Lows: enemy encounters can become way too frequent, some stage design issues, NES-style graphics (Really, Square? You can do better than that!), some characters appear to die when they actually don't, Mode 7 isn't used very much in the game.
Verdict: Even though it's somewhat outdated, Final Fantasy IV is still an SNES RPG worth playing after all these years.
After 3 Final Fantasy games on the Famicom (NES), Square was planning to continue the series on the same platform, despite the fact that new 16-bit consoles were starting to become popular. But when Square was 80% complete with their new Final Fantasy on the NES, they decided to shift what was completed on to the 16-bit Super Famicom because of financial constraints. We eventually received one of the most important entries in Final Fantasy history, Final Fantasy IV, released on the new Super Nintendo in 1991 and as a launch title for North American audiences as well. I'm reviewing the actual Japanese translation of FFIV done by j2etranslations off a repro cart. Final Fantasy IV innovated with it's character-driven plot, use of the Active Time Battle system (ATB), and acclaimed score done by composer Nobuo Uematsu. FFIV is probably the first RPG to feature a complex and involving plot, as it brought along the idea of dramatic storytelling in JRPGs. FFIV brought along the Active Time Battle system, where it centers on the player giving orders to the characters in real time during battles, and this system was used until 2001 when Square put out Final Fantasy X on the PS2. The musical score done by Uematsu is superb, as it has many songs that are top-notch and almost unforgettable. In FFIV, you play as Cecil Harvey, a former Dark Knight who is on a mission to leave his dark past behind and become a Paladin, plus stop an unknown villain from destroying all life on the Blue Planet so that the villain's race, the Lunarians, can take over. Cecil is also accompanied by lots of other characters on his journey, like his love interest Rosa, who is a white magician, Rydia, a summoner who lost her family in a village attack, Cain, who is Cecil's best friend, Tella, a legendary sage from the village of Mysidia, Gilbert, the prince of Damcyan and a Bard, Yang, the head of the Monks of Fabul, Palom and Porom, white and black mages who are also from Mysidia, Edge, the Ninja prince of Eblan, and Fusoya, the guardian of the Lunarians during the long sleep of the race. The story is great as it has many twists and turns, leading up to an epic final battle that decides the fate of the human race. The gameplay is excellent, as the ATB system is put to good use, and there are options where you decide what characters go in the front and back rows, plus you learn many different magic spells as you level up your characters, and more. Also, in terms of difficulty, FFIV is not hard, but at the same time, it's not easy, and that's a good thing since the difficulty in other FF games are usually much harder, filled with cheap deaths, overpowered enemies, and what have you, but FFIV isn't really like that. Sure it has some pretty powerful enemies, but you usually don't encounter them until you get further into the game. The challenge is pretty fair in FFIV. Not hard, but not easy. The game is great, but there are most definitely some problems. Enemy encounters can become way too frequent at times, there are some stage design issues, where it looks like your character is leaving the game area - this is also pretty frequent when you are inside buildings as well. Also there are some characters that appear to die, like Cid, Palom and Porom, and Yang, but it turns out that they actually don't, and that I hear is one of the major problems people have with FFIV. It also looks like Square didn't take full advantage of the Super Nintendo's graphical capabilities, as the graphics make FFIV look like an NES game, also there aren't very many Mode 7 graphical effects, as Mode 7 is used for the world map, plus some battles and some cutscenes, and that's about it. But overall Final Fantasy IV is still a great game, despite it looking a bit outdated by today's standards. The translated ROM done by j2etranslations is available to download and play if you have an SNES emulator downloaded onto your computer. The original Super Famicom version is cheap and easy to get ahold of if you know Japanese. FFIV is also on Virtual Console too, but in it's heavily censored form of Final Fantasy II. And you can also buy a repro cart for this game as well, just find the right place to buy one online. Don't miss out now because Final Fantasy IV is still an RPG worth playing, despite it looking somewhat outdated. Check it out.