Final Fantasy IV DS - Reader Review  

The Dark Knight Has Returned... In Polygons
by Dorothea Hauk

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20-40 Hours
+ A good English translation
+ The visuals are nice
+ A wonderful first half of the story
- The ending fell flat
- Augments can break the game
- That 1% of that one floor I can't find
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   After attacking a peaceful village and stealing its greatest treasure, Cecil, Dark Knight and Lord Captain of the Red Wings of Baron, finds himself doubting the intentions and morals of his king who order him to kill innocents. Upon questioning his king's intentions Cecil's command of the Red Wings is revoked and he is sent out with his friend Kain to deliver a package to the village of Mist. The story sounds untouched, but this Final Fantasy IV remake was on the receiving end of a face-lift, maybe receiving a new face entirely. With the additions of voice acting and a fully retranslated script we get to see if this Dark Knight truly has what it takes to be a Paladin. Will it cast away the darkness and shine like its predecessor or will it forever remain in the shadows?

   The story is nothing ground breaking and is no 100 hour epic, but there is something undeniably charming about it. It has an old quality to it, like an old fantasy novel. The plot itself is not highly complicated nor does it twist out of control, it's a simple plot that is easy to enjoy and understand. The dialogue helps convey the classic fantasy quality while managing to throw in humorous lines like "that spoony bard" and "lali-ho". The characters also have a surprising amount of depth to them for a game of its length and age, which is only added to by the ever changing character thought bubbles shown in the menu. The voice acting adds charm to the simple plot. While the first half of the game is the most prominent with a rich well paced story, the second half has a much slower pacing, suffers from ridiculously unrealistic moments and the end strikes a flat cord.

Its a bomb! Its a bomb!

   There's nothing new gameplay wise, it's a Active Time Battle system that we know from games like Final Fantasy VII. Unlike a turn based system each character has a ATB gauge, when that gauge is full the commands can be entered. Different from the attack commands, items, spells and some skills take time to use which is govern by a second gauge. Enemies follow the same rules resulting in some fast paced battles. It is possible to adjust how fast or how slow the battles are and the battle will pause while selecting items or spells of course this can be turned off as well. Also there is an Auto-Battle mode which makes grinding through enemies a bit easier, add the ability to play entirely with one hand and you have a portable friendly game.

   Like many Final Fantasies each character has a set job class and each job class has its own unique skills, like the Dark Knight can use the Darkness ability. Then there are Augments, Augments are items that teach the characters new skills, for instance you can have that Dark Knight learn the Counter ability. Augments can completely changes the balance of the game and make it much easier, if you use them. Of course, the second half of the game can become rather difficult without them.

   The game is mostly displayed on the top screen with a map on the bottom screen. Towns and the likes have fully detailed maps, dungeons, on the other hand, do not and are mapped as they are explored. When the map is completed you will be rewarded with useful items, but sometimes it takes a lot of wandering around to find that 1% needed to complete the map.

You know he thinks he looks cool. You know he thinks he looks cool.

   Visually Final Fantasy IV DS is one of the best looking game on the system. The character models are surprisingly detailed. The graphical limitations are used as an advantage to create a more distinguished style. The main characters aren't the only ones with surprising detail for the monsters are highly detailed as well. Not just the monsters, but the boss battles have an adjusted camera angle to show just how intimidating they can be. Of course, if Final Fantasy III DS didn't appeal to you it's likely that this won't ether.

   The sound is crisp clean and certainly does not sound like it came from 15 years ago, or a DS. The music builds the needed mood and strikes the right notes for story scenes; although, it can be a little over dramatized. The background music lends the right atmosphere and is never boring, but where the sound really shines is the voice acting. The voice acting is top-notch, the actors manage to capture the emotion of the characters perfectly. With such high quality voice acting and music anyone would be hard pressed to find something wrong sound wise.

   Blessed with a favorable localization, outstanding voice acting, a wonderful story, and great cast of characters this iteration of Final Fantasy IV stands out a little from the crowd of the other Final Fantasy. Its not all good times though, the story is dropped half way through, the augments can take away the challenge, the graphics can be a turn off for some, and the beautiful opening FMV is pixelated from poor quality, but that's just nitpicking and if you get past the problems then you can enjoy a classic game in a modern style.

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