Review by Xenon

"Quite possibly the two best games in history"

When I heard that Final Fantasy Chronicles was going to be released, I was overjoyed. Squaresoft took my two favorite games of all time and put them into one package. That was awesome enough. But then they took Final Fantasy IV and put the original version instead of the one we got. EVEN MORE AWESOME. Then they added extras to Chrono Trigger. It doesn't get any better than this package, right? Well, let's see.

FINAL FANTASY IV

When the American audience of gamers first got Final Fantasy IV on the SNES, they didn't know that they had it, and in a way they didn't. Originally, the easy-type version of Final Fantasy IV was released as Final Fantasy II. Whatever you called it, if was still awesome. Now, in Final Fantasy Chronicles for the PSX, we get the original version of Final Fantasy IV. Final Fantasy IV is one of the most pivotal Final Fantasies in the series. Awesome then, awesome now, right? But what if the loading problems that plagued Final Fantasy Anthology get to this one, too?

Gameplay

If you've played a Final Fantasy that came after this, then you probably understand the basic ATB battle system. Final Fantasy IV is where this system was introduced, so there are a few elements missing. Most notably is the time gauge. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell when or who is going to go next. This also makes it more difficult to see the effects of haste, slow, and stop. Actually, while I'm on it, the other complaint with the primitive ATB is that you're incapable of seeing most status effects. While you can tell most negatives on your own characters, seeing the positives on you or any effects on them (being the enemies) is very difficult (gotta look for hints, like a notice that tells you that they died from poison). However, other than those, I've got no complaint with the battle system. In fact, one thing that I really liked about this FF battle system is the charge time for spells. While in later installments, spells are executed almost instantly, the character's must cast the spell, which takes time. More advanced spells take more time, too.

In Final Fantasy IV, each character that joins you is unique. All characters can attack and use items. Also, most can use some form of white or black magic. Also, every character has some form of special move, such as Dark, Cover, or Twin (Some characters have two! One has Three). It's important to know that even though most characters can use some white or black magic, they don't all know it to the same extent. Cecil will never gain the same amount of White Magic as Rosa, she's just that much better than him at it.

One of the most unique aspect of FFIV as compared to the other FF games is the size of the party. In FFIV, you can have up to five characters in a party. You have to manage these characters into one of two rows. While you can switch the rows, you have to switch the ENTIRE row at once. You always will three in one row and two in the other, no matter what.

I can already hear some of the complaints you guys are going to try. No customizability! I want to have more freedom! Well, Tough Cookies. The unique character system (UCS) gives each character a role to play in the party. Nobody can do as much damage as Cecil with a normal attack, but Kain's special ability to Jump will prove invaluable. You have to use a bit more strategy than you may be used to. Difficulty-wise, it is more difficult than a lot of later games (VII,VIII, IX, I'm looking at you), though not to an extreme level. However, FF IV has arguably the hardest last boss in the series, though it depends a lot on luck. Some people will get through at 65, while others may be able to scrape by at 80. The boss has a lot of potential, but it doesn't use it all of the time.

My biggest complaint with Final Fantasy IV is length. First time through will only take about twenty-five hours, thirty max (and that's if you do ALL of the side quests) Repeat playthroughs (or more veteran players) will only take fifteen to twenty hours. The story is well done in this time, but it would have been nice to see a bit more length to it, especially since I enjoyed it so much. Also, while there are about five side-quests, only three of the them really take any time. The others are just bring this item here to get the strongest item in the game.

As for the load times that plagued FF Anthologies (specifically FFVI) they're no more. The actual gameplay is utterly smooth and has virtually ZERO load time. Unfortunately, when you access the save file, there is a substantial load time, but that's it. Other than that, there's almost none.

Story

You play as Cecil the Dark Knight. When the game opens up, he is returning from a mission that he finds quite unsettling. Cecil and the Red Wings (The nation of Baron's fighting air force) had gone to Mysidia and stolen the crystal of water from the town, killing many of the pacifist mages that guarded the crystal. Cecil questions the worth of the mission, and decides to talk to the King of Baron about it. When he asks the King about it, he is stripped of his position as leader of the Red Wings, and told that if he wants to prove his loyalty, he must deliver a package to the town of Mist. His friend, Kain the Dragoon, joins him on his journey, and together they begin the quest.

Ok, so, while it does have a few cliches, it not a bad story. FFIV's story has every thing that you'd expect from an RPG. Action, Tragedy, and Romance. While it could've been longer, I enjoyed what I did get. By the end of the game, you get to see more sides of the characters than they originally had, which adds depth. However, too much time isn't spent on the character's personal issues, most is focused on situational issues. Personally, I like this, as it keeps the game from slowing down, as some introspective games do.

