Review by LordShibas

Reviewed: 04/06/09

A Great Remake, but Just Too Frustrating

As Square/Enix continues to churn out more and more remakes on the DS and PSP, it was only a matter of time before a true remake of Final Fantasy IV was released. I say “true” because the GBA version of Final Fantasy IV was a mere port, and a bad one at that. Plagued by horrid frame rates and an active turn based system that often didn’t make sense, Final Fantasy IV Advance was something that I was hoping to forget. I have fond memories of the original Final Fantasy IV for SNES, and it seems like it’s been ages since this game was done justice. I had really high expectations for the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, and I was hoping that Square/Enix finally purveyed the awesome remake of Final Fantasy IV that I dreamed of.

In some ways, Final Fantasy IV for DS lived up to my expectations, and I was quite pleased with a large majority of the game. However, a few things about the game turned me off to the experience and I wound up back at square one; still hoping for a remake of Final Fantasy IV that I truly cherish. It’s a shame that I did not find it in the DS version.

First I’ll go over the changes in the DS version. The DS version of Final Fantasy IV features a new 3D graphical update for the game, some remixed music, a touched up story, some new battle features, and an increase in difficulty that will catch veterans of the game off guard if they are not made aware of it. This is no longer a nice, serene walk through the Final Fantasy IV universe. Prepare to get schooled during every boss encounter, and even during some random encounters.

I must say that Square/Enix really pulled out all the stops with the remake of Final Fantasy IV and they truly tried to make this a worthy update to the existing game, unlike they did with Chrono Trigger DS.

In spite of my existing love for Final Fantasy IV, and all of the upgrades made to the game, I found myself overwrought by the difficulty and about 20 hours into the game I realized that I wasn’t having much fun playing this game, I was purely playing it for nostalgia reasons. Getting to a memorable boss or event sure was impressive, but the immense amount of grinding and some of the questionable deaths sure made the game frustrating and just not seem to be worth the time and effort this game requires.

Final Fantasy IV is a turn based RPG from Square/Enix that was one of the originators of deep character development and story in RPGs. It follows the story of a Dark Knight from the Kingdom of Baron named Cecil. Cecil is a common man that is stricken by grief after performing some dastardly deeds for the King of Baron. Once Cecil questions the actions of the King, he is quickly removed from his duty, and sent off to complete a quest for the King with his friend Kain. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned for Cecil and Kain’s trip, and a smorgasbord of events will follow that depicts quite an interesting quest for Cecil.

The story in Final Fantasy IV is without a doubt one of the best aspects of the game and it still remains strong to this day. People may call it cliche by today’s standards, but it was truly revolutionary for its time.

Since most people have played this game before, I’ll try to get to my review and highlight the differences between the DS version and the original.

Graphics 8/10

The graphics is Final Fantasy IV sure have come a long way since the days of the SNES. The DS version is now a 3D reproduction of the game, and it looks quite nice for a DS game. Square has done an amazing job of transitioning the 2D sprites to 3D models. While some of them may look a big goofy with their “big head” style, most of them remain faithful to their original sprites and are discernable.

All of the enemies have also been turned into 3D models and given animations. Some of the new boss designs in particular are quite daunting, and seem to be much more intimidating that they previously were. Your spells and summons are now conveyed in glorious 3D, and once again, still remain faithful to the original material. I really must commend Square/Enix for sticking close to the source material overall for Final Fantasy IV with the graphics. The game evokes just the right amount of nostalgia, but still manages to look fantastic by DS standards.

Sounds and Music 5/10

The music and sounds of Final Fantasy IV on the DS are very reminiscent to the original SNES version. In fact they are almost identical. This would be a bad thing if they were not stellar to being with, but this may disappoint some people. I personally didn’t mind, but I think that Square/Enix could have done a bit more to add to the existing soundtrack of the game.

The game now has some nice cut scenes with voices for the characters. I’ve heard some people criticize the voices, but I thought they were fairly appropriate for their given characters. It would have been nice to see more of the scenes fully voiced, and the voiced portions only seem to pop up for major story moments.

So the sounds and music are okay, but nothing beyond the original, minus the voice acting of course.

Story 8/10

The story in Final Fantasy IV for DS is pretty much the same as it was before. Cecil will be chasing after the elemental crystals that will grant omniscient power to the person who wields them. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who has not played the game before, but the story is pretty good, and it may be the largest driving factor in making you want to venture further into the game.

Cecil would truly be nothing without a memorable and interesting cast of characters to accompany him on his journey, and Cecil has quite a few party members that will tag along with him. Each of the characters is given a time to shine and while you may not like all of them, you will no doubt remember them for one reason or another after the game is over. Final Fantasy IV also has a very good cast of villains, including Golbez and the archfiends. Seeing them in their 3D glory really makes them shine.

If you have played Final Fantasy IV before, then you know what to expect. Not a whole lot has changed. If you liked it before, you’ll like it now.

Gameplay 3/10

As I’ve said before. I adore Final Fantasy IV on the SNES, so it really pains me to give this game a 3 out of 10 for gameplay, but the gameplay was the main reason that I was not able to enjoy this game. The gameplay is grind intensive, frustrating, and your enemies almost always have the advantageous position. This is the first RPG I’ve ever played in my entire life where I ran into a random enemy encounter, scored a Pre-Emptive strike, yet I somehow got hit with a Slow spell before I could attack the enemy. I have no idea how this happened, and it only happened to me once, but it almost didn’t even surprise me at that point.

The core gameplay is pretty much unchanged from the original, so it’s a solid, turn based RPG experience with random battles, boss fights, questing, etc, etc.

One of the new changes to the gameplay is the new Augment feature. This feature allows you to pass traits or abilities of your past party members to your current party members. Once you find an Augment, you can choose the character to give it to, and they can then utilize it. Each subsequent character that leaves the party will leave behind Augments as well, and when they propagate to other characters, they increase in effectiveness.

The thing about Augments is that they are not mandatory, and they are simply a fun little feature for Final Fantasy purists. Don’t get me wrong, some of these can be used very effectively, but lots of them are worthless.

There is also a significant amount of grinding that is mandatory in this game and it really drags down the experience. I really don’t understand why they made the game require so much grinding, since it’s a rather story intensive game. It really slows the experience down and makes it not as fun. Boss fights are often maddeningly difficult and require a specific strategy and a certain level, or you will just get stomped.

A game truly has to falter big time for me to be absolutely disgusted with the gameplay in a remake of a game that I really adore, but Final Fantasy IV for DS manages to do this. Despite enjoying almost everything about this game, the poor gameplay just ruined this one for me.

Longevity and Re-Playability 7/10

There is a lot of game to play through here, but half of the game you will be grinding to build up your levels far enough so you can survive. I don’t really consider “required grinding” to be a determinant when it comes to how long a game is. This game is quite long, and will easily take you between 35-45 hours to complete, but if you take out the grinding, it would probably take you about 20 at the very most.

Conclusion

You know, I approached Final Fantasy IV with bittersweet thoughts in my head and with much zeal, but I was very disappointed, and I’m kind of upset. There were so many aspects of the game that I liked, and I do indeed find this to be a good remake, but the game is just balanced poorly and it will be far too frustrating for most people.

Final Fantasy fans may want to check this game out, but non-Final Fantasy fans may be in store for a rude awakening.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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

Would you recommend this Review? Yes No

Got Your Own Opinion?

Submit a review and let your voice be heard.