The FFIV Interlude was a bonus feature included in the PSP release of Final Fantasy IV: Complete, detailing an incident that took place in between FFIV and its sequel, The After Years. It follows the FFIV ruleset (as opposed to the TAY), so I won’t have any additional gameplay to talk about. All-in-all, it only covers a few hours of play, so it’s nothing ambitious but at the same time doesn’t overstay its welcome. I imagine anyone who owns the collection would find it to be good fun in between the two other games, same as Kyle and I, but there are better reasons to buy the collection, this is… not a highlight.
For screenshots, I sent out requests to a few YouTube channels and got two replies within just a few minutes of one another! Artimes X Walkthroughs, and also Silent Ryuni. I’ve linked both of their Interlude playlists, so make sure to check them out! Both also have playthroughs of the original FFIV (Silent Ryuni, Artimes X), along with plenty of other games, too! To make sure each image is properly credited, I’ll be attaching the creator’s name to the captions. Be sure to give their playthroughs a look!
The Interlude begins with a deliberately confusing sequence, with Rydia’s sprite emerging, semitransparent and like a shadow, in one of the Crystal chambers, where she collapses. A text bridge tells us that someone (presumably the shadow-woman) has found what they were looking for: a new “form.” We then cut to Cecil in a dream, where he is confronted by a person or thing. This person or thing says that Cecil cannot understand what it is, but it will attempt to explain all the same. It says “I am called…” when the game pulls up a new text box and says “…Cecil.” However, we then cut to Rosa waking Cecil from the dream by calling his name. It’s not clear whether the creature-or-thing called itself Cecil, or if it was interrupted by Rosa waking her husband.
Apparently it’s a year after the end of FFIV, though takes a while for the game to say this, and the new King and Queen of Baron are bound to Damcyan, where Edward’s people are celebrating the reconstruction of their castle. Cecil and Rosa have dropped to Level 30, sad but not unexpected. Much less than expected is that they are now wielding mid-game junk (Rosa even lacked her bow – in fact, we didn’t even find one for her during the entire Interlude). One wonders just where Cecil left his heirloom Light Sword. You know, the one gifted to him from the ghostly voice of his Lunarian father? The only connection he has to his heritage? Probably using it to open his mail. We spent most of our cash to buy him a Fire Sword instead of the Mythril one.
We talked to the locals, learning that there are minor changes to the world map, which have something to do with the moons. Yeah, the world of FFIV has two moons, the games oscillate wildly between admitting that and just saying “the moon,” it’s very confusing. Meeting Cid at the gates, Their Majesties took to flight to Damcyan on the Enterprise, our original airship.
As we travelled, we cut away to Rydia and gained control of her instead. Rydia was planning on leaving the Feymarch to join the ceremonies herself, with no sign of her being somehow injured in a Crystal Chamber like the opening scene had implied (although we’ll be honest: we never really suspected that shadow was Rydia to begin with). While there, we collected a number of items that seemed to be direct copy-pastes from the original Feymarch, excepting that the Rat Tail, had been replaced with a Phoenix Down. Based on later evidence, I think these items ended up in Cecil’s inventory, but we were unable to access the inventory during Rydia’s segment to be sure, and the check we made when we got back to Cecil could have been more thorough. But let’s be realistic, even if the items were lost to the void, we probably would have picked them up anyway, we’re completionists at heart like that.
While we were at, uh, “work,” we learned that Edge may have come to the Feymarch recently, but we saw no sign of him and, somehow, he found no sign of Rydia during his visit despite it being a very small place. We also met Rydia’s creepy hangers-on, by which I mean pretty much everyone living in the Feymarch voiced creepy requests for Rydia to stay in the Feymarch forever. These were probably supposed to sound friendly, but honestly came off like The Shining. Characters in the Feymarch shared about three lines of dialogue in a spat of laziness on Square Enix’s part, which did not help the impression of an army of demon zombies. Queen Asura was the lone exception, as she prods Rydia with questions at the exit to the Feymarch, implying that perhaps she belongs with the Humans instead of the Eidolons. Rydia deflects her questions, declaring her intention to return to the Feymarch after the party, and Asura seems happy enough to hear it. Rydia left, and we return to controlling Cecil.
Cecil and Rosa met up with Edward and joined in a grand celebration re-uniting most of the old cast. Kyle and I were suspicious about why guards were blocking certain unassuming hallways. In fact, we never figured out what the deal was with that! Catching up with the others, we learned Palom and Porom now carried the titles “Lord” and “Lady,” presumably as thanks for their help saving the world rather than for any Mysidian political reasons (Rydia has also gained the title “Lady” despite not dwelling in the world in the traditional sense). Yang seemed distracted, and there was no sign of Rydia and Edge. We spoke to Edward about the Fire Crystal, and he revealed that it was behind another of the game’s obvious secret passages. After we investigated it with the twins, as there was nothing else to do. Nothing happened when we were there, which was a nice break from the ugly pattern of Crystals being taken the moment we look at them, but made me wonder what the point of this segment even was.
