Final Fantasy IV DS

January 11, 2013 12:26am
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Because it seemed like I needed yet another reason to put off the things that I’m actually supposed to be doing, I used some leftover Best Buy rewards points to pick up an old copy of the Final Fantasy IV port for Nintendo DS after Christmas. As previously noted on this blog, I love this game and have been eager to give a go of the DS version – whose cut scenes I’ve been ogling via YouTube for quite some time! – but after a few hours of actual game time, it saddens me that I think I’m actually up in the air as to whether I’ll be playing this version all the way through or not…

My Likes:

  • The new rewards screen after each battle does a much better job of summarizing your loot, and also showing how much XP each character still needs to level. Same with leveling up – the breakdown of how your stats are improving is great.
  • The auto-mapping feature in dungeons is neat, although more than once I’ve actually caught myself just playing off the map and not even looking at the regular game screen with the real graphics. The bonuses for completing each map are kinda cool, too, though having played through the game so many times, I’m not sure why exploring every nook and cranny is worth 5 potions or whatever! Maybe it’s the unknown that it could be something even better…
  • The cut scenes, obviously, are great, even though I think by now I’ve probably watched nearly all of them on YouTube. Also, is it just me or do some of the videos look a little grainy, even on the DS’s paltry 256×192 pixel display???

My Dislikes:

  • The battle screen doesn’t show max HP and MP – this seems like a HUGE flaw to me!!! Am I just supposed to remember that Cecil has 550 HP so that I don’t start panicking until he falls below 200?! Same with magic – I’m typically more conservative with magic users because I like to save their spells up until I really need them, but A) they feel even more useless than usual in this version without them, and B) there’s no good way to know how many uses I have left at this point anyways. Seriously, this one point alone is almost a deal-breaker for me because it just seems mind-bogglingly stupid to not show 453 / 550 HP on one of the two screens.
  • Likewise, the battle screen also doesn’t make it real clear who we’re fighting when we jump into battle, either! I’m used to a nice stat bar on the bottom that shows them on one side and us on the other side, and instead the DS version gives me loads of sort of pretty graphics on top and crap on the bottom. Sure, it tells me who they are when I select them, but I feel like they could be using the dual-screens a lot better during combat than they currently do with this game.
  • Warp – the spell – is really dumb. And granted, maybe I didn’t use it that much in the other versions to know if it performed this exact same way, but the way I always understood it – Exit (white magic) takes you all the way out of a dungeon, whereas Warp (black magic) takes you up a floor … meaning if I’m on the 3rd floor of the Antlion’s den, I should be back at the surface after 3 uses of warp. NOPE – TRY 15 USES!!! Because now warp takes you to the previous floor you were on, meaning if I duck back and forth between floors grabbing treasure, warp has me bouncing back and forth just the same. It’s stupid.
  • Quick Save isn’t really quick. I guess I’m just spoiled with how they implemented this for the original Final Fantasy on the iPhone port because you can literally save anywhere at anytime because that’s really important on mobile devices today, and the iPhone app does it very fast and efficient. For FFIV on the DS, though, Quick Save actually expects me to be quitting the game, as opposed to maybe I just want to put the game down for a second, or save before the big boss because this version is so much harder than it used to be! And granted, FFIV/DS came out in 2008 whereas FF/iPhone was released in 2011, but it’s still frustrating…

I find it interesting that they up’ed the difficulty on this game without any added incentives on the positive side – I mean, I never thought that the game was overly challenging, but as a budding 12 year-old playing RPGs for the first time I certainly didn’t think that the game was a pushover, either! Of the handful of hours that I’ve put into the DS version the last couple of nights, I’ve had to restart from a save point twice because the entire party had gotten killed … and we were just leveling. Maybe I’d expect that sort of thing if I was powering through because I’ve played it a thousand times and just want to experience the graphics in each area, but that certainly wasn’t the case – both times I was just wandering around the desert or the waterfall cave trying to boost my numbers, both times with just Cecil and Rydia, and we just got absolutely flattened because everyone took out Rydia in, like, 3 hits and then just dog-piled on Cecil after that.

I’m admittedly also not quite as excited about the graphics as I was from watching the cut scenes – ultimately I think I enjoyed the 16-bit graphics that they lent to the original on the iPhone for that port a lot more than the 3D effects that are in the everyday gameplay here. I’m sure the screen doesn’t help – I mean, 640×960 (iPhone 4) vs. 256×192 (Nintendo DSi) is a huge difference and there’s only so much you can expect from that tiny screen, but the more I get into it, kind of the less I’m getting into it with all of these types of limitations.

I’m sure I’ll give it a little more time, at least until arguably my favorite part where Cecil fights to become a paladin, but it’s really going to have to pick up if it wants to take me all the way to the moon and back this time around…  🙁

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