Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection ReviewLouis Bedigian
Final Fantasy VII may be the most successful turn-based RPG of all time, but for many gamers particularly RPG enthusiasts Final Fantasy IV was the game that changed everything. It was a rich, deep, and epic adventure, one that ushered in a new era of role-playing games with an unrivaled score, an impeccable battle system, and some of the most appealing characters ever featured in a game.
With that in mind, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone that Square Enix would one day decide to continue the world Square Soft introduced to us so many years ago. But it did; when Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was announced, gamers were stunned. At a time when current-gen and next-gen consoles were all the rage, and at a time when people were still asking for a sequel to and/or remake of Final Fantasy VII, no one ever dreamed that Square Enix would take us back to Final Fantasy's simpler days.
The results of the sequel were nearly as rich, deep and epic as the original. Players were quickly whisked away on a journey unlike any other (well, unlike any except for the original Final Fantasy IV). It was a beautiful trip down memory lane, and gave us the perfect excuse to play through the series yes, Final Fantasy IV had now become its own series! all over again.
Earlier this year, Square Enix repackaged the two games, added new features, enhanced the visual presentation, and released Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (FFIV: TCC). While those who already purchased both Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years may have felt it was unnecessary to acquire another version of the two games, many players were eager to get their hands on the ultimate edition of these cherished classics especially now that they were in handheld form. If you were one of those latter players, then you do not need to read any further. But if you skipped out on FFIV: TCC, read on. This, like most RPGs, will eventually be added to the endangered species list, at which point it will be very difficult to purchase a new copy at a fair price. Trust me when I say that FFIV: TCC is not one of those games you will want to hunt for after the fact it is a game you will want to own right now.
Rebuilt specifically for the PlayStation Portable, FFIV: TCC looks great on the PSP's high-resolution screen. Instead of porting the game over using the game's original aspect ratio (4:3, the former standard in television sets all over the world), FFIV: TCC takes full advantage of the 16:9 display offered by Sony's handheld. While this may seem like a minor change in the grand scheme of things, it is a respectable and visually-appealing adjustment that slightly enhances the game's overall appearance. In widescreen, FFIV: TCC can now show an extra portion of the environment whether you are exploring Final Fantasy IV's massive world or engaged in a heated battle sequence.
Even without the widescreen presentation, FFIV: TCC is a great-looking game. But don't be fooled by the Square Enix hype promising a high-definition graphical upgrade. High-definition implies unprecedented beauty visuals that are fit for a 50-inch television set, if not a 40-foot movie theater screen. FFIV: TCC does not look that good. Sorry, Square Enix it never really did. It comes from an era in which video games were still visually simplistic. And while I can appreciate that look (and enjoy seeing it again here), there is nothing high-definition about it.
Musically, however, FFIV: TCC is every bit the breathtaking masterpiece it was nearly 20 years ago. While the aural presentation still relies on its 16-bit roots (read: the audio did not receive a Final Fantasy XIII-caliber upgrade), the music underneath is better than virtually every RPG released in the past 10 years. It will pull you into the experience, tug at your soul, toy with your emotions, and in a way you won't quite expect until it finally happens worm its way into your inner ear so beautifully that you will find yourself humming some of the tunes at work. (To the point where your colleagues might speak up and ask, "Dude, what the heck are you doing!?" Don't say I didn't warn you. If necessary, just tell them you're humming an experimental Foster the People remix you found on SoundCloud.)
Perhaps the one mistake that Square Enix made with the music of FFIV: TCC is that, by re-releasing this game now, the company is unintentionally reminding players of what the Final Fantasy series used to be like you know, before Enix merged with Square. New and returning players alike will experience unparalleled joys while playing through Final Fantasy IV. When the experience ends, however, they'll wonder why Square Enix's newer games cannot even begin to compare to the Final Fantasy games of yesteryear.
But if reminding players of a better time is the only mistake Square Enix made with this particular game, then players can be assured they are in for a treat one that will make you want to set aside your Halloween festivities for a chance to re-enter one of the greatest role-playing games ever made.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.