Format reviewed: SNES
Submitted by: Steven Ronald Jackson
Epic: very imposing or impressive; surpassing the ordinary (especially in size or scale).
No other word in the English dictionary describes Final Fantasy IV better than Epic. And Epic might still be understatement when talking about Final Fantasy IV but believe me it's damn close.
Final Fantasy IV is without a doubt one of the greatest games ever created. The title of "Greatest game ever created" gets used a lot but in the case of Final Fantasy IV it is the truth. No other video-game at the time it was released was like it and truly showed what gaming was capable of doing. It was capable of making gamers laugh and cry. Get angry and get shocked. Even get confused. It made gaming an art form and a cultural experience for the first time. It is Final Fantasy IV.
Final Fantasy IV's primary narrative follows Cecil (a dark knight) and his quest to stop Golbez (an evil sorcerer) from destroying the world by seizing all the world's crystals. Along the way Cecil is joined by twelve other characters who help him on his quest, each with their own intertwining narratives. A few of them are Rydia (a young female wizard), Tellah (a legendary sage), Edward Chris von Muir (a bard) and Edward "Edge" Geraldine (a ninja prince). With these character's the game develops a huge amount of depth as the characters have detailed back stories which play out throughout the game. It is as if the characters are real and are not fictional but in fact living people. Now that's something special in it self. You forget you are playing with video-game characters and feel you are playing with living being's which is quite an accomplishment I think. You feel overjoyed when characters get married and are over saddened when character's die. Final Fantasy IV's characters are it's backbone and one of the many epic elements of this video-game phenom.
Final Fantasy IV's Epic tendencies didn't just stop here, oh no. Final Fantasy IV is a visual and musical masterpiece. The graphics on the battle-screens, in the towns and on the map are stunning. They push the SNES to the limits and really show what the SNES and mode-7 graphics were capable of. The music on the other hand, outweights the graphics ten to one. It is a video-game orchestra which develops as you play. The music creates the emotions. The drama. The comedy. It creates the whole world of Final Fantasy IV and is, I think the greatest video-game music score ever created.
In terms of Final Fantasy IV's gameplay it evolved like everything else. It was now possible to have five characters fighting for you on the battle-screens. They also had assigned attacks and characteristics again creating the illusion that the characters are not just in a video-game but real living beings. The battles themselves also developed considerably. The Active Time Battles (ATB for short) were introduced meaning battles were not dependant on turn-based attacks. Instead the battles are much more spontanious and quick thinking and careful strategic planning is needed to succeed.
Now what I find bizarre is that it has only been until now that I have been able to experience Final Fantasy IV for the first time. The game (as with all the Final Fantasy games up until Final Fantasy VII) was never released outside of the USA meaning only imports of the USA version were the only way to experiece this epic game for the first time. Now however no gamer outside of the USA has to worry as Final Fantasy IV (listed as Final Fantasy II due to the USA release) has been re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console and it is priced at 900 Wii Points. For nine pounds you can own one of the greatest games of all-time. Now that's a bargain.
To conclude this review I would like to think that Final Fantasy IV is the SNES' Ocarina of Time. It became a living breathing world with real characters and real lives. It showed how the 16-bit generation was the pinnocle of video-games and video-game production. I could write even more about Final Fantasy IV but I think I have said enough. Just go and play it and find out why Final Fantasy IV is the most Epic video-game of all-time.