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M. Munroe (England, Manchester)
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Final Fantasy IV (Nintendo DS)
Final Fantasy IV (Nintendo DS)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic adventure, 22 Feb. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Final Fantasy IV is the first volume in the series of games that truly feels like the Final Fantasies we've come to love today; it provides all the features an FF game needs to make us cherish them: an epic story, likeable characters with depth and fun, strategic battles.

You play the game as Cecil, a Dark Knight who is captain of the kingdom of Baron's airship fleet "The Red Wings", Cecil begins to doubt his king's violent demands of obtaining crystals from different nations and also doubts the purity left inside of him; an epic journey of redemption, revenge, retribution, and sacrifice begins. Cecil performs one last task for his king, to redeem himself after feeling guilt for disagreeing with his orders; this task only causes Cecil to further despise his king's rulings and leads to him setting out on a quest to find out who's really behind the king's sudden destructive behaviour, and why he requires the crystals. A plethora of charming and absorbing characters whom all have a compelling back story join Cecil in his attempt to retrieve the crystals before the villain does, this story may seem simple, but it's always fascinating and becomes more and more innovative as the game progresses.

The game is quite linear, although side quests are available at later parts in the game, the games linearity isn't a bad thing. Going from point a to point b in this game is exciting stuff; powerful and emotional events happen as you progress. The games cut scenes are short and sweet, don't be expecting cut scenes or dialogue sequences that lasts for over 5 minutes like in the later Final Fantasies; even with the short dialogue sequences, the game still manages to propel you forward and deliver great character and plot development. The characters and the tragedies that befall them grip you to the game and offer an experience you will not be able to put down or forget.

The actual game play is great, firstly, the game is extremely difficult if compared to other Final Fantasy games; the DS version especially is by far the hardest Final Fantasy game out there. Is this a bad thing? Not if your an RPG veteran who's looking for a game that isn't a complete pushover like most recent RPGs, but if you're a newcomer to RPGs then the difficulty may be off putting which is a shame because I would love to recommend this game to everybody. The game features augments which are abilities given to you upon finding them, talking to somebody for them or unmissable story events. If you're like me however and don't follow a guide whilst playing for the first time then you'll miss almost every augment available and the game will be even harder than expected.

I really did enjoy the difficulty on boss fights, they're more strategic than your typical Final Fantasy boss fights - the fact that you now fight with 5 members in stead of 3 or 4 contributes to this, the ATB system being introduced also adds much more strategy than the more luck based systems of FF1 to FF3. An example of the strategy required in this game: after the half way mark in the game almost every boss has counter attack abilities, thinking of just bashing away at it with attack until it's dead? You'll have to think again because of counter attacks, even some normal random encounter enemies have counters. The boss fights are all memorable and all fun, packed with great music to boot. The random encounters really can unforgiving at times, bumping into a pack of 3 enemies that spam the same group damaging spell over and over can decimate your party quickly; a little grinding is required in order to keep up with the unforgiving random encounters, but levelling in this game is fast and fun so I don't see it as an issue.

And last but not least, it's impossible to forget... the absolutely mesmerizing soundtrack. Nobuo Uematsu crafted the soundtracks for the first 3 FF's, and they were all great; but the soundtrack he composed for FF4, is just timeless and surpasses the previous instalments in every way. This time around new artists rearranged the original soundtrack and with the limitations of the SNES gone the soundtrack is even greater than the original. The "Theme of Love" is one of the most emotionally invoking songs ever created for a game, try finishing this game then listen to it play during the ending without getting chills throughout your entire body. Not playing this game with headphones in spoils one of its greatest assets.

Final Fantasy IV is an amazing game that deserves a place in everybody's DS collection - although the difficulty may dissuade a newcomer to Japanese RPGs from playing through the entire game. An easier RPG a newcomer can enjoy with ease would be "Chrono Trigger" which was recently ported to the DS. Still, this is a fantastic game that everybody who's ever enjoyed an RPG should try.


Final Fantasy III (Nintendo DS)
Final Fantasy III (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Bargain Games UK
Price: £15.45

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent game, 21 Feb. 2009
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
One of the biggest disappointments of Final Fantasy III is the lack of an interesting plot, and more importantly - boring and shallow characters. Interesting plot and characters is what makes grinding experience bearable in FF games, the excitement for the next plot or character development compels you to grind; although little to no grinding is needed in any of the newer titles. I'm not saying the plot wasn't good for its time, but for today's standards it really isn't going to interesting anybody - not even a hardcore FF fan. Square Enix didn't completely omit the fact that the original SNES characters had 0 personality though. The four main characters were given a unique look and a hint of personality added to them for the remake, they're still extremely dull however, and by the end of the game you probably won't be feeling any affection for them.

