|Final Fantasy IV|
|Platforms||Nintendo DS, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, GBA, Virtual Console|
|Genre||Misnumbered RPG classic remade|
|MtAMinutes to Action||1|
|Buy from Amazon|
Square's Final Fantasy IV was originally released in Japan on the Super Famicom in 1991 and was localized in the US as Final Fantasy II, since the previous two games weren't released in America.
Final Fantasy IV changed the face of RPGs and set the standard for the name final Fantasy for years to come. The storytelling was unparalleled in video games and the amount of detail lavished on the game was staggering.
For the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, Square-Enix remade FFIV in full 3D and released it on the DS in 2008, this time with the proper number in the title.
I've never played the original Super NES version, so this will be my first encounter with Final Fantasy IV. Can it hold up in this day and age?
Note: I considered reviewing this as a Half-Hour Handheld, but since it was originally released as a console game, I will go ahead and play it for the full hour.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I Select "New Game" and the first hour of Final Fantasy IV begins. Cecil, Lord Captain of the Baron Red Wings, is clad in black armor and on an airship. This is an in-engine cutscene with full voice, impressive for the DS.
01 - We see a flashback of the Red Wings stealing a Crystal from some innocent civilians. Then some flying monsters attack Cecil's airship, and battle begins! I choose attack, see a sword slash, and do 36 damage.
02 - FFIV uses the Active Time Battle system, which to be honest I've never really understood. Basically a meter fills and when it's full you can act, but it pretty much just boils down to turn-based fighting. I kill both enemies quickly, they must be really slow because they only attack me once each while I attack a total of four times. I get some gil (money) and experience.
03 - Cecil's armor makes him look like a bad guy. I don't think he is, but the black armor with devil horns isn't doing much for his good reputation. We're then shown to be part of a fleet of five airships, which pull into dock. Somebody named Baigan meets me and asks if I got the Crystal, yes, ok follow him to the King.
04 - Before I am let in to the throne room, Baigan tells the king that Cecil's faith is beginning to waver. Now how does he know that? Cecil comes in and gives the King the Water Crystal. Cecil asks the king what his intentions are, and the King relieved him of his command of the Red Wings.
05 - The King gives him orders to slay the Eidolon of Mist to regain his trust.
06 - Now Kain comes in, the Commander of the Baron Dragoons. He defends Cecil's honor, and the King demotes him too, sending him with me to Mist. He tells me to give the Mistian villagers a Carnelion Signet after defeating the Eidolon.
07 - Now I'm free to explore the castle. I wander around talking to guards and such for a bit.
08 - I talk to Kain and get a flashback of Cecil training Kain and sparring with him. We're leaving tomorrow to Mist. One guard tells me Mist is shrouded in a fog that never lifts. Hm.
09 - There's a sweet, handy little map on the touchscreen. I could see myself getting lost in the castle without it. I find the White Mage lab, where I'm informed that Rosa became a White Mage to help me. Who's Rosa?
10 - Here's the Black Magic Lab, now that's more like it! One of the students tries to cast Sleep on me but fails. I hope that wasn't his final test! I get some provisions for the journey, including some money and a tent.
11 - I'm now up on the wall around the castle. I find an entrance to a vault full of treasure but the guard won't let me in. then I meet Cid, Fleetmaster Cid to be exact.
12 - Most of the rooms are completely empty except for a person or two. We're talking barren, no furniture, nothing. Maybe the DS didn't have the power, but RPGs these days tend to be highly detailed in things like that.
13 - A cutscene introduces Rosa, a White Mage of Baron. Oh ho ho! Rosa promises to visit Cecil in his room later!
14 - The castle is pretty big, with lots of rooms, even thought there's nothing in most of them. I find my way into the dungeon and talk to the mages I captured to steal the Crystal. they inform me that my actions will not go unpunished, and that I should not take lightly what has been done.
15 - Here's my tower, I'm met at the base by Cid, the Airship Fleetmaster, who is dressed like a luchador.
