Final Fantasy IV was released for the Super Nintendo in 1991 and is known for being one of the best RPG’s ever made. Between all of its versions Final Fantasy IV has sold over five million copies. It has been re-released on the Play Station, PSP, GBA, Virtual Console and of course the version I’m reviewing, the Nintendo DS.
The DS version has implemented 3D graphics, cinematic cut scenes and voice acting. There is multiplayer support for battling against fellow DS players. I only played the main story, so I can’t comment on the multiplayer aspects. The story is pretty much unchanged but the game play mechanics have been modified.
Augments are new to the DS version and grant characters new abilities such as drawing all the attacks to one party member, increasing health or magic points by 50%, raising all of the party members if one dies or dual casting some seriously powerful magic spells. Make sure you think long and hard on whom to give augments to since they are permanent and cannot be undone. Some of the augments are given automatically in the story but most are easy to miss. Many temporary characters in your party will reward you with one or more augments depending on how many you have given them before they leave.
Your party is constantly changing in this game; the only one that remains the whole time is Cecil. Some party members stay a short time while others come back after a period of time. Cecil is the main character who starts out as a Dark Knight following the orders of his king even though he doesn’t personally agree with them. Convinced that this king is not the same that he swore an allegiance to, he sets out on a journey to find the truth and ultimately saves the world from pending disaster.
As you embark on your journey you’ll be attacked by the hidden enemies lurking outside of towns and inside of caves and dungeons. The battles are completely random with the exception of boss battles which are triggered by stepping on key tiles or by picking up treasure or quest items. When in battle, you have the choice of attacking, using an augment ability, using magic, using an item, changing position/equipment, or fleeing. If you win the battle, you will get some money (Gil), experience, and occasionally some gear. After you gain enough experience you will level up and your attributes will increase automatically.
The pacing is pretty good and the caves and dungeons are long enough so you’re generally pretty well leveled and ready to face the next boss waiting for your party. Level grinding is a given for any Final Fantasy game but some of the bosses are very challenging while others can be pushovers if you catch onto their pattern or element weaknesses. Some of the bosses have been modified so veterans of this game will have to use different tactics to defeat them this time around. My only complaint with this game pacing wise is the battle system. The default battle settings are so slow that I was tempted to forget the DS version and play the PSP one instead. While the PSP version is much faster paced and true to its roots, the DS version has nice cut-scenes, dialogue and voice acting. The interactive flashbacks add even more to the already strong character development.
You'll see childhood memories of Cecil, Rosa and Kain playing together. You'll learn about Cecil's parents and how he wound up at Baron castle. The other characters' dialogue has changed a little bit here and there but the main story stays the same. The famous line "You spoony bard!" has been left intact. The game just wouldn't be the same without that.
The graphics are very similar to the Final Fantasy III DS game with the simple 3D anime style characters. The CGI movies are more realistic and breath taking. The battles have lots of eye candy when it comes to magic use and summoning creatures to battle for you. I must confess that I usually skipped them to make the battles go faster.
As you can tell, this game has violence, magic use, and the ability to summon creatures to fight for you. The violence isn’t gory but death is unavoidable and part of the main story line. The only other moral issue to be aware of is that a few of the females in this game can use more modest attire. Many of them walk around in belly dancer style outfits. In one of the towns you can join a gentleman’s club for 100,000 gil that allows you to get your own private dances. There are innuendos suggesting that more than dancing is going on there but your party cannot partake in it.
Many towns along with various dungeons and caves have their own music to set the mood. Some of the songs are brought back from previous titles including the chocobo theme and menu title music. The battle music is similar but different from Final Fantasy 3. The same composer, Nobuo Uematsu wrote the music for this game. After playing these games I can totally see why people would go to see these songs played by an orchestra.
I’m glad to have finally gotten this game off of my bucket list. The story is solid and has a great message of forgiveness and redemption. Like many RPG’s there are some moral issues but this game is still pretty family friendly. If you like flashy visual effects and better story telling, I would look into this version. However, if you want a fast paced game I would recommend looking into other releases of it.