Final Fantasy IV and my Beginnings

Back then however it was Final Fantasy II.  It was the first of the series I remember playing, even before I had played the original on the Super Nintendo predecessor.  This game escalated to the top of my favorites list.  The tale of the Dark Knight who finds salvation, betrayal and salvation of his best friend, the love of his life at his side and the friends who come along the way, risking everything to save the world from a growing darkness.  This was the kind of story I yearned for.  Many stories, even til now have been compared to this one.

When I lost my original copy I was relatively devastated, even through lost is quite the appropriate term, when you left them at a friends house, expecting to get them back the next week and than never seeing them again.  After 1996 I wouldn’t play the game again until I moved into my first apartment five years later.  And then it was to the disappointment of my roommates, whom at this point could not appreciate the whistling I did along with the music I had not heard in a long time, which was loudly and constantly, throughout the entire duration of play.  The soundtrack was a masterwork of acoustic beauty that satisfied the emotional needs of the story.  As much as I loved the game, I felt there was something missing.  It wasn’t a matter of thinking I could have done better than the original creators.  No, this was something else.  Aside from the naming conventions, in which America got offset numbers to the series to add continuity in place of the entries into the series that were not ported to us at the time, localization also changed or lost context.

Long after the fractured relationship with between Square and Nintendo, was the release of the Nintendo DS.  It wasn’t just a re-release, it was a redesign and re-fulfillment if you will, of the story that was always one of my personal favorites.  Mechanics were improved, visuals were moved from 2D to 3D.  Minutiae within the overall story were cleaned up and smoothed out and cut scenes with voice overs were added for pivotal moments of the game.  This is the game we are going to be reviewing.  I had once owned it on the DS, but the same version has been released recently on Steam.

One of the first things noticeable, is there is a bit of an increased difficulty in comparison to the original, offering a refreshing challenge.  Most of the characters were given added abilities that were not in the original to help add new life and individualize each characters so they were not carbon copies in areas where they may have ad the same abilities, like happens in the job class based systems of III and V.  You will want to take the time to gauge the difficulty of an area and use that to get an idea of where you want to be level wise and take the time to level up as necessary.  Dungeons do not invoke a sense of dread, or the desire to just get it done as the mechanics and aesthetics are fulfilling.

There is a certain strategy that has to be assessed when fighting monsters, configuring your tool bars to make spells accessible quicker.  The augment system, which allows the assigning and / or reassigning of certain abilities to other characters.  If you haven’t played it, we definitely recommend it.  If you played the original, we highly recommend taking a swim in the remake, with everything from the new computer generated cinematic intro, right down to the character cut scenes that bring characters you remember to life in a way that you may never have thought they would.  It fully captures the original while at the same time making improvements.

We give it a 9/10 including mechanics, controls, story and presentation.

Delve into the story of Cecil Harvey, the Dark Knight, Captain of the Red Wings of Baron, as he decides to disobey his king fight back against the darkness that is growing in the world.  Along the way, meet a rich, ensemble cast of those who choose to take a stand, and those that want power and control.

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