When I first learned that Wii was going to put out a sequel to what I have personally deeemed “The most influential video game of my life.” I was astonished and brimming with excitement! Final Fantasy IV was a game which set the foundations for modern role playing games. However, the series, Final Fantasy, is now known for their graphics than say gameplay or story. Final Fantasy IV certainly never had the gorgeous graphics of a modern role playing game so they compensated by bringing a simple story of a knight into a gorgeous piece of work. Each character in Final Fantasy IV was nuanced and interesting, they all had a reason to fight, and often times they fought side by side out of desperation rather than a general fondness for one another. The idea that I might see what became of my beloved characters filled me with such joy when I saw this trailer:
When I say “My beloved characters” I mean that literally. When I was young I spent ours of my youth perfecting each character, even ones I didn’t like, so that they were literal gods amongst monsters and men. I mainly remember getting them to their highest level and then spending hours upon hours fighting for a lame item that could only be gained in the final dungeon. The item could be exchanged for the best armor in the game, and while most people never obtained one of these armors I spent hours obtaining five. Needless to say, I have since always felt a special bond with those characters.
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years showed a lot of promise. The soundtrack and look of the game is still very much the same. I actually found myself singing along with the soundtrack, which is something I used to do as a child. The characters that I loved all make a return appearance, even the dead ones, and it was so nice to see what became of The Blue Planet once peace had returned to the land. This peace is something all of the characters had come to love and expect so long as King Cecil, the main character of the original game, was on the throne. So when Cecil’s Kingdom starts to act a little funny, the other characters worry, but are still not willing to doubt Cecil who they personally fought with for the sake of the planet.
I have to say, having been in love with each of these characters all of their reactions felt absolutely perfect. Of course none of the original characters would believe Cecil was capable of doing anything bad, and certainly no one could conquer the knight who was the leader in saving the world! Of course…they are wrong. Even against Cecil’s amazing power, albeit drastically diminished from my orginal SNES cartridge game, there is always someone more powerful. I attribute the loss of levels and powerful weapons to the fact that peace has reigned for about 20 years, and people get older. So it was fun to see the heroes of the past and the hereos of the present unite to fight a new super power that threatens the peace of the planet.
So this review is mainly a love letter to the idea of this game, but it is not without criticisms! The biggest criticism is the way in which you play the game. You purchase individual characters tales, the first being 800 wii point and each other tale for about 3oo wii points, and the final tale another 800 wii points. This puts the total cost of the game at about $40.00 dollars over all, but I am not a big fan of getting the game piece by piece. None of the tails in and of themselves are very long, and once beaten the additional “Challenge Dungeons” are easily mastered with some careful leveling. Some tails are also just more interesting than others, but because I have time to waste till they put out the final installment I find myself playing them just to complete every possible thing. Whereas this is something I would certainly do, I enjoyed the freedom the original game gave to do so on my own time. Sure there were things that were time sensitive, but at least the characters were able to travel around the world a bit more. The fact that your characters barely get to personally pilot an airship during the entire game is incredibly annoying. Some of us would have loved to see the world a bit more from each characters perspective. I understand that doing so would ruin the way these tails only intersect when the narrative permits, but it still would have been nice.
The game also features are rather restrictive level cap. I’m not saying I am going to level my characters up in these areas far greater than the cap provides, but since I am forced to continue to fight battles to get the extras I am annoyed that I am wasting experience that I will need later. It was also annoying because certain characters did not learn all of their spells because they were not a high enough level. This kind of annoyed me as it meant I couldn’t use strategies from my old days as well.
Still, I am glad this game exists. I have already spent more time on it than I should have! I just hope that once the final installment is released my extra work will pay off.