Final Fantasy IV (released as II in the U.S.) was one of the Super Nintendo's first true RPGs- it had a magical score, wonderful plot, and deep character development previously unseen in many console RPG's. The first true Final Fantasy in my opinion, this game is a classic in every respect, a true testament to Square's magnificent abilities.
FFIV was groundbreaking in the fact that it was one of the first RPGs to incorporate a "complex" plot. You are Cecil, the Dark Knight, who leads the kingdom of Baron's Red Wings. Cecil loses his position as the leader of this airship force due to his conflicting feelings with the King's orders to steal and murder innocents. You travel down a path of light, self-discovery, and eventually save the world. The plot was great then and has stood the test of time. There are quite a few interesting plot twists and the great characters only enhance this classic plot.
FFIV features some of the best character's I've ever seen in an RPG. They're not overly complex (most of them are quite simple) but they're quite interesting, and they entertain. Cecil and Kain receive the biggest doses of character development, but the other characters have their spot in the limelight too.
The character design is Amano's best, in my opinion, and really adds some flavor to the characters. The only thing hurting these guys is the bad translation, but aside from that, they're classics…Cecil, Kain, Rosa, they're all cool. The only disappointment is the antagonist; it's not bad, but Square certainly could have spent some more time developing its character.
The early uses of the SNES MIDI chip were impressive, and this is proof of that. Over forty amazing tracks have been fit into this game, each one memorable and a classic. From the Red Barons' intro theme to Edward's harp solo, they're all beautiful, even though the MIDI quality is very poor by today's standards. In fact, the MIDI quality is the only thing that hurts the soundtrack.
FFIV features some great character themes, superb overworld themes (all 3 of 'em rock) and pumping battle themes. One of the best soundtracks of all time, Nobuo Uematsu made each piece come alive, an integral part to the game through his brilliance with the MIDI keyboard. This soundtrack is simply a classic.
FFIV incorporated the dungeon ideas from the Final Fantasies on NES and Famicom and made them larger. The dungeons are very straightforward, as are the battles. Battling is the standard random-encounter system that oh so many RPG's incorporate, and nowadays it may get a tad boring, but back in the day it was amazing. Just think FFVII without the 3-D graphics.
I disliked the magic system though, as it seemed too lame and random for my tastes. It seemed like characters simply learned new abilities and it was left at that; something deeper would have been appreciated. However, it's still turn-based Final Fantasy gameplay, and that's not bad at all; it was great for its time and can still be appreciated today.
Final Fantasy IV doesn't push the power of the SNES, but it's a good-looking SNES game. The town graphics, while sometimes very similar, are large and colorful, and the castle graphics fit the mood very well. Battles also look good, with drawn backdrops and large, detailed character sprites and impressive spell attacks. It's not the best, but Final Fantasy IV certainly broke some new ground, especially with the world map, which I believe looks better than Final Fantasy VI's poor use of Mode-7.
The only failure in FFIV is that Squaresoft BUTCHERED the American release of FFIV (FFII on SNES) with a horrible, horrible translation. Not only does it have its share of spelling and grammar errors, it's also BORING, bland text. Thankfully, the game has such a good plot that you'll keep playing, but the lack of enthusiasm on the translator's part couldn't be more apparent. My little brother writes more interesting sentences... never have I seen a worse case of trite words, simple sentences, and bad item names.
Besides the horrific translation, nothing is wrong with FFIV. The game was very long as compared to the games of 1991, taking a little over 26 hours to complete. The game wasn't overly difficult, but there were a few bosses that left me quite the frustrated boy (die, you evil wall, DIE!). This game is a classic, plain and simple. It may cost a pretty penny but there's nothing like playing an original Final Fantasy IV cart on your good old SNES.