Graphics

Ok, I have to admit, the graphics are not this game's selling point. These are early sixteen-bit graphics, and it shows. I like the effects for some of the spells, but the characters have little animation, and the monsters just do a little flash when they perform an action.

But hey, what do you expect from a game that's over a decade old. If you're buying it for the graphics, then you're definitely looking at the wrong game. It's not that the effort wasn't put into the game, it's just an issue of the hardware limitations at the time.

Sound

Final Fantasy IV has one of my favorite soundtracks of all of the FF games. While it doesn't have the nice vocal songs found in the newest ones, it still is a great soundtrack. The Boss music is a nice blend of pep and danger, and the normal battle theme doesn't get old too fast, so you won't have to mute your TV for every battle. FFIV features one of the original crystal theme, as well as the FF Main theme (whatever it's called). One of the Best sad themes of the series, and a even a good special boss music.

While I have nothing but praise for the BGMs, the SFX just don't have the same quality. Of course, once again, this is the fault of the hardware limitations of the time, but that doesn't change the fact that they aren't that well done.

Replay

Final Fantasy IV has one of my personal favorite stories, great gameplay, and is fairly short when it comes to Final Fantasies. This is one area where its length helps it. While there is a distinct lack of mini-games and few side-quests, the sheer fact that it's only fifteen hours long makes it worth a replay. It's a good enough game that you can pick it up every once and a while a play through it again.

Summary

Pros

+++Unique Character System forces players to use more strategy
+++Excellent Soundtrack
++ Good Difficulty
++ Memorable Characters
+Short Length allows for good replay value

Cons

---Too Short
---Graphics are way outdated
--Early Flaws of the ATB system show
-SFX are low quality

Ok, I'll admit it Final Fantasy IV is my favorite Final Fantasy of all time (also my first). But, that being said, it's my favorite for a reason. Final Fantasy IV is an endearing RPG that revolutionized the series (ATB system, anybody?) and almost all other games in genre. Ignoring the fact that it's a great game, if you like RPGs, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up, if for no other reason than to see the historical (game-wise) side of it. It's a great game, and one that every RPGer should own. Hey, even if you don't like RPGs, check it out, it may hook you.

Chrono Trigger

In 1995, Squaresoft released a little game by the name of Chrono Trigger. It was amazing. Why? Maybe it was because it was developed by the team behind Squaresoft's Final Fantasy franchise AND the team behind Enix's Dragon Warrior/Quest franchise. Maybe it was the stunning musical compositions. Or maybe, people just liked time travel. Whatever the case, Chrono Trigger was a hit on the SNES, and now it's out for your Playstation. Is it still worth the money. Oh, how do I put this, YES!

Gameplay

Chrono Trigger uses a form of the ATB battle system of Final Fantasy fame. For the two of you that don't know what the ATB system is about, I'll elaborate. Each character has a time bar. When this time bar gets filled, that character gets his turn. Simple as that. Of course, what you do during your turn is where the strategy comes in. Don't start thinking of CT as a FF clone, there are many differences. First and foremost, there are no random battles. Instead, battles are triggered by contacting enemies that are on screen. Once you've contacted an enemy, weapons will be drawn and you'll engage all the enemies on screen. That's right, combat is held on the field screen. Also, character's are regulated to just a combat line. They move around and attack the enemies as they please. The enemies do the same. This plays an important role in combat, as some attacks will affect a line, or an area around the character using them, and so on. In combat, every character can attack, use items, and use Techs. Techs are the special abilities and magic of the game.

Techs are very important to the combat system and add another level of depth to it. First of all, while everything is a Tech technically, there are actually two types. Techs (which I'll call skills from now on) and magic. To make things easy for you to understand which is which, the game puts little stars next to the Techs that are magic. Each character in the game has a unique set of Techs, although there is a few overlapping ones. ONLY a few, I have to stress, almost all the skills are character exclusive. This would be enough, but Chrono Trigger takes things one step further with the introduction of Double and Triple Techs. These are special techs that are used by two characters (or three, in the case of Triple Techs) at the same time for devastating results to the enemy. To use these, each character must learn the appropriate tech and then fight one battle with the other character(s). For instance, if Lucca knows the Fire spell and Crono knows the Spincut skill, the two of them will be able to unleash the powerful Fire Sword technique. With very little exception, these Combo Techs are much more powerful than just the two (or three) skills used individually. Just as a note, Triple Techs are Insanely powerful. Anyway, the game avoids another common pitfall of nifty features by supplying THREE double techs for every character with every other character (with one exception, but that's with the hidden character). Also, every party of three that includes Crono has a triple tech, and even some other parties have one assuming they're equipped with the right accessory. The final noteworthy aspect of Techs is how there learned. At the end of a battle, you are awarded EXP that is used to raise levels and Tech Points which are used to learn techs. An important note is that while EXP is shared a bit with all the party members, Tech points are not. If you neglect a character, they will fall severely behind in the skills department.

