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RETROSPECTIVE: FINAL FANTASY IV Originally Released: July 19 1991 Available On: SNES, WonderSwan Color, GBA, Wii VC, DS, PSP

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t school I remember debating with a friend on which was better - Final Fantasy IV (II at the time) or FFVI (III). My argument was that anything FFIV did FFVI went on to do better - but fifteen years later I find myself on the other side of that debate. FFIV has since been rereleased for a ton of formats - well-deserved attention - yet talking to younger fans reveals that many sadly see FFIV as a historic relic; only a nostalgia-filled old fogey could appreciate it. I disagree. Technology has improved much of FF, but FFIV is packed with clever ideas and brilliant execution - and is a vital point in the series’ evolution. One particular piece of FFIV is a legacy that runs through almost every major release since - the Active Time Battle system. The brainchild of Hiroyuki Ito, ATB allowed actions in turn-based combat to flow continuously, making battles appear real-time. In FFIV the amount of time between actions is determined by speed statistics and the type of action being undertaken. A high-level spell takes longer to cast than a simple sword swing, for instance. This simple addition created a level of strategy completely different to previous FFs and most other RPGs - and gave FF an edge over the competition. Several of FFIV’s dungeons feature extras to make them memorable. Some boast damaging floors that require the player to cast the ‘Float’ spell to journey safely, others featured warps and most included secret passages that hid treasure and helped to create a maze-like atmosphere. Other dungeons had gimmicks dictated by story events. Most notorious was the Lodestone Caverns, which prevented players from using metal-based equipment. Powehouse Cecil is forced to remove his equipment, leaving monk Yang and mage Tellah to do the heavy lifting instead.

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Key Staff: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshitaka Amano, Nobuo Uematsu, Hiroyuki Ito, Takashi Tokita, Akihiko Matsui, Ken Narita Article by: Jonathon Burke

FFIV’s party dynamic is constantly changed by the narrative, the rotating cast of characters forcing players to be flexible with their battle strategies. You never know when someone important is going to be removed from your playable party. This also created a sense of variety, letting the player try out different job classes and party set-ups, giving different stretches of the game their own unique feel. Without the job system, FFIV has each character locked into one role. This helps to define each character in combat as much as in plot, giving the cast additional depth over earlier FF heroes. Deepest of all is protagonist Cecil, demonstrated in the game’s dramatic opening. A fleet of airships return from war and Cecil, their commander, isn’t a teenager battling an evil empire; he is the evil empire. He recollects the brutal attack he led against the city of Mysidia, stealing their crystal and butchering peaceful mages. Cecil doesn’t seem like the good guy. He eventually becomes sick of what his country asks of him and questions his own morality and loyalty to the king. He’s stripped of his rank for this - and with this the adventure begins. After witnessing the horror that his unquestioned loyalty has led him to first-hand, slaughtering the family of a young Rydia, Cecil resolves to stop Baron to seek atonement for his sins. Cecil is not your atypical RPG hero. He starts as a villain and when he becomes a hero, he fails, unable to prevent Golbez from executing his plans.

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Final Fantasy: Celebrating 25 Years  

A free fan-made digital magazine intended as a celebration of 25 years of the Final Fantasy series. Featuring contributions from a large num...

Final Fantasy: Celebrating 25 Years  

A free fan-made digital magazine intended as a celebration of 25 years of the Final Fantasy series. Featuring contributions from a large num...

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