FFIV Basic Guide

Beginning

Final Fantasy IV is a traditional RPG originally made for the SNES in 1994. Since then, it has been released as a port for Playstation, Gameboy Advance and as a downloadable title for several platforms, as well as a remake on the Nintendo DS. The Gameboy Advance had enhanced graphics compared to the original, while the NDS remake has full 3D graphics and voice acting.

The main menu of the game is the traditional Final Fantasy one, and opens with the Start button (early versions) or Y button (NDS version). In earlier versions it fills the whole screen, while in DS version the actual menu is on the upper screen along with the view of the current place the character is in, and the lower screen is filled up with additional information, this being level and HP/MP information by default.
The options in the main menu should be self-evident. The Abilities menu in the screenshot is present only in the DS version, and allows you to set augment abilities and auto-battle attacks.

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Strengthening people for battle happens through the traditional experience point system, where when you have gained enough you will gain a level, and receive character- and level-specific boosts to several of your stats. This same system was used exclusively for the older versions, while the NDS version features an additional twist. From levels 70-99 you gain additional stat boosts according to what augment abilities the character has equipped at the time they gain a level. Each augment ability has specific stat boosts associated with it.

The main currency of the game is Gil, as per usual. In addition, there is a trading system in place to exchange several different kinds of monster tails for the game's best equipment.

New Game+

The New Game+ feature is only available in the DS version of the game. While it will not retain your characters' levels, most of your items or gil, it does retain the augment abilities taught to each character, as well as any rare equips (adamant armor and onion equipment), augment ability and summon items and monster-summon abilities already taught to Rydia, and the key item Dark Matter.
A new game+ will also retain your Whytkin's stats and your Whytkin minigame scores, as well as your progression in the Namingway quest and all features unlocked in the Fat Chocobo menu - that is, your bestiary completion, cutscene theater and music jukebox. Also retained is monster information you have obtained through the use of Libra.

Battle Basics

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Battles in Final Fantasy IV are mostly random battles - that is, enemies cannot be seen on the map, and will instead activate randomly when moving. A random battle activating will take the player to the battle screen, where allies are lined up on one side and enemies on the other. In earlier versions the battle UI was squashed at the bottom of the screen, but in the DS version it fills up the entire lower screen, giving ample space to display additional information about everything related to said battle and the player's current actions.
In addition, there are several points in the game where the player will be pushed into battle automatically every time they walk atop a certain area. These battles function otherwise identically to random battles.

Each battle can either start normally, be a preemptive strike, a surprise attack or a back attack. A normal battle starts with everyone's ATB gauge at 0 or close to it and a preemptive strike is advantageous to the player in that all player units will start with full ATB and enemies at 0. A Surprise Attack is the opposite of this, with the enemies starting at full ATB gauge and allies with zero, while a back attack is the worst-case scenario in that enemies start with full ATB gauge, allies start with zero, and your fragile back-row characters are in front row and vice versa, forcing you to use one character's turn to protect your mages and allow your physical fighters to deal full damage.

The Flow of Battle

All iterations of Final Fantasy IV follow the traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system. In fact, this was the first game in the series to feature this system. When you enter battle, each ally and enemy will start at a certain place on their ATB gauge, and their gauge will fill according to their Speed stat. Once full, an action can be selected. Basic attacks are instant, but most abilities require their own time to get off. Only one action from either the ally or enemy side can activate at one time, and when more are ready to be used while one has not yet finished, they will simply queue up according to their speed, and activate one at a time.
Each ally character's ATB gauge is displayed to the right of their name in all versions that display it.

There are only three abilities that are common to all characters - those of Attack and Item, allowing them to execute a basic attack or use an item from your inventory, and Defend and Change Row, which allow the character to defend for that turn or change the row of all characters on their side. Every other ability is either character-specific or an augment ability taught to them separately, the latter type being available only in the DS version. Abilities must be set in the Ability menu before they can be used in battle.

While it isn't readily apparent, it is possible to change equipment mid-battle. To do this, select the Item menu and scroll up above the regular item menu. This will display the equipment menu, allowing you to either change your equipment or use an equip that can be used as an item in battle.