16 - Cid has been ordered to build a new airship that's more maneuverable and with more firepower. He said the orders are strange because Baron isn't at war. He probably shouldn't be blabbing about his orders all over the castle like this.
17 - I wander into the Red Wings' barracks, they're upset that they were ordered to sack the village and steal the Crystal. The good thing about this game is that I can play one-handed. I'm actually eating while I play it.
18 - Here's a rabbit named Namingway. He offers me the chance to rename my character. I don't, and he is disappointed. He heads out to look for his proper place in the world. I have a feeling we'll be seeing him again.
19 - I enter my tower and my servant informs me that she's turned down my bed. I fiddle around with the buttons to see if there are any actions I can do besides walking. X brings up the standard RPG menu with character, item, equipment, and magic pages. Interestingly, when the menu is on the touchscreen, Cecil is on the top screen with a thought bubble showing what he's thinking. Right now he wants to know what all this means.
20 - I decide to choose rest for the night by my bed. But wait, doesn't Rosa have to visit first?! A cutscene starts, showing two moons out the window.
21 - Cecil narrates the cutscene, and I learn that Cecil was an orphan, and he was raised by the king. Cecil is upset that the man he admired and respected so much would give him such orders. Rosa comes in and asks Cecil about what happened. Cecil reluctantly admits what he did, and bemoans his cowardice in failing to disobey an order he knew was wrong.
22 - Rosa says she loves Cecil and tries to reassure him, but he says he knows what he's become.
23 - The next morning Cecil and Kain set out for Mist. Their helmets look kind of like a samurai helmet when it's closed.
24 - Some text gives me a movie-serial style intro, asking questions like "Why have fearsome monsters begun to roam the once-calm land?" It hints at the Crystals being the answer.
25 - Now I'm on the overworld map, heading toward Mist.
26 - Random battle! The age of this game is betrayed immediately. Kain has the Jump ability, which I use, but I end up finishing the battle before he comes down. The famous end-battle fanfare plays, which makes me happy to hear.
27 - I make it to town, Baron, which is directly outside the castle. I go to town and look around.
28 - A store sells items, so I buy a couple of potions and some phoenix down.
29 - Here's Cid's house. His bookshelves are full of books about airships.
31 - Here's a military training class where I can learn about combat. The tell me about the Active Time Battle system, and it still doesn't make sense.
32 - Pressing X triggers Auto-Battle. You can set up ahead of time what you want your party members to do, then press that button and they'll do it for you. At least they realized that.
33 - Here's the Inn, I don't need to sleep but maybe there's a save point here? A little girl asks if I'm a bad guy based on the way I'm dressed.
34 - I open some chests in the inn and get another tent and some eye drops. If Cecil is worried about losing his honor, I think he's past that. First he sacks an innocent village to steal their Crystal, then he robs an inn....
35 - A woman tells me there's a locked door in the waterway to the castle. I'll probably need that later. I wish he would walk a tad bit faster....
36 - Omg, I cannot believe that just happened. When I talked to this girl, she got nervous because of something bad she had said about the king. She offers to show me something in exchange for me not telling anyone. I agree... and a cutscene shows her dancing provocatively in a bikini.
37 - Back on the world map heading toward Mist when I hit another random battle.
38 - The enemies look pretty good and the battle animations are cool too. Cecil has a sword and Kain wields a spear.
39 - I see a cave in the mountains, but I get in another battle before I can get to it. I get a critical hit on a porcupine, and I try Jump with Kain. Although it takes about two turns to complete, it does more than twice as much damage as a normal attack.
40 - In the cave I meet Namingway again, only now his name is Mappingway because he's making maps. He gives me a magic map that will automatically draw itself as I walk through a dungeon, as well as reward me with an item for every map I complete.
41 - I'm in the cave where I have to fight the Eidolon of Mist, and I'm random-battling my way through. Cecil leveled up! He started at level 10, I guess that makes sense since he's the leader of the Red Wings.
