Tag Archives: final fantasy 4

World of Final Fantasy Part 04

Chapter 11: Creatively Bankrupt
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



If you notice that some mirages have evolved between updates, it’s because evolving is boring and unfulfilling in this game, and we don’t need to watch that.

2:00 – We’re kicking this one off with some obscure/interesting The Bouncer facts, but what’s more important is that Rydia appears. … Okay, yeah, there might be some species of turtle that are more relevant than The Bouncer facts.

11:00 – Our dungeon du jour is a volcano named Valley Seven (which Rydia helpfully identified as our goal), and BEAT and fanboymaster have trust issues regarding GOG.

14:00 – There is always time to talk about Skies of Arcadia.

19:00 – There is never time to talk about Jabberjaw.

24:00 – After trying and failing to find what makes Final Fantasy dungeons distinctive, we settle on the main issue of World of Final Fantasy: The Sonic Mania Problem. Basically, WoFF has some interesting ideas, but it is shackled to continually rehashing stories that were more interesting in their original, less funko-based incarnations. This whole dungeon is basically “Rydia is afraid of fire”, but that beat played a lot better in the game where Rydia was a five year old, and you personally burned down her whole life. … Uh, Final Fantasy 4 makes sense in context.

30:00 – I am elated to learn there is a Munsters Wiki. BEAT is elated to learn how easily we can game the profanity filters.

34:00 – Rydia’s confession about being afraid of fire holds a little more oomph when you’re not already inside of a volcano.

37:00 – Head’s up, BEAT is hitting the rum.

45:00 – After discussion of Other World, possibly the least appropriate Final Fantasy song ever, it’s time for the boss of the area, Big ol’ Bomb. Go now, if you want it.

48:00 – Leviathan washes this chapter out with a fully-animated splash.

What actually happened in the plot: Rydia informs us there are two prophecies, Prophecy: Azure and Prophecy: Crimson, and they’re pretty similar, but have some key differences. For instance, you can only catch Meowth in Prophecy: Azure. Rydia leads us to Valley Seven to find the first key (that is apparently in both prophecies) and conquer her fear of fire… but the second goal doesn’t go too well. Fortunately, our peppy hero boy is able to give Rydia a sufficient pep(py) talk, so she quells a raging inferno. After our protagonists grab that all important key, Leviathan, possibly goaded by the mysterious Plumed Knight, summons a tidal wave to push the party off track. Additionally, that same knight kidnaps Rydia… but our “heroes” were too busy drowning to even notice that happened.

Chapter 12: It’s All Butt
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



1:00 – Frogs, Chu Chu Rocket, hoping to see Cid… You know how it goes.

6:00 – It’s Snow! Final Fantasy 13: Lightning Returns discussion happens. This is basically Snow of/pantomiming Final Fantasy 13-2: How Serah Got Her Groove Back if you’re curious, though.

8:00 – Prompted by the appearance of this game’s second Shiva (the first was not a lesbian motorcycle, but a schoolgirl back in Chapter 3), BEAT recounts some impressions relayed by Talking Time’s Shivam regarding Shiva. Anybody got a link to that? It’s probably only a hundred billion years old (in internet years).

12:00 – Audrey the Marlboro joins that party as BEAT references How to Make a Sprite Comic in 8 Easy Bits again. I am quickly learning that the entirety of BEAT’s knowledge of Final Fantasy comes from sprite comics and people who write sprite comics. This… might be okay.

17:00 – A special shout out to everyone that watches these streams, and then comments in the attendant chat. I have a hard time keeping up during the stream, but I always read everything afterwards, and it’s all good. In this case, fanboymaster relays that Zef managed to recall some of the worst interviews from FF13’s director. Let’s never consider the intricacies of Lightning’s chest again.

21:00 – Princess Flan totally originates from Final Fantasy 4, and, because I had to explain that, I’m not explaining this:


28:00 – Almost at the end of this soggy dungeon, and BEAT posits that no one has ever actually purchased a Funko Pop. Buddy, people are buying Funko Pops, and you don’t want to see the friggen Funko “walls” that are made of the lil’ packaging bricks.

32:00 – Our boss battle is against a giant flan, which is basically what Snow did in Final Fantasy 13-2. He didn’t do it well there, but he’s doing pretty alright here. Must be the lack of time traveling. Snow’s general age and deal is discussed in more detail here, too.

37:00 – BEAT would march through Hell for his wife, so he’s basically Snow. I don’t know how I feel about that.

What actually happened in the plot: Our duo washed up on the shore of some swamp. After uncursing a frog, they are joined by Snow, who wants to fight a “jiggly”. That jiggly is apparently a giant flan that occasionally menaces Snow’s hometown… so basically this entire chapter is assisting Snow in an extermination job. It’s a living. After defeating the flan, Snow heads on home, and our heroes walk forward to… somewhere.

