Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy II returns, this time as a robust role-playing experience for the Nintendo DS.
Square Enix has shown a lot of love for the Nintendo DS, with such games as Final Fantasy III, Heroes of Mana and Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. Well, your choices are about to become even better over the next few months. Later this year, you'll be able to rediscover the magic of the SNES classic Chrono Trigger. For the time being, however, there is Final Fantasy IV. Fans of the original (when it was known as Final Fantasy II on the SNES) should take note, since it's worth checking out again.
In the game, the dark knight Cecil is stripped of his command of the valiant Red Wings, and he chooses to redeem himself by setting out on a journey to the Valley of Mist. There, he teams up with an unlikely ally, a commander by the name of Kain, who breaks apart from his Dragoon group to help Cecil with his cause. From there, the storyline unfolds in a myriad of directions, with some questions having easy answers (such as why the king seeks powerful crystals) and others a little more mind-boggling (such as where the monsters came from).
This isn't just a straight port of Final Fantasy II. Final Fantasy IV utilizes many things that made the original such a classic, along with revitalized 3D visuals, computer generated cut-scenes (animated in the same fashion as Final Fantasy III's) and superb voice acting, bringing personality to each character. You can also assign specific powers to each party using the Augment System, personalizing each one with your own touches so they base their commands on your actions. It sounds somewhat difficult, but there are various special abilities to choose from, making the game easily approachable, even to those who never played it before.
Another aspect worth mentioning is the Active Time Battle system, which puts a twist on the usual techniques in role-playing games. Here, you use timing to your benefit to maximize each character's powers to great effect. There are also several mini-games available, as well as the ability to challenge a fellow player through local Wi-Fi Connection. This gives the game's replay value an added boost.
Best of all, most of the items that made the original such a hit are still intact. The character design looks very good, the Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack is great and the gameplay should be easily recognizable to fans of the original, while also being approachable to newcomers, so be sure to keep an eye out for impressions and our review when the game debuts July 22.