It's become an RPG trope the story directs a character one direction, often urgently, while actually rewarding the character for taking a detour. FFIV does not avert this trope, but also doesn't suffer too badly for it. Many of the coolest secrets can be found easily without a strategy guide, even though there aren't too many glaringly obvious clues in the game. A clever player will find the Tiara, Change Rod, and Dancing knife while Palom and Porom are still in the party. As a consolation prize, you might find them after obtaining the airship and before your first trip to the underworld (the Tiara is still a substantial upgrade for Rosa when you get her back). All you have to do is to be curious enough to revisit city you burned down in the first chapter.

For more examples: Obtaining Odin, the Sylph, and Excalibur.

Of course, there are a lot of cool random drops in this game too, and in most games this winds up incentivising a lot of boring grinds, but manages to not be too bad in FFIV for a number of reasons. The game is pretty short, and if you play through multiple times, you're likely to encounter a few of the good random drops without even trying for them. The only one that is excessively rare is the Adamant armor, but that item is clearly way overpowered and not meant for typical gameplay.

in fact, the adamant armor might be the rarest item in the entire Final Fantasy series. Granted, it's ridiculously overpowered and not really meant to be obtained at all except by the most obsessive players.


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