Note: For information on the story, characters, and gameplay of Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger, read our comprehensive vaults--but be warned that they contain heavy spoilers for both games. This review focuses on differences in the Final Fantasy Chronicles editions from the original SNES games.
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I'm playing FFIV and I just got to the part with the Mist Cave and it's filled with mist.
Ports. Say it out loud--it sounds like a dirty word, doesn't it? And for the most part, it is; in the videogame industry, a port has become nearly synonymous with a shoddy attempt to cash in on a game's success, and most knowledgeable gamers avoid them like the plague. It's true that a port is never going to be exactly like the original; fortunately, Square's Final Fantasy Chronicles proves that different can be good. Though not without its share of emulation issues, Square's value-priced collection brilliantly enhances and restores two classic RPGs to like-new status. Whether you consider them childhood favorites or ancient curiosities, the revamped Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger can stand toe-to-toe with anything the modern gaming world has to offer.
Final Fantasy IV is definitely the more improved of the two titles. The original Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo was a translation of the Japanese "Easy Type" version of the game. U.S. fans were treated to a game with slightly easier enemies, visible "secret" passages and less confusing dungeon layouts, and with fewer special skills, weapons, and items. Moreover, the title was translated in the dark ages of Nintendo's censorship policies, and the English text was a Bowlderized nightmare where characters "wished" instead of "prayed," "fell down" instead of "passed out," and cast "White" instead of "Holy." Entire lines of dialogue were also excised or simplified for space limitations. The game is an undeniable classic, but time has made its faults more glaring.
HELLO. I AM CECIL, THE PALADIN.
The new version of Final Fantasy IV fixes all these problems, and more; it is, in a word, a revelation. The missing spells, items, abilities, and difficulty have all been put back in their original place. Though certainly welcome, however, these changes do little to change the core game: it is still Final Fantasy IV, and the characters, plot, and enemies are primarily the same. The most important thing the new localization adds is far more subtle: character. The awkward phrasing of the original translation has been replaced with clear, creative dialogue. Each of the main characters is expertly drawn: Rydia is an insecure child; Palom is a fast-talking punk who cares little for decorum; Edge is a cocksure, arrogant Ninja. The villains are similarly fleshed out: Golbez is coldly menacing, while Rubicant is a perfect, sincere gentleman. The title is also packed with new, subtle nuances; becoming a Dark Knight, for example, now has more clearly deliniated negative repercussions, and Cecil more explicitly shows remorse for his horrific early actions. The new localization restores the game to match the nostalgia-tinged memories: this is Final Fantasy IV the way fans have always felt it should be. Square could have simply rereleased the "Hard Type" game with the original translation, and fans still would have purchased it in droves. A complete retranslation is far beyond what should be expected, and Square should be commended for this commitment to their fans--and to their heritage.
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Princess Luca is a SEXY DWARVE.
For the most part, Final Fantasy IV plays identically to the Super Nintendo original; the U.S. port is significantly improved over the legendarily clunky Japanese original. Key differences include spotty Mode 7 emulation regarding the airship and slightly muffled sound effects. Saving to a memory card can be painfully slow, but a quick save "Memo" feature lets you write game data to memory and continue playing almost instantly.
Chrono Trigger, apparently now part of the Final Fantasy canon, is the other title in the Chronicles collection. As Square's final Super Nintendo to PlayStation port, it is clearly more enhanced. The graphics and sound are much more faithful to the original Super Nintendo version. The game itself has over 15 minutes of new FMV sequences commissioned especially for the remake, as well as a comprehensive Extras mode. Getting one of the game's many endings will unlock sound test songs, a theater full of FMVs, as well as a comprehensive Bestiary, an interactive list of Double and Triple Techs, map and item lists for each time period, and more. Chrono Trigger was already blessed with extensive replay value; the new extras are an overabundance of riches.
But every silver lining has a cloud, and Chrono Trigger's emulation issues are easily the more serious of the two titles. While Final Fantasy IV's battles come up just as quickly as the original Super Nintendo's, Chrono Trigger's are marred by a second or two of loading. It's not anything game-destroying, but it's enough to disorient fans who are familiar with the Super Nintendo version's instant battles. Menus are also curiously slow, and simply equipping and dequipping your characters can become tedious. The U.S. version of Chrono Trigger also has an issue not present in the Japanese version: skipping, jerky FMVs. Whereas the Japanese PlayStation version ran smooth as silk, the U.S. movies play like every third frame is missing. Despite these somewhat serious sounding issues, however, the game is still completely playable, and the extensive extras more than counterbalance the slight inconvenience. The title maintains the original, highly competent Ted Woolsey translation.
Though price does not influence review scores, it is worth noting that both games, each originally $80, can be had together for a mere $40. If you feel like $40 isn't enough money for so many dozens of hours of fantastic RPG gameplay, then you can still pick the games up for $80 on eBay. If you don't mind paying less for enhanced versions of the games, however, then Final Fantasy Chronicles is available in stores now.
Review by Andrew Vestal, GIA.
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|Final Fantasy Chronicles |
|Publisher ||Square EA|
|Genre ||Traditional RPG|
|Medium ||CD (2)|
|Platform ||Sony PlayStation|
|Release Date || N/A|| 07.01 |
|E3: Still more Final Fantasy IV translation news |
|Final Fantasy IV CG movies and screens, Chrono Trigger anime movies and screens |
|9 Chrono Trigger anime cels |
|Box art || || |
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