42 - I take this time to peruse through the stats and equipment for my two dudes. Neither of them have any magic.
44 - Sweet! Digging around in the menu, I find an option to run instead of walk! I move much faster now.
46 - I got a pre-emptive strike on these guys. That must just be random, since the battles themselves are.
47 - Kain leveled up. The level-up screen just shows you what stats were improved, no interactivity like choosing stat points or bonuses or anything like that.
48 - I pick a fight with the Mist Dragon, which I assume to be the Eidolon of Mist and the first boss. It doesn't start so well as Cecil is knocked out first thing. Kain revives him with Phoenix Down, but it doesn't restore much of his health.
49 - The dragon dissolves into mist. When I try to attack it, he counters with a fatal (for Cecil) blast of freezing mist. I don't have anymore Phoenix Down so it looks like this battle is up to Kain. Dragon reforms, and I can attack him now.
50 - Apparently if I attack him while he's misty it will do naught but harm to myself. I use the time I have when the dragon is mist to potion myself back to full health.
52 - The battle rages on with Kain using potions on himself every few turns to stay alive. Good thing I went shopping and thought ahead!
53 - This battle probably wouldn't be too bad if Cecil hadn't died first thing. I didn't heal before the battle, and all the random battles had worn him down.
54 - I use Jump because it'll keep Kain from being hit for at least one turn while doing double damage on the next turn. The Jump kills the Mist Dragon! I earn over 1,000 XP, enough to level Kain up right away, but Cecil gets none because he was down! He would have leveled up too.
55 - Cecil did not revive after battle, apparently I have to use a Phoenix Down on him even out of battle.
56 - When I pull into Mist, the Carnelion ring the king sent with us releases a mass of fire monsters which proceed to destroy the city. Needless to say Cecil is not too happy about this.
57 - I see a young girl crying over her dead mother. It turns out she is a summoner and the Mist Dragon was her Eidolon. Kain wants to fulfill the kings wishes and kill the girl, but Cecil says anyone who could wish that is no king of his. After a tense moment, Kain agrees and decides they should both rebel against the king.
58 - We try to help the girl, but she gets mad and summons a golem that tears a huge rift in the ground. Everyone gets KO'd.
59 - When Cecil awakens, the girl is there but not Kain. Cecil and the girl set off.
60 - We're back to the world map, just Cecil and the girl, but that's the end of the hour.
Minutes to Action: 1
Favorite Thing: The story, which is a good thing because that's about all that happened for the first 25 minutes.
Least Favorite Thing: Random battles, which are always a no-no and thankfully have been done away with in most RPGs these days, except for remakes. Random battles need to go away.
Design: The 3D graphics work well on the DS, and although they might not be quite as endearing as the original sprites, they do show more detail. The castle rooms were startlingly sparse. The music is where this game has lost nothing. This game has some of the best, most iconic video game music there is. Even though I've never played the game, I recognized almost every piece of music, and several of them gave me a feeling of nostalgia.
Story: The story is amazing. I'm impressed already, which is unusual within the first hour. It's as good as any fantasy novel.
Fun Factor: It's slow, but I enjoyed it.
Would I keep playing? Yes, if only to find out where the story goes and to hear more of the great music.
Other Thoughts: The first battle happens one minute in, which is really quick for an RPG; however the second battle takes place a whopping 25 minutes later. I can't help but wonder if the first battle was added for the DS version, because it doesn't really affect anything and I can easily see an RPG from 1991 going 26 minutes before the first fight. I did get to fight a boss within the first hour; that's a plus, even though the fight didn't go as well as it could have.
What does get started right off is the story, which shows the game's focus. JRPGs may have a deep combat system, but the point is the story. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I'm not just reading a book, but at least this way I get to press buttons, which I enjoy doing.
Square-Enix didn't feel the need to implement some kind of touch-only interface, which is a little strange because I think it would have worked just as well as the buttons, but it doesn't suffer for lack of it.