Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection Review
Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection Box Art
System: PSP
Dev: Square Enix
Pub: Square Enix
Release: April 19, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes
Two Generations of Final Fantasy IV
by Becky Cunningham

Square Enix knows that its early Final Fantasy games are very popular, and seems committed to porting the first four games to just about every platform imaginable. Originally found on the Super Nintendo, Final Fantasy IV has also appeared on the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and several other platforms. The After Years, a series of episodic adventures set after the end of the original game, was recently created and sold on the Wii Shop Channel as well. Now, Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection brings the GBA version to the PSP, with completely redone graphics, remixed sound, and with The After Years bundled in as well. It's a much better deal than buying The After Years episodes individually on the Wii, but how does this FF IV version hold up?

Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection Screenshot

Final Fantasy IV is the story of Cecil, who begins the game as a dark knight under the service of a king who raised him like a son, but has lately become tyrannical and violent. Throughout the original adventure, Cecil, his girlfriend Rosa, and his best friend Kain must travel the world, fighting against both a mysterious enemy and the darkness within themselves. On the way, Cecil makes new friends and allies in a cast of characters that rotates in and out of the party throughout the game. It's a story of friendship, sacrifice, and redemption, told in brief skits between spurts of exploration and dungeon crawling. Despite a distinct lack of the emotion-laden cut scenes found in modern Final Fantasy games, the story is compelling due to the varied and likeable cast of characters. The plot itself isn't groundbreaking, but most players will find themselves wanting to see the adventure to its end for the sake of those characters. The main Final Fantasy IV story takes 15-20 hours to complete, but there is a large amount of optional content that can be used to power up the characters and extend the length of the game considerably.

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The Complete Collection also contains the Final Fantasy IV Interlude, which sets the scene for the adventure to come, and The After Years, a series of adventures set seventeen years after the end of IV. It stars the cast of Final Fantasy IV, along with the children of the older cast members. The returning characters must face a familiar threat from the first game, while the next generation deals with breaking away from the protection of their parents and following their own dreams. After completing "Ceodore's Tale," the first After Years story, players will be able to select from a number of scenarios, playing them in any order they choose. Each scenario stars a particular character from the main Final Fantasy IV game, and once these scenarios have been completed, the final scenarios that complete The After Years storyline will be unlocked.

Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection Screenshot

The After Years is a treat for fans of the original game, who have the chance to continue the story of the original characters and see how their lives have played out. The world has changed a bit, and while there aren't a ton of completely new areas to explore, there are new dungeons, and many existing dungeons have been altered or added to. In later scenarios, players will start to see a better mix of new and old content. Mostly, however, The After Years is about giving players more Final Fantasy IV, from the characters to the world and the battle system.

The After Years is a treat for fans of the original game, who have the chance to continue the story of the original characters and see how their lives have played out. The world has changed a bit, and while there aren't a ton of completely new areas to explore, there are new dungeons, and many existing dungeons have been altered or added to. In later scenarios, players will start to see a better mix of new and old content. Mostly, however, The After Years is about giving players more Final Fantasy IV, from the characters to the world and the battle system.

Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection Screenshot

Beyond the shared basic battle system, FFIV DS made changes such as cranking up the difficulty level of the game a fair amount and adding an ability system that allowed for character customization, but was obtuse and almost required using a FAQ in order to avoid being too underpowered by the end of the game. In contrast, FFIV Complete Collection sticks with the older-style ability system from the Game Boy Advance version. Each character comes with a special ability, such as Cecil's Cover ability that protects another party member, or Kain's dragoon Jump attack. All special attacks and spells are learned naturally as characters level up, and there is no character customization. While it's true that this simpler system makes melee attackers less interesting to use in battle than spellcasters, it also makes the game far less frustrating and more natural to play. There's no need to pixel hunt or worry about missing a vital item that will be necessary for a powerful attack at the end of the game. FFIV Complete Collection has a gentler difficulty curve then the DS version as well. The game starts off almost too easy, but gradually ramps up the difficulty as it goes on, and players will still face some very nasty foes in the last few dungeons. The good news is that level grinding is rarely needed in Complete Collection, as any time there is a difficulty jump in the game, there is optional content available for leveling and gear-upgrading purposes.

Screenshots / Images
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