Gameplay

The game’s difficulty depends on which version you’re playing. Of the two extant SNES versions, I’ve only ever tried the hardtype, and it didn’t strike me as particularly difficult. You do need every member of your party, but that’s more common sense than anything else. And it seriously makes me wonder why there’s an easytype version at all. You might wish that enemies were a little less brutal in the final areas of the game, but considering you’re on the last stretch, it’s only fair. The final boss also lives up to his name, for once. It’s a difficult fight, and he’s got a couple tricks up his sleeve, rather than simply engaging in a senseless mow-you-down like in the original FFIII, for example.

Optional superbosses still haven’t made a comeback since FFI, but that’s partly compensated by Golbez(e)’s four generals, who make for a solid backup villain crew, even though they’re basically direct ripoffs of the original elemental fiends from FFI. In fact, they’re possibly more memorable than Golbez(e) himself, who’s still rocking the ‘oversized, menacing guy in hulking black armour’ look. Another noteworthy detail about the generals is that their names are lifted straight from Dante’s Divine Comedy. As for Zemus, the bald blue man in a purple cape who is, supposedly, the real main villain of the game, he adds another entry to the infamous Last Minute Villain list (Cloud of Darkness from FFIII being the first entry). He is first mentioned at the very end of the game and only appears for the final battle, give or take a couple of minutes. It’s no surprise that Dissidia, the recently-created ‘FF heroes vs villains’ series, has picked Golbez(e) as the main villain for FFIV.

This is the second and last game in the series where a character’s dominant hand comes into play. Cain/Kain and Palom are both left-handed, so you need to take that into account when equipping them. In addition, when equipping bows and arrows, the latter go into the character’s dominant hand. Since Rosa will probably be your only dedicated archer, it’s not difficult to remember, but it’s still worth noting. Another noteworthy detail about equipment: there’s a glitch you can exploit to duplicate weapons. Its two main purposes are to duplicate Edge’s best katana (so he can equip two instead of one) and give him more weapons to throw, but you could also duplicate some stuff to sell off, if you find yourself needing cash.

Limited item storage is still a factor, and, just like in FFIII, it’s solved with the assistance of the Chubby Chocobo, which, as its name implies, is a giant chocobo which can be summoned in specific spots by using Gysahl Greens. It also handily comes as a package deal with the final airship in the game. The party may store its excess equipment…presumably in its belly. Don’t ask me how they get it all back afterwards. While we’re talking about odd critters, let me mention Namingway. This little fella looks a bit like a cross between a teddybear and a cat, wearing a turban and glasses. You’ll find him in towns, where he’ll offer to rename your characters, if you’re not happy with their default names.

To continue with the FFIII callbacks, the world map can be consulted by using the Sight spell or an item. Sidequests are also similar to FFIII, in that they are mostly limited to obtaining extra summons. However, they’re arguably more interesting, as you get some storyline–mostly related to Rydia–thrown into the bargain. Other sidequests involve What's so legendary about it?obtaining a sword for Cecil and, if you’re really patient, some high-grade armour. However, the latter involves getting a Pink Tail, a very rare drop from a VERY annoying enemy whose first move is to inflict the entire team with the Berserk status, which essentially renders them uncontrollable. And, unfortunately, only Cecil can be protected from said status effect. In other words, feel free to skip this.

Talking chocobos may be a good sign to lay off the crackAnd last, but not least, the outstanding oddity of the game: the Laliho Pub. This decidedly loopy place serves as the game’s developers’ room and can be found in the Dwarven Castle. I’d suggest you drop by there, if only for the bizarre ambient Japanese humour and the revelation that, for all his heroics, Cecil is, after all, just a guy. You’ll see what I mean.

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