Let’s face it. Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy 2 if you prefer) was a masterpiece of a game. This was back when Squaresoft knew what they were doing and could churn out one good role playing game after another.
The biggest of these titles were the Final Fantasy series, which was much better than the Final Fantasies we see today. Great characters, fun story, decent battle mechanics and a way for us to lose ourselves in some endless gameplay time and time again.
Out of these games, Final Fantasy IV stands the test of time as one of the best in the series. The story of the Dark Knight Cecil’s path to redemption took us to the moon and back and kept us entertained the entire way. It even has me revisiting it many years after its initial release, playing Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, which I just purchased last week.
But it still pisses me off a bit. There are some elements from this classic game that just drive me batty and make me think, ‘Boy, am I glad this shit didn’t stick around for later RPGs!’
So without further adieu, here is my list of the Five Things I don’t miss about Final Fantasy IV.
1. Random encounters that can wipe out your entire party.
Final Fantasy IV was known as being one of the more difficult of the classic Final Fantasy games. It was so difficult that they went ahead and dummied down the difficulty of the game for its American release, then dummied it down even further when they re-released the game in Japan.
Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection doesn’t have that problem. Its difficulty is fully intact and that has led to moments of great frustration for me.
Why do random enemies have the Blaster ability, which can wipe out one of my teammates in one shot?
Why does almost every grouping of enemies in the game have one member of their team that either paralyze me or stun me once per turn.
Why do random mooks have abilities that can hit my entire party mid-game for anywhere from 500-1000 points of damage.
Why do other random mooks get three attacks per turn and decide to focus all of those attacks on my weakest party member?
AND FOR GOD SAKES, WHY DO SO MANY ENEMIES HAVE AUTOMATIC RESPONSE ATTACKS? Its a random encounter, not a mini-boss!
There are so many issues that I come across in random battles that keep you on your toes at all times… and that’s not even talking about the bullshit that is the game’s final stage, the Moon.
2. Where the hell is the goddamn world map?
I am so glad game designers decided in later years that it might be best to just include a world map in the bottom right corner of the screen that you can toggle on and off as you please.
Because paying 2 MP every time I want to see where the hell I am going on the World Map is a load of crap.
I’m someone with a terrible sense of direction. No word of a lie, I wasted about 20 MP the moment I got the airship in this game trying to figure out where the hell I should be going next.
Just make the map a default part of my world display. I don’t care. Stop making me use my magic.
3. Ridiculous drop rates for items.
There is an upside to the random encounters we come across all the time in this game. Some enemies can drop some upsurdly powerful shit.
Three of the main enemies you come across in the beginning of the game, goblins, cockatrice and bombs, all drop summon spells for you to pick up. Some of these are actually useful to the very end of the game, especially the Cokatrice’s ability to petrify enemies at random, which even works on some bosses.
So what’s the catch? How about the fact that you have to battle over 100 of these guys before you actually see them drop one of these items.
I’m not joking. The actual math for making some of the enemies in the game drop their most valuable goods is just absurd. Especially when you get to the game’s final dungeon, where just about every random encounter is a party killer waiting to happen and each of them has a piece of game breaking equipment for one of your characters.
Screw Zeromus. You could give me a battle with the Flan Princess and I’d consider that a final boss.
4. Absurd hidden path ways to items.
Remember how much of a pain in the ass I said random encounters could be? Well, try getting attacked every other step when you are trying to grab an item that’s just out of your reach.
But its not just out of your reach. There’s also a solid wall that you have to walk through to get to it and you can’t see where the hell your character is going.
This is something that I am glad to see doesn’t happen that often in nowadays RPGs. Its neat to find random tunnels, but it doesn’t become very fun when Flame Knights and Flame Beasts are breathing down your neck every time you turn around in the Tower of Babil.
5. Limits on Item space.
Why am I limited to a variety of 48 different items to carry at one time? This is the only time in the history of Final Fantasy that I can think of an item limit being imposed on the character and I simply don’t understand why.
Seriously, there was no issue in Final Fantasy VI with this. Did Squaresoft simply not have a grasp on item storage at this point in time or did they just want to add an extra challenge on the player?
Either way, Fat Chocobo got a lot of business from me for storage. Its just pointless as far as I’m concerned. I know modern games like Fallout, Elder Scrolls and The Witcher throw that mechanic in for realism sake and to limit the whole idea of the infinity storage backpack, but in the days of the SNES, who cares? Let my items travel with me!
So now that I’ve got these concerns out of the way, does that blemish my experience with Final Fantasy IV?
Hell no! Final Fantasy IV was an awesome game when I was a kid and its still an awesome game now. I can look past these flaws and see the gem that this game is and I’m glad to be giving it another run through now.
If you didn’t pick up Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection when it was on sale on PSN last week, I’d suggest playing an older version you might already have or scraping together some change and pick it up for regular price. Its worth your time to give this great game another go.