DS

North America

Final Fantasy IV

by Jonathan Metts - August 12, 2008, 8:25 pm PDT
Total comments: 37

9.5

One of the best RPGs ever gets one of the best remakes ever.

What was old has been made anew. Final Fantasy IV, perhaps the most cherished game of my childhood, now feels as fresh as anything else in modern gaming. It's easy to mock Square Enix for releasing its old games so many times, but with the DS remake of FFIV, they've actually made a new version that is vastly superior to the original and worth playing all over again no matter how familiar you are with this epic tale. For newcomers to the series, this is an excellent point of entry that showcases traditional Japanese RPG gameplay with one of the best stories ever told in the genre.

Final Fantasy IV is about a hero saving the world from pure evil, and he even has to save his true love along the way. Beyond that reductive outline, the game's plot is actually unusual, even by today's standards. Cecil, the protagonist, begins the game as an intimidating Dark Knight who is sent to murder innocent people and steal their valuable crystal. After the deed is done, he begins to question his loyalty to the king, due to the wickedness of these orders. Your first task as a player is to deliver a package that, unknown to Cecil, is a terrorist weapon designed to murder an entire village of summoners. Cecil has a mysterious past and, at the start of the game, he already has a serious girlfriend who is worried about his questionable actions and thoughts of treason. At a famous, pivotal moment in the story, Cecil undergoes a dramatic transformation and plays like a completely different character from that point forward. Throughout the game, characters will enter and leave your party at the story's whim. Some of them will turn against you; others will sacrifice themselves for your cause and never return. Clearly, this is serious material, and it's told through a new translation with a more consistent tone and some additional details that were lost in the Super NES version. There is also a small amount of voice acting of admirable quality, though some of the actors don't quite match the gravity of the plot.

A complex plot demands linearity of game progression, and there is no doubt that Final Fantasy IV is a linear game. It's like a roller coaster… a very slow roller coaster, and you're strapped in for the ride. Your party can include up to five characters at a time, but you have no choice as to the lineup, and every playable character has unique abilities. Although restrictive, this format keeps the gameplay fresh throughout a very long adventure. Your party changes every few hours of game time, so you have to develop new battle strategies on a regular basis. A new feature in the DS version allows you to collect Augments when some characters leave your party; these items let you teach the departed character's unique abilities to other characters. This feature is made more interesting by the fact that the DS version also includes a lot more unique abilities for each character. Some abilities, like Edward's songs, are much more useful now and continue to grow and flourish via Augments long after the original practitioner has retired from the party. There is even a customizable Auto-Battle feature in which you can assign specific skills or magic spells to be used automatically in battle, for when you are facing easier monsters that don't require your full attention. These and other gameplay tweaks will not only delight long-time fans of the game but also make it more accessible and streamlined for new players.

The presentation has been overhauled far more dramatically than the gameplay. An impressive engine by Matrix Software provides some of the best 3D graphics on DS. The visuals are not only easy on the eyes but also allow some of the more dramatic scenes in the game to be played out with full cinematography. Being so familiar with the original graphics, I enjoyed seeing the new 3D models for all the characters and locations, and most of them look great while staying faithful to the original designs. The enemies look especially detailed in combat. Matrix seems to have improved their technology since working on the DS remake of Final Fantasy III, as both screens are now used throughout the game. The touch screen usually displays your party's status or a map of the current location, both being very useful information. The classic soundtrack has been re-recorded with higher quality instruments, but the compositions themselves are untouched, so every song will be immediately recognizable to veteran players.

Final Fantasy IV is one of those classic games that nearly everyone should play at some point. It was an unparalleled experience in the early 90s and holds up remarkably well today. I might not recommend this version to owners of the Game Boy Advance remake simply because they were released so close together and, other than the presentation, are largely the same game. However, if you have never played Final Fantasy IV or haven't touched it since it was called Final Fantasy II for Super Nintendo, this is the definitive version and is absolutely worth experiencing all over again. After a string of shameless ports and meager remakes, Square Enix has finally done it the right way. I might even call them bold for taking one of my favorite games of all time and making it significantly better, including some fairly major gameplay additions. This is quite simply the best version of one of the best games of the 16-bit era or any other.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 9 8 9 10 9.5
Graphics
9

Most of the 3D character models, enemies, and environments are stunning, but the super-deformed art style may not sit well with everyone. Technically, there are few DS games more impressive. The second screen is used much more wisely here than in Final Fantasy III.

