Sentimental Sunday: Saving The Blue Planet in Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy has always been a very inspired series, bringing fantastic stories combined with marvelous art and original music that has both exhilarated us and helped to motivate other developers to improve their own, then, paltry attempts at a soundtrack. Just as with all great series, though, it had a humble beginning that was started as more of a cult following before gaining the world-wide attraction it enjoys today.
Final Fantasy IV, or II for those of us that remember its original release, was among the finest in the series. It introduced a lot of the lore and iconic concepts that have become staples of the series. It was also the first Final Fantasy game that I played in my own childhood, so it has a special place in my heart.
This isn't a normal sentimental Sunday, as this is a remaster of an original because the original was unavailable for me to play. The underlying game, however, is the same. So we'll take a look at how well the story has aged with the addition of a makeover on top of it. Does it still inspire like it did those 24 long years ago? Did the remaster do it justice? And finally, should we truly be excited for the sequel, Final Fantasy IV The After Years, that's coming out later this month?
Exploring the Blue Planet in Final Fantasy IV
Starting this up for the first time was an interesting conundrum. The excitement of starting a childhood favorite was abruptly interrupted by the startling difference in graphics. It's a remaster, but even then this remaster isn't for the PC, but instead is a port of the version made for the Nintendo DS. And frankly, it looks awkward. I'd even say that the original 2D sprites against the beautifully drawn backdrop would have been a better match. Thankfully, though, the PC version does have full controller support, which is a definite plus.
The voice acting, while a nice touch, is not very well done and is almost kind of funny. Listening to Kain and Cecil in the beginning I almost couldn't help but laugh. It's a little ridiculous actually.
But it's still oh so good
Let's look past the graphics, though, and take a look inside one of the greatest RPG's of our time. It's the story, after-all, that draws us to the Final Fantasy franchise. The immense mythical narratives that rouses the curiosity in nearly everyone.
The music is remade, but not in some poorly done re-imagined homage. Instead Square Enix has taken the original music and put an orchestra behind it. And it sounds appreciably better than the original. Of course the old soundtrack was great, revolutionary in fact, but this just brings it to a much higher level of greatness.
And it's all intact here, too. The original storyline remains completely intact and untouched by the remaster. The wild character-driven plot still winds a great path. If you can get used to the new graphics then it actually plays quite well. Replaying the adventures of Cecil while he gets together an unlikely band of heroes as he fights Golbez and his forces in order to find all the Crystals so as to stop the destruction of the world. And plot twists abound, with lots of unique locations to visit.
And it's still so incredibly fun. It's fantastically fun. Even though the graphics don't seem really inspire, the game itself is sensational to this day. I've forgotten how suspenseful the random battle intervals can be when you don't know if you have enough potions or ethers to make it. Sometimes you're just so close to the entrance and that disorienting spin just ruins your day. Unless you're lucky enough to be able to run away.
Final Fantasy IV is still what it used to be, and perhaps even more. When I was younger I didn't really pay attention to the dialogue as much as I do now, I really just wanted to get to the action as fast as possible. But now that I'm a bit older, I finally realize just what a treasure this is.
If you've never played the original rendition, then this is a great way to enjoy a classic game remade for the modern day. Even if you've previously stopped Golbez and Zemus from taking control of Earth, then revisiting this adventure is still a fabulous idea.
You may be wondering about that aspect ratio. Well, it turns out that Final Fantasy IV made a fantastic excursion from my daily activities, so it was played on my secondary monitor that was turned vertically. It was a great way to play it.