Final Fantasy IV (Super Nintendo) Second Opinion Review

By Athanasios 25.07.2021 6

Review for Final Fantasy IV on Super Nintendo

Starting its life in distant 1987, Square's legendary JRPG series has gone through a variety of changes. The most crucial one happened with the magnificent Final Fantasy VI, where the franchise left behind its more simplistic narrative and thematic roots, and begun offering far more interesting and immersive worlds, stories, and characters. Was the previous one, Final Fantasy V, the final Final Fantasy? Sort of, but maybe the fourth one (which was known as Final Fantasy II in the West), was far more similar with the NES trilogy, as it was basically an 16-bit upgrade of what came before. Here's - another - look at it, a couple of decades after it was first released.

Cecil, the captain of the Red Wings, the air force of the kingdom of Baron, is a Dark Knight tasked with stealing magic Crystals from faraway lands. He doesn't want to, though. He believes (and rightfully so) that his deeds aren't exactly honourable. Upon daring to question his King, however, he is instantly relieved of his duties. Thus begins a quest to discover what's wrong with his liege, and help whoever he decides to attack next; a quest that leads to something that is far worse than an unjust, power-hungry ruler.

Promising as all that may sound, in all honesty, this is just the NES-era Final Fantasy instalments all over again: get crystals, fight the one-dimensional embodiment of evil, and that's about it. It doesn't help that the characters are so disappointing, with uninteresting arcs that have them joining the party, or coming to terms with any personal issues they have, in a way that's way too forced and convenient, and with the few lines of dialogue they have been given being laughably simplistic - and badly translated.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV on Super Nintendo

As such, while death comes very often, the strongest feeling one will have will be something like "Oh, darn it! There goes my spellcaster." Speaking of which, this is one of those entries in the franchise, where party member come and go. That's not really a flaw, of course, just a word of caution for those who hate that in JRPGs. As a conclusion: is this bad? No. The problem is that it's not good either. Everything in Final Fantasy IV is ok, passable, all right, decent, kosher, fine, hunky-dory… and nothing more.

Generally, this leans heavily towards the franchise's early days, which would be fine for something released in an 8-bit system on the late '80s, but not for a SNES game. The perfect example is the story and world-building, or lack thereof. There's not any interesting lore, no exciting locales to visit, nothing to read here that will deeply immerse you into this world. Therefore, your imagination must do all the heavy lifting, and fill in the blanks that the NPCs will create with their subpar, "Welcome to Corneria" style of commentary.

Another thing that makes this feel more like a product caught between the 8-bit and 16-bit worlds, are the visuals. Again, nothing that will torture your retina - this is actually good-looking, just a tad mediocre, especially when compared to the more imaginative Final Fantasy instalments, that had more than generic grasslands, mountains, and caverns to offer. As always, however, Nobuo Uematsu's score is great, and a vast improvement over his work in the previous three games.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV on Super Nintendo

The next problem with this is that it doesn't offer anything new, which is extremely disappointing, given how both Final Fantasy II and III actually tried different things, like the way experience worked in the first, or the introduction of game-changing 'Jobs' on the second. This is basically Final Fantasy 1.5. It has better visuals, more things to do, and more places to visit, but as a whole plays the same, with simple exploration, simple battle mechanics, and… well, simple everything.

Simple or not, at least is it any fun? Well, it's your typical JRPG fair - and that's the deal with FFIV: it's too… typical. The battles mainly come in three varieties: the boring ones, where one can simply choose Attack and fall to sleep while at it, those scenarios (and there are plenty) where a heavy use of magic is required, and boss fights, where a little bit of tactical thinking is needed, as these have various strong and weak points, and can occasionally use various, "exotic" countermeasures.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV on Super Nintendo

No matter what kind of encounter Lady Luck throws at players, enemies tend to attack very, very often, and the closer to the finale you get, the stronger they get, to the point that they can actually get more dangerous than the friggin bosses. Why is that a problem, though? Challenge is awesome, correct? Well, it's not really a matter of challenge, as it is a matter of having enough items to heal, or, even better, regain some of your precious mana, which depletes way too fast.

This certainly adds some dungeon crawling charm to the whole thing, as it makes you feel like a survivor who tries to brave a hostile, treacherous environment. Repetition soon kicks in, however, as the main gameplay loop ends up being a cycle of: go in dungeon, go back out (or resting point), use the 'Tent' item to replenish HP and MP, and also save the game, and then go back into the fray again. Repeat until exhaustion - the end. In other words, this is one those JRPGs where all you do is grind.

It has been mentioned again and again in this review, and it will be mentioned once more: FFIV is a slightly updated NES Final Fantasy, and all its problems stem from there. It doesn't have the story and narrative strengths of the rest of the SNES instalments, or their visual variety, and smarter equipment, levels, UI (yes, UI), and overall mechanics. It's a simple, repetitive, and, in the end, unimaginative entry, that has long been out eclipsed by its younger siblings. Bad? No. Just mediocre.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy IV on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Final Fantasy IV carries with it all the issues that the old-school, NES trilogy had. The repetitive encounters, the simplistic combat mechanics, the paper-thin plot, character development, and world-building. Too harsh? Maybe, but this is too close to Final Fantasy VI to cut some slack to it. Do check it out if in need to dive into the history of the series, as it's far from a bad game, just don't expect something… final-fantastic, either.

Developer

Square

Publisher

Square

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Man rough crowd on this one.  I think ff4 was one of the first 'great' rpgs and FFs.  Sure some of the stuff looks stereotypical now, but thats because it was essentially the trope-creator back in the day.  I think cecil's darkside battle is far more interesting than any modern FF trash.  Or Rydia's arc is amazing to this day.  

A dragoon on the path to redemption? Instantly puts it no less than an 8.

Lukezeppo

Ouch!

I was sweating while writing this, as I know this site is made out of FF fans Smilie

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

which is your highest rated incidentally? 

Lukezeppo

lukezeppo said:
which is your highest rated incidentally? 

FFVI & VII (VII better plot, world-building and so on, VI better gameplay)

I don't consider my self a big FF fan, yet I've played most games multiple times - can't describe why, but sth draws me back to them again and again, although I know I hate some of their aspects. After multiple attempts, though, I've got to say that IV has become the least enjoyable for me.

When it come to X and beyond... don't ask Smilie

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

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