Chapter 13: Lightning Returns
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



0:00 – We’re starting right where the last chapter left off, with a detailed conversation about Final Fantasy 13. And Star Fox Command. Look, they’re both surprisingly queer, and it’s up to the viewer to determine whether or not that’s deliberate.

7:00 – fanboymaster provides some additional information on Final Fantasy development histories. This info may explain why Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy 15 were released last week, while Final Fantasy 13 was released seventeen billion years ago.

11:00 – There’s a bit of an inadvertent plot synopsis provided here. We’re currently trekking through The Phantom Sands, a desert that is fifty feet away from a marsh, which is one tidal wave away from a volcano.

14:00 – Cactuar! And it’s ours!

19:00 – Amingo is discussed in a looping desert where you have to follow cactuar statues… let’s move on to some Wolverine movie discussion. Not X-Men discussion, just Wolverine. This is very 90’s.

29:00 Let’s face a sandworm boss that has nothing to do with Final Fantasy 5, and compare our beloved cactuar to Minecraft Steve, who is back in the news for some reason.

32:00 – And Lightning appears to save our heroes. We get rescued by creatures that are little more than high functioning action figures pretty often.

37:00 – Edgar and Castle Figaro appear… so it’s time to discuss Hyrule Warriors again. We apparently have some evergreen interests. This time it’s marginally relevant to the plot! I swear!

What actually happened in the plot: After stopping by a desert oasis, the party ventured through The Phantom Sands until encountering a clutch of sandworms. Lightning rescued our hapless heroes, and they all regrouped at another, different oasis. They learn that the four keys are elemental-themed (duh, it’s Final Fantasy), but they also gulp down some spiked drinks, so they’re not prepared for the inevitable attack from a castle buried in the sand. The Plumed Knight appears, defeats Lightning, and then magically locks the twins’ gauntlets, leaving them more helpless (and hopeless!) than usual. King Edgar Roni Figaro sentences the powerless teens to rot in his castle’s basement.

Chapter 14: Rise of the Machines
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



2:20 – Guess we’re in prison now. Happens once every Final Fantasy game, so we were probably due. Zef notes deep voiced funko pops are… different.

5:00 – No Mirages/Monsters will be allowed for this chapter’s battles, but we do have (cheated) items to see us through… and then Smol Squall!

9:30 – Squall is going to be our guest for the chapter, so we discuss Final Fantasy 8, friendship lore, and NORG. My opinions on this matter are well established.

15:00 – While the party goes dumpster diving, we discuss Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie: The Song.

19:11- I have questions about this!


Is every guest FF character just using their own battle system when they appear? And if so, can I play that game?

20:00- Shelke of Dirge of Cerberus meets us at the start of the next chapter, which leads to our third “canon” party wipe (Second at the hands of a Final Fantasy guest character). We’re only starting this chapter so we can get to a save point now, because it’s getting late.

24:00 – But before we quit, let’s quickly make a stop back home… Hey why is there still a half hour in the video…

35:00 –Okay, which is cuter, a stack of Final Fantasy mascot monsters, or this guy?


45:00 – And here’s Rikku’s side story opposite a discussion on Cavia/Nier/Drakengard. Look, I really thought it would just be a quick thing here, but between rebalancing my monsters and side stories that apparently take ten minutes each, time marches on. Sorry! Maybe next time I’ll finish a little earlier!

What actually happened in the plot: The twins were tossed in a basement without their magical powers or the ability to command monsters. However, they were rescued by Smol Squall, who granted the kids the ability to command mechanical “monsters” to survive the chapter. Squall is working with SeeD and The League of S, and Edgar is apparently a double agent on the side of the angels, too. This whole “imprisoning” thing was a ploy to get our heroes down to the basement of Figaro so they could make their way to Mako Reactor #1 to free Figaro from Bahamutian control. Squall helps a little, but leaves in time to make way for Shelke, who unlocks the power of the gauntlets again. Now we can summon monsters and robots, so Figaro should be free by lunch time.

Also, there are many oblique references across this chapter to the fact that “mecha”-style monsters are not actually supposed to be in the World of Final Fantasy, and their presence is the result of some unknown “invading force”. I absolutely assure you that this will not end in another Goggle Bob Let’s Play that has overt, but “must never actually be named” ties to Xenogears. That would be silly.

FGC #043.2 Final Fantasy 4

Don't worry, it's not these guysLet’s talk about the biggest problem in gaming.

