The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy IV

by Mega64

Part 1: Cecil Pisses Off the King

Chapter 1 - Cecil Pisses Off the King

Check out this title screen. Doing a little research, this is the only instance I could find of the T in the Final Fantasy logo being replaced by a sword. Even the US releases of 1 and 6 don't have it. That's how you know this game is special.

Also, twenty years since the original came out. Wow. To think I first played this when I was seven.

This Let's Play will have videos of cutscenes. They're optional, though I'd recommend at least checking out a couple of them if you haven't played before or just want to relive some nostalgia. At the very least, watch the first one, as it kinda sets the tone for the entire game.

Video: The Red Wings

If you're not watching the video, for the love of Christ listen to this:

This introduction is pretty iconic. Rather than starting in the hero's hometown before it gets nuked, or receiving a lengthy monologue concerning the game's backstory, we start right in the middle of the story. It's not the first game to do this, hell, it's not even the first Final Fantasy game to do this, but it's still pretty impressive nonetheless.

In fact, now that I think about it, I can't think of many RPGs before this one where you do start off in a small town or whatever. Usually you're just dumped somewhere, but this game in particular makes sure you know that this is the turning point of a larger story that's been going on for a long time. But more on that shortly.

It's weird seeing two or more characters sharing a text box. Welcome to the time period when you had to take a ton of liberties with translation just to have enough space for the story.

Do we really have to keep doing this?

Not even a minute into the game, and we're already going into a flashback.

Give us the Crystal of Water!
What have we done?
The crystal or your life!

No! Don't!
Dare to defy us?

My! All right... Take the crystal!
You should have said it earlier!

Why is the King of Baron doing this? Why do you pursue the crystals so eagerly?
... ...

It would be remiss if I didn't mention that this flashback wasn't actually narrated in the original version. Indeed, I believe all future versions also leave out the narration. Certainly an interesting choice to add dialogue, I guess since the English-speaking crowd can't interpret an army murdering people and stealing a crystal from mere actions and context.

We take pride in being members of the Red Wings! Looting is out of the question!

We can't stand doing this anymore!
Listen! Possessing the crystal is an essential factor for our prosperity. Moreover, His Majesty judged that Mysidians know too much about the secret of the crystal. We are the Red Wings, the air force of the Kingdom Baron! The Royal Command is absolute.

The game begins with the Red Wings of Baron returning from a mission to steal an innocent nation's crystal. The crew is understandably upset, but despite even his own doubts Cecil still has to use his role as a leader to tell his men that was they did was justified. You can't have your men thinking they're bad guys, after all, even if they were ordered to do bad things.

Man, I missed that battle transition.

Here's our first battle. Man, I've forgotten how cramped the battle screen is.

The battle is automatic, as Cecil just uses a battle item and destroys the opposition with ease.

In comes a Zu, or a Raven in this game. This is the only time you'll see the Lit-Bolt item, as it was one of many items dummied out of this version of the game.

Yes, sir!
But there are too many monsters these days...
Too many, agreed.
What's happening?

After that minor attack, the Red Wings return to Baron.

Video: Return to Baron

What are you trying to say? This way, Cecil.

I gotta sympathize with Baigan on this one. You could've used an article in that sentence, Cecil.

Your Majesty! I'm afraid Cecil has developed quite a rebellious air.
Truly!? Well done, Baigan! We must do something. Call him in!
Yes, Your Majesty.

That was quite a jump from "Mysidians were so helpless..." to "Rebellious air."

We thank you for successfully completing the mission. Now, where is it?
Here, My Liege.

That line threw me off even as a kid. It's either Baigan speaking, which doesn't match the usual dialogue layout of Name: Dialogue, or it's an action textbox, which doesn't match the past tense and in fact seems more like a command than a taken action.

Either way, kind of a weird line to have here.

Real crystal...
Good! Cecil...... You may leave now.

Wait. I thought you were going to make Cecil do something for daring have sympathy for the helpless people he brutally slaughtered.

And here it is. The turning point that sets this whole tale into effect.

Baigan and the King literally spin around in shock.

W... What?
W... What is it?

Disobeying me?
No, I don't.

"No, I'm not."

We do know of your discontent, Cecil. If you cannot trust me, I can no longer place the Red Wings in your command.

Go and hunt the Summoned Monsters of the Misty Valley! And...

Cecil didn't...

