Hello folks, and welcome to the first game review of Final Fantasy Month! This week I’ll be looking at Final Fantasy IV on the DS for a look at the traditional Final Fantasy Formula. Do 3D and some other new features bolster this classic? Or does it drag it down? Let us see…
A quick history lesson for you – Final Fantasy was originally released for the Super Famicom but has been re-released and ported to a few other consoles such as the Super NES, Playstation 1, the WonderSwan Colour ((Handheld only released in Japan by Bandai)), the GBA and the DS. I own the PS1 and the GBA and DS versions…I am Square-Enix’s bitch, I know…not as much as…>.> Actually, I’ve milked the RPGObjects joke enough for now…Anyway, FF IV introduced a few innovations that would be used in subsequent Final Fantasy titles such as the Active Time Battle System, MP points instead of slots that were used in FF3, and a few other little tweaks here and there. It’s been hailed as not only one of the greatest Final Fantasies, but one of the greatest games of all time.
The story has, alas, not had the backing of time, as it seems so familiar to other RPG’s – however, although the feel as a whole is rather samey with other RPG’s there are a few moments that stand out in memory – mainly when a character leaves the party. It also gave birth to the infamous line “You spoony bard!” – One of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a game. The game also left me close to tears at Tellah’s death scene, which is highly bolstered by facial expressions and voices ((More opinion on those later)) and Palom and Porom’s scene where they stop the party being crushed is rather good as well. It’s what Final Fantasy does best – boost your empathy levels, so you feel what the characters do.
The characters are rather varied, although we do get a few cliché’s such as the Damsel in Distress with Rosa, one of the White Mages – the old guy who has “I will die” tattooed on his forehead with Sage Tellah, who also has REVENGE on his chest somewhere. Cid the engineer is the Eccentric lunatic who means well, Edge is the Ninja, as well as the Self-Proclaimed Ladies man. The Dialogue is of a typically high standard, with each character having their own personality and quirks – so once more you feel each betrayal, heartbreak and victory rather well – it’s one of Square-Enix’s main skills, and they are grand masters at it.
The graphics are impressive for the DS, with care been taken to recreate the much-loved scenery from the original sprite versions, and the transition has stood well. The text has improved also, with the shaky translation problem that littered early Final Fantasy games eradicated. The facial expressions make the cut scenes a lot more watchable, and voices ((The second time voices have featured on a DS Final fantasy game, the first one being Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates)) are a nice touch, with a large enough percentage of the voices being good for me to ignore the bad ones.
The gameplay and control is rather good – however, just because the execution is good, does not stop levelling being a bit of a chore. The battles look like a 3D version of the sprite days, and that’s a good thing, with different angles for normal and boss fights. However, there are too few variations of potential battles in some areas, so you end up fighting the same group of enemies several times before you’re strong enough to take down the next big boss. You can move around either via the traditional D-Pad, or using the stylus to point in the direction you wanna go in. The stylus is limited with RPG’s, but what is good is that they didn’t try and shove a new “Innovative” feature that didn’t need to be there.
However, that’s not to say that Square-Enix didn’t try and add something Stylus-orientated. Whyt, a personal summon, or Eidolon, for Rydia, may be powered up through Stylus-only minigames, who takes her places in the battle line-up, and acts under computer control according to abilities set to him by the player. This…is rather pointless, as having Rydia use her magic and summons is a much better idea, that having a doll you can doodle on fight instead. There is also a New Game Plus option, where you can carry over certain things from your old playthrough, with some bonus content only accessible through this.
Fat Chocobo has been made redundant with the loss of the item limit, so he is now used to access the music player, the Bestiary, the Whyt Mini-games and the scene viewer, where you can re-watch the voiced cut scenes again, if you so wish. Now, with voices comes the loss of one of my favourite features in the old games – name your characters. Naming Cecil and co after people I knew was awesome, and added a bit more personality to the game. However, Namingway, the person who renamed your characters for you, has not lost his job – this time, he’s a side-quest giver, so if you help him out when you meet him, he’ll give you some bonus stuff.
Now, for my final thoughts. The game is still a must, and doesn’t suffer from what Chrono Trigger did of being “Over-hyped”. Chrono Trigger was not what I was lead to believe it was gonna be – it was just missed opportunities. I may be called a hypocrite, as both games came out around the same time, however, the DS port of FF IV added new graphics, voices and plenty of bonus content to make it a port in a different league to Chrono Trigger. My opinion is to pick up Final Fantasy 4 over Chrono Trigger. Get both if you can, but go for the one with voices first.
Well, now that’s done, I’ll see you lot on Thursday!