I enjoy Final Fantasy 4. I have been playing Final Fantasy 2 (USA) since I could only afford it as a rental back in, yeesh, 1991. I was eventually able to purchase the game, and, despite a failing save battery, I played it through many times. Final Fantasy Chronicles, containing the “real” version of Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger (a game that I will buy sight unseen as many times as it takes [takes to do what? Who knows!]) was released in 2001, and, obviously, I played through the game again at that time (or thereabouts, Chrono Trigger is always first). Final Fantasy 4 Advance saw the game on a portable for the first time, and I plowed through that with some zeal in 2005 (there was slightly new content! Wow!). Final Fantasy 4 The DS hit our shores in 2008, and that was another forty hours of my life devoted to a slightly retooled version with voice acting and a hateful new game plus cycle. Speaking of hateful, Final Fantasy: The After Years migrated from Japanese cell phones to the Wii in 2009, bringing with it a “new” story that was really just a remix of Final Fantasy 4 OG with a colossal bonus dungeon. For the (as of this writing) final physical version of the game, there is Final Fantasy 4: The Complete Collection, a 2011 PSP release that was primarily based on the GBA version, but included updated graphics, a DS cutscene, and a quarantined copy of The After Years with a brand new complete waste of time bridging the “two” games called The Interlude. Since then, there have been various digital releases of the different versions available across systems, so you can play the original Final Fantasy 2 (USA) on the Wii/WiiU, the Chronicles version on Playstation 3, or the PSP version on your Playstation TV. Does your garage door have iOS installed? You can play Final Fantasy 4 on that, too.

I consider it a personal failing that I have beaten Final Fantasy 4 on every system on which it is available.

It is... unpleasant.Final Fantasy 4 is a great game. Even if it didn’t have an Optimus Prime full of nostalgia backing up to my doorstep, it would still be an enjoyable, fun experience. It’s something that’s fairly rare nowadays, a JRPG that is “pure”: there’s a plot and robust battle system, but it’s still modest enough to reel in the hours of dialogue and plot nonsense that seem to detract from modern releases. While later versions have welded on some of these contemporary “innovations” (looking at you, DS), it’s nice to play a JRPG that isn’t constantly baiting you to achieve some nigh-impossible “100% collection” or forcing prime leveling up procedures to guarantee victory over a late-game “bonus” boss. I enjoy min/maxing as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to savescum for the next two hours waiting for Edge to score a winning sneak against 1/100 odds. What we have is a wonderful game, so I’ve played Final Fantasy 4 to completion many, many times, and I likely will again.

Except there’s this place.

Grrrrrr

That right there is the Tower of Babil, and I hate it. It’s not any fun. The encounter rate there is annoying, the encounters themselves are annoying, and the boss is annoying. The “plot” of the tower is lousy, you lose your karate man, and you wind up sucked into a trap when it finally ends. Worst of all, you’re forced to climb up the tower, defeat the boss, and then climb back down the exact same tower, with the exact same encounters, all because there’s a plot flag that has to be triggered at the entrance; so it’s the exact same stupid dungeon twice. I’m sure there are some escaped mental patients that enjoy this place, but for the rest of us, it’s just a slog from start to finish. As a special bonus, the DS version identified this issue, and made the random enemies even more aggravating.

Total wash outAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve played through this game a number of times on a number of systems. Let’s give a low estimate, and claim I’ve only ever beaten the entire game a dozen times. That means I’ve played through The Tower of Babil twelve times. I’m certainly not going to try it right now to check, and, even at its most annoying, FF4 is a fairly brisk game, so let’s say a full trip through the tower takes about an hour. End result? I’ve spent at least twelve hours of my life doing something I absolutely hate. Could have been feeding the helpless, could have been helping the hungry, could have been nursing a wayward kitten, but, no, here I sit, knowing that I’ve spent at least half a day of my life wading through distilled excrement.

And, to be absolutely clear for the seven of you that are still reading this despite having never played Final Fantasy 4 (hi mom!), I like everything in Final Fantasy 4 on either side of The Tower of Babil. Rydia’s return, one of my favorite moments in the game, comes shortly before entering the tower, and afterwards, the party receives an airship and the ability to battle a particularly malevolent series of doors, and I think there’s a ninja somewhere in there, too. Eventually, Cecil and company escape the whole planet that contains that damn tower, and go on to explore one of my favorite final dungeons in the Final Fantasy franchise. But you’ll never see all the other highs of Final Fantasy 4 if you don’t struggle through its lowest low.

In an inevitable future playthrough, It would be nice to approach The Tower of Babil, and rather than loudly sigh at the misery I am about to experience, just skip it. You know, like you can do in every other medium that exists.

