And here I thought IV told the story.
Final Fantasy IV has been so popular over the years that Square-Enix apparently thought they needed to expand upon it, telling the stories of the original's notable characters after their initial adventure. I don't understand why that's necessary, but hell, it was one of the greatest games in history. Why not give SE the chance to build upon it? After all, Crisis Core was a look back on the events before Final Fantasy VII, so a look forward may not be so bad either.
[image1]FFIV has had not one but two new releases to flesh out its greater story in the past few years: Interlude and The After Years. The After Years showed up on Wiiware not too long ago, while Interlude was a Japan-only cell phone tie-in. It's cool that these tie-ins had been given the classic-look treatment (both using the same assets used to make FFIV), but they're still only slightly higher quality than before… twenty years before. Classic lover though I am, I was hoping for more of a facelift. The music isn't even notable; while I did listen to it at some points, I went back to my mp3s of the original tunes more often than not.
Interlude is new to American players, and there's a reason it wasn't ported here earlier: It's a short and disappointing holdover. Playing the same characters with the same spells, as well as starting at level 30, just screams "cash-in". It's cool to have some new material to carry over into TAY but it's not much of a connecting point, and I've yet to hear anyone actually care about continuing the storyline any further.
As for TAY, nothing excited me. After all, it's the exact same world—again—and with individual characters instead of the old team. Because it's broken up into smaller stories, each character gets at least some time to be fleshed out, but only a few of them are interesting enough to care about. The most disappointing thing about it, though, is that it feels thrown together for the sake of being thrown together; most of the familiar characters are simply teamed with unnamed figures in their respective chapters. Edward gets some guards literally named Guard A, Guard B, and Guard C; Ceodore, Cecil and Rosa's son, fights alongside the renowned casters known as White Mage and Black Mage. They're all just filler so that the team is slightly more balanced (if at all).
[image2]Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the presentation is… well, under-cooked. Comparing this to a re-release like Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, FFIV just isn't up-to-snuff, and—even more telling—comparing it to itself with the DS remake is a joke. Instead of botox, it's rubbed in some drug-store knockoff cream. Appearances are important in a revival such as this, and SE has a great rep when it comes to making pretty stuff, but the ball wasn't just dropped here—it's in another stadium. There is a gallery of artwork to unlock as you play through, with some character sketches from both the original design team and TAY, but it's just a bunch of nice pictures with no stories or anything behind them.
FFIV is still the same ol' game, as classic and playable as ever, but SE expecting you to pay for it once again (along with the joke that is Interlude and the hit-or-miss After Years) is outright greedy. They're not even doing anything really new with this one, unlike the 3D remake for the DS. A small bit of polish has been added to the world, but it's less like a professional polishing a car and more like someone's mom spit into a tissue to clean a smudge off of her kid's face. I hate saying that stuff, mind you; Final Fantasy IV really is one of the greatest games of all time, arguably the most influential game of the RPG genre, and it's still totally playable today. Just know that absolutely nothing new is brought to the table here.