Review by Shadow9156

Reviewed: 07/16/01 | Updated: 07/16/01

Final Fantasy Chronicles brings classic gameplay into the new millenium

Final Fantasy IV:

Before Final Fantasy VII made RPG gaming mainstream, and before Final Fantasy VI captivated an ever-growing audience, there was Final Fantasy IV (II). Much as Tolkein’s work has influenced the work of nearly every fantasy writer today, Final Fantasy IV has influenced nearly every RPG available today. Wondering where the idea for the deus-ex-machina ending in Final Fantasy IX came from? Check out Final Fantasy IV. Ever wonder how interpersonal relationships became an integral part of plots that focus on saving the world? Check out Final Fantasy IV. While some of the game’s plot elements may seem somewhat clichéd today, this is because they are the basis for nearly every epic storyline to be produced for a console gaming system. Well… on to the ratings.

Graphics (5.5/10) – SNES graphics bolstered by a few weak FMVs. Make no mistake, these graphics were good in their day, but when compared with game such as Final Fantasy IX, they fall significantly short of the mark. But unless your entire gaming experience is based on flashing lights, this doesn’t affect the “enjoyment factor” to a significant degree.

Sound (8.5/10) – Even with infinitely more advanced synthesizers and keyboards, very few games have ever matched the musical quality of Final Fantasy IV. Everything from the simplicity of Edward’s harp playing to the Red Wings’ theme manages to maintain its profundity even though the instrument samples weren’t nearly as good then as they are today. The sound effects, though not truly important, rank as average.

Gameplay/Story (9.5/10) – Despite the ever growing movement against the random battle system, randomized fights fit this game very well. The dungeons are carefully balanced, if slightly harder than the American Final Fantasy II’s offerings, and a careful player should have no significant problem playing through the game. The controls are self-explanatory, and the addition of a run button to the game makes maneuvering in town and in dungeons that much easier. The addition of over 100 new items should interest even those gamers who beat Final Fantasy II multiple times. The translation in Final Fantasy Chronicles is significantly better than the botched confusion that reigned in Final Fantasy II. The story is very well executed, with highs and lows; many plot elements and statements that were ambiguous in the original American version are now crystal clear.

Challenge (5/10) – There are a few challenging battles in this game, although it is entirely possible to play through the game without ever seeing the reload screen. The random battles are easily won for the most part; most of the challenging fights are boss fights (and many of these, such as the fight against the Wyvern, are not plot-necessary).

Fun Factor (10/10) – Anyone who has ever played an RPG (and liked it) will enjoy this game. A captivating plot, interesting characters, and a variety of locations stave off the boredom that is so often the result of more recent, repetitive RPGs. Ambiguity is also left to a minimum; beating the game is a satisfying experience, although more experienced gamers may finish it rather rapidly. There are enough secrets to provide for hours of exploration between plot events.

Chrono Trigger:

The work of Squaresoft and Akira Toriyama (of Dragonball Z fame), Chrono Trigger is remembered by many gamers as one of the best RPGs for the SNES. It was one of the first game to seriously explore the concept of multiple endings. The recent PSX game Chrono Cross, the sequel to Chrono Trigger, has sparked a large amount of interest in its SNES predecessor, and especially in the FMV ending that was featured in Chrono Trigger’s Japanese re-release (prior to the release of Chrono Cross); this ending is something that Americans haven’t had the chance to see until now.

Graphics (8/10) – The in-game graphics are on par with many of the first generation Playstation games. While there is a hint of SD character design, the characters are much more ‘lifelike’ than those in Final Fantasy IV. However, it is during the FMVs that this remake truly shines. Toriyama himself designed the FMVs, which are done in Anime style, and they add an entire new dimension to the game, giving players a chance to visualize their characters on a larger scale. It sometimes seems as though there are a few frames missing here and there in the videos, but it’s not a significant problem.

Sound (9/10) – Yasunori Mitsuda’s compositions for Chrono Trigger still rank among best in the genre. Each song captures the mood of the scenario perfectly, and there isn’t one single song that seems out of place in the game. Added to this are the songs that play during the video sequences, which are remixes of some of the original songs from Chrono Trigger.

Gameplay/Story (9.5/10) – The battle system relies primarily on combo attacks. While characters are able to fight individually, there are nearly a hundred different combo attacks that can be done by various groups of two or three characters. Much of the storyline is based on time travel, which is usually a recipe for disaster. However, Chrono Trigger manages to pull together a plot that is neither too convoluted nor too simple, with just enough human interaction to allow the player to care for the characters while ‘feeling’ to be a part of the party. While there aren’t any significant changes between this version and the original American version, few, if any, were necessary. The new game plus still adds an additional dimension to the game.

Challenge (4/10) – Not even boss battles are difficult in this game. In about twelve hours, the average player can complete Chrono Trigger. It is possible to avoid enemies while walking, and there are no enemies on the overworld (in other words, no random battles).

Fun Factor (10/10) – Mini-games abound throughout Chrono Trigger, and there is a multitude of secrets that revolves around time travel and interaction with townspeople. The FMVs add a new dimension to the game, and in the few slow parts of the game the promise of a new video pushes the player forward. A constant stream of new concepts and ideas keeps the game fresh even during later dungeons, where most games are most flawed. Each of the multiple endings unlocks a special feature added to this version of the game, such as a Sound Test or original art.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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