We're in for kind of a long article, but hey, it's kind of a long game! Final Fantasy IV is one of the most ported by Nintendo in the Final Fantasy franchise but also numerous ROM hack variants are available. When I was a young RPG player FF2(US) was one of the most rented games we ever picked up. My friend and I had probably rented this game enough to actually buy it. The rental overlord we rented from was actually a good guy and didn't wear a cape laughing at our loss. In fact he gave us new coupons every time we rented new stuff. He even went as far as to give us free movie rentals if we could find it first in the store and letting us exchange games if we beat it in a single day. Bonus to me, I have great visual memory, enough to have his entire inventory in my head but day by day and night by night he challenged us. He made the experience fun. He liked seeing if he could win and he had no problem losing and really only losing $2.50 in rental fees. With all the recognition of this game, why would a site like this write about Final Fantasy IV? Well, welcome to the one of best USA versions of Final Fantasy II.. and as you've LIKELY heard by now, Final Fantasy II *is* Final Fantasy IV in Japan. Most USA releases now reflect this common tidbit by releasing it as Final Fantasy IV now with all the changes only Japanese players had originally. I was welcomed to it early on through ROM translations, if I recall as far back as the mid-late 90s with a partially translated ROM. This ROM hack is specifically designed with the Final Fantasy II SNES ROM which sets it apart from the other official releases that focused on the original FF4 for Super Famicom. The biggest question of all is why is this even a big deal? What's so special about this ROM hack?
Enter a person nicknamed JCE3000GT who developed a ROM hack of FF2US (Easy Type) back in 2000 as work in progress, released 2004, aptly named Final Fantasy II (Hard Type) or FF2usHT (or FF2usHT+). This isn't just some standard Final Fantasy game but be aware it's also bundled with a beginners trap and slew of challenges to get all the bits of additional content. You start up the ROM and you're hit with the unneeded to be changed theme song (I usually let it play a few cycles before starting :P). Now, BAM! You're confronted with an impossible Behemoth sprite (nicely colored) from the original game with the developers name. Whatever you do, do not attack him. He is your friend. You are about to embark on a journey that Final Fantasy II or even IV has never offered you. We have a task ahead of us and it's time to move our ass. Listen to JCE3000GT and we will just wait until he's done because you have no choice. Just listen and the game starts. Get psyched!
Regardless of the opinion of some, Earthbound is not the best RPG on this system (hey opinions, man) and all the accumulative Final Fantasy on this console ARE the best and even has Gameboy Advance additions that are worth each their own article on this site, but we'll see. Final Fantasy typically never deals in a soft journey, and this ROM hack has no intention of changing itself from that progression. For the most part there are no Final Fantasy games that require grinding for levels BUT there may be parts where you grind for money and this one isn't much different as you encounter it's numerous ugly and grotesque enemies. You might need to walk in circles only a few times pending you move too fast (ran) to progress naturally. I'm not gonna drag you by the ear through this like a walkthrough BUT I do _recommend_ naturally gaining levels since it'll give you a decent challenge rather than being a walking death machine through the RPG's you play by being too overpowered early on. Lord J is now your little man in the cave for adamant based items too. You get lots more in this version. The dropped items can be quite interesting. I won't spoil them all but shown here is one, the MP-Tab which will boost a players Max MP. Built-in player skills, enemies and items that were Japanese exclusive are in this release of FF2. He also added extras such as more magic for your Paladin and Ninja. The enemy difficulty can be a bit up and down but not enough to not call this one of the better versions and likely the best Final Fantasy ROM hack out there perhaps only rivaled by his own work with Final Fastasy III called FF3usHT... go figure. I've yet to play that one but it's on my things to do.
The story of the game is the same, like many RPGs you're out to stop some baddies that've done some nasty thing to this protected resource, in this case, crystals. This Final Fantasy is great because it's really just a straight forward RPG and if you really took your time you could nail it under 20 hours but also more if you tried to find out all the drops. It's simplicity and story is pretty good and sure it doesn't have the class changing, the learning enemy skills but it also doesn't need it. That simplicity kept focus on highly functional gameplay and a steady follow on our heroes story filled with emotion, comedy and adventure. The following games, FF5 and FF6 are really strap yourself down RPGs and go in numerous directions as you continue to make the best party you can. In FF5 you could easily spin the gameplay counter to 99:99:99 trying to get your classes and enemy skills all maxed out but FF4 isn't as short nor entry level of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest which has it's own charm but a completely different game with highly linear travels.
