Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on May 16, 2011 in

Square Enix is no stranger to the practice of repackaging and re-releasing its old classics for each new console generation and few games from the catalog have seen as many iterations as Final Fantasy IV.  Since its original release on the Super Nintendo back in 1991 the Final Fantasy IV moniker has graced no less than eight iterations.  Now the old epic has found itself with a new coat of paint on the Playstation Portable and has brought along its cellphone/Wiiware sequel for good measure.  Is this new version worth your attention or should the game be left in the annals of history?

For the uninitiated, Final Fantasy IV follows the story of Cecil Harvey, a dark knight who finds himself conflicted about the cruel orders given to him by his king.  After questioning the motives of the king Cecil finds himself striped of his position and later hunted by his own kingdom.  With the aid of a colorful cast of allies Cecil eventually discovers a more sinister plot is afoot and must step forward to put an end to it.  The story itself, considered a grand epic in its own day, holds up well years later.  Square’s talent for making memorable characters and story-lines was exemplified in Final Fantasy IV and can still hold a great amount of appeal for players today.

Mechanically this iteration of Final Fantasy IV remains mostly unchanged from the original SNES version.  Some character abilities originally omitted from the 1991 U.S. release have been restored, a toggle-able dash function has been added, and the overall difficulty in the beginning sections of the game have been eased a bit.  Other than these tidbits and an overall update to the scripts translation the game is essentially identical to the original.

What stands out most in this version, though, is the aesthetic upgrade the game has received.  The old 16-bit sprites and environments have been given a detailed graphical overhaul and the attack animations have received a significant upgrade.  The Complete Collection also includes the remixed musical arrangements from 2008’s Nintendo DS version of FFIV.  This ascetic upgrade is also carried over into the After Years sequel and the new Interlude scenario.

Along with the new version of Final Fantasy IV this collection also includes The After Years (the episodic sequel originally released on cellphones and Wiiware) and Interlude (a new episode meant to bridge the two games together).  Unfortunately this new Interlude scenario comes off as an afterthought doing little more than retracing a few old dungeons and offering almost no new information over the course of its very brief run.

Thankfully, though, the remastered version of The After Years fares much better.  Focusing on events taking place 17 years after the close of Final Fantasy IV, The After Years is broken into ten episodes. The first nine of these episodes each focus on a particular character with the final chapter bringing all the stories and characters together for the finale.  While a much more linear affair than its predecessor and susceptible to the same recycled dungeons offers up enough gameplay variety to keep it engaging through its surprisingly long duration.  The main draw in The After Years, though, is its story.  With now aged versions of Final Fantasy IV’s cast along with a new generation of additions The After Years weaves a tale that intentionally mirrors the narrative beats of its precursor while tapping into the same focus on character driven drama that made the original memorable.

Overall, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection essentially offers two established games with a new coat of paint.  Final Fantasy IV remains an important milestone in gaming’s history and The After Years is a worthwhile sequel.  Bundling these games together with an excellent ascetic upgrade makes Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection the most worthwhile iteration of the title to date.  Whether a Final Fantasy veteran or a fresh newcomer, this collection is worth a look from any PSP owner.

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Author: Tylor Long View all posts by

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