Yes, the 4 heroes of light. They are heroes. They are of light. There are even 4 of them!
To thee I grant this gift of Light, upon thy head a crown of might.
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is a Gaiden Game or "spin-off" from the ball-throbbingly popularFinal Fantasy series. It was released for the Nintendo DS console in Japan and was released in North America on October 5, 2010. The game is the second to be released with the Final Fantasy Gaiden subtitle in Japan, after Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden, though the two games have no relations to each other. Character design was done by Akihiko Yoshida, and Matrix Software, developers of various titles such as Alundra and the DS remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV has returned to develop this title.The story of the game begins on Brandt's fourteenth birthday, when he comes of age and is immediately handed a task to Save the Princess. He picks up three more companions (including said princess) who are not exactly hero material and are nevertheless told by the Crystal that they are the Heroes who must save the world from darkness. They return to a cursed kingdom, where they immediately split up because they're teenagers with poor judgment. In their misadventures, it becomes clear that the world has needed help for a long time now and darkness clearly has the upper hand.Like several titles of old, this game uses a Class and Level System, here called the Crown System, but its unique variation lies in the fact that every character is essentially an Onion Knight in that they can equip anything; the jobs instead affect their usable skillset. Powering up the crowns involves a unique form of leveling via the application of disposable gems.It spawned a spiritual successor in Bravely Default, which has significantly more bells and whistles, but the same monster designs and same-but-not-quite job classes to the main Final Fantasy games.
All in a Row: Rubber band variant. Party members follow the leader in a sort of disorganized clump.
Always Check Behind the Chair: Each town has eight items hidden in random places with no visual hints, although animals will sometimes let slip the location of one.
Anachronic Order: The party splits up and joins up in different pairs at times, with each separate group's adventures happening simultaneously, with the Book Ends of some chapters making more sense when you see what the other party was doing. (e.g. Brandt leaving Yunita to team up with a cat of all things... who has a map... because she's actually Aire.)
Animal Talk: You can talk to any animal in animal form. They often provide hints as to where to find items or what challenge is coming next.
Artificial Stupidity: Targets are selected automatically (physical attacks target the first enemy on the left, magic on the right), instead of being chosen by the player. This can result in, for example, your Black Mage using a Quake spell, ignoring the enemy who's vulnerable to earth-based damage, and instead aiming at the flying enemy that's immune to the attack.
It can also result in your White Mage using Esuna to heal the other characters of any status ailment under the sun that still allows them to fight and gain experience, but ignoring the one who's been petrified.
Awesome, but Impractical: A lot of the level 3 crown skills. For example, the Elementalist's Elemental casts a series of spells of every element. This sounds pretty cool, except (1) the bosses that really matter are going to be resistant to every element but one, maybe two, and (2) given the previous, the only seemingly practical use of the skill would be exposing those few elemental weaknesses, but who needs that when you can just look up a guide?
Bag of Sharing: While the characters' personal inventories are, well, personal, certain key items are carried between characters when the perspective shifts, and the storage building is universal.
Baleful Polymorph: Aire becomes a cat and Brandt becomes a plant. In the second half you find out that Torte was a human turned into a mouse as punishment—and Ankel the parrot is the real King of Horne.
Bladder of Steel: No quicksaving or saving on the world map. You're going to have to wait for the fedora guy just like everybody else. Thankfully, it's a portable title, and a DS one at that, so the game can be put into sleep mode if it needs to be put down at any time.
Central Theme: Learning from your mistakes. Also, evil triumphs from within your heart.
Character Development: By the end of the game, Aire is no longer a selfish brat, Jusqua actually cares about people other than himself, Yunita has stopped being a Failure Knight, and Brandt... Well, Brandt's still an Idiot Hero, but at least he's not abusing the "I must be stronger than everyone else!" cliché quite so hard anymore.
Character Select Forcing: Unless you are really good at this game, you will need an Elementalist, at the very least to help you take down bosses. Party-wide element resistance buffs are nice like that.
Chekhov's Gun: Remember that sign explaining how to handle sheep?
The Chosen Many: The Crystal chooses the four as Heroes of Light at the beginning of the game. They proceed to bicker, ditch each other, not focus on their quest, and generally not have their act together until halfway through the game.
Crapsack World: Even if you discount the fact that demons are apparently running everything behind the scenes, and instead just take everything at face value, most of the places you visit aren't very inviting places to live. Horne doesn't seem so bad until everyone is turned to stone, and Liberte's pretty nice (except for the pirate kidnappings), but every other city? Hoo boy.
Guera: The residents are trapped by a vicious sand demon and no one has entered or left the city in years. Also, an entire race of people was wiped out save for a Sole Survivor.