If you're looking for tips to get through this, I'd carry them with you through the whole game, such as don't run, just naturally level up so you can progress how the game intends. It tends to be enough. Don't be afraid to set a pure attacker on Berzerk mode, they hit much harder, faster and can dispose of a pain in the ass enemy while you focus on healing and offensive magic. You might find these tactics specifically useful against the likes of Trap Doors depending on your levels as when you let the battle drag you will likely die. Trap Doors aren't hard but they do offer instant death attacks and hatch enemies if you don't take them out in short time using big damage. The area in which you find them (Sealed Cave) they are many and resources can be difficult to maintain so do maintain them before that adventure. You'll want a lot of restorative items to be safe. If you battle every Trap Door, you will come out with some serious party strength and their defeat will start to become less difficult all in that small journey through the Sealed Cave so don't avoid any using FF2 maps to only achieve opening the ones with treasure boxes and avoiding empty rooms. The Evil Wall is a big boy.. something you want to be prepared for, you encounter it during the journey to gain the "Dark Crystal" in the Underworld's Sealed Cave so yes, the Sealed Cave is tedious. Physical attacks amount to 1 hit damage, so don't waste a turn on that. You cannot grind to get better at fighting the Evil Wall after you acquire the dark crystal and walk out of the crystal room. You'll need restorative MP items. A few dropped in-battle items you've been holding on to will offer some help, even Exploder which sacrifices your *all* HP for full on damage (likely 1700-2000 by now for fighters), so have a Fenix Down ready to go. Maintain reasonable HP and you'll eventually get him even though he's raining down his instant death by this time. Everybody may not make it but you are close to a save spot, one you should use BEFORE you go get the crystal. The major key here is make sure you have your restorative items stocked in this game, it's quite handy. Make use of your save states AND in-game save spots, use more than one slot. You don't want to be stuck, such as on the Evil Wall having not used the in-game save spot but saved after gathering the crystal using a save state, even worse, using one save state the entire game and getting stuck on the Evil Wall. If there was ever a point to run in this game, it's in the Sealed Cave. It's filled with the tedium already explained here, but also those damn Vampire Bats w/ the Vampire Lady. They don't offer enough benefit for time spent honestly. Most other enemies do offer the proper reward for time spent, another exception may be Molbol, who hits you with major status effects and it can be costly to remove them so often.
Your journey may yield enough weaponry and armor to actually BE quite powerful so this is another reason why I don't technically recommend grinding for too many levels. The end dungeon floors are gonna be brutal but you want that right? If you're truly struggling take a walk back and forth through the Lunar Subterrain and try again. Bitchy enemies like Deathmask come back in a different form here. Maybe Deathmask, there is no name on this guy's name plate. I think I saw him called Evil Mask and Glass Mask before too. The end dungeon is littered with him and he has no problem instantly taking down your party's HP and hitting Holy. So even if you tried so hard to max your levels, in cases like this it doesn't even matter. I don't recommend trying to keep your HP up in these battles really, just stay alive and heal after because his battle plan is going to redundantly hurt your efforts to recover. By this point in the game should've stocked up enough "Fenix Down" and "X-Potions" to handle a barrage of badasses that could hurt your ability to better recover MP too so make use of the items.. it's the end of the game ahead anyways. You'll also encounter THREE stacks of normal Behemoths (Name plate says "Behemoth 3") will show up and one that has that ghostly see-through deal that you CAN'T run from. You are now in that final stretch and I won't spoil the end if anybody is jumping in the deep waters with this game without having played the original, which is totally fine in my opinion. You don't NEED the companion of the original game to play this one. It flows on it's own just fine and you still mostly experience the story in it's original form. Sadly the "Developer's Office" was not hacked back in or moved to my knowledge. Perhaps another thing we're made to find elsewhere but I don't think so.
I couldn't recommend this game more, anything new related to Final Fantasy IV is always welcome. As a long time player of this title it was fun, great to replay and same goes for the official re-releases on Gameboy Advance and the PSP. I haven't done the DS one yet. There is also "The After Years" relating to this game, I have played it on the Wii Virtual Console but, that... is another story.
Download JCE3000GT's Work On Final Fantasy II (US) aka "Easy Type" For SNES
This is the ROM hack that this article speaks of!
It's even easier with interesting changes including universal weapon holding.
This adds save spots to various portions of the game. Mostly in the middle of the area or near the end.
Monsters give 0 EXP, Each character has 200HP/100MP.
Only Cecil is alive except some key characters that needed HP to keep the game moving.
Edits the characters, magic, monsters, items, treasure, and map properties in Final Fantasy II US.
This is the recommended (by JCE3000GT) utility to patch games into the above ROM hacks.