Final Fantasy IV The After Years has garnered positive reviews since it's release, containing the same gameplay as it's predecessor and with new features that made the game very interesting. Though hard at times, the game is great, and I really loved it since playing it first on the Wii, and now I have it on the PSP. Final Fantasy IV happens to be my third favorite FF game after VII and VI, so that is why I chose to review this game today.
Plot. Seventeen years have passed since Cecil and others fought and defeated the evil Zeromus. All seems at peace, until one day, the moon that had disappeared after the final battle, suddenly reappeared, thus becoming an ill omen. Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa is on an expedition to become a member of the Red Wings, like his father before him. But on his way home, his ship is attacked by monsters and is left alone, until he meets with a mysterious man, and both set out for Baron. Meanwhile, in the stories of other characters such as: Palom, Porom, Rydia, Golbez, Kain, Edward, and Yang, they discover that something wrong is happening in Baron, who is once again on a conquest for the world's crystals.
Moon Phase: Physical and magic attacks of both players an enemies are effected by four different moon phases, which change when players sleep at an inn, or use a tent or cottage in a save point, or in the overworld. When there is a full moon, physical attacks become weak but Black Magic is strengthened. Waning Moon is where physical attacks become stronger but special attacks weaken. New Moon is where White Magic is lowered, and abilities such as Jump will raise. Finally the Waxing Moon will strengthen White Magic, but Black Magic will weaken. The Moon Phase will make players do new strategies to beat enemies and bosses.
Band System: Certain abilities that cost MP (Magic Points) can be used when characters are in a party. For example, Cecil can execute the Holy Blade when Rosa is in the party. Also, each character needs to do a specific ability to make the Band ability happen. These Band abilities can be learned as the story progresses, but the player can also learn them by "searching" for them during battle and then inputting the correct commands.
Concept. The game is divided between chapters, where players can choose to play after beating the prologue. Each storyline describes the perspective of the characters when they see that the Moon has returned, and a new enemy plots to gather the Blue Planet's elemental and dark crystals by using Baron as a tool. Some stories suggest to use cleared data of previous chapters, in order to make this game quite the cakewalk.
Design. The PSP version featured CGI sequences in the intro, and also in the game, also the game's sprites have more detailed and advanced looks. Sprites like Paladin Cecil, Dragoon Kain, and Golbez resemble the designs of those from Dissidia: Final Fantasy. And come to think of it, Cecil's classic look is a DLC for Dissidia 012. Also, I really like the magic casting in the game, especially that of Meteor, in which shows outer space
Music and Sound. The theme songs of the game have been re-arranged in order to make it more like how the game's setting is like today on the PSP. The songs can be changed from the rearrangement to the original ones from the SNES, which I really like. However, some themes in The After Years are not from the previous game, such as the theme of the Mysterious Girl. Sound effects have an upgrade as well.
Tips and Strategies. Difficulty has increased with the Moon Phase and Band System, but don't think this game is not interesting, because it made it more fun and exciting. Some bosses are tough in physical attacks, that it's best to fight them in the Full Moon phase. With the Moon Phases, depending on how strong enemies and bosses are, whether magically or physically in attacks and defense, fight them using a suggested Moon Phase. In order to change the Moon Phase, use a tent or cottage in save points when you're in caves or dungeons, or in the overworld, or you can sleep at an inn in a town.
Memories. I remember playing Final Fantasy IV on the SNES emulator back in 2001, when I was 15, almost ten years in October of this year. I really loved the game ever since. Final Fantasy IV was known as Final Fantasy II in the days of the SNES in North America, but the game retained it's original number when it was released on the PlayStation as Final Fantasy Chronicles, which came also with Chrono Trigger.
Rantings. Some bosses get on my nerves in this game, an example is the Mysterious Girl. The Mysterious Girl can be extremely tough, and what bothers me is that you cannot even harm the eidolon she summons. That's a lowdown. Also, the game does not have the kind of spark as it's predecessor, because it's the same thing. Also, I did not like the Wii Version, because you had to purchase the chapters for Wii Points, which was a waste of time and money.
Good Aspects. Though it has a repetitive storyline, it's from a different point of view. The game has many great qualities and moderately high replay value. My suggestion is to play this game on the PSP, or download it from the PlayStation Network for $29.99. The great thing about the PSP version is that you can play Final Fantasy IV, and it's epilogue mini-game Final Fantasy IV: Interlude.
Overall. The game has great graphics, storyline, music, and gameplay. It's very enjoyable, and you gamers who own a PSP will love this game. This game gets a 7 out of 10.