I don’t even know how long I’ve been playing Final Fantasy IV DS. I mean, yeah, my in-game clock read about 40 hours. But those 40 hours were often divided up in to 10-20 minute chunks for the last three or four months. I have been playing this game for a very, very long time.
It makes me feel particularly great because I was warned by multiple people ahead of time that this was a difficult game. Final Fantasy IV was the first game Square-Enix retooled for North American audiences because they felt that the original Japanese SNES version was too difficult. So, when they brought the game to the states, they made it easier.
FFIV DS goes in the opposite direction: instead of being easier, Square-Enix made it harder. Harder than the North American release, and even harder than the original Japanese release. FFIV DS is bar-none the hardest version of the game. Bosses have more HP, new and more powerful attacks, the works. It will chew you up and spit you out.
And I beat it. It feels particularly triumphant when you consider that when I was a kid, I used to routinely use a Game Genie to power-up directly to level 99 because I had trouble even with the easiest RPGs. Perhaps the assumption that the Japanese version of FFIV was too difficult was correct.
I only just barely beat it, though. I’ve spent what feels like the last three weeks grinding out the final dungeon - the first time I’ve ever actually had to grind in that game. I went from Level 63 all the way up to about Level 74 or 75, and I was still having to fight for my life during random battles. Add on to that the fact that the final dungeon is something like 11 floors and you have a real rough time.
By the end, I just started running from every battle I got in to. I was sick of fighting blue dragons and behemoths. I made a bee-line towards the final boss, Zeromus, and after the smoke had cleared, I won by a sheer stroke of luck.
Kain has an attack called “Jump”, where he leaps very, very, very high in to the sky and then comes down on his opponent to do massive damage (more than double what he normally deals). The twist is that Kain is usually in mid-air for a good 2-3 turns before he comes back down again. So, I enacted a strategy…
Zeromus is not an easy fight. His “Big Bang” attack did a good 4000+ damage to my entire party, most of which top out at 2500-3000hp. In other words, instant death for everybody but Cecil.
And Kain, luck prevailing.
Zeromus has another mainstay attack: “Black Hole”. It removes all status effects on everybody in the battle - both him and your party. Poison is useless, Slow is useless, Haste is useless, Armor buffs are useless.
Unless you’re Kain, and you’re currently above the battle and are not effected.
And so, Haste, Shell, and Protect were granted to the entire party. They eventually fell, but I held on for as long as possible with Cecil, hitting Zeromus with his sword between using Elixirs to refill his health all the way back to full. Eventually, even Cecil fell to the might of the final boss.
I had anticipated this. Final Fantasy IV DS has an “Auto-Battle” feature, where you can set up members of your party to automatically execute a command the moment they become available to do so. I had set Kain’s Auto-Battle command to be Jump, so that the moment he was ready to attack, he would automatically jump in to the air.
By luck, Kain had been in the air for every single one of Zeromus’ attacks. He was still under the effects of Haste, so his already naturally high speed was even higher. And so, he jumped. And he jumped. And he jumped. Every time he’d come down, 5000-6000 damage. He was my last hope.
Until Zeromus caught him with a Flare attack. Kain’s 3200hp was reduced to 230. But he kept jumping.
Zeromus caught him again, this time with an attack called Whirlwind. Whirlwind is one of those attacks in FFIV that is designed specifically not to kill you; just to bring you close to death. In my case, Kain’s 230hp was now 9hp. A stiff breeze would kill him. All hope seemed lost.
But Kain kept jumping.
And then, just like that, Zeromus fell. A little bit cheap, but given the way this game had treated me up until this point, I feel like it was a fair trade off.
Now I need to figure out what I’m going to play next. I’ve been told Dragon Quest, but I need to decide on which one. I could just jump straight to DQ9, but maybe I want to do 4 or 5 first. We’ll see.