Status : Main game and Interlude cleared.
The title Review in Progress is a bit misleading. I prefer my first impressions in separate articles, and typically start the Reviewing at around the 80 – 100% mark of a game’s story. My very first RiP was for Final Fantasy II, a game that the format worked perfectly on because it had two different story modes. I finished one campaign, wrote what I thought about it, and saved the second part for a future update. I loved it although most of my later Reviews would just be “in Progress” by name, cause there’s only one campaign. Somebody clearly understood my pain as Final Fantasy IV : The Complete Collection contains not two, but three different stories for me to play through.
Actually, it really only has one new story for me. I beat FFIV in that collection with Chrono Trigger for PSX and I religiously played Final Fantasy IV : The After Years when it came out episodically on the Wii (I dread eventually having to replay Edward’s chapter). I also tried the DS remake and fucking hated it. For completion’s sake, I started with the original, so let’s get on with the review!
Part 1 : Final Fantasy IV
Clear time : 24:49 (at least 2 of those hours were leaving the PSP idle though)
Stats : Cecil Lv55, Rosa Lv54, Kain Lv56, Rydia Lv51, Edge Lv55
The first thing that comes to mind with a game remake are the visuals. The Complete Collection opens with a beautiful cinematic. Spells, especially the summons look incredible when cast, and the bestiary is touched up quite nicely. Locations from the world map to the dungeons are touched up and have a sleek look similar to the Final Fantasy 2 remake. Finally, the character portraits and models look splendid. Out of the 2D iterations of Final Fantasy IV, this one looks the best by a long shot.
Square learned a thing from the backlash at the lack of the original soundtrack in Persona for PSP and allow you to play to the original music or the arranged soundtrack. They’re both well done, so you can’t lose either way.
Ironically, the best looking version of Final Fantasy IV takes its material from the worst looking. But that’s a good thing, because the GBA version adds the ability to choose who is in your party after a certain point, explore a new dungeon designed to give each of the extra 5 possible party members some great equipment and another dungeon that unlocks after you beat the game that has a trial for each character, along with a final all-inclusive trial after finishing them all. I give Square props for making sure the complete collection was complete even in the original game.
Maybe it’s just me, but the pacing in the game feels a lot faster than usual, at the beginning at least. It took only 10 hours to get the final airship, about 2/3 through the story. Of course my play style is a strange one : run from most normal encounters so I can fight harder bosses and save time along the way. That plan came to a screeching halt once I tried to make it any further. Then I looked back and realized I skipped a ton of the optional areas I was supposed to go to… Particularly painful was the Feymarch. So I make it to Asura, one of the game’s optional summons, expecting a pretty even battle and wound up getting the shit kicked out of me over and over again until I remembered that you’re supposed to use reflect on her… then realizing I had to grind Rosa up 6 or so levels just so she could learn the damn thing. That wasn’t very fun, but I ended up back on track up until the last dungeon. The first time I made it to the final boss, he wiped out 3/5 of my party in one Big Bang attack. I had to grind some more and it was hard, but thankfully another new feature of the game saved my sanity.
By pressing select, you can turn on/off an auto-battle feature! It’s not as cheap as it sounds though, because in auto-battle, the characters don’t select any moves for themselves, rather it automatically sets everyone in your party to “attack” and speeds up the battle entirely until either your party gets wiped out from lack of healing or the enemy dies. The game’s last save point before going into the deep part of Lunar Subterrane was where I did a huge portion of my grinding because it’s surprisingly auto-battle friendly. The zombie dinosaurs are crap and die in a couple of attacks, lil’ murderer does nothing but cast libra on himself with auto-battle on (maybe a bug in the game) and gold dragons do nothing but constrict (another possible bug – I really gotta advertise myself as a beta tester). It still took a long time, but eventually I reached my final stats as shown above.
It’s still as fun as originally, but it’s deceptively easy the first half of the game. Since I played as the original team, I haven’t had the chance to fight the bosses in the first secret dungeon or even look at the post-game dungeon. I can get to the extras some other time though, I just want to move on to Interlude for some new story. Regardless, the experience was as great as ever – a must play for fans.
Part 2 : Final Fantasy IV -Interlude-
Clear Time : 2:44
What can I say…. It doesn’t give any info you cannot quickly discern in The After Years or wasn’t freely available on the site for the Wii version of the game. The progression is a simple formula : Opening, Dungeon 1, Plot, Dungeon 2, Plot, Dungeon 3, Ending. Dungeon 2 is arguably the shittiest dungeon in the first game, and hasn’t changed one bit. Also, you do only about 2/3 of dungeon 3 before the final fights begin.
As far as I can tell, there’s nothing post-game to do because loading my game brings me back to the entrance of dungeon 3. Because flying is automatic, you have no free travel around the world map, and have no way to return to the previous dungeons or locations visited. Characters come and go between the dungeons, so you have no say in that matter either. They did throw in a really cool even if easy to access developer room.
There is no big challenge either, and the final fights feel more scripted than anything. They also give too many elixers, which is cool if there were any real tight spots where it was mandatory to fully recover your HP/MP. Items become quite unnecessary here.
Next Update : FFIV the After Years either each individual chapter or as one whole, haven’t decided.