Double Wash OutI’ve watched the whole run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a seven season, hour long episodic television series that contains 144 episodes. If I want to watch Season 5, though, I don’t have to rewatch the initial four seasons, including the lacking first season, just to “get there”. Speaking of awful early seasons, just because Star Trek The Next Generation is getting a new, HD rerelease doesn’t mean I’m sweating on my sofa at the fear of having to watch Troi birth a space baby again. If I want to read about Harry Potter’s entire adolescence, there’s nothing stopping me from skipping any pages that outline the worst camping trip in the history of magical teenagers. And you better believe that if a game of Monopoly has already cost hours of my friends’ lives, we’re implementing rules that will make the Atlantic City economy crash fast and hard.

I’m an adult, I am trusted to make relevant choices about my time in every form of entertainment except video games. Hell, I can even show up for a movie five minutes late just to avoid the preceding hour of advertising, or, while at home, skip every commercial break that has ever happened by bounding around channels like a coked-up paragoomba. There is literally only one way television shows make money “from” me, and I’m allowed to skip it. But I see the Tower of Babil, and here I sit, hitting the fight command over and over again until those damn flaming dogs are extinguished.

And it’s not getting any better! Recently, I picked up Final Fantasy 4’s descendant, Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster. As you can likely guess, I played Final Fantasy 10 to completion back when it was a mere PS2 title. Final Fantasy 10 has one new game plus feature, a sort of reward for having already played through the game, and that’s that the Al Bhed, a fictional race found in Final Fantasy 10’s Spira that has the audacity to not speak proper Queen’s English, may be “translated” on a replay if you put in the effort to find Al Bhed Primers during your initial playthrough. I figured it would be nice to, now on my second playthrough of the game, to experience that “reward” I had earned in a previous, earlier version. First of all, obviously, there isn’t just some toggle that says, “Hey, we know you’re a fan, I know you’re pretty busy, here, let me help you out, here’s the translation from the start.” That would be silly. Next, I investigated if there was a way to import my PS2 save, which is sitting right there on the PS3’s hard drive, to this “new” PS3 game. No dice, likely because everyone already forgot the PS3 ever had the ability to read PS2 memory cards. So, I decided to turn to “cheating”: I’d download a “complete” game save and, at the earliest opportunity, import the primers from that save, so I could experience the quarter of the plot that I missed the first time. Well, guess what? The tyrants at Square-Enix decided to lock gamesaves to individual profiles for this release, so you can’t even do that. In the end, I wound up finding software that very likely is against warranty to modify the data on the saves themselves just to experience a piece of the game that would have been automatic if I was playing the exact same game on a different system. A game and system that, incidentally, I already owned, and could play at any time.

Rosa, go be somewhere elseWhat possible reason would Square Enix have for locking such a feature behind so many hoops? Is it to protect the sanctity of “trophies” and “achievements”? Yeah, “points” are really important for my enjoyment of any media, that’s why my blu-ray player spits out a grilled cheese sandwich for my every tenth disc I pop in. Oh, wait, that’s just a wonderful fantasy I’m dreaming about because I’m hungry. Is it because SE is collecting data on which people win what trophies to better tailor future games to their audience? Well, here’s a freebie, guys, if someone has 100% completion inside of six minutes, that guy is cheating, ignore that data. Gee, that was hard. Here’s a thought: let me play the game I bought the way I want to play it, rules be damned.

I’m not advocating this position just because I’ve become so much lazier in my old age, either. This is an essential piece of what gaming is that is holding the entire medium back.

Final Fantasy 4 has another, later descendant, and that’s Final Fantasy 13. Final Fantasy 13 miraculously grew out of the pot of dirt that is the wildly homophobic Japanese culture (or at least homo-… What’s the word to describe when the only way you see a homosexual person in media is if they’re a big, flaming ponce? Yeah, probably homophobic.) and bloomed into a flower that is an amazing metaphor for LGBT struggles. To wit: the whole party of various genders and races being “othered” together and forced to deal with a society that does not (want to) understand them, Lightning personally experiencing much that metaphorically mirrors trans-issues, and then there’s Fang and Vanille, two women that don’t seem to be interested in a single male and are more than a little elated at their eventual reunion. During the finale of Final Fantasy 13, it’s the strength of the relationship between Fang and Vanille that literally saves an entire world. Think I’m reading too much into subtext here? The friggen logo for Final Fantasy 13 features a stylized image of Fang and Vanille in their “final” embrace.

THEY'RE RIGHT THERE!

