So, one of the best Early Final Fantasy games is Final Fantasy IV. over 15 years after the initial release, they made a sequel to this much beloved game. Ladies and Gentlemen, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
Better/Worse? Worse, but a pretty decent game
Anything really important to mention: Save all your tales onto separate files. Save all your tales onto separate files. Save All your tales onto separate files!
The After years is split into several different “tales” that follow a different set of characters around. In the end, the tales come together and form the final bit of story.
Long Story Short
Cecil, the protagonist from the first game, all around nice guy:
has gone a bit mental and started hoarding crystals and generally destroying towns and being an assholes.
Oh wait, this happened in the first game and it was Cagnazzo possessing the King all along.
So basically history is repeating itself (kinda) and we’re here to figure out why. It makes me sad that this happened to Cecil because I really LIKE Cecil.
Ceodore’s Tale is the first one you have to play. Nearly every other tale can be chosen in whichever order. Ceodore, in case you were wondering is Cecil and Rosa’s son. He is a bit of an idiot.
He is a new recruit of the Red Wings (the airforce) which is what Cecil was way in FFIV. Ceodore is off to pass his entrance exam or whatever and his airship crashes and everyone dies. Except Ceodore. So, Ceodore makes his way back to Baron (his homeland) and on his way he meets
Kain a mysterious man in Pyjamas.
This tale just kind of introduces you to the whole system – everything is pretty much the same as FFIV except they have a weird “moon” system (what is this an Atlus game?) where you attacks do different damage depending on the moon. Also there is a “band” system that allows you to carry out cool moves with two characters, but it is mostly useless.
All you need to know is that I don’t like Ceodore. He falls off things a lot, but
Kain Mysterious Pyjama Man always saves him for some reason.
Rydia’s Tale of course revolves around the character from the first game who seems to not have aged due to magical bullshit.
The Eidolons (summons) have all been turned to stone and Rydia (who lives with them and can summon them) wants to find out why. In her tale she is joined by a non-playable character from the first game who HAS aged.
Luca is a young dwarf princess who is really good with mechanics. She is also followed around by her dolls, Calca and Brina… do you remember this boss battle?
Yes, it is those same dolls. Except this time they are not trying to kill you and instead being rather useful. However, feels bad because Luca eventually has to dismantle them for parts to save the airship :( I quite liked this tale as it seemed to offer something new to the player and some interesting story aspects.
Yang, one of my favourite of FFIV’s cast has a daughter that wants to grow up to be a monk just like her dad, but he’s not having any of it because she’s his daughter/a girl/he cares too much for her.
Yang knows that something is up with Cecil and wants to find out what is going on. Him and Ursula eventually get stranded on a desert island which is a pain in the neck. This tale is not particularly interesting.
Palom, the little shit twin from the first game is now an adult and off training a cute girl.
I liked this tale but it didn’t feel very connected to the rest of the game and felt a bit “simple” because he was teaching a newbie, so it couldn’t be too hard. It took place in Troia which was a very forgettable part of the first game. I was like “huh, is this a new place?” and realised that I’d just totally forgotten about it.
Edge’s tale is an interesting one because it’s mostly about Edge wanting to shrik being a King and get people to leave him alone while he investigates the Tower of Babil (again).
By “get people to leave him alone” I mean these guys.
These guys are Edge’s group of fans. They are so… eh… that I forget their names. They are Old Man, Woman, Small Child and Other Guy. Edge sends them each on a mission and if they succeed, they come back to investigate with him. Old Man succeeded in his mission by becoming a human kite (that is the name of the move). Woman died on her mission. Small Child succeeded by running on water. Other Guy succeeded by running away.
Seriously, didn’t know what I was supposed to think of this.
However, this Tale brought about a key question – why isn’t Edge married yet? He’s the King of Eblan and he is over 40. He doesn’t have an heir. I like the idea that he just chooses Small Child as an heir because Small Child is a little shit, just like he was. Also, for LOLZ in the final level, Yang hints to Edge that he should really get married soon (to Ursula).
Porom, if you recall is Palom’s twin sister. She is the white mage to his black mage and the sensible to his… not sensible.
Now, I really am a fan of Porom. However, Porom’s tale is really disappointing because it is not about Porom, it is mostly about Palom. Do you remember that Apollo Justice didn’t really star in his own game?. This is like that. It explores a little of how Porom and Palom were as kids, during and after FFIV. It explored a lot about how Palom wanted to become a Sage, but very little of Porom. However, she does meet
evil Kain. Once again, she isn’t really the focal point here.
