Final Fantasy IV is a title that a great number of video gamers, including myself, have fond memories of. Truth be told, it was the first ‘real’ RPG I ever played. It started as a 3 day rental from BlockBuster and, yes, I beat it within that time frame as I was completely obsessed with it for those days. Anyways, since its appearance on the Super Nintendo, it has been re-released a few times. Of course, being the ravenous fan of Square that I am, I bought each release and played it through. The latest reincarnation brings this timeless classic to the Nintendo DS. …but this is no simple remake or port. In my opinion, it genuinely feels like a brand new game that stands tall among the ‘modern’ RPGs we have seen on the 360 and PS3, just on two very tiny LCD screens. To make things short, it’s a fantastic game. If you want to read what I have to say about Final Fantasy IV DS, make the jump.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start the game is a new movie that shows many of the game’s most memorable scenes. It’s gorgeous in just about every way. So be sure to watch it through when you start it up for the first time. Second, you’ll see that FF IV has made the transition from 2D to 3D beautifully. The nicely choreographed cutscenes are now rendered in-game in full 3D, complete with voice acting which, I might add, is wonderful. At least I think it is (some people seem to have a beef with it). The actors that were picked are definitely a decent bunch and you’ll feel the emotion when Rydia screams, “I hate you!!” after Kain and Cecil unwittingly kill her mother. They do a great job and that is my final opinion.
While a lot has changed, some things haven’t. That includes the highly revered “You spoony bard!” line. Love it! Among the things that have changed are the Fat Chocobo and Namingway. The odorous Fat Chocobo has a different job this time around. With the improvement in technology rendering his item storing function obsolete, he now exists as a bestiary and allows you to modify Whyt, Rydia’s brand new companion, through a series of mini-games that also allow you to unlock different costumes for it. Whyt can do a number of things to assist Rydia in battle and can take on the abilities of others. As for Namingway, he/she/it has turned into a rabbit for some unknown reason and can no longer change your character’s names (blame it on the voice acting). You’ll encounter Namingway along your journey in his attempts to become relevant to the game again.
Another addition to the game is a map that you have to fill out. As you finish each floor map of a dungeon, you receive items as a reward. The world map is the same way, only I am not sure that you get something for completing that one. Still, this definitely comes in handy, especially when you get an Ether as those have become ridiculously difficult to come by.
The script has also undergone a massive rewrite. Yes, the story, as you expected, is the same gloriously epic tale full of the twists and turns (Kain anyone?) that you remember, but much darker and more mature. The music has also undergone a transformation. The soundtrack in this version sounds like it came from the Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon album. If you’ve never given it a listen, I highly suggest that you do (you can find it on the internet very easily).
As for the gameplay, it’s just as you remembered it (for newcomers, it’s still very much in that old school, turn-based RPG style), only a tad more difficult and chock full of things that were omitted when the game made its transition to the U.S. many years ago. The spells and animations look and sound great. Summoning with Rydia is always a treat and there are only a couple points during the game where you might need to grind. Other than that, the game ushers you from place to place at a very nice pace.
In the end, good times are to be had for fans of the original and newcomers alike. Final Fantasy IV is a classic that holds up damn well after all this time. It’s got a multitude of unique characters, tough battles, an action packed story full of emotion, some of the best villains in all of video games, great looks and incredible music/sound/voicing. For anyone looking to get a copy, pick this one up as it is most assuredly the definitive version of the game (that is until the next inevitable release). There’s so much to say about one of my favorite games of all time. It’s just a shame it has already taken me a long time to get this review out and I’ve probably gone on too long as it is. Hope you enjoy FF IV DS if you run out and get a copy (you better).