Final Fantasy IV (also known as Final Fantasy II on the SNES) is one of the greatest RPGs that the video game industry has ever produced. Its deep, emotional and epic story along with charming, memorable characters and a simple to learn yet complex to master battle system have helped to not just ensure it a place in every RPG lover’s hearts but a permanent spot in the lists of greatest games of all time.
Or so I’ve been told.
The following statement may shock and disturb those with weak constitutions so please make sure that you’re prepared. Take the kids out of the room if you need to. Ready? Okay. Here goes…
I’ve never played Final Fantasy IV.
I know, I know. I feel as disgusted about this as you do but back when this game originally came out in the early 90s the only games I wanted to play involved either plumbers jumping on fungi or vigilantes beating the snot out of endless hordes of stereotypical gang members. Since this time I have learned to love the games of the role playing kind and have finally gotten around to playing this classic thanks to the spiffy package put together by the fine folks over at Square-Enix. With the Final Fantasy IV: Complete collection we not only get the original game with enhanced graphics and audio but we also get two sequels to it. Three games on one UMD disk! Already this is shaping up to be a winner. So what do I think of this highly regarded and revered game and its sequels? Read on to find out.
Since this is the first time that I’ve played Final Fantasy IV I could easily write about it in the same manner I would any new game but since it’s been out for almost 20 years and has had many iterations I won’t bore you with all of the details regarding the story and game mechanics. I’ll simply break down each title and what the collection as a whole has to offer since the less time you spend reading this review the faster you can go snag yourself a copy.
For a game that’s 2/3 as old as I am Final Fantasy IV holds up remarkably well. There are games that are less than four years old that feel more dated than FFIV does. All of the accolades and praise heaped upon this game are completely earned. I really liked the sense of adventure as I traveled to all of the different realms of the world. Sure, there are a lot of cliched fantasy tropes that this game abides by like rebelling against an evil empire, rescuing damsels in distress or saving the planet from an otherworldly evil but it’s told in such a fun and exciting way that you just go along with it. I can now not only count myself among those that have played FFIV but also those who love it.
Final Fantasy IV alone is worth the price of admission but this is a “collection” and there are two other games to play through. While not quite as good as FFIV proper, both games are still fun in their own right and hey, who can complain about more FFIV right? Ok…maybe I CAN complain a little but we’ll get to that soon enough.
The first of these is Interlude which is a story that is meant to bridge the stories of FFIV and The after years and is the only game on this collection that is actually new. Interlude on its own is really only for the hardest of hardcore FFIV fans. The game lasts a little less than 4 hours and the story it tells is barely a story at all. Once you have played through The after years the events of Interlude have more significance but when I played it for the first time before The after years I was left wondering why this title was even on this collection since it didn’t really do anything interesting story wise. The other bummer is that the game has the same dungeons and even treasure placement of FFIV. I know that it takes place in the same world and not long after FFIV but seeing the same dungeons and enemies got boring fast. I still appreciated it for being more FFIV to play but in all honesty it really wasn’t that necessary to have in this collection.
Finally there is the second largest piece of this fantasy pie, The after years. This game was originally a Japanese mobile phone game and was also released for the Wii through the WiiWare virtual store. Since the game was meant to be played on the go it’s broken up into several short chapters, each of which focuses on one particular character. The story takes place 17 years after the events of Final Fantasy IV and features not only the original cast (who are looking good for their age) but their offspring and other new cast members. While not as compelling as that of FFIV, The after years does have a very cool mysterious story that unfolds with each new chapter played. Not mind blowing but it gets the job done.
Unlike Interlude which had the exact same battle mechanics of FFIV, The after years introduces a couple of new elements to combat. The phases of the moon affect certain actions and depending on the phases, your attacks and magics will either be weaker or stronger. The same applies to enemies’ attacks and magics as well. I have to admit that the moon phase stuff just made the game unnecessarily difficult at times. I appreciate the effort of putting in a new battle dynamic but it just made things more tedious. One new addition that I did like was “band attacks”. Band attacks act like the twincast attack by mages Polom and Porom in that they combine the powers of two party members and unleash a nice amount of damage on foes. Unlike the moon phase mechanic, the band attacks are a lot of fun and actually add something helpful to combat instead of something that can put you at a severe disadvantage.
Final Fantasy IV: The complete collection is a really awesome package for RPG fans to own. Even if you have already played FFIV in all of its different versions it’s still worth getting. The updated graphics are great and the new musical arrangements really help to give this game the best presentation that its ever had. The inclusion of two sequels also help sweeten the deal and provide more than 60 hours of gameplay when combined with the original game. Even some admittedly annoying old school quirks like random battles and level grinding can’t keep this from being a title that can hold its own against any modern day RPG. Final Fantasy IV is considered a classic for a good reason and if you were like me and haven’t played this yet then I implore you to go get yourself a copy. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did. And for the old schoolers who know this game inside and out and still haven’t bought this for their PSP…what are you waiting for? It’s FFIV man! Get it!
- Fantastic story and characters
- Great sprite artwork and special effects
- Incredible soundtrack
- Random battles that occur with every step taken
- Level grinding is mandatory if you want to play this game and stay sane
- Interlude wasn’t really necessary