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The kingdom of Baron has undergone a significant change recently; the province has become the first in the world to create airships that make global travel a simple accomplishment, and has thus immediately established itself as one of the world's primary powers. But as the adage goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and as of late the king of Baron has been making moves to ensure his power will remain absolute in the years to come. To that effect, he has sent his minions out into the world, scavenging for the mysterious and potent elemental crystals for some dark and as-of-yet unrevealed end.
The Red Wings are the kingdom's elite fighters, handlers of Baron's airship fleets and the most trusted of the king's subjects. At their lead is Cecil, an orphan and now the Dark Knight of Baron, by request of the king, the man who took him in. With the airships, they have looted and burned towns, killed innocent subjects of other lands, and most recently stolen the crystal of water from the helpless town of Mysidia. Cecil, like any good soldier, has been able to justify these actions under the classification of "just following orders"... until now. Even though he wears the armor and wields the sword of the Dark Knight, he is not heartless, and his actions weigh heavily on his conscience. But the king has been kind to him, so he will not abdicate his position or remove the mantle of Dark Knight that he loathes so much.
This is the setup of Final Fantasy II (known as Final Fantasy IV in Japan), the first of the trio of Final Fantasy games released on Nintendo's 16-bit platform. With Final Fantasy II, Square Soft finally began establishing a name for itself in the U.S. While it resembled its 8-bit predecessor in many ways, there were plenty of new additions to the Final Fantasy world for fans on both sides of the Pacific.
The storyline, hinted at above, takes plenty of twists and turns in various directions, always focusing mainly on the trials and tribulations of Cecil but branching out to include the tales of many characters. You can have up to five members in your party at one time, although unlike later entries in the Final Fantasy canon, you don't control who you have or when you have them; the whims of the story dictate that. Each character is presented at a different point in the game, and all have a goal to accomplish, adding more subtext to the overall story.
The quest itself takes place on a global scale, and this particular unnamed world boasts all manner of environments, from swamps to deserts to plains, as well as a wide host of caves, castles, and other assorted dens of evil for brave adventurers to wander around, slowly building experience until they can beat the area's boss and head on to the next bit of storyline. The adventure involves dwarves, giant airships, an ancient evil, and even an excursion to the moon before all is said and done. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide