Final Fantasy IV Review

Final Fantasy IV Review

The game opens, like Final Fantasy III (DS), with a cinematic in computer graphics, for the pleasure of the eyes. On the other hand, the sound quality is rather deplorable, close to a poorly recorded YouTube video… So a mixed first assessment. And in game , cutscenes will be the exact opposite! The fault (or thanks) to the game engine that will be used for these, accompanied by dubbing. If the latter are of excellent quality with the English version, the graphics engine, on the other hand, quickly shows its weaknesses, by making close-ups of the characters during these key moments. Close-ups totally out of place, since the pixelation then appears in an outrageous way, and makes us ask ourselves questions…

Final Fantasy IV tells the story of Cécil, captains of the Red Wings, Baron’s imperial fleet. The Dark Knight returns from a mission during which he massacred several innocent people to get his hands on one of the four sacred crystals. The latter doubts the validity of his king’s orders, and questions himself: does the protection of his country depend on the massacre of so many innocent people? Is Cecil really fighting for the good of his nation, and not to satisfy the ambitions of a king he no longer recognizes? The monarch, who sees clearly into Cécil’s thoughts, relieves him of his functions, and sends him to Myst, to make a special delivery. Cécil will be accompanied by Kain, his old friend, in his mission. And the tragedy that is about to happen is only the first of a long series…

A story that is therefore partly focused on the search for oneself, and where each character brings their theme to the plot. At the time of its release on Super NES, the game was one of the first RPGs to offer a really worked scenario and endearing characters. Today, this can still hold with the few titles of this genre currently present and of this quality on Nintendo’s handheld, even if the trend should soon disappear. That said, the game still bears the brunt of the years, with a rhythm of events completely out of whack: several characters regularly join the team, and it’s not uncommon for you to lose one after a while. barely two hours of play! The “first part” of the game is like this, and lasts about ten hours. The rest is longer.

Final Fantasy IV Review

A final remark on the scenario, we will say, “expected” of this version. Square Enix had announced with the arrival of this remake, that the story of the original version only included a quarter of the script initially planned, because at the time it had been impossible to fit all the events on a single cartridge of game. The publisher had therefore promised that this version would bring additional script elements, just to justify itself. We can now happily add a few decimals to the known scenario percentage. Some scenes have been added, we can know the thoughts of each member of the team vis-à-vis a situation, but that stops there. Dubbed cutscenes (of known events) are much more striking in comparison, and the editor does not did not keep his promise. A little shameful, when you consider the number of existing versions of the game, and the current capacity of DS cartridges, in constant evolution…

In the field of change, of the real, the representation of the characters has of course been greatly retouched. It does not always do them justice, and the Amano style seems to have been lost with this new version. There is an incomprehensible opposition between the maturity of the voice of the actors who dub their character, and the often inappropriate SD style of the individuals (Tellah, Golbez…). All this is all the more strange, when we see a Rubicante more imposing than ever, and yet far from being the most important character in the plot. The representation of the monsters respects the original models on the whole, by adding animations, to make it more real. Honestly from this point of view, I find the graphics engine successful, whether it’s combat or dungeon exploration: the “action” screen is not overloaded, there are no useless zooms… The rendering is clean and flawless. In addition, this constitutes the major part of the game, so the graphic observation is ultimately not entirely negative.

If the game makes a good impression during the gameplay phases, it is partly due to the fact that it runs on Nintendo DS. The double screen is thus permanently requested, displaying the map of the world or the place visited (dungeon, like city) in exploration, and the PV/PM of the team in combat. In the first, this has two “advantages”: the dungeon maps are “to be completed”, and once fully discovered, the game grants one or more objects as a reward. In addition, any map, displayed on an entire screen, can present the smallest chest available in the area, and the representation of the many branches makes it easier to find your way around. Where the game may disappoint fans of tactile experiences is that the map is displayed on the bottom screen, and therefore to move his character with the stylus, it will be necessary to direct the small pointer which appears on the map. Imprecise, and anyway requiring the use of buttons, handling from this point of view has not been well thought out, and we will have to fall back on the use of buttons alone, hence the questioning of the interest of developing on Nintendo DS…

Fortunately the gameplay of the original is very well implemented, and retains all its qualities with this remake, and also expands a bit. The meetings are random, but Final Fantasy IV marks the beginning of a new era, casually. Finished the turn-based, now the fights take place so to speak in real time, with the first appearance of the famous Active Time Battle. This name simply designates the gauge that appears in combat for each protagonist, filling up regularly (depending on the character’s agility) with the passing seconds. Thus, when it is full, the action to be performed can be selected. No big changes in the possible choices a priori, since we will find the eternal attacks, black/white magic, and other objects…

Where the remake noticeably improves on the original is in its combat, for two reasons. The first is that the rhythm is much more balanced; without becoming soft, the action takes place without jerking, in a more regular way. Then, the real innovation of this version lies in the existence of skills, which can be obtained under certain conditions, and attributed to the character of our choice, to enrich its panel of options available in combat. The system even goes so far as to govern the evolution of statistics from a certain level! A new aspect, which brings a touch of customization absent from the original.

Final Fantasy IV Review

But the combat system is not enough to make the experience memorable; the real secret of Final Fantasy IV ‘s successlies in its difficulty. Never off-putting, it requires a few initial level up sessions (especially with the team shuffling at the start of the game), but thereafter everything happens naturally, and the real difficulty posed by a boss does not hold so many levels needed to beat him, but rather the strategy to employ. Indeed the speed of the unfolding of the confrontations, associated with some surprises, makes improvisation necessary. “How to deal with this problem?” is the real question we must ask ourselves, and the level up is not the primary answer, it is secondary. A game with intelligent difficulty like we haven’t seen in a long time.

Finally Final Fantasy IV is also the music of Nobuo Uematsu, who again signs excellent work. The quality of his compositions is well rendered by the capacities of the medium, and each piece of music fits the situation perfectly, conveying a particular emotion. Only the length of certain places can make the themes of dungeons, in particular, seem quite repetitive…

To conclude, the main quest will occupy a good thirty hours, and even more if you don’t know the universe of Final Fantasy IV . An honorable lifespan, unfortunately not supported by a multitude of side quests… The bonuses of the Advance version have moreover disappeared; but for the benefit of a New Game +! This allows you to resume the adventure, keeping all the bonus skills acquired, granted or not. Two optional bosses are also unlocked, and that’s about it… The real side quest is to recover the bonus skills, the obtaining of which includes several sub-quests. That should keep hardcore gamers busy enough.

Disappointment, or surprise? Quite frankly, I could not qualify, with one of these two terms exclusively, this version of Final Fantasy IV . Surprise, because my apprehensions due to the new general design quickly disappeared (in part only), and I enjoyed a game with already successful gameplay, somehow sublimated on Nintendo DS. Disappointment, because the background does not really change, and we have doubts about the publisher’s intentions. The game has lost all the original aesthetics, was developed on a medium unsuitable for 3D (but very profitable, and inexpensive), and does not meet any criteria allowing it to claim to be a remake . It’s just a technical remake. Worse still, the scriptwriting additions can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the promise was thus not kept, thereby canceling any justification as to the existence of this Nintendo DS version. To tell you the truth, I myself, while writing this article, very clearly reviewed my opinion on the game. Basically, it remains as it has always been, an excellent game; and it is essential to have played it if one claims to like RPGs. But in its current form, this Nintendo DS version might not be the wisest investment you can make.

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