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  -Part 1 :: [09.29.03]
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"Yes, even though Cesario is assumed dead by his friends and family, changed his last name and faked his death in the explosion to become a mercenary, his loyal crew of random soldiers and leftover weirdos from his school still follow him around. No, I don't get it either."
     -Ryan, Final Fantasy Tactics Part 3

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Final Fantasy IV : Part 1
By Ben
Posted 09.29.03
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Before I begin the recap, I should tell you all that I'm playing the earlier version of the game -- in other words, the ROM. Now, before all you self-righteous Square fanpersons scream "OMG alL r0mz r inhrernetly EVAL!!!!1111", I also actually own the game, making this legal. So shut up. I deliberately chose the 'Easytype' version because I suck at the harder version for the patchy (to say the least) dialogue. But I'm sure you'll be able to see this for yourselves very soon. You'll also figure out, pretty darn soon, that the buzz-word for this game is 'crappy'. (I can feel the ire of the old-school brigade rising as I type.) Relax, people! I love this game. No, really.

Another small note before I start: This game's hero (we'll call him Prototype for now) is startlingly similar to a certain other FF hero. These two young men have several things in common - they are both angsty, goth-looking types, they are both antisocial, they both undergo sickening transformations from cool badasses to sappy heroes, and they are both stalked by annoying Mary Sues whose names begin with the letter R. *gasps for breath* The only difference between them is that Prototype isn't gay. Oh well, I guess 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

And yet another note: this recap marks the first EVAR old-school FF recap on I think you can appreciate the fact that I want to do this game justice. Or in other words, snark it to death. Okey dokey, let's begin the torture!

The game opens with a crappy version of the crystal theme (I don't know the official name. So sue me. Or, even worse, force me to play this game again). This is accompanied by a title screen displaying the game title along with a majestic looking sword where the letter 'T' should be. Oh my God, Squaresoft are so creative and I'm so impressed. Now, if there's one symbol completely overused by RPG title screens, it's the sword. Someday, I'd like to see a title screen displaying an axe or a pretty magic wand. Then again, looking at Prototype and his similarities to Squall another hero, the weapon adorning the title screen should really be a Gunblade. Okay, I'll shut up about this subject for now.

As I rummage for the earplugs and start the game, the crappy prelude music is replaced by some crappy "We're in the army" music. Oh well, at least this music is somewhat better than the 'hearing-impaired 10 year old plays the triangle' crystal theme. This music is accompanied by some crappy graphics of a fleet of airships flying across the World Map. Yes, there is a 'real' World Map in this game, FF traditionalists. You can stop holding your breath now.

PH33R the glorious technicolour graphics!

After the World Map has looped about three times in the space of less than 30 seconds (I guess it really is a small world), we fade in on a scene on the deck of one of the airships. There are a bunch of crappy sprites whose palette comprises of, literally, two colours -- red and yellow (of course, I'm exaggerating. There are actually about 4 shades of colour). Jeez, is there anything in this game that isn't crappy? An equally crappy sprite stands amidst the crowd of crewmembers, this guy wearing blue and a little black. This sprite is completely different from all the Hulk Hogan clones, because he's dressed in different colours -- well, that's what Square hope we'll believe. It looks like they were on a tight budget when they designed this game. I'm guessing that this guy is the captain, and also Prototype. My suspicions are confirmed when one of the random crewmembers says, "Captain Cecil, we are about to arrive!"

Cecil? And I thought Cloud was bad. To add insult to injury, Cecil is the "Dark Knight of Baron", whatever that is. Have you ever heard of a Dark Knight with a name like Cecil? The name doesn't exactly strike fear into the heart, does it? I think Square were really having a bad day when they came up with this name. Maybe, on the character-creation day, they were all drunk, or, more likely, off their faces on crack. Even though I'm unable to rename the characters (as of now, anyway), I decide to give Cecil a nickname that sounds about as masculine as his current name...and I only have to add two letters to his existing name to get it.

Cecilia replies with a single-word answer -- "Good". Whoops, here come the similarities between Cecilia and a certain other he - oh, what the hell, Squall - again. And, believe me, the similarities don't stop there. You'll see soon enough.

