Final Fantasy IV Review

Final Fantasy IV has been remade and ported several times over the last decade. Known as one of the greatest role-playing games ever made, the game has been eaten up every single time. Square Enix noticed the same success when they revamped Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS in 2006. With completely overhauled 3D visuals and a refined soundtrack, Final Fantasy III DS was met with both critical acclaim and excellent consumer response.

Riding off the success of that title, Square introduces Final Fantasy IV for the DS. Not content with just adding some fancy 3D effects and higher quality sound, the company wiped the slate clean and began production on a thorough and complete remake. Does it live up to expectations of being the definitive version of Final Fantasy IV? The answer is “absolutely.”

On the most basic level, FFIV DS is a graphical touch-up, and indeed even that is enough to warrant a purchase if you ask most fans. Square goes the extra mile by adding a much-improved translation, remixed tunes, high quality voice acting, and several gameplay refinements.

I’m probably alone in this, but my favorite part of this remake is the refined localization. I’ll confess: I’ve never completed the original Final Fantasy IV. I tried and I even got pretty far in. However, at the end, the poor translation kept me from finishing. The grammar and spelling were awkward, plot points weren’t always completely explained, and the whole thing felt very rough and unpolished.

Thankfully, every problem I had with the source material’s translation has been rectified in FFIV DS. Every single line of text has been edited and the result is an excellent localization effort that turns what was once a confusing story into a gripping one.

For those who aren’t won over by redone graphics and want to know what about this remake warrants a purchase, rest assured that there is plenty.

The most obvious gameplay addition is the new Augment system. Throughout the game, you are certain to encounter abilities called Augments. You can have your characters learn these abilities and then they can perform them in battle. For example, the Cry ability will let one of your party members lower your enemy’s defense during combat. This allows for much customization and is a seemingly small, but effective tweak.

The problem lies in that while you can learn a fair number of Augments by exploring the game world, you will need to learn the most useful ones by giving up Augments to characters who will leave your party at one point or another. For old-school fans of the game, this won’t be a problem. They’ll know every plot point and twist and will know which characters will leave. For newer players, this is a huge problem as you can expect. Indeed, if you want to get your hands on all the Augments, a step-by-step walkthrough is practically required.

FFIV DS also features a ramped-up difficulty level. Ask any fan of FFIV and they’ll agree that the original game is pretty easy. Well the remake is definitely pretty hard. While level grinding isn’t necessary except for one or two parts, the game’s bosses and even ordinary monsters require some good strategy. As an extra helping of difficulty, two secret super-bosses have been added who are a worthy challenge even at level 99 with the best possible equipment and Augments.

Easily the most obvious change to FFIV DS is the upgraded graphics. Previously 2D, FFIV has been brought into the 21st century with beautiful (if you consider the DS hardware limitations) graphics. It’s a close race between this game and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for best DS 3D graphics, but I’d have to give the edge to FFIV DS. Character models are nicely detailed, the lighting–especially in cutscenes–is excellent, and the loading times are quick. The only blemish is the low frame rate in battles but after an hour of playing, you won’t even notice anymore.

The voice acting is also very well done with clear and audible sound (even without headphones or external speakers), and the characters’ lines are well acted. I did, however, feel that Kain and Cecil’s voices should’ve been switched. Cecil gave me flashbacks of Robin from Batman and Robin which doesn’t suit his character at all. Everything considered though, you are likely to appreciate the voice acting as long as you’re OK with discovering you’ve been pronouncing Cecil’s name wrong for the last 15 years.

Overall, FFIV DS is a winner. Not only is it the defining iteration of FFIV, it’s one of the greatest remakes ever produced and deserves a permanent spot in every DS owner’s collection.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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