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Final Fantasy IV: The After Years review

Decent
AT A GLANCE
  • Fan service with a smile
  • Cool to see old characters again
  • Tastefully updated graphics
  • Way too expensive
  • Story feels fragmented
  • Far too many random battles

Bah +10! A pox upon Square Enix and their unquenchable thirst for WiiWare micro-transactions, because they’ve gone and hobbled something that could’ve been quite special here. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is fan service with a smile; less a true sequel to FFIV and more a ‘where are they now?’ update set 17 years after the original. Needless to say, those who enjoyed FFIV will be in their element here. Look at elderly Cid with his little white beard! My, hasn’t Palom grown up? And so on.

Then there are the more subtle touches, such as the gentle remixing of the original’s locations and musical scores, and they way the (tastefully updated) graphics revert to 16-bit form during flashbacks. It’s a touching update that’s utterly awash with heartwarming nostalgia; it’s just a shame that it’s been needlessly spread out over nine different ‘episodes’ totaling 3,700 points. Its heart is in the right place, but we don’t really want to keep shelling out for pints of blood to pump into it.

The initial 800-point outlay will buy you a short (six hours is pushing it) adventure that focuses on the trials and tribulations of Cecil and Rosa’s teenage son, Ceodore, who is training to become a Red Wing. The game design is defiantly and deliberately old-school, but with far fewer spikes in difficulty (a notorious feature of olden-days Final Fantasy games), which means less backtracking and less enforced leveling-up.

The battle system will seem primitive to those weaned on the flashier offerings of today, but there are several largely successful attempts at making it feel more contemporary. These include additions such as the ‘Band’ system which enables party members to combine forces in a similar vein to Chrono Trigger’s Techs, and moon phases that affect the effectiveness of your moves.

Once that’s out of the way you can invest in any one of seven side stories for 300 points a pop, each one concerning a different character from the original FFIV (including Rydia, Parom, Palom and Yang), and each playable direct from the main menu. Every story is independent of the others, which means it’s not necessary to buy the complete set and you can cherry-pick the ones that feature the characters you like the most – or whom you fancy a little bit. This is probably the best way to get value for money from the package, although in order to complete the game outright, you’ll have to splash another 800 points on the game’s final chapter. Surely that’s enough points now, Square?

A good game is still a good game regardless of its price, but FFIV: The After Years’ narrative is needlessly fragmented due to Square’s decision to split the full game up into lots of expensive little chunks. Factor in the fact that large swathes of the story will be all but unintelligible to newcomers, and you’ve got an experience that’s best left for the hardcore.

Jul 6, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jun 01 2009 - Wii (US)
Jun 01 2009 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Matrix Software
Franchise: Final Fantasy
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Alcohol Reference, Mild Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:
7+

6 comments

  • Harmon20 - August 11, 2009 2:20 p.m.

    I was debating about getting this before I read this article. Thanks for making me realize how much of a marketing gimmick it is...
  • Starplatinum - July 7, 2009 10:55 p.m.

    @GamesRadarBrettElston I've been dying to hear you talk about this one on TDar and was expecting you to maybe be the one to review it. I keep thinking "maybe it's worth the price?" But I am glad I have perspective now. Sad face = Sad Panda
  • Ravenbom - July 7, 2009 4:57 p.m.

    Isn't this a port of a mobile game in Japan? Was it really this pricey in Japan?
  • SolidSpartan - July 8, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    Yeah I didn't read the article, but it's nice posting comments when there isn't about 40 of them. Oh, and go ahead and remove my comment if you choose to...(Please don't.) C:>
  • zayleffein - July 7, 2009 2:07 a.m.

    I am quite a FF fan myself, and I feel like they could have just thrown all of the episodes on this game into a DS cart and sold it for 40 bucks. But instead they plug more crap into Wiiware than necessary, bloating their dlc menu with more so-so content than you could possibly ever desire to pay for. Shame on you Nintendo. I refuse to buy your motion controlled marketing machine! (Unless the new Metroid is badass enough to make me do it against my will)
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - July 7, 2009 12:16 a.m.

    As the world's biggest FFIV fan, I can't hate this game more. Even wanting to love it, the constant random battles and overpriced delivery are too much to justify even my fanboy goggles. Sad face!

Showing 1-6 of 6 comments

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