Review by Cyril

Reviewed: 12/21/05

"Final Fantasy IV is based upon a very simple premise: You hear the battle music. You soak up the Melodrama." Or so they say.

Final Fantasy IV is one of those games that is like a fine wine, it just gets better with time. The first few times I played it on the multiples different consoles that it has been released on, I found that I really didn't think it was hugely better then anything else I had ever played. But now that I am a bit older and less picky about what I can accept as games, Final Fantasy IV sings sweetly into my ears.

Final Fantasy IV puts you into the shoes of Cecil, a Dark Knight of the Kingdom of Baron. He is the commander of the Red Wings, the elite military battalion that rules the skies of the world. Baron is the most powerful Kingdom in the world, and its out to collect every crystal, no matter the means. But Cecil has qualms about what he's doing for his country. Is it right to use force on innocents? Is it right to murder all of those people? But the second he confronts his king about this, he is demoted from his high ranking position and sent on another task as a lowly messenger boy.

Thus begins our quest. Most of Final Fantasy IV's quest is handled in the heart, rather then in text. Not everything is explained right out. In example, right at the beginning of the game, you meet Rosa, a good "friend" of Cecil's who is, bluntly, more then a friend. Its quite obvious that they have been like this for quite a while, in their internal struggle for love, yet unable to show it to each other. Yet the game does not actually come out and say anything about it directly. There are many relationships like this, as well as many types of sub plots. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but some people who are not willing to spend a lot of time and effort in a story will find this annoying. It may also cause them to believe the story is far shallower then it truly is.

I have one time heard someone say "Final Fantasy IV is based upon a very simple premise: You hear the battle music. You soak up the Melodrama. It's the same, over and over". While this is not entirely true, you do need to expect a lot of melodrama (which there is in every Final Fantasy, is there not?). If you can't stomach this, expect not to like the story of this game. Even so, I would try it, or at least rent it, before completely blowing it off into never play again land. Back when it was created, this game created the term "Plot twist". Multiple times over! The best part is that there are more twists in this game then there is in most modern Final Fantasies, each more major then the last.

Like any good Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy IV relies quite a bit on its battle system. This game uses what is typically called an "ATB" (Active Time Battle) system. When the bar in the corner of the screen gets all the way to the right, then your character has a turn. Its a very simple and easy to learn system, though, unfortunately, this port of Final Fantasy IV could use a little tweaking. Certain characters become so fast near the end of the game, while others gain less and less speed that the faster characters will get three to four attacks compared to the slower characters one. This is extremely annoying and can cause huge amounts of problems in certain battles. Fortunately (excluding one or two areas) the encounter rate has dropped significantly from "Dawn of Souls" and you should not become too overwhelmed. When you are, it does not take too long to run, and the penalties are not too harsh.

Another problem with the battle system is the fact that its incredibly easy to accidentally roll your finger over a tiny bit and press Row or Defend accidentally. While this is more of a control failure, I couldn't count on both hands how many turns I have wasted having to change back my rows from a tiny finger roll. The Game Boy is just not meant for this! Also, you should note there is some severe slowdown in battles. If you have your game paused for long periods of time (or paused at all) you will find your battles freezing for a few seconds, and very much slowed. Lastly, there are some incredibly uneven difficulty levels. Some boss battles will be hard at an average area level, and some will be ridiculously easy. This happens throughout the entire game, and never seems to change.

A shame the developers spent a lot more time fixing the graphics on this game then they did the battle system. The graphics are almost completely redone and look much better then before. Some character pictures have changed, but I believe they look better. Enemy designs have changed minorly as well, though also for the better. Well, mostly. There are some enemies I prefer in their older forms, but many of the newer versions look cleaner all together.

The translation still remains as spotty as it did way back when. Certain story characters' names have been minorly changed, but nothing major. Some enemies and bosses names have been changed as well, to fit a newer translation. This almost always for the better, though I can name one or two that I preferred the original form of. Still, I'm not complaining. Spells have been renamed, incredibly well I might add. Instead of Fire 1, Fire 2, etc, it is Fire, Fira, Firaga. For those of you diehards out there, timeless lines such as "You Spoony Bard!" are still in the game.

The single most memorable thing about this game is the music. Always the music...There are so many excellent songs in this game that it's hard to pick out what the best ones are. Some songs are a bit overplayed at times, though lovely nonetheless. I would even add some of them into my timeless category that they are so good. Certain songs may get annoying quickly though, since you have to hear them so much (the battle song comes to mind) so thats just a warning.

There are actually only a few "new" things in this game. The game is more of a port then a remake, which I have heard it toted as. Everything else is much unchanged from the original. The ability to change party members later on in the game is a big one. There's also two new Dungeons near the end of the game which allows you to train and get new gear for your characters. The second dungeon will remind you a lot like the "Whisperwind Cove" from the Final Fantasy I remake on Game Boy Advance. Its 50 randomized floors filled with some extremely, extremely nasty enemies. It takes quite a bit of work to finish it, but the hardcore Final Fantasy fan will take the time to do it.

Final Fantasy IV is one of the very few RPG's that I would say that have invented the modern RPG. If you want to see the beginning, see this game. Even if you have played the original many times over, you should play this game just to challenge yourself to the hidden dungeon (which can be a pain, but is fun nonetheless). Even with its battle flaws, Final Fantasy IV still has some of the most memorable characters and gameplay in the entire RPG universe.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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