Sound
9

Nobuo Uematsu's timeless music sounds better than ever in this new version. There's not much voice acting considering the length of the game, but it works fairly well. One or two of the characters are overacted or just don't sound right, but it's a nice touch overall.

Control
8

It's a bit strange that touch screen menus aren't an option, but the old-fashioned way still works fine. You can walk around with touch controls, but it's not practical considering that the stylus isn't used during battles. There are a few touch screen mini-games (entirely optional) that work quite well.

Gameplay
9

Few games deliver so powerful a story with such strategic gameplay. Battles are frequent but almost always interesting, thanks to the ever-changing cast of characters, diverse enemies, and quick leveling. You might play the whole game and never have to grind for levels. Boss battles are perhaps too strategic, as they are extremely difficult in a way that mere level grinding won't solve. Many require very particular tactics that you're unlikely to discover without dying several times first. Don't be ashamed to look for help with these fights.

Lastability
10

Playing through the entire game will take at least 30-40 hours, even if you've beaten the original version before. Far from being tedious, it's a constantly evolving adventure thanks to the rotating character lineup and the steady flow of new abilities. The DS remake adds a "New Game +" mode that lets you start a new file but carry over certain items and abilities that you had upon beating the game. There are quite a few side-quests with interesting rewards, as well. You can even train a new summon monster and battle it over a local wireless connection.

Final
9.5

Final Fantasy IV is Square Enix's best remake yet, as they managed to improve a game that was already legendary. After seeing this kind of effort, I can only hope the same treatment will be applied to FFV and especially FFVI.

Summary

Pros
  • Classic RPG gameplay with some new conveniences
  • Many surprising additions and tweaks for returning fans
  • One of the best stories in gaming is retold with modern technology
  • Very long adventure that doesn't get stale half-way through
Cons
  • Bosses are too difficult and require very specific tactics
  • Yang looks like a toddler with a blonde mustache
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

SchadenfreudeAugust 13, 2008

You're making me want to buy it since I loved Final Fantasy 4 (played the Playstation version some years ago), but I'm so adamant on not purchasing remakes of games I already own. My backlog is bad enough as it is. Even still, maybe I'll pick it up sometime down the road.

Just curious, but do you still need grind the ninja character for awhile when you first get him or did they increase his level? Not to nitpick, but you mentioned that characters "sacrifice" themselves, but most of them never really die, even during situations when they should have.

Good review.

Edge is not seriously underpowered when he enters your party, no.  He had a slightly lower level than the rest of my characters, but I believe the others were a little above average at the time.  He caught up very quickly and was never a problem in terms of dying too easily or not contributing enough offense.

SchadenfreudeAugust 13, 2008

I remember being in the low 40s when he joined, only for him to be in the mid 20s. I had to sit in that cave fighting bats for at least an hour to get him in the high 30s; that was a good change on their part.

I think he entered my party at Level 40, whereas the other members were around 45 at the time.

AVAugust 13, 2008

i played this game on GBA 2 years ago. So that memory is to fresh to justify rebuy the game.

I bought FF6 a month ago and I think near beating it .

I couldn't find FF5. is it safe to assume a remake of that is coming soon, so no reason to look for GBA one.

I heard great things about 4 and 6, which I played but heard nothing about 5. Is something wrong with 5 ?

The main reason you don't hear much about V is that it wasn't released outside of Japan until the PS1 collection so it doesn't have anywhere near as many rabid fans with fond memories of it as IV and VI which both got released in America on the SNES.

AVAugust 13, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

The main reason you don't hear much about V is that it wasn't released outside of Japan until the PS1 collection so it doesn't have anywhere near as many rabid fans with fond memories of it as IV and VI which both got released in America on the SNES.

So is FFV a great game too?

vuduAugust 13, 2008

FF V uses the job system that was introduced in FF III.  However, from what I hear, it's very much improved and doesn't punish the player nearly as much when changing jobs.

In the GBA port of FF IV you got to pick your party for the last dungeon.  From what I've read about the SNES version, you had to use the preselected party.  Does the DS version let you choose who you want to take into the last dungeon?

I played several hours of FFV on PSone and couldn't get into the story, but I would definitely give it another chance if it gets the 3D treatment on DS.

vudu, I'm not sure about that because I'm not at the final dungeon yet.  I wanted to get to the end and be able to answer such questions, but it's a really long game.  I played for almost 35 hours and finally just had to write the review rather than get caught up in all the side-quests and such at the end.  However, I'm still playing and will let you know when I get to that point (it's soon).