When we returned, a messenger arrived from Fabul. Apparently, monks had been ambushed in the mountains again, in the exact same location. King Yang immediately ran off to help them, with Cecil and Rosa volunteering to go with, despite Rosa’s noisily portrayed ill-health and ill-focus, which showed up just now and at no point in Baron.
The monsters on the mountain range were probably stronger than they were when we first travelled there in FFIV, but were nothing in comparison to three Level 30 veterans, with one upgraded gargoyle (a Belphegor) as a very minor exception. When we reached the point where Yang had been ambushed in the original game we found two monks, whom Rosa healed after some delay. They weren’t on their feet long before we were attacked, not by the original Mom Bomb as we expected (always count on laziness) but by a recolour called a Dad Bomb. Oh, that’s much better. The Dad Bomb proved no more (perhaps even less!) durable than the Mom. We killed him and his spawns in only a handful of turns. It was really just a blink of the eye. While on the subject of Bombs, I should also note that a number of the weaker Gray Bombs in this mountain range seemed downright immobile (see below). I’m not sure what was up with them – they didn’t even float in the air! A programming mistake?
Commenting on the ambush, Cecil said something about “our enemies” growing stronger, which is so paranoid that it’s surprising we didn’t make more in-jokes out of it. What the heck? First off: there shouldn’t be any wandering monsters left in this world. The Crystals have been restored! Cecil doesn’t question the wandering monsters when he first sees them, only for it to become some grand conspiracy in one thought! In fact, it was never stated that most of the wandering monsters in the original game answered to Golbez, so I’m not sure what’s got him all up in arms here!
Back to the current plot: the Monks told us that something was medically wrong with Queen Sheila (Yang’s wife), and Yang decided to pick up Cecil’s thread of misogynistic party dumping by trying to dismiss Rosa in a moment of need. Did you forget that she can cast healing magic your wife might desperately need, you ninny? Look, is there something wrong with Rosa that people don’t want to hang out with her? Is she secretly rude? Violently racist against Dwarfs? Why is everyone always trying to kick her to the curb? I understand Yang not wanting to hang out with Cecil (goodness knows), but people just keep trying to dump this poor woman despite her probably being the most useful party member. Rosa, and even Cecil this time around, adamantly refused.
Oh, and to rewind a bit: the surviving Monks, “Monk A” and “Monk B” had actually joined us in the fight against the Dad Bomb, and stuck with us afterward! They were just generic Monk characters, lacking Yang’s Focus attack but having his Kick. On our way down the other side of the mountain and back to Fabul, they quickly became our favourite characters. If they had stuck along after we returned to Fabul, I’m certain we’d have crafted elaborate backstories for them in no time. Sadly, they will have to live on only in our hearts, as they became boring NPCs guarding the gates to Fabul the moment we reached the castle.
The walk from the ambush site to Fabul proved just as dull and overbearing as the original walk form FFIV, and made us realize that this walk was the last time in the original game that you had to cover significant amounts of new land on foot to get to your destination. FFIV was a very vehicular game! In fact, it explains the ambush in this scenario. Imagine: if the messenger had just come with a message about Sheila, there would be no reason for us not to airship straight to Fabul!
When we arrived in Fabul, we discovered that Yang’s wife was actually in labour, and though Yang first stayed away while Rosa tended to her, he quickly butted his way back into the room and was there when his daughter was born (very oddly written, this sequence. We later learned why in TAY, and the Interlude has no one to blame but itself). To our shock and dismay, Yang asked Cecil to be the godfather despite Cecil’s incredibly poor history with children, and asked him to name the baby. We decided to let him, just out of a sort of ugly curiosity. Cecil named her Ursula, and she smiled. Holy crap. Cecil Harvey just made a baby smile. In fact, he was hanging out with Palom and Porom in the Crystal room and nothing untoward happened at all. Is it possible? Has he been cured of his innate, passive ability ruin children? Is this that magic called… character development?
Moments later (indeed, so suddenly that you could get whiplash), Cid arrived with the twins in the Falcon, despite the Dwarfs having been left with that particular airship at the end of FFIV. What could be going on? Cid and the twins had bad news: monsters were spilling out of the Sealed Cave in the underground. Cecil and Rosa vowed to go after it, but Rosa’s illness *cough*pregnant*cough* proved too much for her, and Polom told her fellow White Mage to sit this one out. And with Cecil’s insistence even. Now, I realize this is another instance of someone dumping poor Rosa, but I’m simply too stunned at Cecil’s being kind to embryos, too! What’s happening? We left off for the day bewildered, with Cid and the twins having joined the party in Rosa’s place. We forgot to check their spells, but their equipment was similar mid-game junk like Cecil and Rosa’s.
With that play-session, Kyle and I wrapped up our first year of the Final Fantasy Marathon, 2012, and planned to finish the Interlude, The After Years, and several other games (including FFIII and FFLI) in the year that followed!