Review by AUNAO

"Perfection is now portable."

A long, long time ago, the RPG community was given a great gift. This gift was Final Fantasy II. Sure, the name was incorrect, and it had many things removed, but we loved it. Cherished it. Even now, we'll dream fondly about our memories with that game, and even hum some of the tunes will we work and play and live out our generally gray and uninspired lives. Now, thanks to the magical efforts of our Square Enix friends, we've got it back, real name and all.

Final Fantasy IV is a great port. To the delight of purists and new players alike, all the original features have been implemented. This version also boasts the greatest translation the game has seen. Since people have had to contend with the slightly confusing but charming SNES translation, the egotistical, nonsensical PSX translation AND the brutally awful fan translations, this is phenomenal in comparison. Add in a bunch of new features and slightly upgraded graphics and sound, and you've got one hell of a gaming experience. Except it doesn't end there!

While a lot of things have changed in the gaming industry, one constant has remained - game play. It was important ten years ago, and it is still important now, in the not so distant future. Thankfully, Final Fantasy IV delivers. The game has aged remarkably, the way a fine wine might. It's standard RPG fare, wholly what you would expect from Squaresoft. The ATB battle system shines in this particular game, making every encounter a white-knuckle ride where the ultimate prize is life or death. Final Fantasy IV has a one up on recent games when it comes to game play as well, and that little guy is sometimes referred to as nostalgia. However, when you boil it all down, you'll see that it's solid, old fashioned fun.

Part of Final Fantasy IV's charm has been the story. In a time like this, where so many recent RPGs have bleak, depressing story lines with nearly incomprehensible plots, Final Fantasy IV is a breath of fresh air. It redefined an era, and set the stereotypes of the time without feeling strained. We've got our hero, Cecil, immaculate warrior with a heart of tin. His feelings of doubt towards his kingdom eventually lead him down the path of light in order to save both the world, and his girlfriend, from what could certainly be a very unpleasant situation. Action, suspense, and romance weave together effortlessly to form a tapestry of events that flow together to form the greatest tale ever recalled.

Graphically, Final Fantasy IV delivers surprisingly well. In an age of 3D graphics and polygons, the sprites in this game never cease to amaze me. When you see Cecil dish out some pain with his sword, you'll feel like you're doing it yourself. The Dragon Knight Kain's Jump attack is particularly impressive. In recent games, Jump-type attacks have always been very linear; straight up and straight down, bam! However, Kain flies up there and gracefully cuts up his foes like a sidewinder missile. This might not seem important, but it has always impressed the hell out of me. Graphical charm like this seems to have been forgotten as of late. Now, couple together all of this with the newly enhanced backgrounds, character portraits, and effects and you are in for an amazing visual experience.

I'm not even sure how to approach the sound of this game. Many of us remember how incredible, how memorable the soundtrack was back on the SNES. I doubt I was the only one who worried whether or not the GBA could match up and duplicate the experience without bringing it down. It's safe to say our worries were for nothing: all of our favorite tracks are perfectly intact, while some sound even better on the GBA than they ever did on the SNES. Edward's theme, for example, sounds almost ethereal, as if there were someone playing the harp just for you, rather than a synthesized melody of beeps and dings. The sound effects also got the royal treatment. While you might have to use your imagination with the SNES version, everything sounds real now. Swords will clash and spells will go off, leaving you wondering if it's really just a game. The spell Bio, in particular, is incredibly realistic now. You'll actually feel like you're injecting your enemies with virulent poison rather than just casting a simple spell. You won't be disappointed.

Back in the day, you couldn't just play this game once. It took several playthroughs to fully experience everything the game had to offer. With all the bonus content, namely two phenomenal dungeons, it's almost indescribable. Many games that receive bonus content and areas feel labored, and forced. Final Fantasy IV's main bonus dungeon was described as being 50 floors, however, when you're actually playing through it, you'll lose yourself with all you have to do. I wouldn't want to spoil anything, but the bonus content is well worth the purchase of the game alone. It's like a game in itself, and should offer endless hours of excitement for any RPG gamer, die hard player or not.

There's no two ways about it, guys. Buy this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/19/05

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