Square-Enix has been coy about the possibility of a Final Fantasy VII remake for years and years, but the developer certainly isn’t shy about rehashing Final Fantasy IV. Initially brought to North America as ‘Final Fantasy II,’ Final Fantasy IV has been re-released several times with everything from small tweaks to complete overhauls. Final Fantasy IV for iOS is interesting because it’s a series of tweaks applied to an overhaul. Thankfully, the final product is far more solid than the disappointing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy iOS release.
Final Fantasy IV iOS is essentially a port of the re-imagined Final Fantasy IV that came to the Nintendo DS in 2007. Gone are squashed sprites and the fixed, top-down camera; in its place are 3D character models, animated battles, rendered cinema scenes, and voice acting. The game’s cast and story should still be familiar, however: The narrative follows the Dark Knight Cecil (his voice is actually quite melodious, no gravelly growling to be found here) as he seeks redemption for the terrible acts he’d performed under his increasingly-corrupt king. Eventually, he’s pulled into a much bigger plot that involves an evil dude named Golbez who’s bent on destroying the world.
I don’t care how depressed you are, Cecil. No shoes on the bed.
The plot for Final Fantasy IV is endearingly basic and straightforward, though the voice actors and the localization really ham things up. Still, the game’s presentation is top-notch. The iOS version features smoothed-out character models and touched-up backgrounds, though you’re still going to notice some low polygon counts on the main cast. The enemies look wonderful, however.
It’s interesting that Square-Enix chose to port the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy IV to iOS instead of a more traditional version like Complete Collection for the PSP. The Nintendo DS iteration of Final Fantasy IV is excellent, and it presents the beloved RPG from a whole new perspective– which is part of the reason why it’s such a divisive game amongst Final Fantasy IV fans. It’s notoriously difficult, and is engineered to mess with people that think they’ve got the original game’s patterns all figured out
But it seems that Square-Enix heard the wails of the fanbase, because Final Fantasy IV iOS lets you select a difficulty level (finally– the US of A has its own ‘Easytype’ version of Final Fantasy IV!). Enemies still execute tricky counter-attacks and bosses follow potentially devastating patterns, but they also seem to have fewer hit points if you select the easier difficulty level.
Might as well jump (Jump!).
Another iOS touch-up is the inclusion of Game Center Achievements, which dole out recognition according to (among other things) how many enemies you kill. Hey Cecil, just because you don’t want to celebrate your blood-stained history as a Dark Knight doesn’t mean the rest of us have to weep along with you.
The adjustments to Final Fantasy IV iOS are small, but significant– and definitely welcome. They make an already great game a little more accessible. Even though the 3D environments aren’t very traditional, this is still a good title for Final Fantasy IV newbies to jump in on; they can approach the oldschool battles with a fresh pair of eyes while the rest of us waste our time casting Wall to protect ourselves from Bahamut’s MegaFlare attack.