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Final Fantasy IV (DS) artwork

Final Fantasy IV (DS) review


"There are approximately three Final Fantasy games I can stand – those being Final Fantasy 4, Final Fantasy 5, and Final Fantasy 6. So naturally, when I heard about a remake of FFIV coming out for the DS with new graphics, I was almost ready to go out and buy it. Then I remembered all of Square-Enix’s recent failures (including the sub-par remake of FFIV on the GBA) and loaded it on my flashcart instead, and learned that Square-Enix had nothing to do with the remake, instead contracting it to a c..."



There are approximately three Final Fantasy games I can stand – those being Final Fantasy 4, Final Fantasy 5, and Final Fantasy 6. So naturally, when I heard about a remake of FFIV coming out for the DS with new graphics, I was almost ready to go out and buy it. Then I remembered all of Square-Enix’s recent failures (including the sub-par remake of FFIV on the GBA) and loaded it on my flashcart instead, and learned that Square-Enix had nothing to do with the remake, instead contracting it to a company called Matrix Software that apparently specializes in programming for the DS. Oh well.

First of the major changes was a complete graphical overhaul of the game – everything is done in 3D graphics this time round. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out as planned. Even veteran Final Fantasy players will have to take time and adjust to the new low-polycount models. The environments aren’t pretty either. The world map looks like it’s using Mode 7, and the dungeon environments, while better-done than the world map, are still very generic and repetitive. In combat, there is slight slowdown, but nothing game-breaking. I should also mention that Cecil as a paladin looks like a transgendered prostitute with blue lipstick and eyeshadow, and that Rydia’s arms are longer than her legs. Also, Kain is literally a recolor of Cecil’s Dark Knight model with a few spikes removed and a cape welded on.

The second change is a slightly improved translation. The SNES release of Final Fantasy IV was bogged down heavily by a very poorly translated script and item/ability names that were abbreviated to the point where it was impossible to understand what they did just by looking at them. The DS re-release fixes that problem, and fixes the many blatant grammatical errors left in. What they didn’t fix (to my dismay) were many of the “family-friendly” changes that were stuck into the original release’s script in order to win approval with censors (such as changing “beer” to “milk” and “bar” to “pub”), including the oft-parodied line “YOU SPOONY BARD!!”. Say what you will about nostalgia, but the line was crap and should not have been re-used.

My main problem with this remake was the difficulty changes. The game’s difficulty was boosted entirely by inflating the stats on enemies, while at the same time keeping the stats on bosses roughly the same. This makes for dungeons that are ridiculously hard with a boss that is dead simple. A prime example is a later-game dungeon known as the Sealed Cave, which has enemies capable of killing even an insanely overlevelled party in two hits with an AOE breath attack that take literally five minutes to kill. In comparison, the boss goes down in two minutes, even with a party that is merely on par for levels. There also seems to be a higher random encounter rate, ensuring that the random encounters remain several times deadlier than the bosses they guard.

Also new to the remake is the Augment/Decant system, which allows you to obtain the abilities of non-permanent characters (Yang’s kick, Edward’s bardsong, etc). You get augments through various boss fights and other plot events, then give them to non-permanent characters in order to inherit their abilities. The problem I had with this is that the system is extremely convoluted – unless you have a guide, there’s no way of knowing how many augments you have to give a particular character to get their good abilities. A prime example is the twins Palom and Porom. Porom has a hidden ability called Dualcast, which is essentially a requirement to finishing the game. Unless you knew beforehand that Dualcast was Porom’s third-tier skill and that you had to give her two augments while giving Palom only one, you would probably miss out on it. The other thing the game doesn’t tell you is that augment abilities are an absolute requirement in order to get any kind of stat increases after your characters hit level 71. Maxing out your stats (required for the two new optional bosses) is even harder, requiring you to not only give augments out but equip the proper ones at the right times (most characters need one set from 71-83, then another from 83-99, with some needing an additional set between 95 and 99). Also fun is the fact that since you only get three playthroughs of the game, and maxing your stats out is only possible on the third playthrough, if you screw up even slightly you have lost your chance at ever being able to kill the two optional bosses.

