Review by Boomerang78

Reviewed: 07/10/08

The definitive version of Final Fantasy IV.

A long, long time ago, Square released Final Fantasy IV for the Super Famicom, and it was ground breaking. Outstanding graphics and music for its time, great spell effects, and a memorable, make-you-feel-good story, Final Fantasy IV was an instant classic, and a big hit in Japan. Due to the huge success and praise, Square released Final Fantasy IV in America as Final Fantasy II on the SNES, since Final Fantasy II and III were not released in America. Final Fantasy IV was also a big hit in America, catching the hearts of any people, Final Fantasy IV among VII, VI, X and so one are the most frequent Final Fantasy's to be someone's favourite. After many ports and re-releases, Square-Enix decided to remake Final Fantasy IV due to the huge success of Final Fantasy III. Now that you know a bit about Final Fantasy IV, onto the review.

STORY
You are Cecil, captain of the Red Wings, the airship force of Baron, the strongest military force in the world. Baron, with its large military power decides to collect the world's 4 Crystals, for reasons unknown. Cecil, is conflicted to this because he has to kill innocent people to get them all. Cecil, speaks to the King about this dilemma, and is stripped of his rank, and forced to deliver the Bomb Ring to the village of Mist, located in the mountains northwest of Baron. Kain decides to help Cecil deliver the Bomb Ring to Mist. They leave Baron for Mist, and that's when the game begins.

Final Fantasy IV's story is relatively simple today, but back then, it was the most epic storyline in a game. Betrayal, plot twists, Final Fantasy IV set up a lot of RPG cliches known today. Not-so evil villains, betrayal, a love story, Final Fantasy IV was nothing short of groundbreaking. Now, if it wasn't released back then, RPGs would possibly be much different today. And if it was released today, it would be taking hits for being too simple, but you have to cut the game some slack. This game is 17 years old. Back then, the only story in RPGs were "collect X amount of X important thing to enter X final dungeon with X final boss". Final Fantasy IV expanded on that, and made RPGs what they are today.

Some new scenes have been added in Final Fantasy IV to increase depth and help immerse you more into the characters of Final Fantasy IV. Such as Cecil's past, or events to do with other characters. The story has an altered script as well. If you've only played the SNES version, expect Final Fantasy IV DS to be hugely different from the SNES version.

GAMEPLAY
Final Fantasy IV is an RPG. So you won't be finding any killfests with breast physics. You simply move around, talking to NPCs and exploring the world. Items are stored inside treasure chests, where you can use them in combat or on the field to do many things. For example, you can restore HP and MP, you can equip weapons and armour to increase your attack power and defense power. Inside towns you can rest at Inns, or go to shops and buy supplies for the quest through the game. Some NPCs have some boring things to say, some will dance for you, some will turn you into a pig. Most NPCs have different things to say rather than in Final Fantasy I where 3 people say the same thing.

Next is battle. Final Fantasy IV's combat is played with the ATB (Active Time Battle) system. Each character has their own bar. Once it has been filled up, you may enter a command for your character to act with. For example, if you select the "Attack" command, the character you commanded will attack the enemy with their equipped weapon. This allows for fast paced battles, and sometimes, sweaty palms. The enemies have their own "bar" as well, but it's not shown, so you can't predict your opponents movements, unless you examine them carefully, and discover their attacking pattern.

If you're a so-called "expert" of the old Final Fantasy IV, prepare for a rude awakening. Enemies have been souped up. A lot. In other words, this is considered the toughest version of Final Fantasy IV available. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll find yourself dying a lot. Enemies also have new attack patterns, and new attacks. Example, lots of bosses now have instant death spells and 99% damage attacks. (Those reduce one character's HP to 1-10, and sometimes even the entire party's HP) Some characters can't equip some weapons they could before in the original Final Fantasy IV. For example, Edge can no longer equip any Claws, and Cecil can no longer equip a Bow and Arrows. This only makes the game tougher, and more satisfying once you win.

New to Final Fantasy IV is the "Augment" system, or "Decant" system. Past characters will "give up" their skills and let future characters use them. For example, if one character gives up their "Black Magic" command, someone else can take the command, such as Cecil, and use Black Magic which they would not normally get in past versions of Final Fantasy IV. Other things such as "Break Damage Limit" and "Cry" help a lot in battle, and give Final Fantasy a slight customizable feel. It's a great addition, and it's nearly vital to complete the game.

MUSIC
The music has been changed, to measure up to the DS's better sound card. But, it's not what you would expect. Most themes have been only updated, meaning they were made to stay true to the original SNES soundtrack. But there are new soundtracks that have gotten a major boost, such as the Theme of Love, with it's beautiful vocal music. Another is A Long Way to Go, which sounds a lot more "epic". Some of the music is disappointing, like the Final Battle theme, which I feel should be faster, and have a little more complexity to it, like in the SNES and GBA versions of the game. Overall, this is my favourite soundtrack of Final Fantasy IV, and it's still a great soundtrack to listen to.

GRAPHICS
The graphics are obviously the largest addition to Final Fantasy IV. They are among the best graphics for the Nintendo DS, and I happen to think they're the best of the two main Final Fantasy games on the DS, even though Final Fantasy III has more polygons and all, but Final Fantasy IV has smoother, all 3-D graphics, unlike in Final Fantasy III where some houses were just 2-D sprites. Final Fantasy IV is has better spell effects, (even though some of the effects such as Haste have the same animation) like Bahamut, or Firaga. Final Fantasy IV also has much more going on during battles. In Final Fantasy III, there could only be 3 enemies on screen. But, this can't happen since Final Fantasy IV would only allow 2 enemies if the graphics were the same as Final Fantasy III, so this is a great substitute.

PRESENTATION
In the original Final Fantasy IV, everything was in 2-D, so the cutscenes in the game weren't presented as well as they could be if they were in 3-D. With the hardware of the DS, Square-Enix took advantage of the 3-D capabilities, and redid every cutscene. Boy, was it worth it. Square is no stranger to cutscenes, so the effect they have has been increased drastically.

With voice acting added as well, the cutscenes are extremely well done. The cutscenes are presented near perfectly, and there is much more detail in them. In the original Final Fantasy IV, if a character gets mad, or they're happy, they would only do a little jig and talk. In Final Fantasy IV for the DS, characters will actually show expressions and maybe hold them back with arms, not just step in front of them.

The cutscenes are done extremely well, if not perfectly. You have to see the cutscenes to believe them, they won't disappoint.

REPLAY VALUE
Final Fantasy IV has some new superbosses for you to face (one of them has 400000 HP), and if you're a perfectionist, it takes 3 playthroughs to complete the game entirely. This is a lot of replay value for an RPG on the DS. Sure, it doesn't stack up to other games that have Hard modes and Extreme modes, but it's still a lot. A welcomed feature to Final Fantasy IV.

Some things have been taken out of Final Fantasy IV, such as the Lunar Ruins, a dungeon. But some people don't mind, the dungeon was tedious and people thougt only the Dragoon trial was good, and the end boss of the dungeon was pretty easy.

OVERALL
While this game is basically milking off of success, Final Fantasy IV is a great game for the Nintendo DS. Challenging, great presentation, and if you've never played Final Fantasy IV, you have a chance. If you've played it before, then you'll have the chance to play the hardest version of Final Fantasy IV. Go buy this game, as soon as it comes out in North America. When this review was written, on Wednesday July 9th, it's only 13 days away. I give this game 97%. It's a timeless classic, improved upon, and it's one of the greatest games, of all time.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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

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