Review by XCommander

Reviewed: 08/13/08

Cecil and crew certainly look good on the DS

Final Fantasy IV was quite a landmark title, not only in the Final Fantasy franchise but for role-playing games in general. It was for many people, their first foray into role-playing 16-bit style. This is important because the Super Nintendo (unintentionally built from the ground up as an RPG powerhouse) encompasses what is considered to be the “Golden Era” of console RPGs. It was also the first game in the Final Fantasy series that featured the Active Time Battle system (ATB for short). This would go on to be one of the calling cards of the franchise, which they would use up until the tenth installment of the series. There also is the fact that this pioneered the growing maturity of games with its fairly mature story that drives the game with twists, turns, and changes. Believe me when I say that for an old-school RPG this really was an important step.

Now for most people reading this review, your first encounter with the game came in its form of Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo. This was mine as well. Because Final Fantasy II and III were created, but not translated or released in North America, Squaresoft decided to drop the numeral to II instead of four to hide this fact in North America. They also dropped the difficulty of the game. Contrary to popular belief it was not a translation of the easy-type (there was an easy-type and a hard-type of the game released in Japan), more like something in the middle but leaning toward the easy spectrum. Those of you that simply played Final Fantasy II are in for a rude awakening when playing this game.

But why are they releasing this game? There are already many versions of Final Fantasy IV across a vast array of systems. However, none were redone to the extent of the DS version. Yes, Final Fantasy IV finally has a remake fit for a king. The graphics have been totally built from the ground up, done in a remarkable three-dimensional rendering that looks just plain delicious, especially for the somewhat third dimensionally challenged DS system. Fortunately for the most part, the dungeons, castles, and areas were kept much the same as the original release, allowing for a great sense of nostalgia to creep upon you.

For those who haven't played the gem for the SNES or other systems, you're definitely in for a treat. Final Fantasy IV mainly tells the story of a dark knight by the name of Cecil, and his trials and tribulations in righting what he had done wrong in the past, and finally saving the world from an unknown and seemingly overpowering evil. Joining him on this quest are the two other main characters who are his beloved Rosa, a good intentioned and warm-hearted white mage; and Kain, a dragoon who is Cecil's rival and friend (and easily swayed). There are many others including Yang, the monk; Tellah, the sage; Palom and Porom, the twin wizards; Edge, the prince ninja; and some others that would take up way too much room to mention. Contrary to most characters in games at the time of the original release, these guys are fully fleshed out round characters, not flat hero stereotypes that cluttered the NES RPG market.

Throughout the game you'll venture across many varied environments, from regal castles, to sweltering deserts, large cavernous mountains, enormous towers of legend, and even one of the two moons of the world! You'll travel by foot, airship, and chocobo. If this sounds familiar it's because of the fact that the game is a Final Fantasy. You do those things. It is expected. With that being said, it still feels inspired after playing every other game in the series.

The translation is also improved in this version. There is apparently more script in this version that was let out of the original Final Fantasy IV. Also some of the Ted Woolsey quirks in the translation are fixed, bar one important one. Yes, Tellah does say “YOU SPOONY BARD!”

One thing I liked about this remake is the fact that it included the original score of Nobuo Uematsu, albeit with minor enhancements. And when I say minor, I mean trivial. So for people who loved the original score (and I'm assuming that would be mostly everyone who's played it), its back in this game. The score is a magnificent one, from the first motif of the Baron airships played on the opening montage, to the final battle's thrilling epic. The only downfall is the fact that it is based on the technology of 1991, so there does leave a tad to be desired. I'm assuming that Square didn't want to lose its nostalgic appeal to the legions of followers of the game. If that is the case, then it is alright.

As far as graphical capabilities, I think I mentioned it in the few paragraphs prior. It's excellent. It's sort of like how the Final Fantasies for the Playstation and Playstation 2 were leagues ahead of most other games of their time; the same goes for FFIV for the DS. It's not quite up to par with say Final Fantasy VII, but it's certainly nice to look at. The colors are as bright as they were for the original game, and you can certainly tell an update of this caliber was certainly necessary. There is also a FMV cutscene at the beginning of the game that shows all the main characters and moments from the game that were memorable.

One thing that really tends to stand out about this version of the game is its difficulty. Like I said before, it is a translation of the FFIV hard-type and by that I mean it in every sense of the word hard. Damn this game is difficult. You won't really notice it when you first play the game, as its more or less the same as the US version. It tapers off around the time you face the four elemental fiends. I don't remember having this much trouble against them. It took me numerous tries to defeat the first fiend, I don't remember that at all when playing it on the SNES. I was in for quite a surprise, and many gamers out there more than likely will be to.

One significant addition to the classic gameplay of the original is the fact that now characters can add abilities to fill up the random empty slots found in the original. They include things such as Counter and Cecil's Darkness. There's even an ability that breaks the damage barrier of 9999 found in the original. These are all pretty cool and have profound effects (for the better) on gameplay. Also included is an expanded bestiary that tracks all the enemies you've killed. Standard, yes, but still nice to have. Lastly there is the fact that you can listen to all the different tracks present in the game by talking to the Fat Chocobo.

In the end, this is certainly a spectacle to behold. Final Fantasy IV in all its epic glory redone in glorious three dimensional graphics. Fans of the original or even newcomers to the series will undoubtedly have fun with this game. It has a few new additions to the gameplay which certainly are fun, but through and through this is the same game released more than 15 years ago. People who are turned off by this fact need not apply. Anyone else looking for a fun game that is both nostalgic and deep, definitely give this game a shot. To fans of the original, this is the definitive version.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Final Fantasy IV (US, 07/21/08)

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