Final Fantasy IV

I know that I’m going to get some of the details of this story wrong because it’s mostly told in character exposition, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

See, a long time before the game starts there was this planet between Earth and Mars where a super-advanced civilization lives. Somehow their planet blows up and they look for a new place to live. They decide that Earth looks pretty awesome, but it’s got primitive non-advanced humans on it. So, they decide to go into some kind of stasis on the moon until the civilization advances enough so that they can coexist… all but three. One of them decides to watch over the others so that nothing bad happens to them. Another one goes down to check the humans out, and the third doesn’t want to wait for the earthbound civilization to advance and decides that it’s best to just eradicate the natives and then move in.

As for the guy that moves in with the earthlings, he has two sons, but then dies somehow. The sons become wards of the king and are eventually put in the army. A few years later the king begins to act a little oddly and makes the army do Bad Things(tm) to Innocent People(tm) to get some mysterious crystals for an unclear end.

One of the sons decides that he’s not comfortable with all the killings, but gets a new mission during which he inadvertently kills some girl’s mother and then burns their village to the ground. What follows is a fairly complex story involving redemption, mind control, a mysterious underworld area, a mechanical giant, and something called a Lunar Whale.

Even back when I first played this game, I was impressed by the breadth and scope of this game. The cast of characters is pretty big, and, as far as the story goes, it becomes apparent that your character’s actions affect everyone in the world. And you really feel an emotional attachment to most of the characters that you come across. Then there are the twists and turns that the story takes, and other than the mind-control bits that pop up a little more often than I’m totally comfortable with, but I let it go because the rest of it is really good.

I rented this game several times, and actually managed to finish it because the other folks that rented it on the days I didn’t have it would save their games in the other save slots instead of overwriting mine. They respected my space and I respected theirs.

And it was a good thing, too, I was completely engrossed in the thing for the entire time I’d rent it (about 24 hours each time), and even though I though the game was completely awesome, I’d have been a little upset if I couldn’t have seen how it ended and finally have revealed who was actually friend, who was foe, and what the crystals were actually used for. In fact, this is the first Final Fantasy game that I’d ever played and it kind of hooked me on the series. And even though they’ve gotten kind of bizarrely obtuse in recent iterations, this one definitely makes the short list of great games in the series, and absolutely should make the short lost on Best Games Ever lists.

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