Arbor: The fairies dislike and distrust humans so much that any human who approaches Arbor, even if they mean no harm, is transformed into a plant. No, the fairies won't help you. You get to stay like that.
Urbeth: A town obsessed with money, where the poor are barely dressed in rags, are barely able to eat, and are treated like second-class citizens.
Invidia: It's constantly freezing, everyone is miserable, and it's ruled by a bitter man who is waiting on his son to finally come home to rule the world.
Spelvia: Run by a misanthropic man who has been living with nothing but his hatred for hundreds of years. All of his robots are programmed to kill humans. Also, when the group finally manages to get him to let go of his hate, it turns out to be powerful enough to poison the rest of the world.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Crystal prefaces granting you the Dark Fencer crown with the rather ominous "To thee I grant this gift of might, upon thy head a crown of... forbidden might." Shortly afterward, King Horne presents you with the spell Desolator with similar gravitas.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Possibly. Dying strips you of half of any one category of gems — which is devastating if the game randomly selects your Diamonds; not so much if it chooses the Rubies, or another lesser gem you have in low number.note You can prevent this by shutting off the DS when you die. This trope is in full force if someone has equipped the Freelancer crown, which negates any penalty beyond being warped back to the last Adventurer.
Degraded Boss: Trollud, the Liberte boss, is a normal monster in the ice caves before Invidia. Later, Behugemoth is added to the same caves, except the trope is inverted and he's much harder than before.
In the second half of the game, a palette-swapped Minotaur can be found in the Quicksand Castle.
Developer's Room: A limited and very obscure version: if you manage to make it to the northern part of Liberte early in the game during nighttime when it's normally blocked by a sand whirlpool (either by dying in battle during nighttime before you save your game for the first time or using a Dragon Wing), the NPCs' dialogue changes to various messages from programmers.
Elemental Powers: Light, Dark, Fire, Water, Wind, Earth. In this game, ice is included with water and thunder with light.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: How well you do in boss battles later on largely depends on how well you play their vulnerabilities and resistances.
Emergency Transformation: Of a sort. Brandt is transformed from a plant to a puppy, with the logic being that it's much easier to transform someone back to a human if they're already a conscious being.
Every Monster Has Its Price: The Merchant's Ransom ability allows a character to give up the gil equivalent to the damage s/he would have taken. With a full bank account* Have fun abusing that Urbeth minigame, a Merchant with the Ransom ability, and the Shield of Light equipped, you could theoretically defeat the final boss without taking a single scratch.
Evil Knockoff: The Dopplegangers, which first appear in Rolan's soul, later in the second run of the Witch's Manor and the final dungeon. They're the protagonists in their original clothing, but with shadow-black faces and Dark element attacks.
Fisher King: Rolan, almost literally. Helping him regain his confidence inadvertently released the darkness from his heart, putting the world in a time loop.
Floating Continent: Spelvia. It's described by the golems alternately as a fortress to protect the world, or a fortress to conquer it. It's also the site of the Climax Boss, which divides the first half of the story from the second.
Gendered Outfit: Most of the job classes use dresses or have more subtle alterations between the male and female versions.
Guest Star Party Member: Krinjh the Spell Fencer in Guera, Torte the Sage in Arbor, Rekoteh the Dancer in Invidia, and Rolan the Hero in Spelvia. Note that these are all Crowns that you won't have yet when they're in your party.
Guide Dang It: So much. Let's put it this way, you won't know a lot of things about the game without a guide.
Journey to the Center of the Mind: Rolan's heart has been festering in resentment and self-hatred for hundreds of years; in order for him to help the party, they must enter his heart and cleanse him of his demons.
Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Averted in Urbeth's shopkeeping minigame, where the wealthy locals will pay several times the going rate for something you bought in the next street, or even the same shop. Unlimited profits, here we come.
Light Is Not Good: Lucifer has light based attacks and is vulnerable to dark damage. Curiously, Satan (who is an entirely different being in this games universe) is the opposite (uses dark attacks and vulnerable to light)
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: While it's possible to kill just about every enemy you come across with physical attacks, you will need to rely on magic spells and Crown abilities, especially in the second half of the game where the enemy's levels scale to match yours.
Long Song, Short Scene: The dragon riding tune is much longer than necessary, considering how small the game world is, and how quick it takes to ride from one place to another.
Lost Forever: Lots of items. Talk to everyone before and after certain plot flags, such as Kuore after being entrusted with the mission to go to the Witch's Mansion to rescue Aire.
Low-Level Advantage: Halfway through the game every monster will be adjusted to the players level if they are higher than the monster's level.
Magic Knight: Spell Fencers can charge their physical attacks with spells.
