Review by RPGamerdude

Reviewed: 04/28/08

Final Fantasy IV: It's not just riding on the success of III.

Final Fantasy IV: It’s not just riding on the success of III.

I’ll be following the guidelines set in “GameFAQs Help: Reader Reviews”, under “How should I compose my review?” This is my first game review for GameFAQs, so I need to get a feel for this.

Introduction:

Final Fantasy IV was first released as Final Fantasy II in the US on the SNES. It has since been remade for PS1, GBA, and now, Nintendo DS. My first experience with FFIV was on the GBA, and I have since played the SNES version, both the original Japanese version and the dumbed-down US FFII. I like it more when I have Cecil’s Darkness command. Anyway, Square-Enix has now remade FFIV on the Nintendo DS, but they’ve taken a much different approach from the DS remake of Final Fantasy III. And these are definitely changes for the better.

Gameplay:

This is most of the awesome of FFIV DS, so I’m going to spend quite a bit of time on this.

Final Fantasy IV Advance was bug-ridden, gameplay-wise, and yet I often found myself thankful for the extra turns, to ease that little bit of stress. Final Fantasy IV for the DS is the complete opposite. Any bugs in the game are almost impossible to come by over the course of a normal playthrough. The battles flow more smoothly than ever, I don’t get extra turns, and the new ability system is a very welcome addition, in my opinion. The “Decant Ability System” has opened up a myriad of possibilities for the characters. Cecil can sing, Edge and Rydia can use Twin Magic, and there are many other combinations to try out.

Basically, the Decant Ability System will let you find abilities throughout the course of the game in the form of Key Items. These items can then be used to give that ability to any character in your party. And the temporary characters will give you more abilities (up to three) if you give them abilities while they’re in your active party. Once you use the item on a character, the ability becomes available for assignment. To assign an ability, it must be placed in the battle command list for that character, and you cannot get rid of the Item command. And in addition to the Decant Abilities themselves, you can also set spells and items to command slots for easy access. Yes, even static abilities such as Auto-Potion have to be in your list; they’ll be grayed-out in battle. The Decant Abilities are scattered across the world, and some are very difficult to find. Some of them are only made available after certain story events.

There’s even a new Summoned creature, whose usefulness depends solely on the Decant Abilities you have available. Personally, I have not used it much, but he’s worth experimenting with. Its stats are determined by how good you are at the minigames, and its five ability slots can use any ability currently available to anyone in your current party.

Oh, silly me, I forgot about the new superbosses completely. There’s two entirely new superbosses in Final Fantasy IV, though the extras from the GBA version are out. But these bosses more than make up for it, as they require an incredible mastery of the Decant Ability System, the allotment of Decants, and combinations of effects of abilities. One is based on the game’s major bosses, the other is based on a near-endgame crisis. Two epic fights, with the power to back up the intimidation. I haven’t defeated either one, yet. I’ll get to that later.

The overall difficulty of the game has increased drastically. I was playing through FFIV Advance again before this game came out, just to prepare for this version’s release. So, I got through the DS version about twice. I later went back to the Advance version. I found myself ten levels below my DS version’s average, and I was very worried that I was severely underlevelled. I tried the next dungeon on Advance, and I was having trouble coping with the fact that I didn’t have as much health to use. I always felt like I didn’t have enough HP. The DS version really feels like what FFIV was supposed to be. The only thing I don’t like about the increased difficulty is that the Dark Dragon boss fight is impossibly hard. That one has given me the most trouble on all of my playthroughs. Other than that, I like- no, love the new difficulty level.

Story:

Part of the hype of this version was that 75% of the planned material was cut from the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy IV back on the Super Famicom. However, I was able to play the DS version from memory, despite only being able to read Katakana and Hiragana. There are a couple of new scenes, and they look like they belong. So, thankfully, the story of this epic adventure is still intact, still makes sense, and still leaves room for fanfiction. I was not disappointed at all, even though the amount of story added did not quadruple the length of the game.

Graphics/Sound:

It’s 3D. It’s DS. From what I’ve read, FFIV uses half the polygons of FFIII (to reduce lag), and the character models in FFIV have one more body part than the characters of FFIII (to allow necessary actions during the game). Personally, I thought that FFIII looks a little better, but FFIV is believable. Not only is the animation very well-done for how much they’ve improved on FFIII’s style, the voice acting of the Japanese version is beautifully done and makes the story and characters even more convincing and real. Some of it, like the voice of Golbez, is what you’d expect for the character. Others, like the game’s major bosses, may not quite be what you expected. I definitely loved getting a sense of what the characters sound like. The voices only served to enhance the game experience, and I found very little wrong with its execution. Plus, it served for some nice listening practice, since I also took Japanese just before this game came out in Japanese.

The music of the game sounds quite close to the SNES version, I think (though it might be closer to the PS1 version, but I haven’t played that one). There are some instrumental enhancements here and there, but for the most part, it’s very faithful to the original soundtrack.

Play Time/Replayability:

If you remember how easy the SNES, PS1, and GBA versions of FFIV were, you’re in for a rough ride here. This game should take quite a few more hours, due to the increased difficulty, the Decant Ability-related sidequests, and the fact that it takes three full games to get everything available. That’s right. Three playthroughs. This particular game takes three times as long to master as previous versions of FFIV. You get a new game plus two New Game Pluses to collect Decant Abilities, which is nice, since each one (with the exception of Twin Magic, which comes in pairs) only appears once per playthrough. Also, those new superbosses are only available on the second and third playthrough. There’s a Decant Ability that you get upon completion of the game. There’s far too much reason to replay this to ignore. I can’t think of how this could be better, since the game is so balanced. The new Decant Abilities aren’t very abusable, even when duplicates are available through further games. I’m definitely going to get a US copy as soon as I can after it comes out, just so I can (1) hear the voices in English and (2) have the joy of collecting and playing with Decant Abilities again. If you remember how you could create “clones” in FFV, FFVI, FFVII, FFVIII, FFX, et cetera (where every character had access to every ability), you’ll be either happy or sad to know that it’s impossible to create clones in FFIV, despite the new ability system. I like the inability to create clones. It provides more strategy than just “figure out how to make an uber god of pwnage, and then make everyone like that.”

Final Recommendation:

Yes, get this game. There’s no reason not to, no matter how many times you’ve been through FFIV. The new ability system and upgraded difficulty will make it feel like a whole new game. You’ll go back to Advance, and be just as level-paranoid as I was. It’s too different to be considered an “enhanced port” or “milking the series” or anything like that.

And if you’ve never been through FFIV, I think that you will enjoy this version very much. I can’t promise it, but I definitely think that the DS version is the best way to experience Final Fantasy IV for the first time. But please, get FFX, and maybe FFVII and FFVIII under your belt first, so you have a little experience. This isn’t nearly as easy as the previous versions of the game.

Either way, this game is absolutely worth buying and being proud of, even when it’s sitting relatively unused in your collection six months later.

I give this game 8/10, because some of the boss fights could have been a little more merciful. In my opinion, 8/10 as described by GameFAQs fits this game perfectly:
Great – fun to play, some minor but no major flaws

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Final Fantasy IV (JP, 12/20/07)

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