"A Classic Final Fantasy Adventure In the Palm of Your Hand"
For most of the long time I've spent as a gamer, Final Fantasy has been a series that I've been distant with. However, that distance has begun to shrink recently.
Late last month, I took a nice huge step in my Final Fantasy journey: I played one of the classics for the first time. This classic is Final Fantasy IV. Or, to be precise, the iOS version of FF IV. For the first time, I set forth as the Dark Knight Cecil and friends traveled across a vast land in a grand adventure filled with crystals, magic, and monsters. So many monsters!
Final Fantasy IV for iOS is very much the same version of the classic as the one released for the Nintendo DS back in 2008, meaning you'll find 3D character models and environments instead of 16-bit sprites (but with a new level of polish), fully-voiced cutscenes and the Augment system that allowed players to equip characters with other character's special abilities.
The iOS version of FF4 also comes with a few new additions of its own, like multiple difficulty levels (in response to complaints that the DS version was too hard) and a virtual D-pad that will appear wherever the player touches the screen, similarly to the one in Final Fantasy Dimensions. Other than that, it's basically the same Final Fantasy IV that has been played and replayed since 1991.
Compared to the RPGs that have since followed it, FF IV's story is rather straightforward. It's pretty much the typical tale of a hero and his friends going on a grand quest to save the world from the forces of evil that has gone on to be repeated again and again. Regardless of this, I found myself entertained and engrossed by the characters, their personalities, and the adventure in which they all get swept up.
Helping the story are the upgraded visuals and the animated cutscenes, which underpin key scenes with an extra helping of drama that was nice to watch. With plenty of memorable scenes, such as Cecil's rise from Dark Knight to Paladin, the attack on Fabul, and Palom and Porom's sacrifice, there is plenty to make FF IV's story enjoyable for new and old players alike.
The visuals and the story may be enhanced, but the gameplay in Final Fantasy IV stays true to its roots. You travel the world, meet new people, buy stuff, encounter monsters, beat them, gain experience, and grow stronger. All of this hinges around a turn-based combat system that (with the exception of touch screen input and an auto-battle option) is unchanged from its original iteration.
Since FF IV released, RPGs have come and refined turn-based battles further and further, making the combat feel a tad old, though that's hardly a problem. Each character has plenty of depth in how they perform, with plenty of skills and abilities unique to them. Monsters are similarly gifted, meaning that strategies that work on some won't work on others quite as well, or at all. Go into battle recklessly, and you'll find yourself short on Phoenix Down in quick time.
Adding to the tension is the use of the Active Time Battle system that FF IV originally introduced to the series back in the day. Essentially, it enables enemies to attack your party while each character waits for a gauge to fill up, allowing them to attack. The fact that you can be attacked while waiting for and picking your moves makes for a tense experience; one where a fast enemy or boss can lay the entire party low before you have time to figure out a strategy; one where quick thinking is just as important as planning ahead in order to come out alive; and one where the taste of victory is all the more sweet.
On a technical level, Final Fantasy IV performs well. The animation is smooth, nothing jerks, and I never had to wait for something to load. However, in my time with it, there were the occasional instances where the game would freeze in the middle of combat for a while, and at one point the game even crashed (during an intense boss battle, I might add. I was all, “Gaaah, why?!”). These issues are mild, thankfully, and it's possible that they might not even show up in another playthrough.
It may be old, but Final Fantasy IV is a solid, deep, and fun game. True, RPGs have come a long way since it first appeared and improved on the features that it brought to the genre. Despite this, the game contains such good bones that it still makes for an enjoyable experience, or at least that's what I think as a newcomer. This new version might not catch the attention of those who've played the game several times before and are "FF IV-ed out"”, but those looking to take a dip again or for the first time need look no farther than the iOS version.
I'd end this with a "Kupo" line or something like that, but there are no moogles in FF IV. A pity, but oh well.
GameDynamo's Score for Final Fantasy IV (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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