The premise of the game is time travel. Throughout the game, you'll use time gate's (and later on, a Time Machine/Airship) to travel to different Epochs (according to dictionary.com; a particular period of history, especially one considered remarkable or noteworthy). Actions in one time period will change things in other time periods. Square did an excellent job of using the time travel concept. Making use of it for both story progression and side quests. To be honest, I don't like time travel. However, Chrono Trigger takes the subject on with great success.

The final great factor of Chrono Trigger is the multiple ending/New Game+ features. On your first playthrough, there are three possible endings, depending on when and how you beat the game's final boss. However, after you've beaten the game once, the New Game+ feature becomes available (assuming you create the system file). New Game+ allows you to start a new game with the inventory, equipment, stats, and levels that you had in the file you selected. Also, a new time gate will appear that leads you straight to the Final Boss, and it will appear at the very beginning of the game. Defeating the final boss at different points in the story will give you different endings.

My only complaint? It's too short. It is a VERY well told story, but it tops out at thirty hours unless you get lost and don’t know where to go next. It's a shame that such an awesome game had to end so quickly.

OK, one more complaint, but it's the formatting. While FFIV escaped the loading problem that plagued FF Anthology, CT does not. Opening the menu, changing screens, entering battle, all of these actions cause you to experience a three to five second load time. This is ridiculous. Thankfully, CT is free of the huge amount of Glitches that FFVI had (causing THAT game to crash far too often). It's disappointing.

Story

Time for the story in a nutshell…

Crono is a teenage male who lives in Guardia in the year 1000 A.D. Because it's the year 1000, the local Kingdom has decided to put on a Millennial Fair. Crono goes to the Millennial Fair, meets a girl, and accidentally gets her thrown into the past. Crono goes after her, and after a few more time warps, Crono, the girl, and his best friend learn that the world will be destroyed (basically) in the year 1999 A.D. and so they decide to save the world. Talk about your overachieving teens.

Truth be told, Chrono Trigger has one of the best stories in any RPG. Short, yes. But good. Adding to the story this time around are various anime cutscenes.

Graphics

It was made in 1995 for the SNES, what are you expecting? Still, I like the style of the game and the graphics ARE quite good for that time period. And again, the Anime cutscenes are well done. Oh, and before you even say it, yes, Crono looks like Goku, and the rest of the cast all seem to have a DBZ counterpart. The cutscenes were drawn by the same guy who did DBZ, so it's to be expected.

Sound/Music

This section always seems so short, but regardless, I DID like the SFX of Chrono Trigger. There not the best, but they get the job done. The music, on the other hand, is phenomenal. The field music sets the mood, and the boss music sets a dramatic feel for the battle. The score is absolutely amazing and should be heard by every gamer. Really, it's great. I particularly liked Frog's theme, Robo's Theme, and Magus' theme.

Replay/Extras

With so many new endings, of course you should play through Chrono Trigger again. Seeing all the endings is very entertaining. Also, with your system file, you'll be able to access a plethora of extras. Really good replay value here.

Summary

Pros
+++ Innovative Gameplay
+++ Amazing Story
++ Memorable Characters
++ Excellent music

Cons
--- LOAD TIMES!!!!
-- Too Short
- Old Graphics

Chrono Trigger is a simply amazing Game. It is a fast-paced RPG with an excellent story. If you like RPGs, you should play Chrono Trigger, plain and simple. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Finale

Pros
+++ Two of the best games of all time in one package.
++ Only way to get the original of Final Fantasy IV in the States.
+ Chrono Trigger has extras

Cons
-- CT's Load times (and FFIV's save loads)
-- Graphics are far outdated
- Both games are fairly short
So there you have it. Two reviews for the price of one. Each of these games by themselves are easily 10s, so what else do you think a combo package should get? Graphics and load times are the two biggest complaints, and these are minor. So, if you like RPGs, or are interested in them, go out and buy Final Fantasy Chronicles while you still can. You wouldn't want to miss two of the best games of all time.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/04


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