Released in April of 2011, Complete Collection marks the 10th release of the tale of Cecil the Dark Knight. By this point, FFIV is far and away the Final Fantasy to receive the most ports and remakes. I still don’t know why this is, since FFVI, IX and others seem to hold a dearer place in the creators’ heart. Perhaps it is because that FFIV was the first story-driven Final Fantasy that most people played. Or perhaps people really like Cecil’s tale of redemption. Either way, as long as they continue to add something new to each iteration, this gamer will be there to play it day one.
I thought about doing a full review of the FFIV remake in Complete, but it is unnecessary due to the overall lack of changes in the gameplay. Instead I will talk more about the completely new Interlude chapter and some discussion on the After Years, both of which are new to portability, thus making this truly the complete collection of the masterpiece that is Final Fantasy IV.
New to the original game are redone graphics in the style of earlier PSP FF ports. Everything receives a high res 2D makeover and pretty much everything benefits. From the newfound maliciousness of many a monster to the great new spell animations, this is the graphical style I wanted for the DS version. My favorite new graphics include Leviathan’s Deluge attack, which properly shows the devastating effects of a Tsunami wave more than ever, especially with the ground shaking before the double wave washes over seconds later.
Meteor also receives a complete makeover, fitting of the most powerful spell in the game. Instead of several meteors just raining down on your foes, we first cut out to outer space. Several small fragments appear and rain down on your foes followed by a much larger one in a final massive explosion. It’s a great change and it just makes the spell better all around. Overall, the whole game is just more polished graphically for newer fans and has plenty of touches that veterans will appreciate.
Music remains the same classic score from every previous version of the game, with the added bonus of a new arranged soundtrack. I’m not sure if I prefer the original, as I couldn’t tell the difference in the arrangements at most times. I did recognize the superiority of the harps in several pieces, such as Theme of Love and Melody of Lute, while Cid’s Theme still sound better in its original form. If nothing else, longtime fans will appreciate a different take on Nobuo Uematsu’s classic FFIV score.
Gameplay is the same as previous versions of FFIV, with Cecil’s Dark Wave and Rosa’s Pray intact. The Augment system from the DS version remains exclusive to that version, but the ability to alter your party for the final dungeon of the game from the GBA version remains, luckily without any of the gameplay bugs that apparently affected that version, such as Yang’s HP glitch. The Lunar Ruins and additional Cave of Trials dungeons also remain.
Overall, this might not be the best version of Final Fantasy IV feature-wise, but it has all the essential elements of the game to make it worth playing for the umpteenth time. Besides, the real reason you bought it is about to be discussed.
The Interlude chapter is best played after going through the main storyline once again, but is available from the start if you just want to experience the new content straight away. Taking place a few months after the events of Final Fantasy IV most likely, the Interlude finds King Cecil and Lady Rosa of Baron visiting Damcyan to see the completion of the rebuilding efforts and the formal ascendancy of Edward to the throne. An emergency on nearby Mt. Hobs finds Cecil and other visitors called into action.
The plot jumps around a lot, making it hard to follow for even series veterans. Unfortunately, the Interlude’s biggest promise of properly bridging the gap between Final Fantasy IV and the After Years doesn’t ring true, making it worth playing only for the FFIV hardcore fans who must see it all, and that’s for a single playthrough only.
Music is the same as the original without a single new piece, even though the logic of the timeline dictates that we should have a new piece for Damcyan, as the kingdom is no longer a desolate place and has returned to prosperity.
Gameplay is also the same and has nothing that the After Years would later add to the Active Time Battle formula, be it the Band System or the Phases of the Moon. A disappointment, but I wasn’t really surprised, as I played this rather short sidechapter just to hear more about the upcoming events in the After Years.
Overall, the Interlude is the one part of Final Fantasy IV I would never pay money for, so I guess it is a good thing that it is included in the package for free. It’s the kind of new content that is unlikely to satisfy anyone. You play it once, wonder what the hype was for, and probably never pick it up again.
The After Years, the last bit of extensive content on this UMD is the same as the version released on WiiWare throughout the summer of 2009, save for the updated high-resolution 2D graphics. If you want to know everything about each chapter, check out my previous coverage, with links provided below. It’s a great thing to have it portable with every chapter included right off the bat. Veterans like me were happy to pay the 40 dollars to play the saga of the After Years on the Wii, but I definitely see more people wanting to check it out now that everything is included for free.
In all, Final Fantasy IV The Complete Collection is another essential purchase for Final Fantasy fans, and especially fans of the 4th game. This release doesn’t account for its odd tendency to be remade more than any other Final Fantasy, but it’s still just as fun as it’s always been, be it for those who might be playing it for the first time or for those who first followed the exploits of Cecil Harvey way back in 1991. And don’t forget, there’s still a hidden boss somewhere in the Interlude to be found!