Review by porkzchop00
One of the finest fantasies reborn once again!
Hardcore RPG gamers of the old school variety will know what I'm talking about. When this game was originally released in the U.S. as "Final Fantasy 2" on the Super Nintendo; this genre barely existed stateside. But those of us that picked it up had our tastes in video games -if not in all entertainment- permanently changed after playing FF4. There were two kinds of people I showed this to back in the day: people who couldn't even comprehend a game where instead of controlling a character directly you issued them orders and watched them carry them out, and people who became instant hardcore RPG fanatics. Type B: this one's for you.
FF for the NES was a cute little adventure where you handpicked your party out of a small array of cookie-cutter archetypes and set about hunting treasure and fighting monsters and such. It was a start. That and "Dragon Quest" were the only games in town at that time. Then, along with the SNES came this mindblower. Having been skipped over by two Japanese sequels, Americans were treated to their first video game that was on par with other mediums of entertainment. Mario could jump around, Sonic was fast, Samus had cool weapons, and Link had massive worlds to explore, but did you ever really FEEL for them? Did you ever have to watch them die for reals, knowing that you wouldn't be playing as them again in this playthrough? this game made me feel loss, excitement, accomplishment, and a genuine NEED to see what was going to happen next. FF4 has a story that could compete with the best novels, great art designs, wonderful characters with unique abilities and personalities, epic powers at your control, and what I still consider to be the finest score ever in a video game. This one changed video games from a childhood diversion to a lifelong obsession for me. I've spent nearly two decades wishing for a direct sequel (FF: Mystic Quest" was a HUGE letdown), a cartoon series, a movie, something/anything to pay homage to the video game that deserves it most. Final Fantasy VII on Playstation was the first huge hit of the series and the one that gets most of the love from younger fans, but it lacks the flawless execution, focus, and originality of 4. Nonetheless, it's popularity earned it a cool CG movie and spin-offs. But my prayers have been answered in a way with this ground-up remake of my favorite game of all time. I bought the Nintendo DS just for this game. Now let's just hope it catches on this time around and gets the FF7-like treatment it deserves.
I showed the opening animation to a woman at work and her jaw dropped. "SO COOL!" were her exact words. That barely begins to describe how much I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters realized in 3D glory after some 17 years of picturing it in my head. FF4 has been faithfully reproduced in it's entirety with completely redone graphics, new character models, actual cutscenes, some voice-acting, and many more new additions that only make this classic better. You can now raise and train your very own monster who can be conjured to battle in your summoner's place using techniques learned from your party. The training consists of several mini-games that use the DS's stylus in interesting ways. You can even draw the monster's face however you like. Very cool. The dual-screens make using the mini-map extremely handy. The augment capability adds some customization to the game and assures that even when you say goodbye to your favorite characters, some of their talents can still help you out. The only way I could be happier with what I got was if it had been given the full-on next-gen treatment on the Xbox 360. And yes, I would buy this game yet again to experience that. It is that good. A hundred bloated Lost Odysseys, Legend of Dragoons, and Blue Dragons as well as subsequent Final Fantasy games have tried and failed to recapture the one-of-a-kind character work, epic story, unforgettable score, and perfect pacing of this almost-forgotten relic of a genre that is still going strong in part because of the groundwork laid by this title. This is the most fun one can have with one tiny game cartridge.
I spend most of my free time watching genre films, reading comic books and novels, playing story-based video games, and watching any outstanding television series out there, so rest assured that I know a great story when I see one regardless of the medium. Playing through FF4 -even for the dozenth time- gives me the same feeling I get when watching the Star Wars Trilogy or reading The Lord of the Rings. Great fiction is great fiction and this is the kind of game, dated as it is, that reminds me why I'm still doing this at age 30. If you've ever enjoyed a role-playing game in any way, shape, or form don't hesitate to pick this up. It is the best Japanese RPG of all time and it accomplishes that without mindblowing graphics, dozens of lengthy cutscenes, or even decent voice-acting. Buy it!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Final Fantasy IV (US, 07/21/08)
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