There’s a point where subtext becomes supertext, and it’s the exact kind of thing the gaming universe needed when the game was released (amidst an army of testosterone-driven brown shooters) and now, more than ever (if you need an explanation of that, hi, welcome to the Internet). Final Fantasy 13, taken just for its characters and story, could be the posterchild for feminist and LGBT gaming. Only problem? As every review ever written on the game has noted, the meat of that story is locked behind a forty hour tutorial, and you likely won’t see the story’s conclusion before around hour eighty. And did you have a favorite part? Well good luck with that, hope you had the foresight to create a savefile copy before the event, otherwise you’ll be logging entire weeks in the game again.

It’s important for a game to have a message. It’s a problem if it takes the length of a college semester to get to that message.
And all of this is just noting time involved, never mind potential skill thresholds. Bioshock Infinite has an ending that is absolutely essential to understanding the story and message of the game… and it just happens to be locked behind the greatest, most tedious challenge in the game. Without exaggeration, it probably took me 10% of my entire time playing the game to complete the absolute final area, which is generally “only” difficult because it radically alters the respawning rules. I very nearly gave up on the whole affair right there, which would be akin to stopping The Sixth Sense as Bruce Willis begins to puzzle through his revelation. It would be insane to do such a thing, but many games with a big “final challenge” finale encourage such behavior.

SpooninessEncouraging a different kind of behavior is why we’re unlikely to ever see an end to this, either. Practically since gaming was invented, there have been ways to sell consumers the ability to play better. From books on Pac-Man strategy to the advent of literal strategy guides and magazine subscriptions (I read Cheats Monthly for the articles) to the more modern practice of DLC meant only to level up your character, there will always be a way to make money on people wishing to improve their skills. All the better if the only way to complete the story, to get that “what happens next” monkey off your back, is to buy some additional product to aid your quest. Incidentally, I believe I have yet to name a game in this article that didn’t have a strategy guide. There’s big business in locking the gates and then licensing the key.

And gaming is poorer for it. Think of how many productions put much more effort into Level 1 than Level 8 because they know that’s all some people are going to see. Think of how many games lock their best content behind arbitrary, tedious conditions because it artificially inflates some imaginary “hours of gameplay” count. Think of how many monotonous, dull tasks you’ve willingly completed with the understanding that it would unlock something actually enjoyable? Has any of this made gaming better, or does it just, at best, create an animosity between players and designers, and, at worst, bar an entire medium of ideas and experiences behind a wall of potentially wasted time. Imagine not already having the foundation of gaming in your life and ask, “What’s going to be the better possible use of your time to get the same result: reading Nietzsche or playing Xenogears?” That which does not kill us only makes us stronger, chu.

Until we have the ability to play games how we want, gaming will continue to be a childish hobby. There’s no other way to see a medium that treats its audience like children. I know you want to dive into a giant robot and crush its balls, but you have to clean your room first. Sit down, finish your Tower of Babil, and we’ll see about getting you a shiny, new airship. If you’re good.

FGC #43.2 Final Fantasy 4

  • System: SNES, PSX, GBA, DS, PSP, iOS, and a myriad of ports and rereleases here and there.
  • Number of Players: Just one. You against the stupid tower.
  • He is not a fast robotVersion Differences: Too many to count. The PSP Complete Collection really does seem the most… complete, and, while some people may desire the original graphics, I really like the art in that title. There’s an issue here or there, but the enemy graphics look exactly how 90’s Goggle Bob would expect future generation Final Fantasy games to look.
  • Favorite Boss Battle: Ain’t nothing like all four of the fiends polling together for an attack. Has that ever been done for the FF1 fiends? Seems like something that might be fun.
  • Is this the last of Final Fantasy 4 for the site? If ROB ever distinctly chooses Final Fantasy 4 DS, I’ve got an entire post in mind on how the concept of New Game Plus is a revelation for most JRPG titles… and a complete pile of crap here. I’d put it together for Friday, but the idea of a Final Fantasy 4 week seems excessive.
  • Did you know? Yes, Virginia, Final Fantasy 4: The After Years was originally a cell phone title that was distributed in chunks. It used really horribly repurposed Final Fantasy 4 graphics, and, though I loathe to admit it, I was champing at the bit to play the game back when it was just a few scattered screenshots and yet another game that was released in Japan on an unusual system that we’d never see stateside. Now, years later, we know that absolutely everything about it was terrible and better left in the Far East. Boy did I learn my lesson! Oh, what’s this copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD doing here?
  • Would I play again? I figure we’re about a year or so away from another, newer version of Final Fantasy 4 where, I don’t know, Kain gets a new hat. Christ, I typed that, and now I’m kinda craving a FF4 where the characters have customizable outfits ala Dragon Quest 9. Yes, I’ll be climbing the Tower of Babil again. It’s a sickness.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings. Wonderful. Who doesn’t want to play Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings? I think I started this challenge just to punish myself for randomly buying the stupidest games for three dollars… I mean… Please look forward to it!

