May Video Game Challenge Progress Report: Final Fantasy IV

Determination, motivation, and effort will almost always propel you forward to finish any task at hand. Even plain stubbornness and a no quit attitude might be enough. I, however, discovered that even if you do set a rather simple goal for yourself, there will be times when you can’t predict the obstacles in your path no matter how prepared you think you are. As the Memorial Day weekend winds down, the month is also close to an end and it’s time to report my progress for this month’s game challenge.


I was excited to get back into Final Fantasy IV for the Nintendo DS. It has been about four or five years since I’ve last played the game and I was nearly at the very end of it. My memory of where I last left off was clearly foggy because I presumed I was in the position to move onto the final boss of the game. How woefully mistaken and naive I was to think this, as I started up the game and loaded the save file. This was also the start of some very frustrating game playing (or lack thereof) when I reacquainted myself with Cecil and the gang.

Seeing Cecil in his cute sprite form brought back great memories of playing the game diligently every single day when I first got it as a gift. Those warm and squishy feelings were short-lived when I absolutely had no clue where I had to go next. I remember healing everyone and then leaving them at the Crystal Palace to save––never to touch the game ever again until this month. This was a grave mistake on my part as I have discussed in a GFN post not too long ago. The only logical thing to do to figure out where I needed to go to next was teleport back to the Lunar Subterrane. Once back into the long and cavernous caves, I began walking Cecil and friends through the completed maps I did play through. Easy peasy, right? A big fat WRONG!

I’ll admit that I haven’t played too many Final Fantasy games in my time. The only ones I’ve played are FFIV, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy XIII. Of those three games, I successfully finished and completed the main story of Crisis Core. That’s a feat I’m even amazed I managed to do. Thinking I’d be able to achieve the same completion success with FFIV, I forgot how in every Final Fantasy game, when you’re in open land or caves, you are bound to get randomly attacked by different levels of monsters.

Depending on the difficulty of each creature, some are easier than others to defeat. Luckily, Cecil and the gang were leveled up pretty high since the last time I played, most were at Level 70+, when I checked their stats. The high level, though, wasn’t enough to not find it remarkably frustrating to walk through the caves again in an attempt to find your next point of interest.

I got attacked too many times and it was disheartening to see my characters’ HP at dangerously low levels by the time I polished off the random monster attacks I got. I was reluctant to use up any of the health potions I had or use too much of the magic gauges of strong healers I had in my party to heal up everyone. I wanted to make sure to save all of that for the much harder boss fights in the game. What makes it worse is FFIV did not have too many save points scattered inside the Luna Subterrane map. I forgot how much of a time sink this game can be because of the lack of a save point. It’s a fun time sink, but only when you have infinite amounts of time to play. You can probably guess I don’t have that kind of time anymore.

More time was wasted trying to figure out how to enter the different parts of the cave to get to the next level. Some involved hugging the walls to find the opening and walking up and down the map because I had no idea what I was doing. Again, it has been years since I’ve played. I was teaching myself the game mechanics all over again.

After a lot of trial and error, I finally found the place I needed to be. You’d think I’d be doing a happy dance at this point, saying, “Yes! I did it! I can finally move towards getting to the end of the game.” Nope. It didn’t happen that way. What I found out was I didn’t finish all of the Lunar Subterrane map. It turns out I stopped at Level 5 of this map, somehow walked Cecil and crew all the way back to the first level of the caves to heal, and saved at the Crystal Palace. Why didn’t I just finish the game when I had the chance? If I could travel back in time I’d tell younger me to just finish the game and get it over with. My life would have been much easier in this case.

I pushed forward with the intent to finish this game as I set out to do. More of the maps needed to be completed and there were more chests to loot. I started off fine until I opened some chests and got ambushed by a random monster. Unfortunately, the random monster I got attacked with was overwhelming for me and it KOed my entire party before I was able to figure out the best strategy to get everyone to survive the worst attack this monster had. Once everyone in my party was dead and no actual save point in sight to start where I last left off, it meant going back to the very BEGINNING of the last save I had and retracing my steps back to the level I needed to be at. This process happened about four times. After defeating one monster without any problems but encountering one that was harder to kill, I gave up after it demolished my entire party.

I’d say I clocked in about two or three hours of my time one weekend. The level of annoyance and frustration was just too much to deal with at that point to try again. It took too much time getting to the level I had yet to finish in the first place. Why in the hell do I want to torture myself again for another hour or two?! No thank you. I love you, Cecil, but we’re on a break at the moment. Being out most other weekends didn’t give me additional spare time to come back to the game with a calmer mindset.

It’s disappointing that this makes two failed game challenges now. This is to be expected, of course. You aren’t going to succeed at every challenge, but that’s okay. You try again and you’ll get better at it next time. The key is to not quit when you’re struggling at anything. I also think I may have picked a harder game to tackle without testing the probability of me being able to finish it within a month.

I may approach June’s game challenge a little differently. Having two failed game challenges under my belt is unacceptable to me. Check back next week when I reveal what my intention will be for next month’s game pick.

8 thoughts on “May Video Game Challenge Progress Report: Final Fantasy IV

  1. I played through my first three Final Fantasy games recently: XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns. I loved XIII-2, but I didn’t even finish the other two. They were just too long and frustrating. XIII-2 was long, but fun. I like to complete things, but sometimes it’s just not worth it.

    1. My only problem with XIII is how I got terribly stuck on a mini-boss. I know it requires maybe more level grinding, but it’s really frustrating when you’re able to plow through the game without any problems, only to encounter an issue later.

      I’m sure I’ll be able to play through FFIV and beat it at some point. I can’t say the same for XIII though.

  2. Frankly, I’m just impressed that you attempted to push through that zone four times. I probably would have rage quit much sooner.

    Having to redo entire sections after dying can be so frustrating at times especially in RPG style games.

    1. When I set my mind on something, I’m determined to see it all the way through! Those four times I went back to the map all over again had me surprisingly calm for most of it. I was mad, but not ruffled yet to rage quit. By the fourth failed attempt, it was time to put the game down.

      I think most games now, even RPGs, are a little more forgiving about save points. I haven’t encountered other RPGs I’ve played where I die and have to go through entire maps all over again to get back to where I need to be. FFIV is a game I really have to pace myself here and have ample amounts of time to get through whole maps where there aren’t too many save points.

  3. Those darn Final Fantasy random battles. The little monsters are annoying, the giant monsters are punishing. This reminds me of the last time I tried starting up FFVII. I would get through Midgar and finally make out into the open world without much idea of where to go. Not a problem except somehow I would keep encountering this giant snake thing that would KO the entire party. Be it the original or Lightning Returns, I suppose Final Fantasy will always require an almost stupid amount of patience.

    Credit to you for not giving up after only a couple tries. That’s much further than I would have gotten.

    1. I think it’s funny that some have expressed here in the comments how surprised they were for me to have as much patience as I had with the Lunar Subterrane map. I honestly don’t know where it came from either! 🙂

      That’s maybe one of the problems with Final Fantasy games. As much fun as they are to play, it’s really annoying when you have to keep fighting too many random monsters without a break in between or making it even harder to get to the next point in the game. It’s great when you want to level grind. Not so good when you’re ready to move on.

      1. I suppose that’s why the JRPG’s that managed to find the right balance are the ones that go on to become classics…like Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana.

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