Review by JenovaFollower

Reviewed: 01/26/09

An almost perfect game that will last you a lifetime of joy.

Introduction

Well, folks, here it is a fourth time. Final Fantasy IV has received another version from Square Enix. Back in the SNES days, this RPG gem was released as Final Fantasy II. Next, a hand-held version came to the GBA as a port. It offered extra content not seen in the original. Also, there was a PSX version that was brought to Sony's popular console of the time.

Now, in 2008, Square has treated us to a new version of Final Fantasy IV. Many people were skeptical to buy this, as voice acting and a polished 3-D look scared a lot of people. Would Square ruin one of the greatest RPGs on the SNES? Did the new remake stand up to the Final Fantasy name?

Story - 8/10

The story is pretty cliched for a game in this age. While it is a remake of a story that was popular in the 1990s, that doesn't mean it's a bad story at all. You play as Cecil, Dark Knight and Lord Captain of the Red Wings of Baron. King Baron is causing turmoil and ordering Cecil to steal the crystals from neighboring people. Cecil questions the king's orders, and he is stripped of his command of the Red Wings. Upon being fired, Cecil is given a ring to deliver to the people of Mist nearby. This is where our game kicks off.

The basic plotline may seem bogus and corny, but it's actually surprisingly well done and comes together. The plot twists and cutscenes really bring out the story well and steer away from the cliche that comes from the story. It was awesome to hear emotion and depth brought to an old game.

In addition to the story, the characters really made the game more enjoyable. By far, this is the most likable cast of characters in the Final Fantasy series. Seriously, they can't be beaten. It's easy to like the characters because they evoke emotion in you and are superbly developed. Each character has background, personality, motivation, and many other characteristics that will keep you entertained.

Controls/Mechanics - 9/10

The game is very smooth to control and easy to function. There is very little stylus interaction, which means you'll be using the control pad a lot. For the stylus portions, you'll mainly be dragging, dropping, and tapping to complete optional mini-games. There is hardly any need for the stylus during the actual game.

Mechanically speaking, the game is done just right. The menus all come together and make navigation smoothly developed. It's more fun when you aren't trying to figure everything out about the stupid menu. Also, everything is in perfect working order, and there are no major problems.

I would like to point out two small flaws in battle mechanics. First of all, the lag in battle. After certain summons/spells, there is a small lag which causes the battle to freeze for a split second. It just seems broken when this occurs. Secondly, the menu issue. Whenever a character goes to summon, you are taken out of the menu you are in after the summon animation. This is highly annoying and frustrating to keep going back into the same menus.
Other than these two small annoyances, the game is fine mechanically.

Graphics - 10/10

With the new addition of Final Fantasy IV to the DS, the classic SNES title received a graphical overhaul. The transfer from 2-D to 3-D was complete and done magnificently. The overworld is done beautifully, the towns are colorful, the dungeon design is superb, and the battle animations/effects were done beautifully. There's really not a whole lot to say about the graphics, as they are perfectly done and couldn't be any better.

Soundtrack - 10/10

Again, I have no complaints here. Final Fantasy IV offers some really great pieces of music. Nobuo did some wonderful compositions in this one. Each piece of music fits the situations perfectly. I always felt like the theme was appropriate. The sound effects for the battles are done nicely as well.

Gamplay - 9/10

And finally, we come to the most important aspect of any game. Final Fantasy IV plays really well, and I think many buyers, both new and old, will find it to be quite an enjoyable experience. So, how does the game play? Well, it's like any other Final Fantasy. "Oh noes, the world is in danger. We must go on an epic quest to stop it." Now, it's not as generic as that, but you get the idea. The basic pattern is there. Travel from town to town, buy equipment/items, meet new people, level up, and explore various dungeons.

If you've played the previous versions of Final Fantasy IV, you will notice that quite a few things have changed playing wise. In the GBA version, you could choose your final party. This is no longer the case. You are stuck with a pre-determined final party to tackle the final boss. Although, the new Augment System really makes up for the lack of party choice. By implementing this system, you can equip abilities from departing party members onto your characters. For example, one character knows an ability called Cry. You can give this ability to another character when they leave the party, as long as you get.

While the Augment System is a beautiful addition, there are some problems with it. First of all, you can miss a lot of the good ones that make the game sufficiently easier. Not much easier, but they lighten the difficulty a tad bit. You must give Augments to other characters in order to get them. Unless you are following a guide, you won't know when the characters are leaving your party, when to give them to the characters by, and where to find some of the Augments that aren't given to you in the story. Even though they make the game easier, you don't need them to beat the game.

Also, the GBA extras have been removed. The Lunar Trials and extra dungeons that everybody knew and loved are gone. Instead, they have been replaced by two secret bosses. The only thing is, these bosses can only be fought on New Game + and New Game ++, so you can't fight them on a first playthrough. This means you will miss out on the two secret bosses if you only plan on playing one playthrough.

Speaking of New Game +, I find it to be an excellent feature to this game. There is one major flaw with it, though. You can only do two New Game +s. This means, you can only play through three times on one file. Also, New Game + doesn't offer anything new other than the two secret bosses. Many think this is a useless feature, but I feel it's a blessing to play through this fabulous RPG three times.

Finally, there were some more things added. You can find bonus scenes of the characters' childhoods in the story. That was a nice little addition to the story. Also, new equipment has been added as well. Now, this is where your patience kicks in. You must farm for these "tails" that can be forged into new equipment.

A lot of the equipment that can be gotten from these tails is useless. So, if you are completionist, prepare to spend hours and hours trying to get the equipment. Further, the Fat Chocobo now has mini-games and other extras. No more storing your items because of your enhanced inventory. Overall, the game plays rather well. Most of the frustrating parts come from the extra material.

Replay Value - 9/10

This version of Final Fantasy IV easily has the highest replay value. The New Game + offers a total of three playthroughs to get the immense load of stuff that is in this game. Also, the addition of the two superbosses are a nice touch, which can only be fought in New Game +. If you want to take them on, you'll have to play again. The only problem with the replay value is that New Game + is the same game over again. Hey, what do you expect? It is a new game after all...

Fun Factor - 8/10

This game is really fun and engrossing. At times, you'll just want the part you are on to be over because it's not as exciting, or you find yourself repeating parts from immense difficulty. Other than that, you'll have a blast with this game.

Difficulty - 8/10

Yes, this is the hardest version of Final Fantasy IV to date. Some players have claimed it is the easiest, but that's because they think dying less = difficulty. Most of your difficulty will come towards the middle of the game, so don't judge it as easy in the beginning. The beginning is the easiest part. The middle is not as easy, but it isn't extremely difficult either. The very final parts of the game are where the difficulty will nail you. Don't worry, it's not, "OMG, I'm gonna snap my DS in two!" hard. You will have some challenge and need strategy to complete the game.

Rent or Buy?

You should definitely buy the game. It is a great DS game and the perfect game for a collection of a Final Fantasy fan. If you are a fan of this game, buy without hesitation and don't be afraid of how it might have messed up until you actually play it. If you are new to the FF series, start with this one. You won't be sorry.

Overall - 9/10

My final verdict is an 8.8, which translates into a 9. I found Final Fantasy IV DS to be an enjoyable experience. I'm glad that was the first version of Final Fantasy IV I've played. It made me want to try the other versions and appreciate what the DS transformed an old classic into. So, pick up this game if you haven't already. What are you waiting for? Go buy Final Fantasy IV DS!!!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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