WARNING: This post may contain spoilers for the first hour of Final Fantasy IV. Hey, surely someone else out there hasn’t played this game yet, right?
It seems that fate doesn’t want me to play this game for some reason. As soon as I opened my copy, my thoughts wandered toward a grim possibility. It must be at least 10 years since I looked at my poor PSP. What if it couldn’t deal with being abandoned for so long? My fears were confirmed when the little guy wouldn’t turn on. I plugged in the AC adapter and everything seemed fine when it booted up. My confused PSP thought it was 2004, so I informed him that the year is now 2016. Yes, our world is still a mess, but everything will be okay. I happily selected the option to play this epic game I’ve been missing out on.
My PSP notified me that it needed an update before it could run this masterpiece. Fair enough. I followed the on screen instructions and was taken into the upgrade process without issues. A few steps later, all hope was cruelly extinguished. You see, Sony won’t let you upgrade without a decently charged battery, even though the all powerful AC adapter is connected. The problem? Well, Lithium-ion batteries get upset when they are left uncharged. When they are left without juice for over a decade, they tend to leave this world behind them. I opened the battery cover and discovered my PSP’s battery had been reduced to a bloated corpse. May it R.I.P. in the proper Hazardous Waste Depot near me.
It appeared I was SOL because of Sony’s stupid fucking decision to not allow an update with just the AC adapter plugged in. Only one word can describe how this felt: RAGE!! I did not give up that easily though. I’m incredibly stubborn and I’ve been waiting a long time to play this game. I wasn’t going to let a simple dead battery stop me! I managed to track down a local pawnshop with a few cheap PSPs in stock. I purchased a later model PSP in the shiny silver colour. It also came with a fancy charging case. My PSP’s confused younger brother thought it was 2009 and still needed an update, but at least the battery was still healthy. After enduring an incredibly long shipping time, and overcoming an incredibly stupid update roadblock, I FINALLY got the opportunity to start Final Fantasy IV. Was it worth all these headaches?
What I Did
A grand opening scene played on the title screen. It had awesome airships, an epic musical score, glowing crystals, and lots of beautiful people. Yep, I’m definitely playing a Final Fantasy game. I suspect this was for the After Years part of IV though. I’ll get there but first I selected the option to play the original IV.
And so my first 2D Final Fantasy journey began. I’m accustomed to the realistic 3D graphics of the modern games, but I can appreciate the detail on the 2D airships zooming over the map. Right off the bat, I was introduced to the Dark Knight Cecil, Commander of the Red Wings. I’ve heard so many things about him so it was great to finally meet him in game. However, my opinion of him quickly turned unfavorable. The game showed me how he just murdered a bunch of innocent people and took their crystal. All in the name of his dear King. Whoa dude! I thought you were the hero in this game… That’s not cool at all in my books. I like his spiky armor though. It makes him look quite powerful.
The airship ride continued on. Along the way some monsters decided to attack Cecil’s crew. Mr. Dark Knight one-shotted them all, and then stopped to check on his injured colleague. Good. He’s not entirely evil since he showed concern for a fallen soldier under his command. I respected that a lot, but he was still a shady crystal thief to me. They reached their castle destination and Cecil went to his evil King. An arrogant blonde guy, Baigan, had a quick chat with Cecil before a private audience with his royal evilness. Baigan informed the King that Cecil cannot be trusted. The bad King didn’t seem to care and only wanted more precious crystals. It seems the evil guy has a one track mind, but I know this is Final Fantasy. I’ll bet lots of Gil that something very evil is controlling the King, and that there will be an epic final boss fight with this sinister entity at the end of the game. I know I’m right, but don’t tell me.
Cecil is summoned to his ruler’s throne, and he handed over the ill-gotten shiny crystal. The Dark Knight was dismissed, but he hesitated and returned. He bravely demanded to know what the King’s crystal plans were. That took guts! I was pleased to see heroic traits from the Cecil, and that his good conscience finally kicked in. The bad King was displeased with the Dark Knight’s insolence, and poor Cecil was fired from his cushy command position. The King then demoted the once Commander to a mere mist Eidolon slayer. Cecil doesn’t have a caring HR department to file a complaint with, but he does know someone named Kain, who charged in shortly after to defend the Dark Knight. Misery loves company, and Kain is ordered to accompany Cecil on his mission. The crystal crazed King sent his minions away after he gave them a ring.
Outside the throne room, Cecil apologized for getting his buddy in trouble with the boss. Kain told Cecil to chill and that the King will be cool with them again after the mission. He advised Cecil to rest up for their misty mission tomorrow. I was finally given control of the Dark Knight and left to explore the castle. When playing classic RPGs, I know it’s a good idea to talk to everyone and look for loot. I found a treasure room with some Gil and a Tent. Most of the guards seemed concerned about their ruler’s odd behavior lately (I wonder why…). I soon had a run in with some chick named Rosa. She seemed deeply worried about Cecil. I have no doubt in my mind that this will be the love story for this FF game. I also found IV’s version of Cid. I eventually stumbled into Cecil’s room, and I decided to tuck in the troubled Dark Knight for the evening.
