Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection Review (PSP)

Posted by Jim Cook, May 03, 2011 04:46

Final Fantasy IV has the distinction of being the first 90s/Super Nintendo-era RPG for some players; it wasn’t the first to introduce an in-depth plot and meaningful characters, but it’s certainly one of the games that helped move console RPGs along and is historically significant for that reason. People still play it to this day, and with that in mind Square-Enix has trotted out another remake titled Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection, this one returning to the use of 2D sprites instead of a 3D approach. What makes this release more interesting is its inclusion of not only the original FFIV, but also its sequel ("The After Years") and a short chapter to bridge them ("Interlude") all in one product. Together, they tell a Tolkien-esque fantasy tale of knights and wizards, heroism and romance, overcoming one’s flaws, and making the world a better place... it’s a story that has stood the test of time mostly intact, and well worth experiencing even today.

Final Fantasy IV: Complete CollectionThe main Final Fantasy IV game (’the main game’ from here on) appears to be a mix of several previous versions with tweaks here and there, though it primarily resembles the Gameboy Advance release combined with updated graphics. It still tells the story of a Dark Knight struggling to come to terms with the horrific actions he has done in the name of ’following orders’, and exploring ways that he might make amends even as his paths cross with people from all walks of life. This oversimplifies things, but saying anything more would perhaps spoil the plot for those who haven’t yet experienced it (FFIV is about two decades old at this point, after all). It’s still the same RPG that long-time players know, with fights being conducted in a relatively turn-based fashion as you form a party of heroes each with unique skills (creating magical flames, jumping sky-high and landing on the target with a spear, etc.) and numerical stats in various fields to determine the success of their actions. It’s definitely a cerebral game, and players will be here for both the RPG mechanics and the story as your reading skills will be tested far more than your reflexes.

Yet if the main game was all we got, people could be rightfully unimpressed; it has been published on several platforms over the years, and some of those versions can easily be found for less money than Complete Collection costs. To make up for that, this compilation disc also includes the Interlude chapter and a full-length sequel titled The After Years. You could easily be kept busy for days; not ’a few hours at a time each day’, but the hour count would add up to several 24 hour spans combined between these and the main game, offering an incredible amount of content that helps justify the price. And just like the original game featured on this disc, Interlude and After Years have been ported to a new visual style and given your choice of arranged or original music to give them a uniform presentation.

These additions are a mixed blessing. After Years is definitely the real attraction between them, taking place roughly two decades after the main game and featuring a mix of both new and returning characters. Combined with updated game mechanics such as ’Band Attacks’ that let related characters do special techniques together and plenty of time having passed for things to change within the highly detailed world of Final Fantasy IV, the stage would seem to be set for an amazing sequel. Unfortunately, Interlude and After Years suffer from wildly erratic quality both in terms of RPG design and plot. At their best, they can have segments that are creative and genuinely touching, with characters as memorable as those in the main game. There are definitely enough of these high points to make After Years worth going through, and there truly are times where it proves to be a real sequel to a classic.

On the other hand, several characters are poorly developed and some events in both the Interlude and After Years segments are ripped right out of the main game; you go through the same areas, fight the same enemies and bosses, and sometimes even have nearly the same plot twists occur. Done in moderation this would be a fine nod to nostalgia for long-time FFIV players, but these incidents often take it too far and become outright lazy writing. For every great segment that adds depth to a character, there is another section where the events are ridiculous or the game expects you to have read a strategy guide; there are several places where it’s possible to permanently lose a character (or cripple their primary skill) unless you know exactly what to do. Thankfully, the much lower price point compared to other After Years distributions makes this rough ride much easier to tolerate; it wouldn’t be worth $50 on its own, but as part of a $30 compilation it is far more reasonable.

This leaves Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection in an interesting place. It retails for $30 USD, which I like to think of as paying $14 for one a very good version of one of the best RPGs of all time, another $14 for a sequel that greatly varies in quality (yet I can still see paying $14 for), and $2 more for an admittedly underwhelming Interlude chapter. The good significantly outweighs the bad in this package though, and with that in mind I can eagerly recommend it for purchase if you’re interested in seeing what RPGs from this era were like or are a fan of previous FFIV releases and want a good reason to go through it one more time.

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Our Rating for Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection Review (PSP)
8.5 Replay
Complete Collection offers tons of content, so you’ll be busy for a very long time. There are a few rough sections that aren’t much fun, but there are more than enough good parts to make up for it.
7.0 Graphics
All segments of the game have been redone in one consistent art style that holds true to the spirit of the original, and certainly looks decent without being ’too modern’ for a classic game.
8.0 Sound
Final Fantasy IV’s soundtrack is one of the best in the genre, with tunes that convey several themes; optimism, heroic adventure, danger, sadness, and more. The only disappointment here is the lack of voice acting from the DS remake.
7.5 Gameplay
Old-school ’semi-real time, semi-turn based’ RPG combat still works well today, and the main game is top-notch. The Interlude and After Years segment don’t hold up quite as well, however.
0.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
N/A; this is a single-player game.
8.0 Overall
A true classic receives what may be its definitive edition; long-time fans and those curious about 90s era RPGs would do well to pick it up.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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