Magikarp Power: Remember that King's Shortsword Aire was carrying at the start of the game? Don't sell it. It's the strongest weapon in the game if you upgrade it, as it grows in effectiveness twice as much as regular equipment - including the Light set of equipment.*
Horne is known for its wind. It's also known for its agriculture, making the name a probable horn of plenty reference. Also a visual pun - the 'r' and 'n' in 'Horne' together look like an 'm', thus making the name of the village 'Home.' As in, literally, your 'Home Town.' Which is then doomed.
Liberte is Latin for "freedman". The local pirates go on about freedom a lot.
Vulpes (Urbeth in English) may refer to the fox-like cunning necessary to make it in a city full of hard-playing merchants.
Invidia is Latin for "envy", and the locals are rightfully envious of the fact that other people get the occasional sunny day and they don't.
Superbia (Spelvia in English) is Latin for "pride"—befitting of a floating city meant to enslave the world below and ruled by a hero who regards himself as above humanity.
Mini-Game: Two - a shopping mini-game in Urbeth which is used to grind for so much money, and a maths game in Invidia. Both can get you a bonus job class if you score high enough.
Money Spider: Averted, enemies drop Vendor Trash rather than straight-up gil. Double averted, in the fact that the Vendor Trash are gems, which you need for character and item leveling, and are impossible to get outside of combat.
The Storyteller is Gogothe Mime. Both are optional, performance artists, wear concealing clothing, and can use every skill and ability mastered.
Necromancer: The Monk crown allows the wearer to reanimate dead allies and increases power the more times the wearer has been revived from death.
Nice Hat: Every class has one, except for the Freelancer and Dancer.
Nice Job Breaking It, Heroes: By saving Rolan from the darkness in his heart, the heroes manage to unleash that same darkness across the entire world. Bravo. Somewhat subverted by the fact that this sets them on the road to turning a previously Crapsack World into a much nicer place by destroying many great forces of evil, but still.
Really 700 Years Old: The Dragoniers of Invidia have much longer lifespans than normal humans. Rolan, for example, looks the same age as the heroes despite being three centuries old.
Retraux: Nearly everything. This game could have easily been done in 8 bit or 16 bit, and it would have fit in perfectly. The soundtrack itself is 8-bit.
Rule of Symbolism: So, Urbeth has an uncompleted tower that was intended to reach into Heaven? Interesting... although not quite the same as Babel. Its state of incompletion isn't from divine disapproval, but because the citizenry lost their faith and abandoned the project themselves.
Save Point: In the form of the Adventurer, who appears in every town and in front of every boss room. No saving on the world map like usual, though.
Scenery Porn: The art style's more notable points are its Wind Waker-esque vivid colors and lack of outlines, resulting in very pretty visuals more or less everywhere. Arbor is a strong example of out-and-out scenery porn.
Scratch Damage: Averted in the second half, where the enemy's levels scale to match yours.
Louhi is named after the main antagonist of The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, who is also a shapeshifting witch from the Grim Up North.
Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: Unless you turn your lead party member into an animal, the golems in Spelvia attack when you try to talk to them—but you can also get around it by making Rolan your lead party member, since he's their master.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: NPCs come with unique equipment, and when they leave, they take everything with them. Your party also does not have a universal inventory, although the storage and money system is universal — so make sure to drop off some gear in the storage unit between bosses.
You can also invert this by taking their unique gear, letting you get better weapons and armor than you might have had.
Spell My Name with an S: Data on the Japanese ROM give different spellings for almost all the towns' names: Horn vs. Horne, Gula vs. Guera, Elva vs. Arbor, Vulpes vs. Urbeth, and Superbia vs. Spelvia. The Japanese website also calls Krinjh 'Kirinjyu'.
Support Party Member: Bard, Salve-Maker, Dancer, Party Host, and Scholar are geared around buffs / debuffs and have poor offensive power.
Taken for Granite: Whatever contract King Horne had with Louhi, he broke it, and everyone in Horne is turned to stone as a result.
Also the result of being petrified, which is considered by game mechanics to be an almost identical condition to death. Just as curable, though.
Vendor Trash: The gems. Although they are necessary to upgrade crowns and equipment, you end up with way more low-level than you can use under normal circumstances, and you can use the Merchant to farm even more. They're also the quickest way to make money outside of Thauzand's minigame.
Very Definitely Final Dungeon: A world of darkness rising up out of the ocean, which will eventually encroach upon the real world if not stopped.
With This Herring: For someone so desperate to have his daughter rescued, the King of Horne is a rather insidious penny pincher. Despite having an entire armory stocked with weapons and armor, he sends Brandt on his merry way with little more than a Steel Sword and a firm pat on the shoulder. Makes sense, considering who it really is.
Womb Level: The whirlpool at Liberte, with its squishy pink walls and acidic pools of green fluid.
World Tree: The Great Tree, from which all magic originates.