Saturday, 3 May 2014

Review: Final Fantasy 4

Alrighty, onto the second game...which is actually the fourth game. Figure that one out. So this one pretty much marks the dawn of the Final Fantasy series we know today, and set the standards for the genre. Lots of characters, melodrama and active time battles and stuff. Did you know anything about this game going in it? Considering this one is based on characters and story, I can imagine some of it must have reached you.

I knew sweet FA about this game. I didn't know Rydia, Cecil, anyone really. I figured it would be a step up from FF1. That's pretty much it. I knew the final fantasy series famously has summons, moogles, chocobos, and some guy called Cid. but I didn't really know where exactly in the series each of those things came in.

Well truth be told, I had already played this before and most of the characters didn't stick either. Seeing how much they focused on cutscenes, story and characters this time around, you’d think it would all be more memorable. Aside from the infamous “You spoony bard” line, there wasn't a ton I remembered from the game. In fact, looking back to it, I'm still struggling to remember what happened. Care you recap what you still remember?


So Cecil was some kinda warrior and he had an inner struggle and became a paladin. He had a battle-waifu called Rosa but she stayed home for like the first few chapters for some reason. Some young couple got introduced and then like one died and one went in a coma. There was a bunch of kingdoms.. Cecil and token-betraying-best friend-guy wrecked Rydia’s village and then felt bad and tried to help her but she went into a monster land and came back out as a post-pubescent summoner. Two mage kids sacrificed themselves to save you from a death trap, a lot of people sacrificed themselves but then just showed up later being like ‘Yo I guess I survived’ and then you all went to the moon with a magical old man and also there was this one really effing cool boss that was like a wall with a Giger alien that slowly got closer and closer to you and that was my favourite bit.

"Han Solo has seen better days."

All in all, I think they put a lot in place, but didn't really know how to use it effectively yet. The very first boss made good use of the fact that the battle system was an active one, but after that I don’t really recall them using it again. Going from the first one to number four, do you think you've had three games worth of advancements?

Yeah generally I think it suffers from an information overload without much kinda structure and without enough really simple stuff that holds the plot together. It feels like you spend a lot of time jumping from location to location, and the main characters in your team keep suddenly changing.

"Huhuhuhuhuhu...[/Vince Masuka]"

Compared to the first game, I think a lot of the basic things like controls and visuals have upgraded to a point where its much more pleasant to play, but the busy yet shallow plot kinda makes it hard to care. The mechanics are also pretty standard JRPG and the game still suffers from a lack of guidance in what the spells and weapons actually do a lot of the time.

I agree. This is one of the most ported and remade games in the series. For some reason they never really changed all that much every time they touched it again.. Clearly one of the fan-favourites of the developer. If you were in charge of a remake, what would you have done differently? I think I’d change a lot, but I'm not sure where to begin.

That's kind of tough, because I think the games biggest flaw is its whole core story. It’s not even a bad game in principle but its a lost cause in terms of making something more memorable without starting from scratch. I guess if I could make a few cosmetic tweaks I would: 1) have better localisation and guide to using items. For example, you shouldn't have to use ‘item’, do through your inventory, find your equipped weapons and hit ‘use’ to use a special ability on an equipped weapon or accessory. It should just work when you attack or maybe be a passive ability. 2) Add more simple bits of bonding and conversation that bring the characters to life a bit more, without falling into the classic anime trap of retreading the same thoughts about motivations to succeed and the ol’ ‘...’ (brooding silence).

Yeah, I'm afraid that’s where I stand too. I'm sure it’s salvageable, but then I'm not sure why you would in the first place. It’s all a bit too bland in its set-up and progression to warrant a proper reboot. May as well start entirely from scratch. In summary, would you say you liked it or not?

Hmm. That's actually a difficult question! I respect it, but I also feel a bit like it was a waste of time and I don’t want to play it again. It’s a good achievement in gaming history and it still feels like a big adventure… but meh. I feel sooo… neutral towards it.

I give it a phoenix down-but-not-out of 10.

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