One day, the wind abruptly stops. The King of Tycoon, the country responsible for the protection of the Wind Crystal, goes to the Wind Shrine to check it out. Finding him gone too long, his daughter, Princess Lenna, grows worried and sets off after him. Unfortunately, a huge meteor crashes nearby just at that moment, knocking her out. Fortunately, Butz/Bartz, a random bloke travelling on his chocobo, happens to be camping not far from the crash site and comes to her rescue. They also discover another victim of the meteor, an amnesic old man called Galuf. The only thing he does remember is that he needs to go to the Wind Shrine ASAP. How serendipitous. So the unlikely group sets off, picking up Faris, the pirate captain, along the way, and discovering that the episode with the wind is only a prelude to the awakening of the dark wizard Exdeath, who wants to return the world to the Void.
The elemental crystals are back yet again, but fear not, this is the last time they appear under this guise. It’s also probably another reason why the game feels so bland: so many iterations of the same theme are starting to get really old. The storyline is also pretty straightforward, with very few detours and no significant twists, which is yet another chip in the ‘bland’ pile. Surprisingly enough, quite a few characters kick the bucket (possibly intentionally, due to the many ‘non-deaths’ in FFIV). I say ‘surprisingly’, because even in spite of that, I still think the overall tone of the game is distinctly upbeat. Whether this means that the writers succeeded in counterbalancing the doom ‘n gloom, or that the characters in question were simply forgettable to begin with…well, I’ll let you make up your own mind on that topic.