Retronauts Episode 485: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

These wizards came from the moon before it was cool

In the series' 35-year-long history, Final Fantasy IV stands out as a special entry. It was the first game to debut on Nintendo's 16-bit Super Famicom, it introduced the Active Time Battle system to shake up the turn-based combat of the earlier games, and it delivered a cinematic story the likes of which fans had never seen before. Is it the best Final Fantasy game ever made? Some people would argue that it is, and while that's true of every Final Fantasy, in the case of IV "some people" represents a significant portion of the fanbase.

A game that beloved doesn't just disappear into the moonlight, so when Square Enix looked to sell video games to Japanese commuters on their mobile phones in the early 2000s, the company crafted a sequel called Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. The software was incompatible with foreign-market models, but Square Enix knew Final Fantasy IV had a lot of fans around the world, so a localized port made its way to consoles, and was later bundled with a remake of the game for PSP and Vita.

Is The After Years the best Final Fantasy game ever made? You're welcome to post that on Twitter if you're looking for a hot take, but our host Nadia Oxford and guests Victor Hunter and Ash Paulsen would argue that its much better than its reputation suggests, and that the ports of the once-serialized sequel may have lost some of its thunder in the porting process.

Description: Oh no, it's Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Square Enix's follow-up to Final Fantasy IV isn't exactly well-loved, but it casts a weird spell over anyone who has the patience to give it a good try. Nadia, Victor Hunter, and Ash Paulsen talk about The After Years' glaring weaknesses—and its overlooked strengths. There are dozens of them! Dozens!

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Artwork for this episode by Nick Wanserski and editing thanks go to Greg Leahy.