Episode 89: Final Fantasy IV, plus some big news

Hello! Welcome to a new week… and, as it happens, something of a new beginning here at Retronauts. What I mean is, Retronauts is now part of the PodcastOne network. Yes: As part of our move toward making this show and site proper and profitable, I’m afraid we’ve gone legit.

This does mean you’ll soon be hearing ads in your podcasts, but the tradeoff is that the show will have much greater visibility and reach. We’ll also have more resources available to us as we go forward — financially, of course, but also in terms of facilities on occasion. This is a huge step for the show, and both Bob and I are excited (and a bit nervous) about it, but we definitely agree the benefits will make up for any hiccups we encounter along the way.

And yes, there’ll be hiccups. Since we’ve switched to a new backend and a new feed, it make take a little while longer than usual for iTunes to refresh the show this week. Thankfully you can download the episode directly from PodcastOne if you’re experiencing any troubles, or simply listen to the embedded version in this post. My hope is that any service interruptions prove to be strictly temporary.

Also, PodCastOne places back catalog episodes of their shows behind a paywall. That’s not how we’ve traditionally operated, so we’ve asked them to make the full back catalog free for a couple of months so listeners aren’t suddenly cut off from our older episodes. Those will eventually be pay-gated as is our host’s standard policy, but we’d like to ease into that and give you advance warning.

It’s also worth mentioning that this move doesn’t affect anything with Patreon! Retronauts supporters will continue to enjoy episodes a week ahead of the public feed, along with the usual plethora of goodies.

So that’s the logistical stuff, but what about the fun stuff? Namely, what’s the deal with this week’s episode?

Well, friends, this week’s episode happens to be the second in our ongoing Final Fantasy game-by-game deep dive. We kinda skipped over Final Fantasy II and III, because they’re a bit tough to love these days, and today dig right into the series’ first 16-bit outing: Final Fantasy IV for Super NES.

You know FFIV; you love FFIV; you probably don’t need much preamble about FFIV. Besides, this episode spans nearly two full hours of conversation about FFIV, so I can just let it do the heavy lifting here.

Description: We continue our Final Fantasy deep-dive series by… doing like Square did back in the day and jumping ahead from FFI to FFIV. Chris Kohler and Kat Bailey join to share their thoughts on this most influential of 16-bit role-playing games.

MP3, 56.3 MB | 1:57:19 | Direct download
Retronauts on iTunes | Retronauts at PodcastOne

Music in this episode naturally comes from Final Fantasy IV for Super NES, but also from the game’s arranged album Celtic Moon. (You can buy both albums on iTunes, and presumably on other download services as well.)

58 Comments

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58 Responses to Episode 89: Final Fantasy IV, plus some big news

  1. aett

    Congrats on going legit, and I hope this helps you both continue to create more edutainment for years to come.

  2. antibolo

    Are we going to get ads even in the Patreon feed?

  3. Stephen

    Glad you guys will be getting more support! For those of us using an Android podcast app, will the RSS feed stay the same, or will I need to update that? I guess I could get them from the Patreon feed as well, but I usually just wait until they show up normally.

  4. dc12

    Well you do what you got to do. It’s a shame Nerdist or MaximumFun didn’t accept your application. To the future!

  5. Frank Horrigan

    Will Patreon supporters be subject to the paywall?

  6. D

    I listen to old episodes at couple times each month, I’m disappointed with the paywalling scheme. It would have been nice if you had negotiated for permanent access to old content, or even just for Patreon subscribers.

    Also, Podcastone seems like a strange choice for which network to join – they’re all about growth and quantity over quality; big names, big numbers. And they’ll take one anyone who can bring in numbers – no insult intended, I love your content. I know how much care you put into it. Which is why I think you would have been better on a network that cares more about meaningful content, something like Gimlet or WNYC (Or Radiotopia, even). Interesting choice to go with the fast-growth juggernaut.

    Anyway, big fan, hope it pays off for you.

    • D

      Oh sry, not WNYC. You don’t want to work for a public broadcaster, lol.

    • You can still access all content that’s been posted to Patreon via Patreon — that’s not going away. There’s no realistic way to allow Patreon subscribers to access gated content on the PC1 feed, though, since that would involve getting two separate legacy account systems to communicate with one another.

      • Steve McSteve

        Couldn’t you just post the older episodes on Patreon and add a subscription tier? I love the podcast, but I will not pay money on top of my Patreon fee to listen to the back catalog.

        • I don’t quite understand what you’re asking — the podcasts are already up at Patreon. They will always be there. You can continue to access them that way. We’re not asking anyone to double dip!

          • Steve McSteve

            I meant the Retronauts episodes that were published before you guys were on Patreon (Not the 1UP ones, but the first 27 episodes of the revival). Its not that many episodes, but my understanding is that the only way to access those would be to pay for them through Podcastone.

  7. retr0gamer

    Direct download link doesn’t seem to work for me?

  8. econmara

    Thats great!! I am currently lying on my Casper mattress while I eat my Blue Apron dinner because I didn’t have to go to the post office to return my Loot Crate because of Stamps.com

  9. Soapfish

    “This is indeed a disturbing universe.”