As the crappy music grates on my brain, three of the Hulkamaniac crewmembers start randomly expositing. Exposition!Hulkamaniac 1 says "Why are we robbing crystals from innocent people?". Now, if there's one thing I hate in any RPG, it's bad exposition. Unfortunately, this game seems to feed on it. The tedium continues as Exposition!Hulkamaniac 2 replies "That's our duty". Exposition!Hulkamaniac 3 (at least, I think -- all of the Hulkamaniacs are actually called "crew") cries "do we really have to keep doing this?" Feel the angst, people! Feel the drama! Or just play along, like me.

Suddenly, the conversation stops. Just like that. Yes, I'm confused too. We fade out, then fade back in to see the interior of a temple...I think that's what it's supposed to be, anyway--The graphics are so crappy that it's difficult to tell. Yes, I know the game was made around 10 years ago, but I like making fun of the graphics. Leave me alone. The temple is crowded with black and white mages guarding what appears to be a crystal. A FF game involving crystals? Nah, it couldn't be. Captain Cecilia along with the Hulkamaniacs enters the temple, demanding the crystal. Now now, Cecilia. Ask nicely and I'm sure these mages will be happy to hand over the crystal...or maybe not.

"What have we done?" asks the Elder, a sprite of black amongst the otherwise red, yellow, white and blue sea of crappy sprites in the room. "The crystal or your life!" wanks Cecilia. Um, if he's speaking to the entire room, shouldn't that be "the crystal or your lives"? We'll encounter much worse travesties of the English language in due time, so I'll let that one go. One of the random black mages says that the temple will never give up the crystal, to which Cecilia replies "Then take the crystal by force!" Ooh, he's such a badass...except not. Incidentally, Cecilia's last sentence confuses the hell out of me. It's hard to tell whether he's speaking to the Hulkamaniacs or the black mage - which would sound pretty stupid under the circumstances. Then again, nothing in this game would surprise me. Ahem. Now I've finished ripping the dialogue to shreds (for now), let's get back to the game.

The Hulkamaniacs all rush forward and the screen flashes a few times. Apparently this is a creative (read: lazy) way of showing the sprites attacking, as the black and white mages expire with a cry of "Waaah!". The Elder eventually tells Cecilia to take the crystal. Cecilia obliges, but not before one of the random Hulkamaniacs scolds the Elder - basically, telling him that he should have let the Hulkamaniacs take the crystal right away. Well, excuse me if the Elder took offense to a bunch of red and yellow retarded clones waltzing into HIS temple and demanding HIS crystal. Bastards. Looks like Cecilia is showing signs of kleptomania. God, what is it with this guy? He seems to be copying RPG heroes left, right and centre. I'm sure there's a name for this condition...ah, yes, it's 'Lazyocal Gamedesigneritis'.

The Elder now turns towards Cecilia. Uh-oh, I smell bad exposition. "Why is the King of Baron doing this?" he asks. "Why do you pursue the crystals so eagerly?" Maybe the King of Baron feels left out because the lowly Elders all have a crystal, and he wants a crystal too, dammit. Or maybe that's just me trying to be creative. At least, for now, we are spared the horror of any more bad exposition, as Cecilia ignores the Elder. A few seconds later we reappear back on the deck of the airship. In the last 30 seconds of game time, we have learned that the King of Baron wants the crystals, that most of the Baron Knights are evil, and those that aren't are unsure where their loyalties lie. God, that's a lot of bad exposition to squeeze into half a minute. I can see where this game gets it from.

Back on the deck of the airship, the Hulkamaniacs start randomly expositing again. I'm enjoying this game so much. Exposition!Hulkamaniac 1 declares, from out of nowhere, "We take pride in being members of the Red Wings! Looting is out of the question!" Um, didn't they just loot a temple less than a fucking minute ago?! Then again, maybe Exposition!Hulkamaniac 1 is simply trying to express his disgust at said looting. The extremely crappy dialogue makes it rather confusing. Anyway, given the sprite colour palette, shouldn't they be members of the Red & Yellow Wings?

"Stop it!" cries Cecilia in response. If he's referring to the dialogue, then I am in full agreement with him. Otherwise, he's still a giant wanker.

"Captain! We can't stand doing this anymore!" whines Exposition!Hulkamaniac 2. God, if they're so torn up over their recent actions, why don't they just jump off the airship without parachutes and do this poor recapper a favour? Because game designers hate recappers, that's why.

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