Final Fantasy IV is the fourth game in the Final Fantasy series. Originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the game was subsequently re-released for the PlayStation, the WonderSwan Color, the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. It was originally released in North America as Final Fantasy II. This altered numbering system caused the game Final Fantasy VI to be numbered Final Fantasy III, leading to quite a bit of confusion when the PlayStation game Final Fantasy VII (which retained the number VII) came out. A sequel, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, was released for Japanese mobile phones in February 2008. The sequel was released via WiiWare in the US on June 1, 2009.
Gameplay in Final Fantasy IV is standard computer role-playing game fare; characters traverse an overworld to fulfill requirements of various quests, using towns to replenish strength, buy new equipment, and discover clues, all the while fighting monsters at random intervals. The game also introduces Square’s Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which differs from previous Final Fantasy games (and from most RPGs in general) in that players must give orders to their characters in real-time. The ATB system would appear again in the next five games in the series, as well as making appearances in other games produced by Square, including Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy X-2.
In battle, each character has certain strengths and weaknesses, including either spellcasting powers or other special abilities, based on their job. Like other Final Fantasy games, characters gain in abilities as they gain experience from battles. Magic is divided into four different categories, which include White Magic, Black Magic, Rydia’s Summon Magic (Call in the SNES version), and a special type of offensive and support magic used exclusively by Edge known as Ninjutsu.
Of note is the extensive use of “retort” attacks that the enemies use. This makes it so that if all five of your characters attack an enemy with this retort ability then the enemy will respond with five of its own attacks. An example is the Behemoth. This overused method was not repeated as extensively in later FF games. This leads to much shuffling of characters to find one that is either able to kill the enemy in one blow, thereby killing the opponent before it can retort, or at least find a character that has a worthwhile melee attack.
Final Fantasy IV was released in a variety of different versions for a variety of different platforms. All versions tell the same story, and feature the same characters. Most use the same graphics, sound, music, and basic game engine (the DS version being a notable exception). Nonetheless, there are certain key distinctions between each version.
Because of the extreme differences between this North American SNES version of the game and the original Japanese release, in the late 1990s, J2e Translations released an English language fan translation of the original game.