Review by theoriginalL5
"For fans, this is how you want your FFIV, everyone else, well.."
My previous review of FF5a was a 10. True. Perhaps I was hasty on that.. but.. it's prequel FF4a is a great game, but it truly isn't for everyone.
FF4 is a turn based RPG, originally released on SNES back in 1991. This is essentially a port, of a port. The original SFC/SNES game was ported to Wonderswan, which then was ported to GBA. This GBA port does some things better than the original, and some things not quite as good.
Graphics - 5/10
Let's face it. These graphics do suck just a little. They're 15 years old. For the time, they still weren't quite to the level of Zelda:LTTP or Super Mario World. They do what typical RPG graphics of the time did. They provide clear, tile based dungeons and maps, and sprite based battling. Nothing really in the way of special effects. The original graphics did get a boost in shading and detail, and that is definitely to the games merit. Don't go into FF4a expecting to be blown away, you won't be.
Sounds - 8/10
A mixed bag here. Some sounds have been replaced with more realistic sword clangs and punches and such. Other sound effects seem to have been ripped from the SNES version, and emulated badly at that. The music however, benefits from a new sound font that sounds more orchestrated and less MIDI than the original. It's very nice.
Story - 10/10
I love FFIV's story. You control Dark Knight Cecil, who recently questions his darker intents, which in turn gets him relieved of his command of the Royal Air Force (Red Wings). You are sent by the king to deliver a package to a nearby town which gets the ball rolling. I won't spoil anything else in detail, but the game takes you through the hero's return to glory, his love story, finding out who his family is, and even a trip to the moon. The game also receives a new translation (which may be the same as the PS1 Chronicles version, I don't know since I've never played that one), which helps the story in the utmost. Character personalities are developed a little more, and better nonetheless.
Standard Gameplay - 6/10
Dungeon crawling. Level grinding. Don't like these? FFIV may not be for you. Each character is of a different class, and is balanced to make the game challenging. The only way to overcome that challenge is to level up en mass. Can't beat that boss? Stop in your dungeon, level up for an hour, and try again. You should be able to win this way. While leveling up isn't a clear substitute for strategy, it does help tremendously, and those who have not experience FF4 Hardtype (the US version of FF2 was an easier version), are in for a surprise. However if you found the original FF2US easy, this will be right up your alley. To further hinder this port, there are numerous glitches in the battle system that slow the game down or allow characters to get several turns in a row. Bad times. But they aren't the end of the world.
Gameplay Extras - 10/10
Square-Enix hit it dead on here. After you finish the main quest, you are treated to almost another main-quests worth of extras. First, all previous characters that are alive by the end of the game are now newly playable in this version. You are no longer limited to the party of 5 characters that the game normally gives you. This allows for some new strategy and a couple "just-for-fun" scenarios. Want to take all mages plus the hero against the last boss? You can. After completing the main quest, whatever characters you've beaten the last boss with now have access to certain areas within a new dungeon. This first off means you must defeat the last boss at least 3 times to open up all of the characters dungeon areas, which is nice, once again siting the new strategies, etc from using these other characters. Second it provides the same with a lengthy new challenge that plays off of each characters personality. The bosses in this new area usually have more HP than the actual quest's last boss, and while not always as difficult as said final boss, they do keep you on your toes. Also, at the end of this new dungeon (which is a hefty 50 floors), you're treated to a more difficult version of the game's last boss. Quality stuff here. The standard Bestiary and Music Player included in FF1+2 Dawn of Souls makes an appearance here as well.
Overall - 7/10
I'll admit it, I love FF4. It has one of the best stories in the Final Fantasy saga. However the game shows its age in the way it's presented and in the way it plays. Even after 15 years, FF5 feels fresh because of the job system, something that FF4 doesn't have. Still, the extras provide a great deal of fan service for those who have already played FF4, either on SNES or PS1. It's a solid choice for those who appreciate or can get past the old school presentation. If this means you, you're in for a real treat of a story from a classic RPG that everyone deserves to enjoy.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/16/06
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