FINAL FANTASY 4 AWAY!

FGC #043.1 Final Fantasy 4

ZOOOMFinal Fantasy 4’s world might be the least sustainable world in fantasy history.

Back in the Kolibri article, I mentioned that there’s a sort of “uncanny valley” that is unique to video games that, as graphics improve, the need for a plot drastically increases. Nobody ever questions how Birdo works, but improve the graphics to HD levels, and suddenly you have a thousand messageboard posts about the validity of shyguys hitting up Birdo for breakfast sandwiches. And how do they eat with those masks? Et cetera. I feel a similar thing happened with Final Fantasy 4, not because of improving graphics, but because of about seventy rereleases and a wildly unnecessary sequel.

Final Fantasy 4’s world was built for a measly two purposes: to give Cecil a number of interesting places to bump into on his quest to blow up the moon, and an intriguing spot or two for his inevitable allies to originate. The topography of the world is dictated by Cecil’s various vehicles, and the distance from kingdom to kingdom is just another plot contrivance. I know this is all true.

But…

Square just had to push the boundaries of plausibility with a parade of incrementally improving rereleases, remakes, and “The After Years”. Square, I love you guys, but don’t ask me to look at Final Fantasy 4 after two decades and expect me to believe in this crazy world, I mean, just look at…

Baron Kingdom. First, let’s get something very important out of the way. Depending on the translation/revision you’re looking at, either Cid invented airships, or it was handed down from on high by Kluya, Cecil’s daddy, when he got bored sleeping on the moon and decided to destroy the entire world.

Just read it

Forget Zemus, Kluya is the real villain of Final Fantasy 4. Kluya was “fascinated” by the blue ball that is Final Fantasy 4 Earth, so he decided to swing on down, have a couple of kids, and share world shaking technology with a few select peoples. Among his sins:

  1. GO BROS!He introduced magic to the world. White magic is a win, but maybe he could have held off on sharing magic with names like “fire”, “toad”, and “meteor”. Yes, Kluya, that one spell makes a pretty rad noise, but now half the town is dying of poison.
  2. He constructed Snake Road, a magical teleportation system between two towns, and only two towns. Way to revolutionize transportation between exclusively two spots.
  3. And then, yes, we have the airship thing. Kluya shared airship technology with Earth. Oh, wait, did I say Earth? He shared it with Baron, one kingdom on Earth. Had Kluya not been distracted by Cecil’s mom, he might have gone on to give atom bomb tech to that one town filled with piggys.

So, whether it’s because it was a direct gift from Kluya or Cid’s invention, Baron has air superiority, and, geez, what hope does any other kingdom have? Seriously, every other kingdom has absolutely no defense against an air raid. Oh, wait, one kingdom kind of does…

Hot ValuesMist, home of the summoners, is about the only threat to Baron. This is likely reason number one that Baron decided to barbeque the whole place inside the opening hour of Final Fantasy 4. Now, I believe the record shows that I am generally against genocide, but, controversial opinion or no, I don’t exactly think Baron was in the wrong here. Yes, yes, murdering every man, woman, and child in town is a mistake, nobody is debating that, but it seems like Mist might be a threat to the entire world, given one pissed-off seven year old was capable of collapsing an entire mountain in a moment of rage. Yes, a treaty would have been the highroad to take here, but how do you reason with a group of people that can summon a space dragon when negotiations go sour? And even if everything goes absolutely perfectly, refuse to buy a commemorative t-shirt from the wrong street urchin on the way out, and suddenly the trade route is covered in seventeen tons of rubble. Rydia, I’m sorry, but maybe nixing your family and everyone you’ve ever known was a net gain for the planet. And, hey, bonus, you get a new family that involves a whacky sea serpent and a mom that is, like, three moms. It’s a win for everybody!

Room for improvementKaipo is a miserable little oasis town, and apparently a suburb of Damcyan, or at least where Damcyan’s spoony prince goes to pick up chicks. Damcyan is the first kingdom noted here that contains a crystal (the Fire Crystal, which seems to have had a negative impact on the surrounding area), and is also the first kingdom that Baron uses its superior firepower to completely obliterate. Damcyan is introduced to Cecil as a thriving castle for about five seconds before it’s transformed into a thriving, smoking crater. But don’t let that raise your sympathy cockles, oh no, Damcyan is another kingdom best left ruined. What do we know about Damcyan and the surrounding area?

