Review by Writer

"FF Chronicles is a marvelous compilation package"

Final Fantasy IV (released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy II) and Chrono Trigger (the prequel to Chrono Cross). When these two classics were released years ago, they both set the standard for how RPGs should be judged with epic stories and innovative gameplay back in the 16-bit days on the SNES. With much anticipation and demand Squaresoft has rereleased these two gems in one compilation package titled Final Fantasy Chronicles.

FINAL FANTASY IV

While some may say that Final Fantasy IV is a direct port of the SNES game, that wouldn't be the proper statement. In fact, this version has some features that were edited out of the U.S. SNES version. Changes for FFIV include a dash feature for faster movement, new text, some new items and monsters, a few CG cinemas and more. The difficulty even jumps up a bit sooner than it originally did on the SNES version as some of the earlier monsters dish out some devastating hits. Only the most discerning Final Fantasy fanatics will spot each and every differentiation between the SNES version and this one. Some of the spells even have alternate names. For example, ''Lit'' is now called ''Bolt.''

For anyone who didn't get into Final Fantasy until part VII or VIII, FFIV has one of the best stories of the earlier FF games. FFIV tells a gripping story of Cecil, commander of the Red Wings, the kingdom of Baron's combat force. Cecil has been ordered by the king to obtain the mystical crystals from neighboring kingdoms at any cost-even if it means the cost of human lives. When Cecil questions the king's orders, he's stripped of his command and is ordered to deliver a package to the town of summonded monsters. The package releases a wave of fire creatures that obliterate nearly everyone in the town. After being pawns of the king's horrendous act, Cecil and his friend Kain vow to fight against Baron. What ensues is tale of love, betrayal, and an epic quest to save the world. FFIV is full of plot twists that will keep many gamers hooked from start to finish.

The classic combat of FFIV will be a nostalgic homecoming for old-school FF players while newbies will find plenty to like in the simple battle system. Unlike FFVII and VIII, all characters are not created equal. Each character has a set job. Cecil is a Dark Knight and excels at regular combat but can't cast any magic spells. Rosa on the other hand isn't a very good fighter but is a master of White magic. The nice character balance makes sure you'll be taking the time to level up your characters and using good battle strategies since every character can't do everything.
The end result is a battle system that plays much like Final Fantasy IX.

Some gamers (particularly the new kids) will frown on FFIV's archaic look. This is an old-school game and it shows. I strongly urge anyone with a jaded mindset to look past the game's outdated visuals-you'll find a masterpiece hidden beneath them. Nostalgic gamers should have no beefs about FFIV's super deformed characters and small graphics. Even so, the characters manage to pull off some pretty convincing emotions and conditions mostly ranging from depressed to happy. FFIV will take gamers through caverns, the sea, mountains, but that's not all. You won't just explore the overwold. You'll explore the world underground and even the moon itself. FFIV is no small adventure.

I was fearful that the FFIV's soundtrack might get the treatment that FF Anthology had received. The music in FF Anthology wasn't horrible. Oh, far from it. But it certainly could have been better. It's safe to say that Square is starting to get the hang of the PlayStation's audio processor when it comes to bringing over old-school games on Sony's 32-bit console. The music sounds remarkably similar to the tracks on the SNES version. With that said your ears will be treated to an engaging musical score that's unforgettable. It may be old music but it still rocks.

The only major problems with FFIV are slow down and the time it takes to save your game. The slow down doesn't really become too noticeable until you have a four or five person party. In menus the slow down really becomes apparent and adds unneeded time to the quick decisions you need to make in battle. As for saving, well, the time it takes to save your game is absolutely horrendous. Really though, everyone should excuse these shortcomings as its really no reason to not enjoy the game. FFIV is still excellent.

CHRONO TRIGGER

What's to be said that hasn't already been said about this legendary SNES RPG? Many consider it to be the best RPG ever made. There are even a good number of hardcore gamers out there that think this classic game crushes it's sequel Chrono Cross (note: I'm one of those gamers). Like the aforementioned FFIV, Chrono Trigger sports some new features like a music box that lets you sample the game's breathtaking musical score, which thankfully, the PlayStations audio processors didn't botch. The opening demo that plays showing gameplay sequences that were originally found in the SNES version have been taken out. Don't worry though. In its place is an opening anime scene that does a good job of showing off the art work of Dragon Ball Z artist Akira Toriyama, which is accompanied by a much improved Chrono Trigger opening musical theme.

For the uniformed, Chrono Trigger is an RPG that takes gamers on an epic quest to stop a being known as Lavos. In the year 1999, Lavos has successfully destroyed the world and as a result, the very distant future, the year 2300 doesn't look bright at all. Lavos has existed for ages and its your job to change history by traveling back and forth through time to stop him. CT may not be as emotion-heavy as FFIV, but the story is still very deep. Your actions can decide the who joins your party and even decide the ending you receive when you finish the game. With more than Nine different endings to view, plenty of side quests and engaging gameplay, no one is going to be bored with this one.

The battle system in CT is simple yet very addictive. Aside from the regular attacks each character has their own arsenal of special attacks. The unique thing about CT's battle system is that each and every character have multiple attacks that combine with the other characters for some heavy-hitting damage to your foes. The perfectionist will want to learn each and every possible combo attack and see them performed. The challenge in CT can be tough on some of the later bosses. Lavos himself isn't exactly cake to topple.

As mentioned before CT has an incredible musical score that helps immerse players with different selections. Many gamers have even purchased the original soundtrack for CT. Like FFIV, CT's music doesn't suffer like FF Anthology did.
Say what you will about CT's graphics, but they still look good, even by today's standards.

Of course like FFIV, CT has one fault that can be annoying. Unlike FFIV that has some pretty quick load times, CT suffers from some pretty bad load times when bringing up the battle screen and viewing your character's status. Even walking to different rooms seems like it takes an eternity. Strangely enough CT saves your game in no time flat.

The slowdown really shouldn't have been as persistent in CT, but if you're willing to look past it (and you really should), you'll find an enthralling game. CT is an RPG masterpiece.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sure, Final Fantasy Chronicles isn't perfect. Both games have some slow down issues, but that really shouldn't keep any RPG fan from buying this package. Even if you already own them on the SNES, its worth buying FF Chronicles and playing through these games again. With FF Chronicles, you're getting two great games for a $40 value. You really can't argue with that. These games are highly sought after and are hard to find. If you're trying to find the original SNES cartridge games, expect to pay a high price, especially on eBay-these games aren't cheap if you're looking for them in their original format. These games give a lot of other PS RPGs a good run for their money. A very solid buy that any RPG player should invest in.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/01, Updated 07/06/01


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