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Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS) artwork

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS) review


"Rumors spread that this was going to be a reboot of the original 1987 Final Fantasy for the NES because of its western title and Square Enix's insistence that it would be a "throw back" to the days of 8-bit role playing games. Others thought it would be a remake of the 1991 Gameboy title "Final Fantasy Adventure" because of its Japanese subtitle "Final Fantasy Gaiden". Others still believed it would be a rehashing of another Gameboy title, "Final Fantasy Legend". All these rumors proved to be fa..."



Rumors spread that this was going to be a reboot of the original 1987 Final Fantasy for the NES because of its western title and Square Enix's insistence that it would be a "throw back" to the days of 8-bit role playing games. Others thought it would be a remake of the 1991 Gameboy title "Final Fantasy Adventure" because of its Japanese subtitle "Final Fantasy Gaiden". Others still believed it would be a rehashing of another Gameboy title, "Final Fantasy Legend". All these rumors proved to be false. While not a remake, the 4 Heroes of Light is certainly a retro style RPG that draws from the days of old. Its narrative, atmosphere and difficulty all point towards an antiquated age of game mechanics that while functional are not for everyone.

You begin the game as Brandt, a young man in a small village who wakes up on his 14th birthday, charged with meeting the king to be proclaimed an adult. Upon entering the throne room he discovers the princess has been kidnapped by the witch who resides north of the village. After meeting the witch and returning home he is thrust into an adventure. Not very original but functional. The story is told through good dialogue and is very simple but in a minimalist style where some of the deeper implications of events are left up to the imagination as opposed to being picked apart by the narrative.

The 4 Heroes of Light uses a turn-based battle system where you choose the actions of your party members and they act along with the enemies based on stats. The variable here is the targeting system, which chooses the targets for you. The system actually works well but will leave the player *initially* feeling like they had little to do with the battle's outcome. For example, if you choose "Cure" the game would decide which party member will benefit from it. Again, at first it will feel cheap and unrewarding until you realize that choosing what to do rather than who to do it to is, in itself, a big strategic choice. Enemies will destroy your team pretty quickly so it's important to know when to heal and when to use a skill or attack. While it hearkens back to a time when hardware didn't allow for more complex decisions, it still ends up feeling fast paced and rewarding.

Inventory has also been retro-fitted in that you do not have a collective pool of items from which characters can choose. Instead, each member has their own 15 items they can carry including their spells, weapon, shield, armor and an accessory (to soften this the game offers a storage service available in each town area). If a character is fully equipped this leaves 11 slots of things to carry or less if they are a spell caster. I personally felt very limited by this until I understood the way the game's job system plays out. It's designed to encourage the player to craft dedicated roles as opposed to characters who can do a bit of everything. A black mage for example is going to have limited inventory because their slots will be filled with spells but they will be backed up by a white mage's healing or a warrior's items. The system definitely works but takes careful party planning.

The job system is unique and simple. There are 28 jobs called "crowns" that you acquire over the course of the game which also function visually as the character's headgear. In order to learn new skills you must place various gems you've acquired into their respective slots in each crown. When all slots are filled you gain a job level and learn a new skill. Each job level requires more gems and a larger variety of them. However, you don't get money for killing monsters, and selling these gems serves as your main source of income. The player will have to decide if they want to sell the gems or save them to use in their crowns.

Personally, my only issue is that mechanically 4 Heroes suffers from trying too hard to feel like an old game. The graphics are really well drawn and rendered, and I'll admit that I found myself humming some of the tunes long after powering off my DS. This does not outweigh the fact that some of the more antiquated video game mechanics will aggravate or confuse players who are more accustomed to the newer standards of the genre. Exhausting every possibility of exploration will get tiresome after a while, but if you are willing to put up with its vague linearity The 4 Heroes of Light has a lot to offer. It's a game worth buying if you are an old school role-playing enthusiast or at least someone that appreciates the old mechanics and difficulty of NES-era RPGs. Just don't assume it's easy because of its deceptively cute looks and storybook charm.

Rating: 7/10

Ninjamohawk's avatar
Community review by Ninjamohawk (January 05, 2011)

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EmP posted January 06, 2011:

Hey. I saw that you wanted to submit and improve your reviews here, so Iím going to leave some feedback. If it sounds harsh in places, just keep telling yourself itís secretly constructive and take it to head rather than to heart.

Iíll briefly touch on your format; where there is nothing overtly wrong with reviewing in sections like you have, thereís a reason that most publications (or, really, anything outside of reader reviews anywhere) do no use it. Here, you have to talk to the game in parts, and not as a whole and, thus, cannot convey the full picture (a game is not the sum of its parts, a brilliant reviewer once said; itís how they mesh together to become a whole). Itís also a great way to quash creativity: they often lead to stiff, uninteresting fact lists rather than an essay of opinion.

