Final Fantasy IV DS
Reviewed by Anna "Lania" Slad??
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-10-19 Nintendo DS RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) Square Enix

Final Fantasy IV, the first game in the series for the SNES, originally released in the US as Final Fantasy II, has seen many releases up to date. There was the collection Final Fantasy Chronicles together with Chrono Trigger for the PSOne and later on, it was also released for the GBA-system. I own both these versions, but I didn't try the game until earlier this year, and then on the GBA. But now, in the time of honoring classic games (or game companies milking their fans for money, whichever way you want to see it), Final Fantasy IV has now been totally redesigned for the Nintendo DS.

There are people that consider remakes to be some sort of devilish act that only destroy the original games. I am not one of these people. I played about 16 hours of the GBA version, and I got as far as the Dark World. I still don't know why I didn't finish, I guess I had to game something else. As we all know, manuscripts for games released for the earlier consoles, where not really the best they could be, and that's even truer when it comes to translations. Therefore, I was thrilled to see new cut-scenes (that even include voice-acting!), and a fully re-written script. I don't mind the 2D-graphics of old, but I also don't mind the new 3D look for FFIV. The characters have not lost their charm, instead, they have gained some, now that they can show emotions, and really express themselves. (Just look at them as you try on equipment for example.) I say, that if you're going to do a remake, do it for real. As we are rushing towards the date where Chrono Trigger also will see a DS release, it becomes more and more obvious, that the game is probably a poorly disguised attempt to bring fans of the game to spend more money. However, Final Fantasy IV does not suffer from this flaw. This is really a great way for new fans of the series to experience what the Final Fantasy series was about before FFVII or FFX.

But be warned, the game is really not like a walk in the park. Prepare to do some serious leveling, even for normal enemies, not just bosses. The Japanese original version of FFIV was really difficult, but once the U.S. got it, it was made easier. This has now been adjusted, and we now have the original difficulty in the DS version. And trust me when I say it, completing the game and its bosses is not an easy feat. Some bosses took me several attempts to beat, and one in particular showed me no mercy until my fourth try.

The music has of course been rearranged too. Lush, heartwarming tunes fill your ears as you play, but of course show their best side if you use headphones. Final Fantasy IV really has some of the most classic tunes from the series. The battles are in the classic ATB (Active Time Battle) style, us FF-fans know so well. Even though this sort of battle system is quite old, and most new games use real time, I really can?t complain. This is a solid system and it works really well.

In addition to a complete new look and sound, there are also some extra perks to FFIV. For example, when in dungeons, on the lower screen, you will see a map of the area. Or rather, you will build the map as you advance. If you complete a map (meaning you've been to every corner and you have 100% showing at the bottom right), you will be rewarded with some extra items. This is not a bad thing at all, seeing as you really will need those potions etc for all those hard enemies. You can also see where treasure chests are located. I really loved this feature. It may sound too simple and like it's going to take away all the fun out of dungeon-exploring, but it really doesn't. And it's not all simple, sometimes you'll see a chest way outside the map, and then it's up to you to find it. Although FFIV being in 3D, the camera is fixed, so you can't change the angle. Meaning, finding a hidden path can be more difficult than you would expect.

There are also new skills called Augments that you can attach to any character of your choice, but watch out, once you've given an Augment away, you can't take it back.. For example, it can mean that you give Cecil the ability Auto-Potion, to make those boss-fights easier... Speaking of which, sometimes the game lags, when a lot is happening at the same time. It didn't really bother me, but it is noticeable.

The story of Final Fantasy IV is really one of darkness and woe; lost lives, sadness, friendships gone astray, but also about love and finding your true calling. Some events unfold better in this retold saga, than it did in the GBA-version. The voice-acting is also very good, much better than I expected, however, the sound is a bit grainy, but that's just because it's the DS. You can have five characters in battle at the most, and they way the story is told, it takes advantage of this fact in a very good way. Trust that you will never feel alone in FFIV...

I finally completed the game after 37 hours and my characters being well over 80 in level. It might sound like I power-leveled, but that's probably where most of you will end up if you complete it. Though terribly hard at times, I never once felt like giving up. Playing for 5 or more hours in a row was really not difficult to accomplish. And for those of you that just can't get enough, there is also a new New Game+ feature. I really, really hope that Square Enix decides to do remakes of FFV and FFVI, in the same manner as they did FFIV. These games are treasures and they deserve to be remade like this, and played anew.

Special thanks to Klee Kuo and Square Enix for providing a copy of this title.