In many ways, Final Fantasy IV is my favorite of the bunch. Sometimes FF VI takes the #1 slot. One thing I’ve always liked about the Final Fantasy series (and to some extent J-RPGs in general) are the random references to bits and bobs of mythology, lore, and legend from various places and times.
Bahamut, for example, has become well-known in the RPG universe as the meanest dragon son-of-a-bitch around. In Final Fantasy games, he often appears as a summon spell and/or sometimes a boss.
In actuality, the name Bahamut originates from Arabian mythology, and is a giant fish that makes up part of the layered cosmology of the world.
“Ragnarok” often appears as the name of an uber-powerful weapon, though the term is from the Norse mythological belief in the End Time, when a great battle will be waged and the world destroyed and born anew.
Final Fantasy IV has some great examples, as well; one of which I only learned of in the past few years.
There is an elemental quartet of villains that are encountered throughout the FF series: the Four Fiends. In Final Fantasy IV, they are manifested as Scarmiglione (Earth), Cagnazzo (Water), Barbaiccia (Wind), and Rubicante (Fire). Their role is somewhat mysterious, as they appear to be Golbez’s henchman, but I’ve also read that they keep tabs on Zeromus’ control over Golbez. This may warrant another playthrough sometime soon.
Interestingly, the Fiends are named after demons from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Specifically, they are members of the Malebranche, thirteen demons who are assigned to guard a river of boiling pitch and tar in the eighth circle of Hell. In the Comedy, this river (the “fifth bolgia”) is the punishment for extortionists, blackmailers, and other sinners who used their wealth and power to take advantage of others.
In the poem, it’s worth noting that the demons are tricky and deceptive. Their leader promises Virgil and Dante safe conduct, but then tries to trick them into taking a non-existent path.
This makes me wonder about one of my favorite Final Fantasy villains – Rubicante.
He is depicted as being an honorable foe, of sorts. He expresses sympathy for Edge and admonishes his rage, and he is the only boss I can ever remember healing the party to allow for a “fair fight.” But he is working for the bad guys, and he does try to murder you more than once. So is he really a villain with some redeeming qualities, or is he just screwing with you and displaying a twisted sense of humor? Keeping in mind where his name comes from, the latter would make a lot of sense.
As an aside, Final Fantasies IV and VI have had numerous localizations, as the translations have been redone for several of the games’ ports to newer systems. I can’t speak to whether or not they’ve survived all these new word-parsings, but both games have a number of “famous” quotes. I say “famous” because they may only be recognizable to us farts who are old enough to have played and possess some degree of nostalgia for these gems.
Most well-known from FFIV is the “spoony bard” dis, dished out by Tellah.
Less well-known, but still appreciated, is a line by Rubicante in his first encounter with Edge. I was unable to find a screenshot or video (another good reason to replay this one), but it happens when Edge, fighting the fire Fiend solo, casts his flame ninja magic on his adversary. As we all know, fire magic heals fire bosses. Amused, Rubicante exclaims “Was it flame? I will show you how!” He proceeds to blow up the ninja prince.
Just another example of an odd yet charming line that adds flavor to a classic localization.