You often fall into the itís/its trap. donít feel too bad; youíre far from alone. Keep in mind that itís is for it is and its is for everything else. This review will need a look over to take out all the mix-ups between the two it is rife with.

Example in the first line:

Rumors spread that this was going to be a reboot of the original 1987 Final Fantasy for the NES because of it's western title and Square Enix's insistence that it would be a "throw back" to the days of 8-bit role playing games.

No! Bad writer! This should be its. Plus, rumours has a u in it.


Other typos:

Tagline: A solid RPG but is it for everyone?

Comma between RPG and but.

Other still believed it would be a rehashing of another Gameboy title

Other should be Others.

Tell me if you've heard this one -- You begin the game as Brandt,

Y shouldnít be capitalised.

Iíll stop there; thereís more typos spread throughout, but those are the earlier ones that jumped right out.

The review really starts to find relevance around the gameplay section which, as a whole, is the highlight of the review. Itís well written, informative and mixes explanation in with opinion and backs these up with fact. More importantly, itís clear and I understand what youíre trying to describe. The rest of the section sometimes offer from the vagueness sections can suffer from when youíre trying to write about something out of obligation rather than need. The last three sections epitomise the other side of the spectrum. Relevant information though it might be, itís nowhere near important enough to cut away and try to turn into a prominent feature.

Iím going to go ahead an accept this review for now on the understanding that youíll return to it and clean up the above errors (the typos and itís/its stuff being paramount). Iíll not lie, itís not a great review and itís probably arguable whether or not it would normally met site guidelines, but we all start somewhere and itís clear that you have the ability to competently voice opinions. If you need any help with how to edit the review, feel free to ask.
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CoarseDragon posted January 06, 2011:

I can tell you that in multiplayer the player that joins the "Host" will be playing one of the characters that the "Host" has available. In other words the "Guest" can not choose one of their own characters to take into the host's game so there will never be two of any given character in multiplayer mode.

In multiplayer mode you earn Battle Points much faster than in non-multiplayer [normal] mode. Earning Battle Points this way allows you to purchase very powerful items much earlier in the game.

And yes you are correct that all who wish to play multiplayer must have a copy of the game.
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Ninjamohawk posted January 06, 2011:

Hey thanks for the thoughtful criticism! I really appreciate it. I will clean it up tonight.

EDIT: I made significant changes to the review including altering the format and the fixes you mentioned. Let me know what you think.
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joseph_valencia posted January 06, 2011:

Nice avatar.
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CoarseDragon posted January 06, 2011:

15 items they can carry including their spells, weapon, shield, armor and accessory(to soften this the game offers a storage service available in each town area). You need a space after accessory and before the parenthesis.

Considerably better than the first one. You kept your basic information there and presented it clearly. There are a couple of sentences that could be broken down into smaller sentences but that does not hurt the review at all. A nod to the multiplayer mode, if for nothing else than to mention it is there might be something you want to add back (not really needed however).
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Ninjamohawk posted January 06, 2011:

Yeah I figured I'd just take that out entirely since I haven't tried it. I'm aware of my run-on sentences but I couldn't devise a way to break them down without hurting the ideas they were trying to present. Any advice on this is welcome.
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CoarseDragon posted January 07, 2011:

I never want to change a writers style and if you are satisfied with what you have there is no real reason the change anything. Personally I like division in certain statements. I would make these changes.

All These these rumors all proved to be false. although The 4 Heroes of Light is certainly a retro style RPG that draws from the days of old but it is no remake.

To me These rumors... sentence is the end of your comments on rumors and the next section should begin a new statement. To me that reads easier and I get your point then an openeing to the rest of the review.

For example, if you choose "Cure" the game would will decide which party member will would benefit from it the most.

Again, at first it will feel cheap and unrewarding until you realize that choosing what to do rather than who to do it to is, in itself, a big strategic choice.

their spells, weapon, shield, armor; and an accessory

Also you could probably re-write this sentence but I have no real suggestion. The job system is interesting, if not simple.

Agan just some suggestions. If you don't like them no worries; the review is fine just the way it is.
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Ninjamohawk posted January 07, 2011:

No, no I really appreciate the suggestions. My fiance is a bit of a stickler when it comes to writing so I've had her proofread many of my more important college papers and her biggest gripe with my writing is that I mix up my tenses very often and put words in strange order. (like what you've pointed out)

I will take your suggestions to heart and make some changes.
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zippdementia posted January 07, 2011:

I've been floating around today because of the upcoming tournament and I happened to see this. I see some great criticism has already been given. I thought, since you seem open to suggestion and improvement, I'd add one more thing.

First of all, this is a very solid review that has no major problems. You have a strong and engaging opening and a very nice thesis that invited me to keep reading to see how it would be explored. Specifically, this is your thesis: "Its narrative, atmosphere and difficulty all point towards an antiquated age of game mechanics that while functional are not for everyone." I like it.