I guess Cecil suffers with bad thoughts about his horrible deeds. He started rambling about the King being corrupted and that those sinister crystals are possessing the ruler. Rosa showed up and Cecil confessed his heinous deeds to her. The music switched to a dreamy beat and Rosa hinted that she loved him. I’m shocked… not. After their encouraging chat, Rosa bid the Dark Knight farewell. Cecil seemed depressed that they can never be together, for some unexplained reason. Alrighty, less mushy lovey stuff, and more combat please (Yes, I am still jealous. Thanks for noticing. *sobs more*). Cecil and Kain set off on their mission the next morning.
After a brief text summary of the story so far (TL:DR – Bad King Baron wants crystals but why?) I’m dropped onto the Overworld map. One of the people I talked to said to head Northwest, so that’s where I went. After a few steps in that direction, the screen started swirling and a battle ensued. Oh right… As a spoiled modern day gamer, I forgot about how great random battles are. Cecil and Kain kick ass though, and I made it to a cave after a few quick, and fun, battles. I also love the sweet sounding Final Fantasy victory tune that plays post-battle. The cave area was pretty simple. I picked up more loot and killed more insignificant monsters on my way. A mysterious voice kept warning me to go back. In all caps I might add, so it seemed pretty serious. Cecil shrugged it off though.
Just before I reached the end, I’m threatened in all caps that there will be “consequences” if I don’t leave. Captain Obvious, aka Kain, guessed the voice might be the creature they have to kill. The game gave me a choice whether to ignore the warning or not. I ain’t afraid of no capital letters, so of course I chose to ignore it. And just like that, I was in my first boss fight.
My battle strategy so far had been to mash X and enjoy the music after the fight. I needed to think a bit more for the Mist Dragon boss fight. I used Kain’s Jump move, and Cecil’s Darkness ability. The dragon soon transformed into a cloud and I really didn’t care. I kept ordering my knights to attack, and wow, dodgy mist clouds REALLY don’t like that. Cecil was almost killed so I relented to the game’s incessant advice: Attacking mist is futile. I stopped attacking it, downed a few potions, and the cloud reformed into a dragon. Attacking dragons is not futile apparently, and my first boss was successfully felled. I was amused that Kain finished the fight off screen in the middle of his Jump move, and Cecil basked in all of his glory.
Cave completed, and I entered this Mist village place. The tranquil village looked quaint but I had no chance to explore. As soon as Cecil and Kain arrived, the ring that Baron gave them reacted. Some strange possessed fireballs started circling around the pair, and the innocent village was destroyed by fire. Captain Obvious states that the bad King wanted them to destroy the village, and Cecil is really pissed off. After the horrible event, someone named ??? cried out for their Mom. Kain and Cecil ran over to help, and they found a girl crying next to a dead woman. The distraught girl says her Mom’s dragon was killed, thus killing her Mom. Ouch, right in my feels… Kain rambled about how some people have the ability to summon beasts, and that by slaying the Mist Dragon in the cave, they had killed the kid’s Mom as well. Oh no!
Without warning, Kain decided to go all evil. He informed Cecil they had to kill the innocent girl now, because that’s obviously what their royal crystal fiend wanted. Cecil told Kain off in a passionate speech that revealed the King once cared for them like his own, and he righteously refused to murder an innocent child for the King. Okay Mr. Cecil, I like you now, and your previous misdeeds have been forgiven. Before the Dark Knight put the beat down his former friend, Kain said he was just messing with him. Kain is pleased that Cecil is not a blind follower of Baron, and the pair planned a mutiny. They discussed saving Rosa, of course, and they decided to take the orphaned girl with them.
The terrified girl just found out that the two scary men nearby had murdered her Mom, so she understandably backed away from them. Cecil tried to explain that they didn’t know, but the frightened child attacked them. So I found myself in a battle with an innocent girl. What did I do? Nothing! I refuse to attack a child, sorry game. After a few seconds, the child seemed to summon this muscular red monster, who promptly cast an Earthquake spell, ending the battle abruptly. Cecil woke up in a clearing with just the kid nearby. He prayed Kain was still alive, and he ran off with the girl in tow. Well, that was the fastest hour of my life…
I have only beaten a few Final Fantasy games in my career: VII, X, XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns. VIII beat me near the end, and XII’s story just didn’t hold my interest for long. I do plan to try these two games again in the near future though. Anyway, this delightful adventure is my first classic Final Fantasy experience, and I loved every minute of it! It was so worth all the hoops I had to jump through in order to finally play it. IV has the same charm that made me enjoy the more modern titles. The story has me intrigued, the battles are fun, and the pretty characters are likable. It really goes to show that realistic graphics are only eye candy. Let’s see how far I can get before some crushing boss destroys me…
PSA: Please take care of those vulnerable Lithium-ion batteries in your electronic devices. The little guys can actually be quite dangerous and explode-y if mishandled. It’s also a good idea to give them a charge every couple of months if the device is abandoned.