Armak88August 14, 2008

This is my favourite FF game. This game has better character development than any other video game I've ever played. I think that this is also the first ff to introduce Cid. I replayed this game last year on the ps1 collection, I actually borrowed it and beat it around the time it was released on the snes by borrowing it from a friend. The bosses are hard, but they make you think far more than the usually ff strategy of level and press x repeatedly. I remember some of the bosses actually forcing you to use some pretty creative strategies, like the queen of summons for instance.

all in all, great game, good review. I'm thinking of picking this up just for the hell of it.

SmakianAugust 14, 2008

Sounds great; I picked it up but I'm forcing myself to wait to open it till I finally finish FFVI Advance. So close...!

I'm actually wondering if it would be feasible to do a port of FFVII on the DS. The graphics certainly seem comparable, and it's more due for an updated port than V or VI. Piss Sony off something fierce, though.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 14, 2008

I would think that DS could do FF7 if they compressed the videos a bit.

Just got this and put about a half hour into it. I haven't played this game to completion in a while. I'm excited.

I really hope this continues to FFVI or even FFVII. I'd chastise for remaking/rereleasing all their games but with the extreme delay between mainline Final Fantasy titles and the plethora of other games I'm not interested in, I'll take remakes/rereleases of some of my favorite games.

CericAugust 14, 2008

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

I would think that DS could do FF7 if they compressed the videos a bit.

Wouldn't the Videos be half quality to begin with?  Coupled w/ more modern compression techniques and 3D modeling tech this could be pretty doable.  Though I see the PSP getting this or an Advent Child style remake on the PS3 using FF13's engine.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 14, 2008

Quote from: Ceric

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

I would think that DS could do FF7 if they compressed the videos a bit.

Wouldn't the Videos be half quality to begin with?  Coupled w/ more modern compression techniques and 3D modeling tech this could be pretty doable.  Though I see the PSP getting this or an Advent Child style remake on the PS3 using FF13's engine.

Yeah that is true. It would be interesting to see how much compression would be needed for the DS. I would think the downgrade to portable alone would take up less memory.

I think FF7 could be ported to DS, videos and all.  The problem is that it uses pre-rendered backgrounds that might not be legible on the smaller DS screens.  If they had to re-render all those backgrounds, it might be easier to just put the the whole game into a 3D engine.  It would definitely be interesting to see that.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 15, 2008

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I think FF7 could be ported to DS, videos and all.  The problem is that it uses pre-rendered backgrounds that might not be legible on the smaller DS screens.  If they had to re-render all those backgrounds, it might be easier to just put the the whole game into a 3D engine.  It would definitely be interesting to see that.

Yeah they could maybe use one of the original concepts they had when it APPEARED the game was being made for N64.

SmakianAugust 15, 2008

I still haven't played IV DS yet, but the video at the beginning of III looked pretty damned good.

FFIV also has a gorgeous CG movie at the beginning.  I'll be interested to see if there's one for the ending as well.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorAugust 16, 2008

Man..I can't beat the damn Mom Bomb that explodes after like seven tries...

What is wrong with me?

Try casting Slow on every boss.  It almost always works and makes a huge difference.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 16, 2008

Quote from: Pale

Man..I can't beat the damn Mom Bomb that explodes after like seven tries...

What is wrong with me?

Oh it actually isn't too bad, when the Mom Bomb is about to explode make all your guys defend.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 17, 2008

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I think FF7 could be ported to DS, videos and all.  The problem is that it uses pre-rendered backgrounds that might not be legible on the smaller DS screens.  If they had to re-render all those backgrounds, it might be easier to just put the the whole game into a 3D engine.  It would definitely be interesting to see that.

They should also cut the summoning sequences that take an eternity to finish like knights of the round and all the bahumut flare sequences(it's bad for a portable game as well).

AVAugust 17, 2008

so far i enjoyed 4 allot more than 6. The story just hooked me more and with 6 the story really seems to drag and climax to much.

I would love to see FF7 as a launch title for the next DS, that would be cool.

PeachylalaAugust 20, 2008

FFVII will never appear on a Sony console. It's basically Sony's whore.

I'd rather have a Secret Of Mana remake, just keep Yoichi Wada away from it.