Your review is, no offense, a little "blah" and I think this comes from not watching your adjectives. I fall prey to this a lot myself. It's funny, but the word beautiful doesn't make me most readers think of pretty things, nor does the word simple put any particular visual image in their mind. Using these kind of words is fine, but they need to be operationalized or unpacked.

For instance, this sentence...

The story is told through good dialogue

... doesn't tell me anything. To understand this statement, you have to introduce me to some of the game's personality. For instance, maybe there's a fast-talking ninja in the game that you could introduce after this sentence, or maybe there is a relationship that is developed well enough to mention. Or, if you want to conserve space, try creating a comparison. "The story brings to mind the days of Final Fantasy IV, where dialogue was easily quotable and the verbal interactions between characters were full of conflict and, sometimes, barely concealed hatred."

Saying the story is good doesn't make me want to play the game, but telling me that there is conflict in the dialogue and relationships between the characters that borders on hate makes me want to experience what you did when you played. And if that description (or a similar one) isn't accurate, than maybe the story isn't that good...

Just watch your adjectives and always make sure they are linking up to images in the reader's mind and aren't just more words on the page.
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Ninjamohawk posted January 08, 2011:

When I was rehashing this review I was conflicted a number of times about the use of concrete ideas and the abstract. It's tough sometimes.

As for the story in particular I suppose I should use a different word because thinking about it now ... the story isn't very good. It isn't bad and it's not blasť. Comfortably familiar comes to mind. Suitable.

Again though.. these descriptions would need to be backed up to give them any real grounding.

I'll see what I can come up with. Thanks for the criticism. Very thought provoking. :)
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zippdementia posted January 08, 2011:

There ya go! I think sometimes just thinking harder about the adjectives we put in a piece forces us to critically assess whether what we're saying is really what we feel.

I've only JUST started doing this and I think it helps a lot. Just thought I'd pass the idea on to someone who seems spunky and is going to be writing more reviews than me.
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Fedule posted January 08, 2011:

An aside on the use of brackets, while we're offering all these tips. A tutor of mine once wrote the following:

"(My feelings on parentheses (said she, in parentheses), are these; if a point in parentheses is relevant, leave out the parentheses. If it's not, leave out the point.)"

...illustrating brilliantly both rule and exception.

The one set of brackets in your review needn't be there. Just sayin'.

Like the others here, I agree that your review is generally pretty good. Just keep on writing. Stop editing this review and write a new one, and get feedback on that. Repeat until you win ROTW. Then repeat again.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

Oh, and Fedule, I really enjoyed your review on Metroid: Other M, though I couldn't comment on that in its actual thread for fear of being called a hypocrite (I gave it a much better score).
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Ninjamohawk posted January 09, 2011:

Fedule: I got rid of a lot on the first revision. I try to use them to make my run-on sentences less obvious to myself. Unconsciously of course. ;)

"Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are 'psychopathic.' "

psychopathic should be changed to "better than you" :P I always hate it when playing MW2 or something and get yelled at for pulling off an impressive headshot y'know?
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

Ha, your version is funnier, but I mean it to be more of a social statement. I really dislike how the word gay is a derogatory statement among gamers and few things offend me as much as hearing someone say "that's gay" as if it is a negative thing. In thirty years, society will look upon those kind of people in the same way that we now look upon people who use the word "nigger." It's really ignorant.

Also, from a purely logical standpoint, being better at a game or having better aim than someone isn't gay at all. There's nothing there that involves liking the same sex or having intimate relations with the same sex... shooting someone in the face is more accurately described as "bad" or "psychopathic."

Thanks for reading my lengthy explanation.
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Ninjamohawk posted January 09, 2011:

I feel the same way. It's about as uncool as it gets, and it makes a person's credibility go right out the window.

The word "retarded" too. Same deal. The last scrapings from the bottom of the verbal barrel. From a person not clever enough to think up a better term.
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jerec posted January 09, 2011:

Can we also add "raped". It seems incredibly offensive to use that in place of "kicked your ass" or something like that.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

Yeah, if guys want more girls to game, they should probably stop using words like "raped."
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EmP posted January 09, 2011:

It's times like this I really miss Boo. Once upon a time we'd have hijacked this topic so hard about now.

Sigh.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

I must say, this is exactly why i don't miss boo. He was like the initiation test for new members.

Not that I don't respect Boo. He took humour to an entirely new level. His gags worked on so many levels that I often felt like I was in a platformer just keeping up with him..
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Fedule posted January 09, 2011:

By the way:

Oh, and Fedule, I really enjoyed your review on Metroid: Other M, though I couldn't comment on that in its actual thread for fear of being called a hypocrite

You could always start a feedback thread - it doesn't have one yet, and I'd like nothing better than to get into a flaming Internet Argument over the Score Out Of Ten for a big-name videogame.
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

I have to decide whether I still like the game, first.

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