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Starlight6x6
4th May 2014, 06:45
I'm not sure how common this knowledge is, but did you know that Final Fantasy IV was almost Final Fantasy V?

Back around the dawn of the Super Famicom, Final Fantasy had already cemented itself as something of a big-name franchise. With three successful games already out the gate, it was clear that not just one, but multiple sequels were in order, and so development began on what were to be the next two entries in the franchise. Final Fantasy IV, for the Famicom, and Final Fantasy V for the Super Famicom. However, back then, Square (still yet to merge with Enix) wasn't quite the powerhouse it is today, and they found themselves unable to handle the development of both games at once. Consequently, the Famicom project was dropped in order to focus manpower and funding on the Super Famicom project, which was renumbered "Final Fantasy IV", and would go on to become the game we know by that name today.

And yes, this Final Fantasy IV for the NES was going to be a completely distinct game, and was roughly 80% finished at the time of its cancellation.


Interviewer: "There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask about IV’s development; about the Famicom version of IV that was canned…"
Sakaguchi: "Ah, yes, that. (laugh)"
Interviewer: "Was it a completely different project?"
Sakaguchi: "Yes. It was actually stopped while only at the initial concept stage, though."
Interviewer: "But when the Famicom version was canned, were any ideas brought over to this Super Famicom version?"
Sakaguchi: "Yes, of course. We couldn’t just let the good ideas go."
Interviewer: "I think fans will be relieved to hear that. But it was completely different story-wise, wasn’t it?"
Sakaguchi: "No, the story wasn’t completely finished, so it wound up being canned while in an unfinished state."

(Later, in a different interview)


Interviewer: "This is a bit of an old topic, but when you were developing [Final Fantasy] IV for the Famicom, you were developing V for the Super Famicom at the same time, right?"
Sakaguchi: "A painful question… (laugh) IV on the Famicom… When development was canceled, I told many game magazines in interviews that it had only been at the initial concept stage and that the story was never finished. I said there was nothing to it (laugh), but that was a big, fat lie. It was actually some 80% done. But I was filled with regret and answered with a lie as if dragging my tail between my legs."
Interviewer: "Do you still have the data/files for it?"
Sakaguchi: "I don’t really know much about that sort of thing, but I think we still have it."

Although supposedly ideas from this game were kept and used later, there's not really any way of picking these ideas out from the numerous others that were used in later games. Due to this, it's very difficult to make accurate projections of what Final Fantasy IV for the NES would have been like, had it been released.
It is likely, however, that 4/5ths of the Final Fantasy that almost was do still exist somewhere in Square's headquarters, but as things are now, there's no telling if the world will ever see it. (However that may happen, if it does)


Sources:
matotree.com "Final Fantasy IV for the Famicom was 80% Complete?" (http://matotree.com/2012/08/final-fantasy-iv-for-the-famicom-was-80-complete/)
Lost Levels "Elusions: Final Fantasy IV / Seiken Densetsu" (http://www.lostlevels.org/200311/200311-square.shtml)
WarialaskyPlays' Final Fantasy IV Review (video) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ra2Tuv1ak)
Gaming Mysteries: Final Fantasy IV Concept (NES) UNRELEASED (video) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjg8x3OEV0)