While earlier versions of the game require you to always pick your attacks manually, in the DS version there is present the Auto Battle option. Pressing Y will activate it, and have each character use their pre-set auto battle command each time their turn comes around. While useful in the way it was intended, this feature can also be used to in effect add one ability slot to the maximum otherwise provided. When using this trick, one must be careful not to let other characters than the one intended to use their auto battle command, and instead carefully monitor when they should turn auto battle off.

Battle's End

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After the player secures a victory, the victory fanfare will play. The victory screen will display what loot you obtained in this battle, and how much experience. Also provided is the total amount of gil in your possession and a gauge for each character to show how far they are from leveling up.
Note that this separate screen only exists in the DS version, being replaced in all earlier versions by several lines of simple text.

It is also possible to run away from a battle unless it is a special one. To accomplish this, press the R button - although in some versions, you must select it separately from the battle menu.

A third way to get away from a battle is to have all your characters either KO'd or petrified. This will result in a game over.

Abilities

While Final Fantasy IV doesn't have a system where you can change jobs aside from some story-related events, each character has their own special abilities, most of which cannot be used by other characters. Each character will have all their abilities from level 1, although spells are learnt through reaching the appropriate level for that spell.

In the DS version, additional augment abilities exist. Augment abilities are abilities - passive or active - that can be taught to any character via an item obtained during gameplay. Many of these abilities come from characters leaving your party for the final time, although depending on how many augment abilities have been taught to that character before, you might obtain only one. Others of the augment abilities are, for example, found lying around after a boss battle or obtained via a miniquest.

To see the list of all abilities, see Attacks. Each ability linked to on the page will mention how to learn or obtain it.

Items and Commerce

The game's items are divided into two screens, the regular items that come up by default when selecting Inventory/Item from the main menu, and the key item menu that you must select separately under the Inventory menu to display. Key items, as usual, are items used up in the story, although the DS version added the augment abilities to this menu. Regular items include (in order), all medicine, other consumables, weapons and armor.
To see a list of all items, see here.

Most commerce in the game is done via specific vendor NPCs. These can be found in any town, and are usually divided into regular item vendors and weapon and item shops.

Stats and Their Meanings

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Final Fantasy IV has five basic stats, and six other stats that partially depend on the basic ones. In addition, each character has separate HP (Hit Point) and MP (Mana Point) values. When HP reaches 0, that character is knocked out, while MP is required to cast spells.

The five basic stats are Strength (STR), Speed (SPD), Stamina (STA), Intellect (INT) and Spirit (SPR). Strength is related to the character's attack strength, Speed determines how quick their ATB moves, Stamina is related to defense value and HP gain, Intellect determines how strong your Black Magic, Summon and Ninjutsu spells are, and Spirit determines the strength of White Magic.

The six complementary stats - usually affected directly by weapons and armor the character wears) are Attack (ATK), Accuracy (ACC), Defense (DEF), Evasion (EVA), Magic Defense (MDEF) and Magic Evasion (MEVA). Attack is the direct value of the character's physical attacking strength, Defense their physical defense value and Evasion their physical evasion value. MDEF and MEVA are the latter two but for magic.

Status Effects

There are a total of 17 different enfeebling status effects in the game, divided into 8 that last after battle and 9 that disappear when the battle is won. The latter types are Slow, Stop, Sap, Sleep, Paralyze, Confusion, Curse, Petrify and Reverse.
The former types are Poison, Blind, Silence, Pig, Toad, Stone and Knocked Out or KO as it's more commonly known. These must be removed by either the appropriate healing item or spell to be gotten rid of.
In addition to these, there is the Cry status effect that can only be cast by the player on an enemy. It reduces the target's DEF by 50%.

There are also a total of 11 beneficiary (or enhancing) status effects. These are Berserk, Bubble, Blink, Brace, Float, Focus, Haste, Hide, Protect, Shell and Reflect.
In addition to these, there are two rarer status effects, those of Darkness (you consume 10% of your HP in return for doubled damage) and Bluff (doubles your INT for the next spell, although with an upper limit of 99).


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