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Final Fantasy IV


Final Fantasy IV (ファイナルファンタジーIV Fainaru Fantajī Fōru?) is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in 1991 as a part of the Final Fantasy series. The game was originally released for the Super Famicom in Japan, but has been ported by TOSE to the Sony PlayStation, Bandai’s WonderSwan Color, and Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, with increasing changes. The game was re-titled “Final Fantasy II” during its initial release outside of Japan as the original Final Fantasy II and III had not been released outside of Japan at the time. However, later localizations used the original title.The game’s story follows Cecil, a dark knight, as he tries to prevent the sorcerer Golbez from seizing powerful crystals and destroying the world. He is joined on this quest by a frequently changing group of allies, several of whom die or appear to die throughout the game. Final Fantasy IV introduced innovations that became staples of the Final Fantasy series and role-playing games in general. Its “Active Time Battle” system was used in six subsequent Final Fantasy games, and unlike prior games in the series gave each character their own unchangeable character class.

With its character-driven plot, use of new technologies and critically acclaimed score by Nobuo Uematsu, Final Fantasy IV is regarded as a landmark of the series and of the role-playing genre. It is considered to be one of the first role-playing games to feature a complex, involving plot, and is thought to have pioneered the idea of dramatic storytelling in an RPG. The various incarnations of the game have sold more than four million copies worldwide. A sequel to the game, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, was released for Japanese mobile phones in 2008, and worldwide via the Wii Shop Channel on June 1, 2009.

Gameplay

In Final Fantasy IV, the player controls a large cast of characters and completes quests to advance the story. Characters move and interact with people and enemies on a field map, which may represent a variety of settings, such as towers, caves, and forests. Travel between areas occurs on a world map. The player can use towns to replenish strength, buy equipment, and discover clues about their next destination.[1] Conversely, the player fights monsters at random intervals on the world map and in dungeons. In battle, the player has the option to fight, use magic or an item, retreat, change character positions, parry, or pause. Certain characters have special options.[1] The game was the first in the series to allow the player to control up to five characters in your party; previous games had limited the party to four.[2]

Player characters and monsters have hit points (HP), with the characters’ HP captioned below the main battle screen. Attacks reduce remaining HP until none are left, at which point the character faints or the monster dies. If all characters are defeated, the game must be restored from a saved game file.[1] The player can restore the characters’ hit points by having them sleep in an inn or use items in the party’s inventory, such as a potions, as well as healing magic spells. Equipment (such as swords and armor) bought in towns or found in dungeons can be used to increase damage inflicted on monsters or minimize received damage.[1] The player can choose whether characters appear on the front line of a battle or in the back. A character’s placement impacts damage received and inflicted depending on the type of attack.[1] The game’s story is linear—the player can usually advance the game through only one path, although limited side quests are available.[3]

Final Fantasy IV introduced Square’s Active Time Battle (ATB) system designed by Hiroyuki Ito, who was one of the battle designers with Kazuhiko Aoki and Akihiko Matsui, which differed from the turn-based designs of previous RPGs. The ATB system centers on the player inputting orders for the characters in real time during battles.[4] The ATB system was used in many subsequent Square games.[2]

Each character always has certain strengths and weaknesses; for instance, a strong magic user may have low defense, while a physical fighter may have low agility. Like other Final Fantasy games, characters gain new, more powerful abilities with battle experience. Magic is classified as either “White” for healing and support; “Black” for offense; or “Summon” (or “call”) for summoning monsters to attack or carry out specialized applications.[1] A fourth type—”Ninjutsu”—consists of support and offensive magic and is available to only one character. Magic users, who account for eight of twelve playable characters, gain magic spells at preprogrammed experience levels or fixed story events. The developers have balanced point gains, items, and rewards to eliminate long sessions of gaining levels.[5] Due to the Super Nintendo’s greater processing power, Final Fantasy IV contains graphics improved over previous Final Fantasy titles. The game employs the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 technology to give enhanced magic spell visuals and to make airship travel more dramatic by scaling and tilting the ground for a bird’s eye view.[6]

Plot

Setting

Most of Final Fantasy IV takes place on Earth, also known as the Blue Planet,[7] which consists of a surface world (or Overworld) and an underground world (or Underworld) inhabited by the Dwarves. A red, artificial moon orbits the planet, upon which the Lunarians live. The Lunarians are a race of beings from a world destroyed which became the asteroid belt, and are identified by a moon-shape crest on their foreheads. They created this artificial moon, resting until a time they believe their kind can co-exist with humans.[2] A second, natural moon orbits as well, though it is never visited in the game.