If you're concerned about Cecil that much, go with him, Kain!
Your Majesty!
Now! Leave with the Package!

Seriously, it takes courage to stand up to your king, even moreso to someone who's a father figure to you. As a result, Cecil loses his position as leader of the Red Wings, now tasked with a simple delivery mission, though at least in this version he's also ordered to hunt summoned monsters.

Keep in mind that though Cecil still harbors regret for what he's done, he's still loyal to the king above all.

So how about this Kain fellow who randomly walked in and tried to talk to the king on our behalf?

Don't worry. He'll put you back in command of the Red Wings after this mission.
Never mind! Go back to your room and take a rest.

You must be careful not to miss what they say. An unexpected person may give you information.

Cutscenes are over, so for the first time we gain control of Cecil.

One neat detail is how the menus animate. Similarly, the dialogue boxes animate opening and closing, as well as slowly scrolling the text upward.

This is the Status menu. Cecil sure has a lot of pretty numbers.

Cranking the battle speed to as fast as possible.

The NPCs sometimes have... unique things to say.

I mastered the Dark Sword as commanded by His Majesty. But, it was to defend and not to rob.
Do not blame yourself. His Majesty must have his own reason.

You'd better talk to all the people in this castle before going to the bed.

Yeah, "the bed."

This version glosses over how Cecil was raised by the king, and more encouraged rather than commanded to become a Dark Knight. It's actually pretty difficult to become a Dark Knight, though Cecil had no trouble because he's the fucking protagonist.

It also kind of glosses over Cecil and Kain's friendship, though at least that's more heavily implied.

Let's go exploring the castle.

Again with the lack of articles.

This was back before the US adopted the spell suffixes we see today. Everything thing else in a RPG consists of numbers, why not spell names?

The items are rather weird in this version, and that's not including all the stuff dummied out. Instead of Potions and Hi-Potions, we have Cure1's and Cure2's.

Also Gold Pieces instead of Gil.

Item storage is pretty limited, though as a plus you can actually have more than 99 of an item. You shouldn't ever run out of space, though.

These are the people responsible for making our airships run.

You gotta love the NPCs in this game.

Meet Rosa. She's Cecil's love interest. She's also one of the most annoying and useless characters in the game.

For all that this game did right, Rosa was one character they didn't do a great job with.

We are not hurt. How could we be? The wizards didn't even raise their hands.

I assume to cast their spells, but still.

Oh Christ, she even does it in the original...

Can I see you later?
Yeah. Later.

We can talk to some of the prisoners we took from Mysidia.

They aren't very interesting, though.

Now we meet Cid, the chief engineer of Baron. He's one of the most badass characters in the game.

Who's gonna command the Red Wings then? I'm not sure what the King is thinking. He ordered me to make an airship, but I don't want it to be used as a weapon!


Man, I don't think I ever really realized just how bad the translation was.

Well, it's been a long day of slaughtering helpless mages to steal their treasure. Time to call it a night.

Video: Cecil's Guilt

The music stops, though we get a neat sound effect of the clock in the background that never gets used again.

What happened to His Majesty? The crystal of Mysidia... Did we really have to snatch it from the peace loving people?

What's wrong? You're not quite yourself lately.

Listen to this:

Other versions here make mention of Rosa being in love with Cecil, which again is implied here but is still interesting in that the game begins with an already-established relationship involving the protagonist. Most games have a relationship develop throughout the game, but here they actually skip all that. And even then, the dynamics of this relationship are still more interesting than most other games, and that's with one half of the couple being dead weight.

You are going to Mist tomorrow, right? If anything should happen to you...

A nice scene with great music that manages to do several things at once. As I explained, it shows Cecil and Rosa being in an established, loving relationship. There's also Cecil contemplating his actions, deciding not to do any more harm despite the king's wishes, and reluctantly telling Rosa about the atrocities he did. All in one scene.

We aren't even done with the introduction yet, and they're already doing a great job fleshing out the protagonist.

Alright. I really recommend watching the video, or at the very least listening to the music.

Video: The Prologue

Outside the Castle is the city of Baron. Let's gather information and equipment in the city.

Airships had been a dream of many people... After the realization of the dream, came greed and ambition.

Through its fleet of airships, Baron became the most powerful nation. But why is Baron seeking the crystals? Why do the monsters keep increasing...?

And that's how you do an introduction.

Next time, we begin our adventure.