  1. The only Damcyan Royalty we meet is Edbard, who apparently hides his royal lineage when in Kaipo. Wonder why that is…
  2. It is a known fact in Kaipo that one must possess a Sand Pearl to cure Desert Fever. How does one acquire a Sand Pearl?
  3. Well, a Sand Pearl is produced only by an Antlion in Antlion Cave. So, it’s just a matter of going to Antlion Cave?
  4. Nope! Only Damcyan Royalty is allowed in Antlion Cave.

Now put all that information together. See what’s happening? Damcyan Royalty is monopolizing medicine that it harvests from helpless creatures and then distributing it to a dependent, fever-stricken populace as they see fit. Edbard is a plutocrat among monarchs, and must hide his true identity to avoid being run out of town on a rail before he finds some sage’s daughter to mack on. Damcyan, it was time for some urban renewal.

FABULOUSFar to the east is Fabul. Fabul appears to be a society built on a “might makes right” mantra that permeates its culture by supporting a vast army of karate enthusiasts. Fabul actually has a pretty good defense strategy going here: they’re surrounded by ocean or mountains, and if someone actually hits landfall, they’ve got a moat that forces only one entry point, and they can just fill that passage up with a tower of oiled, muscled, mustachioed karate men, and watch the enemy flee in terror. Unfortunately, it appears that plan has deteriorated in recent generations, as Yang’s entire manteam got wiped out by one bomb squad (that was eventually defeated by a knight, a bard, a white mage, and a little girl).

In another post that will eventually surface on this site (retroactive edit: here it is), I noted that Rosa is possibly the worst, most damsel-y woman to ever be playable in the Final Fantasy franchise. I now apologize for that assessment, as, apparently, Rosa’s hot white mage bod is the only reason Fabul survived the Golbez war. Fabul could have been bombed into a crater to match Damcyan, but, no, Baron decided on a costly direct assault entirely to kidnap Rosa (and maybe taunt Cecil a little). Fabul loses its B-team and Wind Crystal in the battle, but at least it stands to raise a whole new generation of equally ineffectual karate men because Kain couldn’t keep it in his armored pants.

Seriously?Speaking of places that survived a Baron onslaught, we’ve got Mysidia. Mysidia appears to be the Vatican City of this planet, the religious hub that’s full of philosophers and bearded guys that think they have a handle on things but never wind up doing anything useful. Mysidia is filled to the brim with potentially powerful mages, which may be why Mysidia is the only place that holds a crystal (the Water Crystal, if you’re keeping track) but hasn’t decided to build an entire fortified castle. On the other hand, Mysidia lost its crystal to Baron when Baron only had the Red Wings commanded by Chief Wimp Cecil, who didn’t even try to start the whole battle off with a firebombing salvo. Man, Cecil even took prisoners during the battle. Ugh! Anyway, Mysidia had one thing to offer the world, and Baron came and took it with barely a fuss. Now, its only export is self-improvement seminars.

The final crystal rests with Troia. Sorta. As Troian Soldiers will tell complete strangers with no provocation, Troia has never participated in a war of any kind, and has no defenses beyond thick walls, surrounding forests, and a bunch of guards in skimpy outfits. Its complete lack of a defense winds up being its greatest asset, as Baron never even sets foot on Troian soil, because a Dark Elf (the only one on the planet?) has already stolen the Earth Crystal, leaving Troians standing around scratching their collective heads. Cecil and company steal the Earth Crystal back to trade with Baron for some item they lost, and the ruling body of Troia barely has to get up. Afterwards, the good people of Troia go back to cowering in the corner, or whatever it is they do for fun. Did I mention that this is the only matriarchy on the planet? Figured I’d throw that out there.

Eblan is the final kingdom on the surface world. Eblan is a country that values ninja-skills, ruled by Prince Edge’s father, The Shredder. Bad news for the 90’s: Ninja are terrible as an army. The entire point of a ninja is singular, small-scale stealth operations, which just does not work well when your opponents roll up and start exploding the place. The only ninja skill that would be effective in such a situation is hiding, which… is exactly what the population of Eblan does when Baron attacks. As Edge sneaks off into the tunnels dug by the Technodrome, Baron wrecks the place and secures the only thing of value on Eblan’s continent: The Tower of Babil. It’s canon that no one, including the people of Eblan, has any idea what The Tower of Babil is there to do, so Baron probably could have taken the tower with about seven seconds of negotiating, but, come on, when else are you going to get to turn a pack of ninja into pudding?

OinkersThere’s only two other human settlements on the planet. One is Agart, an island town with no useful resources save a (sealed) entrance to the underground. This would be really important if anyone ever wanted to deal with dwarves, but, no, no one even wants to talk about dwarves, so screw those guys. Lali-ho my ass, you doll owning jerks. And then there’s Mythril, which is known for its amazing mining and weapon/armor output. You would think that this would lead to it being a highly sought after resource in a world at war, but, no, it’s not, because it’s filled with a bunch of weirdos like talking pigs and frogs. You could have the best armor in the world, but knowing that it’s assembled by a talking pig man just… sullies the whole affair. Is magic defense really worth the cost?