Characters

Final Fantasy IV offers twelve playable characters, each with a unique, unchangeable character class. The main character, Cecil Pendragon, is a dark knight and the captain of the Red Wings, an elite air force unit of the kingdom of Baron. He serves the king alongside his childhood friend Kain Highwind, the commander of the Dragoons. Rosa Farrell is a white mage/archer and Cecil’s love interest. The Red Wings’ airships were constructed by Cecil’s friend, the engineer Cid Pollendina.[2]

During his quest, Cecil is joined by others, including Rydia, a young summoner from the village of Mist, Tellah, a legendary sage of Mysidia, Edward Chris von Muir, the prince of Damcyan and a bard, and Yang Fang Leiden, the head of the monks of Fabul. The other characters are the black mage Palom and white mage Porom, twin apprentices from the magical village of Mysidia, Edward “Edge” Geraldine, the ninja prince of Eblan, and lastly FuSoYa, the guardian of the Lunarians during their long sleep.[2]

Cecil and Golbez are the respective hero and villain representing Final Fantasy IV in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Cecil is voiced by Shizuma Hodoshima in the Japanese version and by Yuri Lowenthal in the English version; Golbez is voiced by Takeshi Kaga in the Japanese version and by Peter Beckman in the English version.

Story

Final Fantasy IV begins as the Red Wings are attacking the city of Mysidia to steal the Water Crystal there. When Cecil, Captain of the Red Wings, afterwards questions the king’s motives, he is stripped of his rank and sent with Kain to deliver a package to the Village of Mist.[8] There, Kain and Cecil watch in horror as monsters from inside the package destroy the village. A young girl, Rydia, is the only survivor and summons an earthquake in anger, separating Cecil and Kain.[9] Cecil awakens afterward and takes the wounded Rydia to a nearby town. Baron soldiers come for Rydia, and Cecil defends her.[10]

Soon after, they meet Tellah, who is going to Damcyan Castle to retrieve his eloping daughter.[11] Anna is killed when the Red Wings bomb the castle. Edward, Anna’s lover and the prince of Damcyan, explains that the Red Wings’ new commander, Golbez, did this to steal the Fire Crystal for Baron as they had stolen the Water Crystal from Mysidia.[12] Tellah leaves the party to seek vengeance on Golbez for Anna’s death.[13] Cecil, Edward, and Rydia decide to go to Fabul to protect the Wind Crystal. There the Red Wings attack, and Kain reappears as one of Golbez’s servants. He attacks and defeats Cecil; when Rosa intervenes, Golbez kidnaps her as Kain takes the crystal.[14] On the way back to Baron, the party is attacked by Leviathan and thus separated.

Cecil awakes in Mysidia. There, he learns that to defeat Golbez, he must climb Mt. Ordeals and become a Paladin.[15] On the mountain he encounters Tellah, who is searching for the forbidden spell Meteor to defeat Golbez.[16] Cecil becomes a Paladin, while Tellah learns the secret of Meteor. Upon reaching Baron the party confronts the King of Baron, only to discover that he had been replaced by one of Golbez’s minions.[17] After defeating him, Cid arrives and takes them to one of his airships.

On the airship, Kain appears and demands Cecil retrieve the final crystal in exchange for Rosa’s life.[18] After the crystal is retrieved, Kain leads the party to the Tower of Zot, where Rosa is imprisoned. At the tower’s summit, Golbez takes the crystal and attempts to flee. Tellah sacrifices himself to stop Golbez with Meteor, but only weakens him, although it does end Golbez’s mind control of Kain.[19] Kain helps Cecil rescue Rosa and Rosa teleports the party out of the collapsing tower to Baron.

In Baron, Kain reveals that Golbez must also obtain four subterranean “Dark Crystals” to achieve his goal of reaching the moon. [20] The party travels to the underworld and encounter the Dwarves who are currently fighting the Red Wings. They stop Golbez from stealing the Dwarves’ crystal, and are rejoined by Rydia in the fight. They flee the underworld in the airship, and Cid sacrifices himself to reseal the passage to underworld.[21] The party travels to the Tower of Babil where the crystals are being kept. When they reach the crystal room, the party falls through a trap door to the underworld. The heroes go to retrieve the eighth crystal before Golbez. Upon retrieving it, Golbez reveals he still has control over Kain, and takes the crystal.[22] After learning of the Lunar Whale, a ship designed to take travelers to and from the moon, the party is rejoined by Cid, and travels to the surface and boards the ship.[23]

On the moon, the party meets the sage Fusoya, who explains that Cecil’s father was a Lunarian.[24] Fusoya also explains that a Lunarian named Zemus plans to destroy life on the Blue Planet so that the Lunarians can take it over, using Golbez to summon the Giant of Babil, a colossal robot.[25] They return to Earth and the forces of the two worlds attack the Giant. After the party breaks the robot, Golbez and Kain confront them, only to have Fusoya break Zemus’ control over Golbez, in turn releasing Kain. Cecil learns that Golbez is his older brother.[26] Golbez and Fusoya head to the core of the moon to defeat Zemus, and Cecil’s party follows. In the moon’s core, the party witnesses Golbez and Fusoya kill Zemus, but then quickly fall to his resurrected form, the spirit Zeromus.[27] Cecil and his allies defeat Zeromus. Following the battle, Fusoya and Golbez opt to leave Earth with the moon.[28] In an epilogue we see Kain atop Mt. Ordeals while everyone else reunites to celebrate Cecil and Rosa’s wedding and their coronation as Baron’s new king and queen.

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