It’s no secret that Square Enix has whored themselves out with remaking their older games, and multiple times at that. This latest incarnation makes me scratch my head though. Outside of the lame augment system, I was very pleased with the DS remake that featured 3D graphics. It had solid voice acting, good graphics, and maintained the difficulty level that some versions shied away from. So it confuses me as to why a more powerful system, the PSP, goes back to the very old 2D graphics style for Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, and forgets about all the cool voice acting that was added in the DS remake. But onwards with the review.
A HERO'S QUEST
Two Games in One - While many fans have already played Final Fantasy IV in some way, the best bonus in this collection is The After Years, a follow up sequel that chronicles the world of FFIV with Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa as the main character many years after the first game. It was previously only available on the Wii’s Virtual Console, so it’s nice to have the game in portable form.
The Midquel - Entirely new here is a story that takes place between the first game and the After Years called Interlude. It manages to hold its own with the rest of the game, and fleshes out some of the new characters introduced in the sequel.
Challenge - If you love grinding or getting stomped by a bad encounter, you’ll love this game. Maybe I’m over exaggerating a little, but don’t expect the coddling that the more modern Final Fantasy's have. But not always being to sit back and mindlessly put in the same commands keeps you on your toes.
THE BIG BAD
Do we really? - Is another enhanced version of FFIV necessary? Seriously, FFVI is in serious need of some love, because it’s only ever seen straight ports.
Step Backwards - The DS remake presented the first real remake of the classic game. The script got a major overhaul to accommodate fully voiced scenes, and it had great voice acting to boot. I guess the main reason why this collection stuck with 2D was so that it didn’t clash with the sequel and new midquel. Granted, FFIV was updated to look the same as the After Years, but even then, it feels more like a loss than a gain.
The Moon Cycles - In order to attempt to tack on depth to the rather rudimentary (by today’s standards) battle system of Final Fantasy IV, the moon cycles affect the strength of magic and physical attacks. While it seems neat at first, it becomes a pain when you want to use an inn or a tent to heal your party (and with ethers being insanely expensive, it’s always cheaper to use one of the two) and end up changing the moon cycle. Every cycle affects something negatively, and it just becomes annoying to have to keep track of it (because the game fails to tell you what is affected until you enter a battle). Worse yet, your buffs affect the monsters too, so while you may do more damage with your sword, so will the ogre trying to smash you with his club.
There’s only one real reason (maybe one and a half if you consider Interlude) to buy Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, and that's if you haven’t played The After Years. And if you haven’t played Final Fantasy IV before, I would recommend the DS version over this, simply because of the awesome cut scenes in that iteration. The After Years is a nice follow up, but not exactly the greatest game around. While it’s nice to see a direct sequel in the old school style much like Mega Man 9 and 10, it only shows how dated Final Fantasy IV really is. Still, the tried and true makes for a decently fun romp.