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Final Fantasy IV (DS): A Refreshing Revival

Square Enix refreshes us with classic yet innovative RPG gameplay with Final Fantasy IV for the Nintendo DS. With its enhanced 3D graphics, improved audio and surprising gameplay additions, Final Fantasy IV – better than ever – promises a captivating game that holds out as one best RPG games ever made.

Standing through the Challenge of Time

Final Fantasy IV is filled with impressive scene sequences – and I dare you not to skip the cut scenes! – which introduces and at the same time fills you in about the plot and the characters. While the slightly polygonal graphics may prove to be a letdown for some, the musical score effectively balances everything out.

Final Fantasy IV is about Cecil Harvey, a Dark Knight, the conflicted hero who shares his epic adventure of love, betrayal and redemption with many other characters in a quest to stop the wicked Golbez from usurping the power of the stolen crystals. You can only play with, at most, five characters at a time. The members of your party varies depending on the story’s push. But, even if you do not have the freedom to control the party lineup, the Final Fantasy IV remake allows you the use of Augments. Augments can be found or collected throughout the game and can be used to add unique abilities to other characters.

Cecil - Dark Knight
Cecil - Dark Knight

A remarkable addition is the quest line of Namingway, a moogle-like wanderer, in which he tries to rename himself as he tries out a variety of professions. This unlocks more game features such as the Bestiary, which archives information about monsters you’ve encountered or killed, a collection of cut scenes (so you can watch them again just in case you skipped one or two) and music tracks.

Conversing with Fat Chocobo allows you to customize Rydia’s Eidolon, Whyt. Through the big bird, you can customize Whyt’s appearance, assign him an assortment of attacks, level up his stats by playing unlocked mini games and even battle other Eidolons through local DS wireless. Other than Whyt’s minigames, there isn’t much use for the stylus.

There is also a customizable Auto-Battle feature in the menu system, allowing you to place specific skills or abilities to be used automatically in battle by pressing X – which is great, because it speeds up random battles. With the Active Time Battle system option, where you can input orders for the characters in real time, one has to combine tactics and urgency and execute them properly for the general difficulty of the game seemed to have gone up a notch compared to its predecessors.

When not in battle, the bottom map is occupied by an area map that completes as you explore the whole dungeon. One of the innovative additions to Final Fantasy IV is the reward that you get whenever you complete a map area. When the indicator at the lower-right corner of the screen reaches 100%, you can receive useful items such as potions, ether, etc.

Classic with Class

The over-all visual feel of the setting gives Final Fantasy IV vivid depth(especially in dungeons) and imagery. The 3D rendition of the maps might bring nostalgia to those familiar to the game. The character sprites have better personalities because of the impressive way they are able to convey emotions. Most important cut scenes are voice-acted and, while the voice-acting oftentimes appear to be too melodramatic, the overall fluidity of the way the story is presented impeccable.

Cecil walking through Kaipo

The controls are pretty much standard. The use of the stylus isn’t needed – except for minigames. You can easily navigate using the control pad as much as using the stylus on the touch screen to move about. Since you’re either running around or battling when you are not watching a cutscene, the touchscreen usually displays your party’s status or the map of your current location. A quicksave feature allows you to save your game anywhere, although the temporary save file is deleted once you resume the game, load your save file, or start a new game.

Although Final Fantasy IV had been released several times throughout the years, this remake for the DS is certainly the most impressive so far. The characters, villains, and basic gameplay are memorable for the old players and easily recognizable for the new. Matrix Software (same team who did the Final Fantasy III remake) and Square Enix had done a good job in reviving and refreshing an old game and bringing it back to life. Whether you’re a hardcore Final Fantasy series fan or you’re just looking for a good game to enjoy, Final Fantasy IV is an NDS title worth owning.

Graphics 9

With impressive visuals and CG cutscenes, Final Fantasy IV takes advantage of the graphical capabilities of the DS. The overall design is faithful to the original. Anime-like expressive faces maximizes the characters’ personalities. But, the graphic style of some of the characters seem to be a bit edgy and could’ve been more polished.

Sound 8

Final Fantasy IV has some of the best soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series. The soundtrack arrangements are simply wonderful. The music complements the mood of the game. Voice-acting was decent, if not intolerable, at times.

Gameplay 9

While most rules of play are largely unchanged, Final Fantasy IV is significantly better because of the major additions and alterations. Even if the line-up is pre-determined and restrictive, the new Augment feature allows players customization. Since the gameplay had been rebalanced, the contemporary improvements gave the game a change for the better.

Longevity 10

First developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in 1991, Final Fantasy IV had been ported from the SNES, to the PlayStation, to the GameBoy Advance consoles. Without a doubt, Final Fantasy IV is able to stand up to the challenge of time and modernization.

Overall Score 9

About Anna Manarang

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