But, thankfully, all wars eventually end. Over the course of Final Fantasy 4, Cecil and his pals battle back the nefarious forces of Cecil’s former home, save all of the crystals (eventually), and then knock an entire celestial body out of orbit. The day is saved, and for his efforts to save the world, Cecil is given the world.

No beach babesYes, as the credits roll on Final Fantasy 4, Cecil has been crowned King of Baron, with Rosa at his side as his queen. This is… kind of odd, as there’s an entire Baron Army that Cecil just spent the last few days slaughtering, but let’s say they were mind controlled or something. Then there’s the small matter of Cecil having absolutely no governing experience, and this whole mess got started because Cecil was taking orders from a colossal, blue shellfish. But, sure, Cecil rules Baron now. Not like Cid would have been any good on the throne, and the rest of the populace barely has names.

Then there’s the rest of the party. Edbard was always the ruler of Damcyan, so he’s got his ruins to rule, and same for Master Ninja Edge and Eblan. The King of Fabul decides that it’s time to retire, so he appoints Yang as the new Karate King. Rydia doesn’t get a kingdom, she’s just the single most powerful woman on Earth and is on a first name basis with a sea monster that has ruled the oceans since time immortal. And, for some reason, the Elder of Mysidia is super best friends with Cecil now, presumably because of his heroic willingness to sacrifice a pair of five year olds in order to escape a threatening wall. This leaves Troia as the only “superpower” on the entire planet that isn’t ruled by someone in Cecil’s inner-circle, and I’ll remind you that Troia was the city that was ravaged by a friggen’ lone elf.

So, I ask you, how does the world of Final Fantasy 4 keep spinning? Putting aside the obvious gameplay contrivance of Cecil, Rosa, Kain, and Cid all living in the same kingdom and having the combined ability to fell moon monsters, you’re looking at a world where one kingdom has tremendous military firepower, and, evidently, ain’t sharing. You don’t see Fabul’s new airship in The After Years, you just have the Red Wings flying around, ruling the skies (emphasis on “ruling” there) as ever. Eventually, Cecil’s generation will grow old, and when that happens? Whoever winds up with the keys to the airship fleet next is going to bomb the whole planet into oblivion until it bows to his or her feet.

Within a generation, so much artillery will be dropped across the globe, the whole planet will wind up an never ending field of craters. Hm. Might make a neat moon.

FGC #43.1 Final Fantasy 4

  • System: SNES, PSX, GBA, DS, PSP, iOS, and a myriad of ports and rereleases here and there.
  • Number of Players: Just one. Not the game to teach sharing.
  • Favorite Character: Rydia, who seems like a character built just for me. Sarcastic, take-no-nonsense woman clad in green that just happens to command an army of mythical beasts? Sign me up for some of that action. Edge would probably be my second choice, but the gulf between the two characters is as wide as a chubby chocobo.
  • GOLBEZ!Goggle Bob Historical Fact: I didn’t wind up with a copy of Final Fantasy II until well after its prime, likely sometime around the release of Chrono Trigger, when I was able to obtain a used copy from a local video rental place. The save battery wasn’t completely gone on the cart, but it was in pretty bad shape, so I lost my progress a number of times to wherever lost game saves go. If you’re unaware, when Final Fantasy II boots and doesn’t have any save data, it just goes straight to the Red Wings opening scene with Cecil, so, to this day, I still have a sort of nervous twitch when I hear the Red Wings theme. “Oh God, I have to start over again!… Oh, wait, it’s just that song.”
  • Did you know? I’m pretty sure that the original Bio sound effect is only found in the SNES and PSX versions, and was changed, for various reasons, in every other version. Why mess with perfection, Square?
  • Would I play again? Yes, and it might be sooner than you think.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to be quiet for once. Here’s the deal: I had two equally valid ideas on what to write regarding Final Fantasy 4, but they were wildly disparate ideas, and could not be reasonably combined in any way. So, you wound up with the above article because of a coin toss. But what of the other idea? Well, I was just going to toss it out and maybe save it for another game where it might be applicable, but then I realized, you know what? This is my website, I make the rules! Hehehe. So, coming Wednesday, it’s another, totally different article on the subject of Final Fantasy 4. Also, no one is allowed to read this site while wearing pants anymore! BWA HA HA! I’VE GONE MAD WITH POWER! YOU WILL LOOK FORWARD TO IT!