Edward! The Spoony Bard! And his…secretary??
Edward is in much the same position as Yang – he is a King and very suspect of Cecil’s activity. So he goes to check it out. But… he brings his secretary with him. Like Edge, Edward is an unmarried/without an heir King who shows no signs of wanting to get married. Well then.
I like Edward’s tale because he is displayed as a comptent, clever person. Rather than in FFIV he was a bit of a coward and an idiot. Not so much as Gordon from FFII but still.
So, remember that Porom found Kain? Well now we get to play as him. He has two goals:
If you recall there is a really awkward bit in FFIV where Cecil and crew rescue Rosa. They cuddle because they love each other – thus has been established. Then Kain kind of awkwardly goes “…I like you too Rosa…” and she’s like “…okay..?”
Anyway, so in FFIV we learned that Kain is not to be trusted. At the end of the game we see him
all by himself up a mountain, regretting the fact he cannot be trusted. And we don’t know what happens to him.
One of the few things After Years does well is answer the question “What happened to Kain?” – it’s left totally open except “he fucks off up a mountain”.
However, playing this tale will make you think that that he’s just gone back to being a dick. It ends just as he’s dragged Rosa away and is about to kill Cecil in front of her eyes.
Golbez, as in, the villain from the last game?
Yes, Golbez gets a tale – recall, by the end of the game it turned out he was Cecil’s brother and had been possessed the whole time. He was quite regretful of his actions.
In this game he is a cool guy, has a face and wears a mini-skirt.
Out of all the new characters, Golbez is my favourite to play as – his stats are really high, he has really good magic and pretty decent attack and defense too. His tale is also really interesting, although is is quite difficult. You get joined by Fusoya AKA Moon Man who still dissolves into a puddle when breathed on.
Basically, shit is going down on the moon and Golbez eventually travels to earth because of it.
Searching for Friends
After everyone’s main tale you get to play the “Searching for friends” tale. It echoes the final part of my much beloved Final Fantasy VI where you have to gather you party and all the summons back together before travelling to stop Kain from killing Cecil. And to stop Cecil from bombing the shit out of everyone.
This tale is quite fun, as it is pretty much the only non-linear tale.
Also, it is revealed that Pyjama Kain is True Kain and Armour Kain is his Evil Inner Desires. He has a Persona 4 moment where he must “face himself” AKA do battle with his evil self until, he accepts it as a part of him. In other words he doesn’t actually want to rape Rosa, just maybe … a little bit… in his mind. And he feels really bad.
Once Kain deals with his issue and Cecil has some sense knocked into him we go to… the moon.
Not the normal Sky Moon, not the other Moon that Golbez lives on – no, a totally different, brand spanking new moon. What. The Hell.
Throughout this tale, although we have Cecil back, he is traumatised by what he has done – he was essentially “locked in”, able to see and think and understand his actions, but not moving his own body – and he is now doing a Princess Garnet and not speaking as a form of PTSD. :(
A diversion, but there’s a really good book on Locked In Syndrome (or similar) called The Comforts of Madness. Maybe have a read.
Anyway. This level is a boss rush. You fight through old bosses from the first game… and Cecil gets his voice back! Woohoo! And then… you… fight through bosses from FFI, FFII, FFIII, FFV and FFIV.
It’s quite exhausting.
I will say this. I didn’t realise that Ultima Weapon was an optional boss. I struggled and struggled and struggled. And realised there is a staircase behind him.
I should say that, this is a “pick your own party” level. My party was the dame as my final party for FFIV: Cecil, Edge, Porom, Rosa but with Golbez replacing Rydia.
Then Golbez dies :( Well, he did in my playthrough because… I didn’t bring Ceodore with me. What the hell, game.
So I brought Palom along instead.
The ending of the game is.. really.. naff. The explanation for why everything has been happening and why there’s this crazy girl:
And why history is repeating itself.. is just… crap. It feels very artificial, and like it wouldn’t have happened if this game wasn’t a thing. I complained about this with Advent Children as well. The game itself is fine, but its raison d’etre is just naff. FFIV does call for many answer except for “what happened to Kain” which is nicely answered. How each character was handled was nice, but… the scenario could have been better.
I enjoyed this game, and it is a good game, if a bit linear and a bit “what”. I feel that it doesn’t really “pick up” until the later chapters, but all in good time.
Have you played it? Who was your favourite newbie character?