  10. Frank Razak

    Will future episodes be downloadable once posted, similar to today’s episode?

  11. Carl

    The MP3 download seems to have an MD5 hash or something as its filename. Is it possible to return to meaningful filenames?

  12. My depressing FF IV story…

    I spent about 2 hours grinding my super strong and deadly party on the moon. Also, I figured that we were so dope and unstoppable that there would be no need to save, because why, or how could I die? My team is unstoppable!

    2 hours and 13 min. in, I run into a nukemech, or whatever the hell.

    My entire squad died quicker than I could blink my eyes from the vast amount of tears that welled up in my eye ducts. Then my DS got stolen.

  13. David Rhodus

    Cid uses wrenches!

  14. Paulo Tavares

    Two questions:
    – By “back catalog” being behind a paywall, I believe you’re referring to anything prior to PC1? Or is it that in PC1 only the last X episodes are available at all times, and previous ones are behind a paywall?
    – Will the libsyn feed still be available? Will that one still be the one to subscribe to on the non-iTunes front? And can we keep downloading old podcasts from there, or will it eventually be retired?
    Thanks.

  15. Jay

    Congrats on the legitimisation! I wonder if it might be harder to pull new listeners in if they only have the current one free episode to base their opinion on, but hopefully it all works out. Good luck!

  16. Mike

    Is there a dedicated RSS feed for Patreon subscribers? I’m a lapsed subscriber and at the time there wasn’t one which made it a pain to download the episodes. If there is a dedicated RSS feed I would consider subscribing again.

    • Yes, if you subscribe to our Patreon, you will be given a specific RSS feed address to plug into your podcast program/app. This is a recent addition to the Patreon system as a whole.

  17. TheSL

    Final Fantasy III is still great, it just has a painful endgame.

  18. Matt

    I must say it’s very frustrating to have no announcement of this move to a podcast network that places older episodes behind a paywall. Had I know this was imminent, I may have downloaded the ones I have yet to get to. It’s ironic because some of the episodes are from the season I helped fund through Kickstarter.

    • The paywall hasn’t happened yet, and from my understanding it will only affect the podcasts we produce starting with this one (FFIV).

    • The paywall wasn’t supposed to have been put in place right away — I asked them not to add it, and I’ve asked them to remove it. We had planned to give ample warning, and I’m not thrilled about the way it’s gone either.

  19. manny_c44

    Having old episodes behind a paywall may backfire, I first got into retronauts by seeking out old episodes that were about my favorite games and only from there did I start listening to each new episode as it released. Hopefully it works though.

  20. Joe Ess

    It was a rad game and despite us getting the easy mode, I found it harder than like just about every game in the series that I played that came after it (FF5 thru FF10-2, and FF13. Minus all the optional super bosses in those games I usually skipped) It wasn’t impossible or super frustrating but the bosses were almost all tough and the dungeons tended to be pretty long.

    When I was a kid back thought kind of dumb how every character that died off in your party all magically came back to life at the end of the game.

  21. dc12

    Kohler just blew my mind with the Paladin Cecil at 45.

  22. Jason

    Okay, I feel like a dummy because I can’t find the new RSS feed to plug into the podcast app I use. Would someone mind posting it?

  23. garnsr

    When I played FFII on Super Nintendo I could pull out the contrast knob (or one of those knobs on my CRT TV) to be able to see the different color in the black walls that showed where the secret paths were. I’ve never heard anyone else mention that.

    I think Retronauts especially benefits from being able to go back and listen to old episodes, since the subjects are pretty evergreen, and rely on nostalgia. I guess once you’ve already decided to pay you can get the old stuff, but it seems very limiting. I guess podcasts are maturing, they’re no longer free, and we have ads for the same crap shoved down our throats all the time, just like radio and TV. Everyone’s so worried about their information being taken, and ads being targeted at them, but I already own a Casper matress, and don’t want any of the other things that are pushed on me in every podcast, so the targeting doesn’t seem to be going very smoothly.

    • dc12

      Yeah. I played it on the Trinitron at default, a bit hard to see like the walls in the Fuschia City Gym. But on the emulator, it’s clear as day.

  24. Pingback: Still a few bugs in the system | Retronauts

  25. Greg Falkingham

    46 comments! Wow, I knew Final Fantasy IV was popular, but that is seriously impressive!

    [reads comments] Ah… Oh.

    FF IV is a fairly singular title in how strongly it can push the nostalgia buttons. Even now, I can still remember the TV dinner I made on that evening when I first brought game home and played it virtually all evening. I had mostly stayed away from RPGs on the NES, which meant my first real console RPG up to that point was Phantasy Star III on the Genesis. That was, well, fine, but it didn’t leave nearly the same impression as Final Fantasy II. I think Kat pretty much nailed exactly why when she talks about the opening music with the Red Wings. Where Phantasy Star III sounded harsh and electronic on the Genesis hardware, Final Fantasy sounded full and orchestral. You really felt it in your bones that you were experiencing something a level above anything that had come before.

