Unlike many, I have no nostalgia for this game, having been introduced to it via the DS version. While in retrospect, I can applaud that version for making an interesting twist on the original game, it only makes the problems of the original even more readily apparent.
For one, the plot gets in the way of the gameplay far too much, as evidenced in the way it constantly cycles through party member with no warning to the player. This forces the player to, in turn, constantly rethink their strategies. While I'm not against that, ideally, it would come from the game presenting new challenges to the player instead of "lol your healer is gone." This is especially apparent in the DS version, which, while I can appreciate for being one of the few turn-based games I've played to require you to think your way through random battles instead of just spamming the attack command, still forces you to know when each party member leaves and what to give them in order to get the most out of your final party. Considering the difficulty of that version, you need every bit you can get.
Compare this to FFIV's immediate predecessor
, where you have the same four party members for more or less the whole game, can change what they do at any point in response to what the game throws at you, but don't necessarily have to if you've found something that works for you. If your usual plans aren't working for something, you can make a temporary change, cover it, and go back afterwards. This seems like a much more fair way to handle challenge than what FFIV does. FFIV doesn't let you do that, not even through having a pool of party members as seen in games such as FFVI and the Breath of Fire series, and as such comes off as worse in comparison.
Now I could tolerate the plot's changing party members if the plot was anything to write home about, but it isn't. True, this was the first Final Fantasy to have distinguishable characters, but it didn't do much with them other than Kain and maybe Rydia. As a person that's played Breath of Fire II
, I can say that game definitely trumped FFIV in plot within its own era, even with a shoddy translation.
While I can see IV as being a foundation game, that's the best it has going for it in my eyes. There's fun to be had, but I don't see it as an all time classic.