Friday, December 28, 2007

Final Fantasy IV DS remake impressions

I had the chance to play an import copy of Final Fantasy IV remake whilst everyone was off away in London burdening their credit cards further. Played for 2-3 hours before turning it off just after I saved Rosa. I will wait for the localised version and I suggest everyone else to do so too. Here are my impressions from my limited play through:
  • Game is on top screen.
  • Didn't like the new logo. Seriously prefer Kain.
  • Dungeon maps has percentage value, like in Star Ocean 3. Getting 100% will produce bonus goods.
  • Battle frame rates are lower than FF III DS due to increased amount of characters on screen. Polygon counts are lowered because of this.
  • You can't zoom in the camera like in FF III DS.
  • Fixed side perspective for battle with nice pre-rendered background.
  • Intro FMV is encoded in a much lower bitrate with huge macro blocks so visible. I don't care for them so it isn't a huge loss. Might as well scrap it from the Westernised version and use the extra space for better textures or increased sound quality.
  • Cut scenes are rendered in real time using polygonal models and are very nice.
  • Speaking of cut scenes, these are very well directed. On par with Final Fantasy XII. This isn't surprising as the storyboard cut scenes were done by Yoshinori Kanada, key animator in such fine anime films like Mononoke-Hime and Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind.
  • Voice acting is superb though are restricted to 'important scenes'.
  • There is an Auto-battle mode with one gambit(?).
  • Difficulty seems higher than the last version I played (FF IV Advance), no doubt compounded by my lack of Japanese reading skills handicap as well as increased enemy stats.
  • Enemies are far more aggressive, picking on low-level Rydia. Could this really be a remake of the fabled original Super Famicom version (none EasyType)?
  • Loading time of 2-3 seconds FTL.
  • Rydia doesn't start with level 1. Instead she joins in with a calculated level based on Cecil's. She was level 7 on mine with some white and black magic and two summons (Chocobo and Pochika).
  • I have no idea what Pochika is or does, but it costs a bucket load of MPs to summon and so far isn't terribly useful. It looks like a Kodama from Mononoke-Hime.
  • The soundtrack seems to have been re-arranged. The Red Wings theme is majestic.
  • The original generic towns from previous versions are replaced with themed towns. Desert town Kaipo for example has middle-eastern architecture.
  • Rosa is hot.
  • Kain looks like Batman. And sounds like Batman too.
  • Boss fights are harder. Expect plenty of grinding. >.<
  • The game has three save slots and one quick save slot for quick gaming in the bus.
  • Thought bubbles materialised above a character's head when accessing the menu. If only I understood what they are...
  • You can change your avatar. So I use Rydia instead of Cecil, at least until I got Rosa.
  • There is a new Decant Ability System where party members can use an ability from previous party members who has left, but I have no idea yet how.
  • Like FF III DS, touch screen controls are *optional*. A huge plus in my books as I still prefer face buttons. Learn from that Nintendo.
  • Graphics aren't that amazing with minimal polygons, but there are subtle improvements such as shadows on character's body during cut scenes and better quality textures.
  • Facial expressions are amazing. Eyes blink, mouth moves etc.
  • Cecil still sleeps with his armour and helmet on...
And finally:
  • The dancers strips into bikinis and are more provocative here. Huzzah!
I do hope that some sort of code optimisation will be done to speed up the game, because right now I find the loading screens are annoying. I also happen to enjoy the voice acting but have a deep feeling that Square-Enix will replace them with English voices. Anyway as far as localisation is concerned, hurry up S-E. The increased in difficulty is a huge plus in my books and this alone makes this remake the definitive version of the game. No doubt plenty of reviewers will be complaining about the difficulty, though not me as I love it. Seems that reviewers are getting soft with modern RPG titles that holds your hands throughout the game (glares at Final Fantasy X).

Anyway sucks that I have to leave the game and return it to its original owner. But giant Mechs in S-E's tactical-RPG title Front Mission 1st should keep me occupied for now.


Adrian said...

I hope it is the original difficulty level. I played the original on the PS and seriously, the difficulty level is just right - challenging and satisfying without feeling tiresome in an out-of-date old-skool kind of way. IV Advance just didn't feel the same.

I'm not too bothered about the lower bitrate of the FMV since FMV isn't really the DS's strong point and I'm getting the soundtrack with DVD anyway. Hope I like the redone music...

I suspect the Western voice-acting will be shit, but never mind. I also doubt the quality of the graphics will improve - looking at the developers' blog it seems they were pushing the DS with III and there are more enemies and characters at a time in VI. Presumably something had to give. Can't wait for the Western version.

Jon said...

I did not know that the PS1 version was based on the SFC version. If so time to hunt for it again. Weird as both the PS1 and GBA versions were ported by TOSE...

Now if they only get Michael Keaton to voice act Kain. He does look like Batman...

Adrian said...

My copy of the soundtrack arrived yesterday. Packaging is lovely. The new arrangements stand up pretty well next to the originals, there's only 2-3 tracks which aren't anywhere near as good. A fair few tracks are a little bit better. Can't wait for this to come out in the West.

Kosmos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.