I don’t remember the first time I played Final Fantasy 4 (originally released as Final Fantasy 2). However, I remember looking for the game in shops all over, desperately trying to own it. While I never felt it measures up to Final Fantasy 6 or the peerless Chrono Trigger, it’s nonetheless a wonderful game, if only for the many translation quirks and outright errors that make the whole thing so lovably weird. What follows is a true story of obsession that arose from my desire to play the game one more time.
Once upon a time, I had the sudden desire to play through Final Fantasy 4 again. It had been awhile since I had last gone through the game, but I kept the cartridge nice and safe (and have since, as you can plainly see in the above picture). I expected no problems, naturally, since the Super Nintendo and its games are about as durable and hassle-free as a console and its cartridges can possibly be.
The game started without a hitch, though I was surprised to see that there weren’t any saves on the cartridge. “I must have deleted them for some reason,” I thought. It certainly wouldn’t have been out of character, because I tend to go on delete binges to force myself to play through games from the beginning. Quickly putting it out of mind, I worked my way through the beginning of the game, saved, and went off to do other things that probably involved nunchucks.
Later, having finished the boring day-to-day stuff I had been doing (that, again, probably involved nunchucks), I decided to resume my save and continue playing. My anticipation soon turned to horror as I realized that the worst possible fate had befallen my poor, innocent cartridge—the internal battery that allowed for the saves to stay on the cartridge had died. Uncertain that the battery could be replaced and unwilling to mess with the cart even if it were technically possible, I resigned myself to the fact that my sickly cartridge was no longer capable of storing saves.
A sane man would have given up at this point. I was not a sane man.
Since the battery had died, the only way I could finish the game was to play through the entire thing without turning the system off. I was worried for my beloved Super Nintendo, especially since it was innocent in all of this, and decided that I would try to play through the whole game in a single sitting to spare it any potential damage from overuse.
My determination was quickly tested. While I was optimistic of my chances at first, my eyes soon glazed over, my mind joining it not long after; the chirpy music began to hit my brain like bullets whirring by in a war zone, my worsening migraine slowly grazing slices off of my sanity the further I went. Each step into this bizarre world of strange syntax and random encounters meant progress, but my eyelids grew heavier and heavier the closer I got to the end. The finish line was simply too far away, and my bed so warm and inviting. The idea of closing my eyes and resting became a siren song, an invisible temptress lying on my bed, beckoning me.
I was weak, and only growing weaker as time dragged on. Half-focused attempts at math ensued as I tried to gauge how far I was in the game and magically recall enough knowledge to allow me to extrapolate from that. My sleep-deprived figures were rounded and rounded again to the point where it’d be fair to say they were completely made up, but they proved daunting, nonetheless. As tired as I was, I estimated that I’d die of natural causes before reaching the end, and eventually spun this into a justification for giving in to sleep’s sweet embrace. Slightly frustrated that I hadn’t succeeded in a single sitting, I left the console on overnight and got some sleep. Yes, it may have been bad for the console, but by that point I would have drowned a drifter for a few hours of rest.
My dreams that night, having spent a huge portion of the previous day playing a game that casually includes such lines as “ACHOOOO” (yes, with four Os), were probably incredibly strange, but I don’t really remember them. That’s most likely for the best.
I woke up with new determination after only a few hours of sleep, more prepared than ever to tackle the rest of the game. Where before I was easily broken by the bright graphics and piercing (when you have a migraine) song melodies, I had been reborn as a superhero, pouncing through random battles like a cyborg rabbit through tissue paper and metaphorically throat-chopping all those who dared oppose me. With a fierce and fiery rage, I stormed through the remaining parts of the game as though an army of angels marched behind me, eventually finishing off the final boss and relishing the fact that I had overcome whatever cruel fate had caused the battery to run out in the first place.
I learned two things that day. I eventually forgot what those two things were.