My other problem with this remake of FF4 is the heavy Maple Story-style (even WoW couldn’t hope to be this bad) reliance on farming extremely rare items to do any kind of post-game content. In order to have a prayer against Proto-Babil and Geryon, you need to have several sets of Adamant and Onion gear. All of the Onion items and Adamant Armor are rewards from turning in a 1/256 drop from certain monsters located only in one specific area of the final dungeon. However, you can up your chances to 1/128 by equipping the Treasure Hunter augment, but that is still a horrible grind. To get an idea of how bad this grind is: In Earthbound, there is a totally optional item known as the Sword of Kings, a 1/128 drop from Starman Supers in the base underneath Stonehenge. People have spent DAYS farming the Sword of Kings to no avail. But that’s one item – you need at least ten different pieces of Onion armor and two Adamant Armors for the optional bosses, not to mention full stacks of 99 Silver Apples and Soma Drops in order to max out everyone’s HP/MP.

The only other pieces of “new” content are Whyt, the two new optional bosses, and the New Game + system. Whyt is a new gimmick for Rydia that costs ridiculous amounts of MP to summon and has stats based on your scores in five gimmicky minigames, one per permanent party character. These minigames are absolutely horrid – ranging from “hit goblins with the stylus” to “hit birds with the stylus” to “hit enemies with the stylus”. Then you have Rosa’s minigame and Rydia’s minigame. Rosa’s is holding down the stylus for a precise number of seconds. Rydia’s is DOING MATH. The reason you’re virtually required to grind Whyt is for a move Cecil obtains late into the first playthrough, which increases his attack based on the number of times Whyt has been summoned in battle (note: once you have summoned Whyt in battle you are forced to use him until he dies or until the battle is over). Not surprisingly, maxing out Cecil’s special attack is an absolute requirement for the optional bosses.

FF4DS’s New Game + is crap. There, I said it. The only things that carry over between games are Adamant/Onion items, Augments, certain items that increase max HP/MP, and Whyt’s stats. Also, you can only play through the game three times until your save is deleted. So then you spend forever grinding up to 99 for the third time and getting ready for the big finish:

You’ve spent six months grinding your characters to 99. You’ve gotten all of the Adamant and Onion gear, maxed out your characters stats, and farmed Apples and Soma Drops until everyone has 9999HP and 999MP. Hell, you even got three scores of 9999 on all the minigames and maxed out Whyt. So now what’s left? The only actual new content: Proto-Babil and Geryon. What are they? Generic “optional bosses” that are essentially the same as the final boss with extra health, a unique model, and some more instant death attacks. Each boss will take you all of two minutes to kill. Congratulations, you just wasted 300+ hours grinding FOR NOTHING. Remember in Wind Waker, when you spent hours giving Beedle your precious money only to find out the Silver Membership was him congratulating you on wasting your money? That’s the kind of rage you’ll feel. Then you’ll either kill yourself, or go work for Blizzard. Or both. Be sure to say hi to Tom Chilton for me.

Overall, this remake of FF4 is sub-par. The GBA remake was so much better – making every character but one permanent, having extra dungeons and bosses that didn’t require months of extra grinding, and graphics that weren’t horribly low-polycount 3D. If you want to play FF4, either play the original SNES version or the GBA remake. FF4DS gets a 2, for actually making the game WORSE than it was, instead of better.

Rating: 2/10

timrod's avatar
Community review by timrod (August 01, 2008)

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dagoss posted August 02, 2008:

While this is certainly an improvement over your other review for this game (why did you submit two?), I'm a little hesitant to trust it. You spend a lot of time talking about post-game elements, which isn't really valid criteria for judging a game. It's not entirely consistent either. For example:

"you need at least ten different pieces of Onion armor and two Adamant Armors for the optional bosses, not to mention full stacks of 99 Silver Apples and Soma Drops in order to max out everyone’s HP/MP."

And then:

"Each [optional] boss will take you all of two minutes to kill. Congratulations, you just wasted 300+ hours grinding FOR NOTHING."

Some of the discrepancies between the two reviews is also curious as well...
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psychopenguin posted August 02, 2008:

This guy is fast becoming my favorite comedian.

"This makes for dungeons that are ridiculously hard with a boss that is dead simple. A prime example is a later-game dungeon known as the Sealed Cave, which has enemies capable of killing even an insanely overlevelled party in two hits with an AOE breath attack that take literally five minutes to kill."

