Title: Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
Developer: Square Enix
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 727 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download
The PlayStation Vita can sometime be considered a Final Fantasy Machine. Many people say this due to the fact that, if you combine the libraries of PSP and PlayStation Classics on PSN, the Vita can house more than a dozen Final Fantasy games, most of them from the main series. With Final Fantasy X HD and Final Fantasy X-2 HD coming as well, the Vita could be a great handheld for fans of that series.
Let’s take a look at Final Fantasy IV, in particular. This game has been through a lot over the years, including releases on six different platforms, along with a sequel that spanned three platforms. In its day, Final Fantasy IV set a lot of rules for 16-bit RPGs and some of those elements are still used in today’s games. Today’s review will be on one of the more recent releases of that game. I present to you the review for Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for PSP and, due to backwards compatibility, the PS Vita.
It’s hard to review Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection as a single game, since it’s technically two games. The Complete Collection contains a graphically updated version of Final Fantasy IV, along with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, and a new chapter that bridges the two games together. It’s more of a complication, similar to some of the HD Collections that have been releasing as of late.
The story of Final Fantasy IV is a story of love and betrayal, known by most fans of Japanese Role-Playing Games. The premise is centered around an Airship Captain, Cecil Harvey. After a raid to obtain a crystal, he is stripped of his rank and sent to unknowingly wipe out a race of people known as Summoners. Soon after, he finds out there is a new Airship Captain in his home land and sets out on a quest to stop them from taking over the world.
Dialogue is very short and to the point. This story was written back in 1991 and RPGs weren’t known for deep, drawn-out stories back then. The game gives you a brief explanation for what’s going on as well as the backgrounds for each of the characters, but it is nothing like now, with long side-quests for each playable character.
In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, we follow the adventures of Cecil’s son, Ceodore. He becomes stranded when he is attacked during a training exercise from the Knights of Baron. With only a mysterious ally with him, he travels to return home and unveil the mystery behind their attackers.
The After Years mirrors the plot of the original in many ways. Some events unfold in a similar manner that the original showed, and a lot of characters, enemies, and bosses return along with new counterparts.
Overall, this compilation’s story is not amazing, but it also is not terrible. It is enjoyable, but not amazing by today’s standards.
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection has one thing that is mostly the same between both games between it, gameplay mechanics. The two games are turn-based RPGs, and they do well at delivering that kind of gameplay.
The games mostly consist of exploring the world map and fighting enemies. You can explore towns to rest at Inns, buy equipment and items, and talk to residents, and you can also leave to find dungeons and progress through the plot. The games are relatively linear, so it’s a relative challenge to get lost and lose sight of where you’re supposed to go.
The battle system is one way the game shines. Final Fantasy IV is one of the only games in the Final Fantasy series that offers battle parties up to five members at a time. As you go into a battle, you use the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. This dictates that everyone has a bar that fills as time passes. When the bar is filled, the character in question can make their action for battle, whether it be attacking the enemy, using an item to heal their comrades, defending, or casting magic.
Magic and Skills are obtained by fighting enemies and leveling up. Each time a battle is won, you get Experience Points from the enemies you defeated and you level up when enough experience is gained. When each character reaches certain levels, they obtain new skills. Each character has a specific skillset, so while one character may learn new magic, others may learn Ninjutsu or songs.
One addition in this compilation is the capability of Auto Battle. Auto Battle is used by pressing the Select Button in the middle of battle. Auto Battle removes control from you and automatically have every character use the last selected command for each of them again and again, through battle and battle until the feature is disabled. The biggest plus is that battle speed time is doubled, making this ideal any time you need to grind for levels.
The After Years retains this method of fighting, but adds a few more things to the mix. For example, Lunar Phases are incorporated into the sequel. This lets each moon phase set rules for battle conditions. One moon phase, for example, decreases physical attack damage, but increases magic damage. Each phase does something different and you need to learn what each phase does to get the most out of each battle you’re taking part in.
Another thing The After Years does differently is how you progress through the story. You still explore towns, dungeons, and the World Map, but The After Years is an episodic game. There are several chapters to the game, each as an episode. Each episode focuses on the stories of different characters. There is an episode that focuses on Rydia, an episode that focuses on Edge, one for Palom, one for Porum, etc. This is due to the fact that the original game was bought in episodes, much like TellTales The Walking Dead game has done recently.
Each episode makes its own save file and its own clear data. Once you clear it, you can go back into that episode and enter the dungeon’s Challenge Dungeon, which is a difficult dungeon with access to extra items and equipment that weren’t available before it was cleared. Everything you gain in these dungeons can be added to your save file. This is important because when you reach the final chapter, all of your save data from the previous chapters are imported and all of your inventories are combined.
Despite the episodic nature of The After Years, this compilation is a lot of fun and, with two RPGs, sure to keep you busy for a long time. Final Fantasy IV can be completed in about 20-25 hours, while The After Years can take anywhere from 30 to 40 hours. Together, this compilation lasts a long time.
Controls are something that are easy in RPGs like this. Since this is a 2D RPG Compilation, the controls aren’t really that extensive. Movement around the map and through the menus (including the battle menu) are done by the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick.
Apart from this, you can use the X button to confirm and select items on menus, while the Circle button returns you to the previous screen. The Start Menu opens the menu, and the Select Button can be pressed in battle to turn on Auto-Battle.
You can enable touch controls, as with any PSP game on the Vita, where you can assign one of the D-Pad or Face Buttons to a corner of the touch screen.
The controls are very simple and not hard to become accustomed to.
The presentation of this compilation is an interesting thing to consider. The game revamped and updated the graphics of both Final Fantasy IV and The After Years, using an engine very similar to the one used for the PSP remakes of Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy II. The good part of this is that every character model and background are perfectly drawn and rendered. There are no jagged edges. For a 2D game, the art and the models look flawless.
There has been a bit of debate over whether this is better than 3D. There is a 3D Remake of Final Fantasy IV available for the Nintendo DS and Mobile platforms. Some favor one over the other. In my opinion, they are very different. For a 2D RPG, this game looks superb. Even games like Disgaea have a few jagged edges, and this game has something those do not.
A bit of a 3D element is thrown into the mix with battle effects. When you launch a magic spell or similar skill, the effect displayed had a 3D effect to it. So, essentially, it looks like you’re launching a 3D effect of fire or ice or a summon against the 2D character models on-screen. It is flashy and looks bright and colorful on the PSP screen.
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection takes one of the classic games in the series, pairs it with its sequel, and offers a compilation that will keep any RPG gamer busy for quite a long time. While it’s not in 3D like the DS and Mobile version of the games, it looks beautiful for what it is and no RPG fan who owns a PSP or Vita should pass it up.
I would rate Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection a 9/10.
- Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy Review (psvitareviews.net)