The story and characters in Final Fantasy II were a big upgrade from its predecessor Final Fantasy I, so why were these factors not improved even further for Final Fantasy III? It was probably because Square decided to focus on improving the battle system, but in doing so they neglected an equally as important Japanese RPG element: the story and characters.

The battle system can be somewhat appreciated. It introduced the system of choosing from multiple jobs to the Final Fantasy series - but it's flawed. Too many of the jobs become redundant by the end of the game; only a small amount of them are useful. The remake could of fixed this by balancing the jobs, but they're not balanced in the slightest.

The bosses as a whole don't require much strategy and are mostly easily forgettable, as long as you're at the recommended level for them then you should manage to defeat most of them in one try. If you're underleveled however they may very well slaughter you, you'll then understand why many people consider this game "unforgiving and insanely hard". I found quite a bit of the game play time came from grinding; to defeat the final boss a recommended level of 50 is suggested, so a mind numbing grind is inevitable. There's no ATB system in the first 3 FF's, so missing heals and not judging when who will do what may frustrate you, but this is just another charming feature of old JRPGs.

So asides from being an FF fan what made did make me keep playing this game? There are plenty of positive features:

-A soundtrack composed by Nobuo Uematsu, although rearranged it's still as great as you'd expect - not one of his best though.

-The graphics for the DS are amazing, the dungeons and towns will keep your eyes busy.

-The games challenge is its lack of save points in dungeons. It provides a real sense of adrenaline when you've been in a dungeon for hours and could lose all your progress from one boss fight.

-Interesting dungeons that provide a sense of accomplishment upon finishing, especially the games final dungeon; its grand finale boss is fantastic.

-A lot of jobs to experiment with.

-Moogles!

-Interesting enough to keep you occupied for hours.

Although there's a lot to complain about, Final Fantasy III is still a decent game. For me it's the worst Final Fantasy, so I don't recommend it to everyone. However if you're a hardcore fan of the FF series, or a hardcore fan of classic JRPGs, then I'm sure you'll get an occasional blast out of the game like I did.


Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS)
Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS)
Offered by AllGoodDealz
Price: £22.94

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only the best RPG on the DS, but one of the best games ever, 17 Feb. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Chrono Trigger was originally released in Japan way back on the Super Nintendo in 1995, then shortly afterwards it received a North American release. It was also ported to other consoles in the same regions later on, but only now has Europe got a port of it.

The game has indeed stood the test of time, almost everything about this game is perfect:

The games story starts out simple enough, Lucca; a friend of Crono invents a short distance transportation device and demonstrates it at the "Millenial Fair." A girl whom Crono recently acquainted tests the machine, it malfunctions however because of the pendant she's wearing. The malfunction creates a time gate and this is how Crono and his friends journey through time begins.

As time travel is involved, a lot of the game will raise many questions if you're playing close attention to the story. The basic plot and game objective is simple, paying close attention to the small details in the story may make certain things seem convoluted at times - like "how did that upcoming event happen when I'm meddling with something to do with it in the past?" Chrono Trigger isn't lacking on twists either, they're ubiquitous throughout and lead you to not wanting to put the game down.

The time travelling is very interesting, for example; one side quest later on in the game features greedy mayor who has stolen an item that belongs to you. Go back in time 400 years and offer the woman who lives in that same house a gift for free and she tells you how she will raise her children to be generous and giving; fast forward 400 years and the mayor is now TOO generous and happily gives you the stolen item back!

There's 13 endings that have numerous variations depending on certain choices you made during the course of the game, when the game is finished it allows you to create a New Game+ file which keeps your levels, skills and most of your items from your finished games saved file. This allows you to breeze through the game and finish it in a different matter, hopefully acquiring a different ending. It's possible to "breeze through" the game as the final boss of the game is accessible right near the beginning, you can choose to fight it whenever you want. Without doing the "side quests" however this is practically impossible during your first play through.

Another great thing about Chrono Trigger is the characters, everyone is endearing and charming, even Crono somehow, the typical RPG silent hero. Each character also has a compelling back story, some emotional, all great.

The battle system is so fast paced and fun that even somebody who hates RPGs will enjoy it; after playing Chrono Trigger other turn based RPGs seem slow in comparison. Random encounters don't exist, instead the battles take place then and there upon bumping into the enemy on the map.

The graphics are SNES like but oozing with as much detail a 16-bit game could fit in, another nice feature is the anime cut scenes which were included for the PlayStation port are here on the DS version. The character design is recognizable immediately as Akira Toriyama art, known for his distinct art style which most of us know from the Dragonball series.

Lastly and probably my most favourite thing about the game: the soundtrack. The retro beeps and bleep combine to make an astounding soundtrack; especially the Boss, Epoch and Black Omen themes which are absolutely amazing. Playing this game with headphones is a must!

All in all, Chrono Trigger is an immersive and addictive game that'll last you a while with its numerous things to do and unlock. If you have a DS then do yourself a favour and treat it to this masterpiece.
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