Square Enix rekindled interest in Final Fantasy IV a few years ago when they updated and re-released the RPG classic on the Nintendo DS. Now it looks like the company is trying to capitalize on that yet again with Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for the PSP. Compared to the DS version, this new release doesn’t come with too many changes, but it makes up for that by including the recent sequel and shows that a 20-year-old game can still be enjoyable in this day and age.
Final Fantasy IV tells the story of Cecil, dark knight and captain of the Red Wings. He is collecting the world’s crystals due to the king’s orders, but after killing innocent people he begins to question his duties. Soon he starts to uncover the truth behind the king’s motives and the purpose of the crystals, and thus begins his journey. The story in Final Fantasy IV still holds up surprisingly well today, and the dynamic characters add to that fact. The plot may be simple, but you begin to care about what happens to Cecil and his crew. This makes playing through the game a lot easier, considering the turn-based combat is relatively dated. Nevertheless, fans of Final Fantasy IV will still enjoy it, and those new to the game will be able to play an RPG classic.
That covers the original game, but this PSP update is distinguished as the complete collection for a reason. Also included is Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Originally released in 2009 on Nintendo’s WiiWare service, The After Years serves as a sequel to Final Fantasy IV. It picks up 17 years after the original, and the world is threatened yet again as another enemy attempts to gather all of the crystals. Both new and recurring characters are featured, and the sequel introduces a new moon phase system. Depending on the phase of the moon, certain attacks may be stronger or weaker, adding a fresh new gameplay mechanic not found in the original. At the same time, many enemies, dungeons, and bosses are recycled from Final Fantasy IV, so things can get a bit tedious and repetitive. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see both games included in one package.
Also included exclusively on the new PSP version is Interlude. This extra chapter acts as an epilogue of sorts and bridges the gap between Final Fantasy IV and The After Years. It is relatively short at only two or three hours, and just a few dungeons are included, but as an interlude it serves its purpose well and does a solid job of continuing the story. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the new content ends. The DS re-release from a few years back made quite a few changes and added some new features to the original game, but the PSP version doesn’t tinker with much of anything. It simply adds The After Years, the interlude, and a gallery where artwork can be viewed. Seeing some of those reworked features would have been nice, but the trade-off for the sequel’s inclusion is relatively reasonable.
Just because there isn’t too much new content doesn’t mean the visuals haven’t been tweaked. The upgraded graphics include higher resolution characters, enemies, and environments, and the results are beautiful. Everything really pops off the screen, and though it doesn’t aim for the technical prowess found on the DS version, this simple graphical overhaul is much more fitting. The soundtrack is also well done, as is the case with any Final Fantasy title. The music is always appropriate, whether you’re making your way through creepy caverns or traveling across large fields. The arranged soundtrack from the DS version is also included.
Seeing another re-release of Final Fantasy IV may be puzzling at first, but Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection ends up being a worthwhile game. The lack of new content is slightly disappointing, but that’s easier to ignore with the inclusion of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and an interlude that fills in any holes between the two games. Add in a simple but impressive graphical overhaul and you have one of the better RPGs on the PSP.