I’m slowly working through the Pixel Remaster editions of the first six Final Fantasy games, and I’m letting my wife pick the order. (She’s doing so at random, as she’s not a gamer. It just moves me past decision paralysis.) Below is my review of number IV, which I thought was number II growing up. The actual Final Fantasy II will be the topic of the next review. (I obtain all iOS achievements in one game before getting the next, so the reviews won’t be coming out particularly quickly.)
Title: Final Fantasy IV: Pixel Remaster
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: September 8, 2021 in this edition. July 19, 1991 in the original edition.
Game Type: JRPG
The Kingdom of Baron is rounding up crystals. When a highly ranked Dark Knight is tricked into destroying a town of innocents, leaving only one young survivor, he starts to question his life choices and starts down a path of redemption that may end with saving the world.
In later games, we have the issue where up to 14 characters travel together, and 10 of them will stand by twiddling their thumbs while four get wiped out in battle. If four lose, the other ten give up and the game is over. This handles that differently. There are 12 playable characters, but you never have more than 5 available at a time. They feel like they all have fully realized stories that take them in and out of Cecil’s life, so it all flows smoothly, limiting party members while enriching the story.
It took 47 hours to play this from start to finish because I wanted to get every achievement. Just over 28 of those hours were spent farming rare drops in four locations. In three of those locations, I could use the Siren item to force the specific battle I was looking for. That wasn’t the case farming for the Bomb summon, which accounted for 16 hours and just over 40 character levels. It would have been more levels, but they hit the level 99 cap before I was done. I appreciate rare drops and achievements, but that strikes me as being very out of proportion.
The originality of a remaster is limited. The 1991 release was extremely innovative in terms of the console RPG format, particularly with the invention of the ATB system to time each character’s turns. That said, this is more like taking an old TV series and updating the special effects. It’s the original game at its core, with quality of life improvements and improved resolution, but very little in terms of innovation that hadn’t been seen before. I give it 3 out of 6.
The story is my pick for the strongest in the franchise. The more games I see, the more I appreciate how natural the roster changes feel. I give it 6 out of 6.
The graphics evoke the 16 bit feel with modern resolutions. I give it 4 out of 6.
The sound is good, including remastered music, but it’s still chiptune stuff. I give it 4 out of 6.
The playability is strong. Numerous reviews complain that the iOS version lacks the controller support available in the Steam edition. While I see those benefits, the “tap mover” feature goes a long way to overcoming that issue. I give it 5 out of 6.
The immersion is great. The story of Cecil Harvey is gripping, and keeps you engaged. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this is one of the best turn-based JRPGs from the console market. It’s well worth checking out if you have any interest at all. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster receives 32 out of 42.