My first brush with Final Fantasy IV (then Final Fantasy 2) was watching my friends, Jordan and Chris, play it at their house. I had come over in time to witness them infiltrating Baron Castle and defeating Kainazzo, (original English name so don’t @ me, bro) imposter king and Fiend of Water. This was my first brush with an RPG and the graphics, music and story quickly sucked me in. I continued to play bits and pieces with my friends but they weren’t allowed to loan games so I could never get fully invested in the story, which just killed me. I could tell there was something special there, and I wanted in.
It wasn’t too long after that first time playing it that I had saved up the requisite fifty dollars and was on my way to the store to pick up my very own copy of Final Fantasy 2. Boy was I right about it being special. Action, adventure, intrigue, betrayal, romance, sacrifice, bravery, loyalty, and redemption, this game had it all! This blew my pre-teen mind wide open. Video games can do this? Heretofore my experience with story in games had been whatever was in the manual, but in Final Fantasy 2 characters explained things, they emoted, they paced back and forth in excitement and bowed their little pixelated heads in shame. It was like watching color TV for the first time or going from silent films to talkies.
Even twenty-odd years later, it’s still hard for me to pick a favorite moment from this game; there are just too many! Like how great is it when Cecil confronts his past self to renounce being a Dark Knight and hears the voice of his father right as Paladin Theme kicks in? Or what about when your party is losing the fight with Golbez for the Dark Crystals and Rydia appears again complete with new magic and summons? Or how about Cid “suicide” bombing off of the Enterprise to stop the Red Wings? And the end, when Zeromus is about to annihilate everything and all the friends you made along the way appear to give you a fighting chance?
Final Fantasy 2 was one of the games that cemented the SNES as the premier gaming destination for me. It was, and is, a classic in every sense of the word.