Well gang, I finally beat this game over the long weekend. (Yes, it was a long weekend here.) It was my first Final Fantasy, and I was not disappointed. As Jonny mentions in his review, the whole package is so smooth that I couldn't tell what was new, and what was in the original / an earlier remake.  The story and storytelling devices are certainly more interesting than in most RPGs.

This game can get pretty damn brutal in terms of the strategy and timing required...although I certainly beat a few bosses with good-old-fashioned elbow grease, and not tips I later read in FAQs. Slow, toad, and a few other spells are easy to overlook, but near the end of the game I discovered they can really come in handy.

Internet at home is still a ways off, but I hope to finally buy a TV this weekend after I get my paycheck. Now if only I can find a D-terminal cable for my Wii....

I'm impressed, TYP.  I've taken a few stabs at the Lunar Subterranean and have been getting destroyed.  The random encounters with two blue dragons are brutal, and the red giants can occasionally get lucky and take me out.

Don't be ashamed of running away. You'll never make it through fighting every baddie you encounter in that dungeon...it's just too long and cruel. Those freaking blue dragons almost always killed me. Edge's paralyze ninjitsu move just isn't reliable enough, and that's the only way I could deal with them.

By the end of the dungeon, it's pretty obvious by the random enemies you encounter that the designers don't intend for you to fight every battle. Yeah, you'll lose money, but by that point in the game, do you really care?

Also, consider teleporting out to save...I lost a lot of level-ups and items once because I did not.

I've lost a lot of level ups and items at least three times now.  There's a mid-point save station but I haven't been able to reach it yet without dying or chickening out.

Chicken out. Seriously. Chicken out and get to the midway point, then backtrack if you want to grab some goodies or level up. Unless there's a save point I missed, I'd call the midway point more of a four-fifths point.

I guess now is the time to finish it, since I'm ready to review Lock's Quest and DQIV will probably be here Saturday or Monday.

thatguySeptember 19, 2008

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Well gang, I finally beat this game over the long weekend. (Yes, it was a long weekend here.) It was my first Final Fantasy, and I was not disappointed. As Jonny mentions in his review, the whole package is so smooth that I couldn't tell what was new, and what was in the original / an earlier remake.  The story and storytelling devices are certainly more interesting than in most RPGs.

This game can get pretty damn brutal in terms of the strategy and timing required...although I certainly beat a few bosses with good-old-fashioned elbow grease, and not tips I later read in FAQs. Slow, toad, and a few other spells are easy to overlook, but near the end of the game I discovered they can really come in handy.

Internet at home is still a ways off, but I hope to finally buy a TV this weekend after I get my paycheck. Now if only I can find a D-terminal cable for my Wii....

One of the most fun things I've done was play through Final Fantasy VI in a low-level game.  The bosses do not give experiences, and there's about five enemies you have to play total that do.  Nearly every boss has a weakness, and there's always a strategy to make it through the bosses that can be found pretty easily.  It's great fun, because you don't have to go out of your way to do this, you can just go through the game and run from all enemies from bosses, opposed to strategical killing in some games, and even the bonus game in SMRPG.  This has to be one of my best RPG experiences, up there with playing Tales of Symphonia two player all the way through.

KDR_11kSeptember 20, 2008

So it doesn't prevent you from running if your characters are too slow?

Armak88September 26, 2008

I was thinking about picking this game up recently, and I have two questions.

First to Jonny, the review mentions that you felt that some of the voice actors were a little off, i'm just curious as to which characters you liked and which you didn't. I saw a video with Cecil and Kain in it, and i'm not too sure how I feel about Cecil's voice

To TYP, just because i'm nosey, I was wondering if you went to the villiage of summons and got leviathan, also if you managed to get bahamut?

yes and yes. got the 2 in the village before the dark crystal cave.

Yeah, Cecil's voice kind of sucks.  Golbez is perfect, though.

thatguySeptember 29, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

So it doesn't prevent you from running if your characters are too slow?

It does not.  Running is computed by the character trying to run, not the character's speed.  Additionally, your speed doesn't increase without boosts from Espers.  A level-up without an Esper only boosts HP and MP, while the damage formula for nearly every attack is also increased, but no other stats go up without Esper boosts.

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Final Fantasy IV Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Square Enix

Worldwide Releases

na: Final Fantasy IV
Release Jul 22, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Final Fantasy IV
Release Dec 20, 2007
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingAll Ages
eu: Final Fantasy IV
Release Sep 05, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
aus: Final Fantasy IV
Release Sep 04, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingParental Guidance

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