Review by FFM

Reviewed: 01/04/10

Enjoyable redo of a classic.

So I was engaged in rare event: purchasing a new game that I might actually play. I looked upon the shelf, next to the sloppily produced Dragon Warrior Monsters (oh god, not another one of these) laid a lone copy of Final Fantasy IV (FF II on SNES). Filled with nostalgia from my childhood, I couldn’t let this opportunity to relive my past go. I had to buy it, no matter how bad it could possibly be. After all, gaming’s history is marred with inadequate remakes, taking one’s childhood memories of classics and making he or she think “I didn’t really play this, did I?”

First, let it be mentioned that Final Fantasy IV is not merely some watered-down port ill-intentioned on milking the franchise name for Sqaure-Enix’s bottom line. I was pleasantly surprised that the game did not partake in any drastic overhauls but added enough new material to justify a purchase. Cecil, our enigmatic dark knight turned pious protagonist still drives the story of FFIV; we follow him throughout his ups and down. Kain, a high-flying dragoon (still don’t know what the hell those are after all these years) joins us on our initial quest to deliver a package to a town for the Baron. Needless to say, things down the toilet in a hurry and we’re left with a crappy mess on our hands.

On the way, we will get in random encounters. FFIV has the active battle system, meaning there is to be no slow judgments during fights, especially hard boss battles (there is the option to put it on ‘wait’ but be a man). Boss battles are totally overhauled; the old strategies no longer work on every boss and the fights are harder. Sometimes one will have to level up a bit before fighting a boss, other times they will die easily. One criticism is that almost all the bosses are susceptible to the slow spell, facilitating the battle greatly. While some of the bosses counter with their own attack or spell, most of the time the counter isn’t significant unless in huge fights. This doesn't mean the fight is easy, though. However, for those fights that require no thought to win, there is an auto-battle feature that takes care of the fight for you. Is this nice? Being able to level up and engage in something else during the fight isn’t only nice but it’s very convenient.

Also adding to the fights is ‘augments’, which is basically, allows characters to have other skill sets that others possess and even some that are unique. For example, Yang has ‘focus’ which allows him to bolster the power of his next attack, and later in the game you can gain it to teach it to Cecil. Others, such as Phoenix, allow the instantaneous revival of a hero and are completely unique as no hero initially has the skill. Gaining augments is simple to downright tricky. However, having the right augments equipped will make the game that much easier. These are optional, which is nice, adding a layer to depth for people that have to collect everything. Since they also give stat boost starting very late in the game, one is able to grow his or her character based on what augments that the character was given.

FFIV has a lot of optional material, but most of it is reserved for the hardcore completist. Onion armor makes a debut along with extremely rare drops (.04% drop rate) to keep the determined players grinding, but the casual player will overlook this and simply complete the game. Playing through the game again gives us the option to fight against two extremely buff bosses. Both are, again, reserved for final fantasy enthusiasts. Personally, I did not partake in grinding my way to an extremely high level to face them, but I still greatly enjoyed FFIV and appreciated the game with what is had to offer to the non-enthusiast. Some of the old optional material, such as the Sylph summon, are still retained from the original game so veterans will be at home with at least a few of the secrets.

Of course, this is all fleshed out in beautiful new 3D designed specifically for this ‘port’ (I use that lightly). All the dungeons are remodeled but keep the general floor plan, monsters and such. Music is remixed a bit, such as the main theme for the game, but it is similar enough to be instantly recognized. And, yes, there is still the omnipresent end-battle music that plays after you beat the opponent. The dungeons seem a bit harder this time around, and I died a few times trying to kill the bosses, as opposed to the SNES version which involved cake walking through half the game in a day.

Despite all of this, I did enjoy FFIV, and you will too given that you’ve played the original or have any interest in classic RPGs. I say this because the game will come off as possibly boring compared to today’s RPGs if you have not sat down and had memories with the SNES incarnation or an appreciated for what today’s RPG’s used to look like. Do I recommend FFIV? Sure. It’s a short, engrossing and enjoyable adventure through the ups and downs of once a simple dark knight turned world saver (but isn’t that how they always end up?)

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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