Ah, Final Fantasy
. In the past, it was the gold standard for inconsistent storytelling. Before you strike me down with your Muramasa replica, hear me out. When a Final Fantasy
story works, it's top of the class. However, most of them take implausibly bizarre detours in the home stretch, usually resulting in a disjointed, uneven (but still good) experience. The tales told in Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
do indeed fall prey to this phenomenon, but the characters are memorable and the stories are well-told. That makes the shortcomings easy to overlook. The Dark Knight Cecil's quest for redemption runs the gamut of human emotions; at any one given moment, it can be funny, sad, exciting, and poignant. More often than not, however, it's a complex mix of any of those four. However, as is the case with most Japanese role-playing games, the real joy lies in getting to know the cast of characters. Final Fantasy IV
's cast is superb, from the immeasurably awesome dragoon Kain to the honor-bound monk Yang, to the beautiful summoner Rydia, to the dynamic duo Palom and Porom, to the best Cid in franchise history. The dialogue is snappy and entertaining, and even the instances of poor translation are endearing. My handle for this site is proof enough that I'm a fan of shoddy translations; imagine the grin that spread across my face when the sage Tellah bellowed the immortal phrase "You spoony bard!"
The second of The Complete Collection's offerings is an intermission piece of sorts called Final Fantasy IV: Interlude. It isn't very long, and doesn't amount to a whole lot more than fanservice; after all, everyone and their grandmother seems to have been coronated by the end of the original game. Narrative flimsiness aside, it should please fans of the series who are looking for a reason to return to this world.
The final piece is Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Originally released as a Wii-Ware game, The After Years follows the exploits of Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa (who are now King and Queen of Baron). Though it's closer in length to a full-fledged sequel than Interlude, The After Years doesn't have much spark to it when compared to the original. However, an intriguing new gameplay mechanic helps it stand on its own.