every time, I’m sure. I was the dork completionist who had to try to get every one of Gau’s Rage moves, despite only 5-10 of them being useful whatsoever by the end.
I will reserve judgement:
a) until I see the whole list
b) because I may not have even played any of the ones higher
c) I never finished it, probably due to being in high school at the time (?) or the gaming system not being located in my room(?)
d) I am no authority on RPGs
e) all of the above
This was the game I was referring to in my earlier post about having set characters/party members done so well. I did think it would be higher on your list. My memory is foggy, but I do remember loving how characters and their stories/settings kept being introduced, parties changing throughout the game, and cool “cut scene” sections. I’m sure I enjoyed the new battle system. Probably first one I played without the wasted attacks on already killed enemies.
I never finished this game and I think I slowly lost interest in Act II after the huge event. Whether that was because of time/being in high school/being burned out on it, I don’t know for sure. Definitely a great cast of characters with different backgrounds and a good story.
You seem to be describing VI
f) I’m a moron and never played IV
I didn’t remember character names, but when Spooky mentioned Cid that sounded familiar and the part about “learning every one of Gau Rage’s moves” made me think it was that kid from the wild who learned enemies attacks by attacking them.
He’s referring to VI when he mention Gau. You’re remembering that character correctly.
Also, there’s a character named Cid is nearly every Final Fantasy game ever.
To add to spookymilk’s comments – the number of times this game has been remade and ported to different systems is a testament to how popular the game and characters still are. Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection for PSP is currently my favorite version, but the DS remake is pretty close. The DS version is missing the bonus content of the GBA version, which I happened to enjoy more than the silly “augment” system.
FF IV does give more of a classic storyline though. If you are looking for unexpected plot twists, there aren’t very many. That may be why this game hasn’t aged as well as some would like. The only game that came close to this game’s level at that time was Phantasy Star for the Sega Master System (which I also love).
In addition to the homogenizing nature of the character’s in VI, IV’s storyline doesn’t fall away like it does once you reach the World of Ruin in VI. There are small side quests available, but there is still a clear path of what to do next at any given time.
After having played the updated translations/ports, I probably could never go back to the original SNES version. However, I still can play this game the entire way through (PSP version) and not get bored – unlike when I get halfway through VI.