Every Final Fantasy fan has their favourite game from the series. Hell, some even break the franchise down into two eras, pre and post-PlayStation. For myself and good percentage of the FF fanbase, Final Fantasy IV (II in the U.S.) is that game. The story was deep, the characters memorable and well-developed, and the graphical leap from the NES to the SNES made it the prettiest version of the game to date. Now Square Enix has upgraded FFIV in the same fashion as they did FFIII precious, bringing the game to the Nintendo DS with new graphics, voice overs, and new mechanics to keep things fresh.
Remakes of classic games are often a dangerous proposition, risking alienating fans of the original games in order to attract new players. For this week's Frankenreview we've gathered opinions from RPG-centric sites along with the more mainstream gaming press to see how Final Fantasy IV measures up.
It is disappointing, then, that while the characters are tweaked to update and strengthen their personalities and motives, the main story and its transitional events are left entirely untouched. The happenings which progress the narrative often conflict with common sense or with the game world itself. The characters are the most believable they have ever been, but their actions are not. Added lines of dialogue, mostly with NPCs, explain or foreshadow the most spastic story moments and definitely create a rounder, more interesting world. Logic-defying occasions still stand out, though, and reveal a thick, solid line Square Enix refused to cross when remaking a famous game with a large fan following.
The opening FMV is marvelous, but that's basically the first and last time you'll actually be impressed. More FMVs would have given the game the cinematic feeling it deserves, like the FMV's in Final Fantasy VIII. FFIV uses a polished in-game engine for cutscenes, which is not bad but underwhelming. The resolution and detail are average for DS. Stylistically I found myself even less impressed. The characters looked cleaner and more mature back on the SNES. The blocky, disproportioned, childlike models do not suit the game's mature story.
The best changes to Final Fantasy IV are the minor ones. The game is less stingy when it comes to precious items. A new feature rewards players for uncovering every corner of dungeon maps. This tiny innovation does double the work. It provides much needed access to resources and it encourages players to get into more fights. The game encourages and, more importantly reduces, the tedium of grinding by rewarding exploration - an act that, for most of us, is a reward in and of itself.
Although it has been rereleased several times throughout the years, this full remake of one of the most celebrated stories in video game history is in many ways more poignant and impressive than it was all those years ago, despite minor irks with the voice acting. With a cast of memorable characters and villains, a more accurate and authentic translation, a new skill-customisation system, and a few important new story elements that help to better explain key plot points, this is the definitive version of Final Fantasy IV that everyone should experience.
Interesting. RPG sites are generally more forgiving with roleplaying games, but not so much when you futz about with a classic.