Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy IV is bound to set a world record for most versions, ports, and remakes of a particular videogame, what with the countless iterations from the original Super Nintendo version to the Nintendo DS remake, which would see life a few years later on the iOS, proving to be one of the strongest versions of the game.
The core battle mechanics are nearly identical to those in the Nintendo DS version, with the player having a fixed party at various points throughout the game, alongside an enhanced version of the franchise’s trademark Active Time battles. Augments granting special abilities from temporary characters to permanent characters (or other temporary characters) still remain, with the most significant new feature being the touchscreen controls, which work great for the most part. Aside from the occasional tricky boss (although in many cases the Slow spell can actually be the difference between victory and defeat), the gameplay definitely helps the game far more than hurts, with different difficulty settings available upon starting a new game, and one can actually complete the game successfully, at least on the easiest difficulty, without having acquired the best equipment.
Controls are mostly solid, with good use of the touchscreen aside from some minor annoyances with getting past the victory screen of battles. One anti-frustration feature new to the iOS version is the automatic saving of progress, which can very much cut down on wasted time that in prior iterations occurred upon death without a save point within reach. The DS version’s quicksave feature returns as well, and ultimately interaction borders on perfection.
The story also stands the test of time, with the iOS port retaining the DS iteration’s new cutscenes and localization, aside from a toroid-shaped earth and moon, alongside some occasional translation howlers such as Cecil being introduced as “Load Captain” instead of “Lord Captain” of the Baron Red Wings, and the addressing of Edge as “Your Young Highness” instead of the much simpler and better-sounding “Your Highness.” The change of the character name Gilbert to Edward is also controversial considering there’s already a character named Edward Geraldine (Edge). Otherwise, the narrative and localization are largely far more than adequate.
The soundtrack also has aged decently, with the iOS version having a vocal version of the title’s love theme during the ending credits used originally in promotions for the DS version. The voice acting returns as well and is mostly pleasant to the ears, and ultimately, the aurals are a definite treat, aside from rare silent portions.
The iOS version also uses mostly the same three-dimensional visuals as the DS version, which look decent, some areas such as the Tower of Zot and the Feymarch (called the Land of Summoned Beasts in previous translations) looking much different than their two-dimensional versions. The graphics look somewhat pixelated and blocky when seen close-up during many cutscenes, and while they’re perhaps the weakest part of the game alongside the translation, they’re by no means bad.
Finally, the fourth Final Fantasy is a fifteen to thirty hour game, depending upon whether the player speeds through the game or takes the time to see through sidequests, with plenty of lasting appeal in the form of a New Game+ and Achievements.
In the end, Final Fantasy IV for the iOS is perhaps the definitive 3-D version of the game, what with solid game mechanics and control, an engaging narrative, a soundtrack that’s stood the test of time, and nice visuals. There are some areas that leave a little room for improvement such as the aforementioned translation howlers and the graphics, but otherwise, those that have never played any version of the fourth game will find this a good introduction to the Final Fantasy pantheon, with the plot continued in the serial game The After Years, which would also see life in both 2-D and 3-D, the latter also appearing alongside its predecessor on the iOS.
This review is based on a playthrough of the game on an iPad Mini.
+Solid Active Time battles.
+Excellent control with autosaving.
+Great story and translation.
+Gorgeous soundtrack and voicework.
-Permanent save points can be far apart.
-Some noticeable translation incongruities.
-Inconsistent visual quality at some points.
The Bottom Line:
An improvement on the DS version.
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 15-30+ Hours