So It’s summer 2016 and while working on the J360 Fridays Show, I’ve been taking the time to reformat and create other J360 Properties as well. In this case the PowerPlay series, I’ve taken the time to change the design and overall look.
However the look wasn’t enough, I needed to see how to make this series a bit different from the first season. The best thing to do was to bring about the retrogaming aspect along with teaming up with some of the other J360 Members while producing it.
I brought my PlayStation 2 out of the closet along with a few of the games from my wall of shame. One of those games is an RPG collection disk called Final Fantasy Chronicles.
The collection includes both Final Fantasy IV, and Chrono Trigger in the set, and has different features built within the games like speed running in dungeons, some FMVs, and plenty of unreleased content never before seen. I think Chrono Trigger probably had the most of the features but Final Fantasy IV is the star of this post.
Released in the 90s as Final Fantasy II because plenty of the other games in between weren’t brought to American shores until the mega hit of Final Fantasy VII. FF4 is an influential title because it established everything that was a core function and staple of the series until Square Enix started to experiment more during later games. The Active Time Battle System, Leveling, and Fighting Summons to gain their assistance came to its peak in this game.
Along with the stability came along a brillant story that pits a man who must put aside his darkness, and embrace the light within him to stop a force that wishes to utilize Earth’s Crystals to plunge the world into absolute chaos. We follow the main character named Cecil, a Dark Knight and Captain of an air fleet in the kingdom of Baron called the Red Wings. We start by seeing an airship return home with Cecil being in solemn regret over his recent actions as he pillaged a village called Mystidia to acquire their crystal. Other crew members aboard the airship were also sharing similar regrets while mentioning the King’s decree was completely off-key and out of touch. For Baron had ruled with the other kingdoms and villages in peace for so long, why are we attacking them now?
Once we’ve arrived back at the kingdom, Cecil meets up with the King and hands over the Crystal but whereas most would leave after completing their errand. Cecil decides to ask the King about his stance in the whole mess and the King in turns demotes Cecil and gives him an assignment to take a ring to the land of mist as an errand in the morning. We’re also introduced to Cecil’s best friend and rival, Kain Highwind, a dragoon who works as another knight for the King. Kain tries to speak on Cecil’s behalf but the King manages to put an end to that and assign Kain with assisting Cecil on the errand. So upon leaving the throne room, Kain and Cecil engage in some conversations detailing on their character backgrounds. Cecil retires to his chambers in the right tower of the kingdom where we meet Rosa, another childhood friend and a love interest for both Cecil and Kain (She favors Cecil more).
Rosa talks with Cecil about the strange happenings in the kingdom, and the two show insight into their eventual romance throughout the story because the day after is when the adventure begins.
From that beginning, the adventure allows us to meet various characters that will support and craft the story while presenting an epic quest on a grand scale despite the cartoony 16-bit graphics. Characters will come and leave the party through various directions and even death while presenting themselves in such manners that I genuinely cared about each one including the Non-playables. Square really nailed the archetypes down and didn’t delude us with stereotype or one-dimensional characters (That happens in FF8). In Final Fantasy IV if the gameplay, powers, characterization, and story didn’t send you, the music always did.
Now I should’ve power-played this game right?
Well…I was too engrossed in the story to even record commentary and I loved it. It took me back to different days when streaming wasn’t as big as it is now and that the newest thing to happen was 480p resolution along with external memory cards. It felt like a Saturday when all you needed to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy video games which can be a sorely missed feeling sometimes when being bombarded by Ads, Player Offline/Onlines, and social media. Or hear about whether PSN was glitching up or if the network was offline today, and all of modern problems. In the middle of all of that enjoyment and I totally forgot to hook up a recording device, haha.
However that’s what blogging is for and I can clearly tell you that this game right now made me realized why I love video games in the first place. It’s teaching me a lot about how the nature and flow of story is very important to achieving desires because after all of the losses and struggles Cecil and Co. go through, you are just wanting to them to succeed so level grinding isn’t a chore because the heroes must prevail. I remember muttering “Goblez must be stopped”and preparing to battle for the last crystal on Earth and saying “Kain, you bastard!” as he betrays the party throughout the game. The part where the evil wall is coming and everyone needed to be at the top of their game or we’d all die upon collision. While finding out the connection between Cecil and Goblez along with learning who the real villain of the entire story is.
This is the thrill and rush of the adventure that makes Final Fantasy IV, a timeless tale.
I love the game so much that I bought the Complete Collection for my PSP when Sony released it in 2004. A well purchased set that included FF4, FF4: The After Years (which I have yet to play), and an interquel called FF4: Interlude (which I’ve yet to play as well). While I’m excited to see what happens in the sequels but right now it’s all about just this one game. I remember when we didn’t have prequels, sequels and meta series growing in the FF Universes but much like anything in media, it’s a thing of the past but that’s another story.
While this game would’ve made a terrific Power Play episode, I’m already too familiar with it. There are others in the series that are on my wall of shame, and I believe they’ll get the PowerPlay Treatment once the show returns in September.