"But that’s one item – you need at least ten different pieces of Onion armor and two Adamant Armors for the optional bosses, not to mention full stacks of 99 Silver Apples and Soma Drops in order to max out everyone’s HP/MP."

"You’ve spent six months grinding your characters to 99. You’ve gotten all of the Adamant and Onion gear, maxed out your characters stats, and farmed Apples and Soma Drops until everyone has 9999HP and 999MP. Hell, you even got three scores of 9999 on all the minigames and maxed out Whyt. So now what’s left? The only actual new content: Proto-Babil and Geryon. What are they? Generic “optional bosses” that are essentially the same as the final boss with extra health, a unique model, and some more instant death attacks. Each boss will take you all of two minutes to kill. Congratulations, you just wasted 300+ hours grinding FOR NOTHING."

I think he overreacts a little sometimes.

(And not quite as comedical but straight up laughable nevertheless - "The GBA remake was so much better ." Yeah, I miss having my turns skipped and enemies going out of order, too. They should have kept that for the DS version, definitely.)
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honestgamer posted August 02, 2008:

This guy is fast becoming my favorite comedian.

I guess with Carlin gone, it's time for some new folks to step forward with new routines. :-D
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jerec posted August 02, 2008:

If this guy hates Final Fantasy games so much, why does he keep playing them? Life is too short to waste time on games you don't enjoy.
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timrod posted August 02, 2008:

A. It isn't FF4 I hate. The SNES FF4 was actually decent, as was FF5 and the vastly superior almost Earthbound-level FF6. I played through the SNES FF4 all the way to Zeromus.

B. The reason I dock it so many points for post-game content is because guess what, that was the main selling point of this remake, along with the redone graphics (which weren't so good to begin with) and slightly retouched script (which is still lacking). Proto-Babil and Geryon were supposed to be the reason for people to shell out $40 for this remake instead of finding the superior GBA remake (which had actual new content that didn't require 300+ hours of grinding to see) for less than twenty dollars, or emulating/buying the SNES version. If any other company did this, they'd get torn a new asshole by reviewers. Square-Enix may be a large company with many zealous fans, but they do not deserve special treatment. If it won't fly for everyone else, it won't fly for them.
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bluberry posted August 02, 2008:

weren't the post-game elements (ie additional content) supposed to be a selling point, though? seems like fair game to me.
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honestgamer posted August 02, 2008:

Edit: I typed up a long post, but I'll spare you all of that. What it comes down to is that you've written some great reviews in the past, but this is not one of them. You're reviewing a company and concept you despise, rather than the actual product, and it really shows.
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psychopenguin posted August 03, 2008:

Can you please explain how you spent 300+ hours on this game in 10 days?
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timrod posted August 03, 2008:

I didn't spend 300+ hours. I got up to the point where you're supposed to farm a Rainbow Pudding (1/256 drop). After spending the better part of two hours grinding it, I went on GF to find out what I was doing wrong, only to find out that most people took 20+ hours to find one. The person who DID spend 300+ hours was GameFAQs's SBAllen, who wound up doing three playthroughs on the Japanese version (which has been out for over a year) several times to collect everything.
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psychopenguin posted August 03, 2008:

He also wrote a walkthrough, and you're using one person's playthrough as a basis for your review.

It's like saying I spent 100 hours on FFX, so it takes 100 hours to beat FFX. (Just as an example.. I practically speed run RPGs compared to some people)
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Genj posted August 04, 2008:

Remakes are difficult to review. Some people are merely interested in what's different, while others with little or no experience with the original want to know more about the core game. I've played through a couple versions of the SNES FF4, and I'd mainly be interested just re-experiencing the game in a more novel form. To me reading complaints on grinding from optional stuff would not dissuade me from personally playing the game. That's not to say others wouldn't find this information important or valuable. It sounds like last time there were some problems with the validity of some of the review's content (I wouldn't know, I haven't bothered with the game), but it seems like there are less complaints of such things this time.

EDIT - I MEAN DAMN YOU TIMROD FOR BASHING THIS GAME. I'M GOING TO RAPE YOU IN YOUR SLEEP.
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joseph_valencia posted December 09, 2009:

He did make one good point: The graphics are certainly barfy, to use a technical term. When I was trying out FFIII-DS at my buddy's house, I couldn't help but think "Gee, this would be so much better if there were SNES/PSX-style character sprites instead of these awful polygon ceatures."

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