Review by EJRICH
"Final Fantasy IV Pride"
Imagine yourself walking down an alley. You're obviously lost, but you know you're headed towards the light. Just as you're about to get out, something trips you up and the light fades. Surprisingly enough, I just summed up the entire story of Final Fantasy IV. You just have to love those plot devices right? Maybe not, but the words that I carefully chose to make an illustration perfectly fit everything that slowly takes place within this game. The Final Fantasy series has been known for introducing heroes that have problems, but over time through circumstances they resolve them. It's like a giant web in a sense-every action that you make has an adverse effect on another.
You start the game as a Dark Knight named Cecil, and you're on a quest to retrieve a mysterious crystal from some town out in the boonies. He has some reservations about the motives of the Baron, but he proceeds as ordered nevertheless. Needless to say, it's a bloody massacre when they reach the village, and as Cecil retrieves the crystal the first major plot point of the game is revealed. Cecil shortly thereafter questions the Baron's motives, and is relieved of his position as captain of the Baron's fleet. I really want you to notice two major things about this paragraph, as they really unlock the secret of just what makes FF command such an enthralling story. For one, Dark Knight in most mythology is a synonym of terror. I find that very interesting because Cecil, the main character, starts with that same title. In many FF games, the key to allowing the story to flourish lies in character development. By allowing Cecil to start with something like that, it sets the rest of the game up for things to come. With that being said, he's not the only other character to sport blurry backgrounds. It really seems that every character that he meets up with has some sort of psychological disorder. When it is all said and done though, it truly adds up to something special.
The second point that I found particularly important with that first paragraph was the overall feeling that the character was already having. When you are developing a character, it becomes extremely important to time things just right so that they actually come out easily enough down the road. Too many times developers are forced to make a character do something harsh that goes against what they had been planning all along, and it really ruins things. I really like how they showed glimpses of humanity in the fledging character, as it truly does do a fantastic job of setting the rest of the story up.
As the bulk of you know, most FF games are based off of the RPG genre. That's not a bad thing by any means of the imagination, but it does get a bit old from time to time. FFIV does something truly phenomenal by allowing your cast of characters to constantly change. This definitely takes out that feeling of boredom, while allowing the characters to grow as a whole in your party; not in just the areas of the game play, but in the areas of character development as well. By making you get attached to character in your party, and then forcing him/her to leave, you never become truly reliant on any one person. In an RPG, this can quickly become the norm when you just continue to use a character. I really like how they managed to change it from what someone would expect, as it definitely helped.
The majority of this game will take place between dungeons and villages, but you can expect some definite time in the over world. At first, it is extremely boring to have to sit through every little sequence. Once you get another means of transportation, the game moves at a much smoother pace. This not only helps that point, but it takes the tension off of the slow down that can occur within a battle. People weren't lying when they said that slowdown does occur within a battle-as it really does. Things that should move quickly just plain out got annoying, and add that to the fact that things are just plain out slow to begin with, and you really have a time consuming game. Luckily, the battles are still enjoyable enough so that it doesn't take away from the game.
Although I would have to agree with the crowd that states that this game can be challenging, it really isn't as bad as most say. Sure, there are some truly exceptional battles that take place, but it's nothing that really would make you bend your mind. I found that the difficulty really took to a steep pacing towards the end of the game, but for the most part it can be attributed to the addition of the summon battles and whatnot. I liked it, as it always kept me on my toes. Another big thing to note is that at the end of the game, you are given the option to toggle through the party members that had previously left your party. You can then get the weapons to outfit them with in an all new dungeon experience. Be warned-it's not easy.
The graphics of this game truly shine. Now, to some that may not be a guaranteed phrase; but in an overall sense they really do. By taking on that feeling of legacy, you not only get to see what a game looked like back then, but also just how much they could manipulate the pixels to allow the game to look better as a whole. Pixel art was extremely popular back in the days that this game was released, so it wasn't a true surprise to see this game in anything but that. Each character looks as if he or she truly possesses something special, and it all matters. One big thing that some people gripe about is the fact that you can partially attribute the slowdown to the fact that the frame rate is off. If anything at all usually gets screwed up in the process of porting, it's the graphics. Not only did they mess up on it, but they messed up on it in a crucial point where they shouldn't have messed up on it. I can't possibly see the point of why they didn't see this before they released the game, but it should have been fixed. The battle screen is where you spend the bulk of this game, so it really hurts it in a sense.
With that being said, the music of this game truly brings back things into a sense of happiness. Not only do they almost always perfectly reflect what the game has to offer, but it also boasts some amazingly crucial changing points that boost what the story is currently telling. I can't tell you how much I dislike it when a game developer just puts in a tune that doesn't reflect the moment that the story is trying to push, as it really ruins things. Thankfully, they fixed everything perfectly in this game to a tee, and you won't be disappointed. Sadly enough, there are some problems in the realm of repetition. Although most of the game follows through nicely with a good track of music, it gets repetitive after you go past a certain point. In a game such as this, and considering the time that it originally was released, it's only natural for this to happen. It just saddens me to see it like this.
Since this game does support a more mature theme of content, it is only proper that I point it out. Most people really won't find anything in this game that appalling, but there are some suggestive points in the plot that would make a parent back off. It is FF after all, and we all know how much love is present :P. With that being said, it's definitely up to you whether or not you want to rent this or not. The games technically not that long, but it could be nice to replay it. I found it very cheap, but you may not be that lucky. If you can get the game for fewer than ten bucks, then I say pick it up. It's really not worth that much more than that right now, especially being as though if my memory serves me correctly there is a cheap port on the PS.
I really enjoyed this game. It supports a good cast of characters, an enthralling epic of love, and some wicked boss battles. Everything worked out perfectly, and I couldn't have been any happier with this game.
+Excellent Story, Character, and Overall Atmosphere Development.
+Great Boss Battles
+Repetition in Music at Points
+Can be Pretty Expensive
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/07, Updated 12/22/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy IV Advance (US, 12/12/05)
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