Review by DancingCalca
A great remake to one of the greatest Final Fantasies ever.
Final Fantasy IV has undergone many versions. First, it was released in Japan as Final Fantasy IV for the SNES. In the US, it was released as Final Fantasy II for the SNES. Secondly, we had a PSX version. Thirdly, the GBA got a version of Final Fantasy IV. Finally, in 2008, the DS gets a version of Final Fantasy IV. So, what makes this version any different from the previous three? Well, let's see...
In keeping with the SNES's story, Final Fantasy IV DS has once again done a fabulous job with a story that defined the Final Fantasy series. Cecil, lord captain of the Redwings and Dark Knight of Baron, is ordered to go to Mysidia and steal their water crystal. After the atrocity of the mission, Cecil questions King Baron's motives, which angers him. Thus, Cecil is stripped of his command of the Red Wings and asked to deliver an item known as the Carnelian Signet to the Village of Mist. From there, the story really kicks off.
While the story is the traditional story from the days of the SNES, there are some added cutscenes and voice acting accompanies them. This makes the story more effective, as hearing the emotion in the characters' voices is much more comprehensible than reading a box of text. While it does cater to the traditional save the world and protect the crystals in some earlier Final Fantasy titles, there is much more depth and comprehension beyond what an earlier title could have produced. It is perfect in every way possible.
The mechanism for the game is a simple layout. While in the field, you control the lead party character with the control pad and use the A button to open treasures, talk to NPCs, and pick up objects off the ground. The field layout is smooth and perfect.
The battle layout is where the mechanic problems come into action. The battle system runs in Active Time Base (ATB), where your actions are performed once an ATB bar fills up. Here is the problem with the battle system. There is a minor lag in some spots in the battling. For example, you may cast a spell and go to select the next command for another character, but the screen is a little slow because the spell is still hitting the enemies. It's not a major problem, but it disrupts the flow of battle. Another flaw that disrupts battle is the summoning. Whenever your character completes a summon, it takes you out of whichever character's command box you are in to perform an animation. While you can skip it the summoning animation, you are back to the main menu for whichever character you were selecting a command for before the summon. Again, not a big deal; however, it can disrupt the flow of battle.
Do I really need to go into detail here? Since Final Fantasy IV is a DS game, it's gonna have some very flashy graphics. While they are really impressive, they don't really change much about the game. The battles, animations, cutscenes, and environments are beautifully done and have a clean look to them, but it doesn't really make playing the game much better. A lot of people think that the graphics are one of the most awesome things about this game. While the graphics are really flashy and give the game a techy-feel, it would still be just as good if it had the graphics of the SNES version.
This game has some real awesome music. I'm not gonna lie; this is one of the best Final Fantasy tracks in the series. Each musical piece is appropriately placed at every moment in the game, and some of the pieces got a remix version. For example, the final boss's and Troia's theme got changed up a bit from earlier versions.
While the music is fantastic, the sound quality isn't always its best. The biggest issue is the voice acting and music. Sometimes, the music is so loud, you can't hear what the characters are saying. This means, that you have to turn the subtitles on to see the words, and it kinda ruins the scene by having a box of text you have to pay attention to. Don't get me wrong, I love the voice acting...when I can hear it.
Finally, we move onto the actual game itself. Well, the game is pretty straight forward. You must go through the different environments, traverse caves and dungeons, meet new people, battle enemies, gain exp, and become a hero. While that pattern is the traditional flow of the game, it's not quite so boring as it sounds. There is tons of exploring, items to find, Augments to find, and people to talk to.
There are two features they added to the DS version of Final Fantasy IV. First, was the addition of a New Game +, in which players have two more chances to go through the game and get whatever they missed on the first playthrough. While this is a neat idea, and everything carries over from the first, there is one major drawback. You start at level 1 all over again once you beat the game. The second feature is an Augment System. Augments are special abilities that you can equip to your characters to make them learn other abilities. For example, if someone leaves your party, you can get their abilities and equip them to your characters. Some Augments are given to you in the story, and others you have to backtrack to previous caves/dungeons to find. You'll have plenty of exploring to do to get them, and you have three playthroughs.
Finally, you have some bonus content as well. You have two optional bosses you can fight that can give you a run for your money. These bosses can be fought in New Game +, but you have to get a certain item from the first game to be able to fight them, which can be easily missed. Basically, you have a lot of looking around and exploring. The game offers you 30-40 hours to beat the story, and there's even more time to get all the items and whatnot. Don't worry, there's plenty to do.
As stated above, the addition of the New Game + and the optional bosses is enough to get you to play this game. Also, if you want a perfect 100%, you'll have to do three playthroughs to get everything. Since you have to beat the game three times to get everything, I'd say there is high replay value. If you don't care about 100%, you may pick this game up again one day if you feel like doing another playthrough.
Here comes the fun factor of the game itself. While the game is very fun to play, you'll run into some frustrating elements that'll make you want to snap your DS in two. The difficulty has been upped do to the addition of the Augment System. A lot of the enemies have cheap attacks and spam powerful moves that can kill your party in seconds flat. Many feel that level grinding is the only way to win, but you need strategy and a bit of luck to win this game.
Rent or Buy?
Do I even have to say it? You should 1000% buy this game. If you are wondering which version of Final Fantasy IV to get, go with this one. The SNES version is simple, and the GBA version is glitched like you wouldn't believe. If you don't have a DS, consider the SNES or PSX version. In any case, you should get a version of this game. If you own all the systems, buy this, the superior version.
Final Fantasy IV DS was a worthy remake, and I'm glad that I picked up this great game. While it is awesome, it's not quite perfect, so I'm giving it a 9.3, which is a 9 under GameFAQs' rating system. It could have been a 10, but laggy mechanics shot that chance. It's still a great game, and I give a double thumbs up.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Final Fantasy IV (US, 07/21/08)
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