  26. gutzsant

    You sold out!… nah, I’m kidding. In all seriousness, I wish you good luck with your partnership with PodcastOne and your other efforts to make Retronauts a profitable endeavour that can bring us far more than what we have right now. It’s not my favorite podcast network, but it’s not the worst either. And while the loss of free past episodes in the future may be an inconvenience, I’m confident that the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives. Besides, to this day we can still listen old 1up-era episodes saved by fans, so I don’t think it’s really that problematic.

    I enjoyed your comments about Final Fantasy IV, but I still think the podcast was way too short despite being almost 2 hours long. I would’ve wanted to listen to how FFIV was received in Japan when it was first launched, how much fandom there is, how it compares in nostalgia to the other FF games in Japan, why Edge sucks so much and who you would have preferred over him during the last part, etc. I’m quite the fan of FFIV, and despite the two episodes dedicated to this game, I honestly feel that there is much that is still missing. You barely spoke of Nobuo Uematsu music and didn’t even mention the impact of “Theme of Love”. I also would’ve liked to hear you clearly say whether or not it was worth getting The After Years or if it’s better to stay with either the original or the 3D remake, and also which is the superior game, the 2D version or the 3D version in your personal opinion. I at least prefer the original SNES music over all other versions.

    Anyway, I hope in the future to listen another podcast about FFIV once again, at least in a special about its music or Celtic Moon, or a Yoshitaka Amano’s art podcast.

  27. dc12

    Tis a shame that there wasn’t enough time for more listener mail. If only Bob was here!

  28. Nathan Daniels

    Finally getting through this episode. FFIV was revolutionary in a lot of ways, but regarding your comments on the battle screens, Phantasy Star(which came out about the same time as Final Fantasy I) had backgrounds that mirrored your environment, AND enemies that animated(quite well for its time) during attacks. And Phantasy Star II had enemies that were in a continuous state of animation.

    FFIV did use quite a bit of SNES sfx like mode 7 and transparencies, but it used them judiciously. For example, mode 7 was used for screen transitions in battles and scene transitions. I also liked how you could choose your text window color.

    And the music was groundbreaking. It kind of cemented the SNES’s reputation as a superior machine for orchestral OSTs. The Genesis couldn’t touch it.

    • Nathan Daniels

      I wouldn’t say PSII was ‘padded’ with large dungeons, at least not intentionally….when the game’s creators were asked about the incredible difficulty of the game, they said they had given a new employee the task of creating the dungeons. S/he was trying too hard, but because of the very short lead time, they didn’t get to check the work until it was already in the game, and by that time it was too late.

      PSII’s biggest flaw was that most of the game is bogged down by the pattern of LARGE amounts of grinding. You grind to get enough money and exp to tackle the next dungeon, then you go to the next town and repeat the process.

      That is one of my favorite things about FFIV, and the subsequent FF games in general: You don’t have to grind all that much if you don’t want to. The games are generally balanced so that your strength roughly keeps up with your progress.

      There’s one thing I DON’T like about the FF series starting with IV, and it rarely gets mentioned because people take it as par for the course. That is the series’ reliance on extreme hyperbole. I know I’m pretty much a lone voice on this one, but it’s hard to feel the gravitas of a character permanently dying when it happens every few hours or so of gameplay. Or when your character releases Pandora’s box and ravages the whole world……but you’re only at the halfway point of the game. Or when your character has a call spell that DESTROYS THE ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM……but doesn’t kill the last boss. Those types of things are neat for wow factor, but after a while it takes the weight out of the plot for me. It’s hard to take seriously.

      • Nathan Daniels

        I found the interview about Phantasy Star II where they mention the dungeons: http://shmuplations.com/phantasystarii/

        In general, I really recommend shmuplations.com for Retronauts listeners. The guy collects tons of interviews from Japanese sources, so there’s a lot of obscure information about games we all know and love that you can’t find anywhere else(in English).

  29. Jeremiah Jones

    I noticed that the filename when I just downloaded the episode was just a bunch of letters and numbers going through the direct download link. Just a heads up.

    I thank you all of the great show and wish all of you great success in this adventure.

  30. PurpleComet

    Loved this episode and all the trivia you shared. On the subject of the Four Fiends, I loved their theme (“Tower of Zot”) when they appeared on the dungeon/tower screen. It brought so much intensity to the scene and made me excited for the upcoming battle.

    Like Jeremy (I think), I’ve gotten a little burned out on FFIV. After playing the DS version I swore it off for a long time, but now that I heard about the leveling trick with Cecil now I want to try it out.

  31. dc12

    I’ve played through the J2e translation, and I just read about it Tomato’s page about how it was pretty sloppy, even if “faithful.” He also has reservations about the PS1 (which had a closer original adaptation), the GBA one (based on the PS1 and has Something Awful references), and the PSP one based on the GBA translation. It seems the more “pure true to the translation” version is the DS, only because it was built from the ground up with “the bones of the original.” I’m trying out another version, the “Namingway Edition” and it seems more concerned with making FF2 harder rather than restoring missing lines of dialogue. Great, now I feel like I saw the stain on that cashmere sweater.