Right before mail ceased delivery I got a bunch of games I’ve been waiting to play. Final Fantasy IV DS fell in the must play list first because of the enticing cover art and I’m guessing it’s the one the games you’re burning to hear more about. (Please tell me if I’m wrong!)
Final Fantasy IV DS begins just like Final Fantasy IV… I mean this is Final Fantasy IV with a few enhancements and a new presentation. The camera pans around Cecil and introduces him while he stands with his arms crossed at the tip of his airship. He talks to the worried Red Wings crews when before he is attacked by two Float Eyeballs. Unlike the other versions of FFIV, you get to play the fight. Cecil holds a single Red Fang, which will instantly finish the two monsters off if you choose to use it. The key word here is choose, you can kill off them off with Cecil’s blade and keep the Red Fang for future use. Being greedy, I kept the Red Fang and used Cecil’s Darkness command to dispatch the Float Eyeballs. When Cecil uses the Darkness ability he does not shoot waves of purple energy. Instead he switches his stance and deals double damage with each proceeding hit at a cost of his life.
We know what happens next. Cecil gets kicked off his position, Kain defends him and the two are sent on a quest to bring the Bomb Ring to the Village of Mist. The story sequence is the same and so is Castle Baron’s layout. However, the castle feels gigantic with the scrolling camera effect. While exploring the old, but new looking castle you can talk to Kain. If you speak with him you see an additional flashback to their past.
After the events in the Village of Mist, Rydia joins Cecil. On top of having the Chocobo summon she can also summon Pochika. When you use this spell a white voodoo doll replaces Rydia and attacks on its own accord. By speaking to a Fat Chocobo you can redesign Pochika’s face with the touch screen and customize his attacks. He costs 50 MP to summon, an expensive price for the early portion of the game. When you speak to the Fat Chocobo you can also play mini games, the first is a math quiz with Rydia and her Pochika buddy where you use arithmetic to get four numbers to sum up to 10.
In Kaipo, Cecil finds Rosa sick with Desert Fever. In her weary state she passes Cecil the first Decant Ability of the game, Auto Potion. I immediately used the item on Cecil, which allowed him to equip the skill. When it’s on it takes up one of the five command slots and after Cecil gets hit he automatically consumes a potion. It’s useful, but not really designed for Cecil’s high HP. I should have put it on Rydia or saved it for Edge later.
With a weak Rydia in my group, I spent time exploring the Underground Waterway and got my first 100% map competition. Anytime you trek through an entire floor you are instantly rewarded with useful items like potions and ethers. It’s simple to do and I found it’s worth a few extra battles shocking fish with thunder to get the goods. Oh yeah, the fish and all the enemies have animations when they attack in Final Fantasy IV DS. They don’t simply flash and cause damage. The fish do a standing tail flip. I guess they fling dirt or something to cause damage. The rod has a new effect too. Instead of causing a mess of gray pixels, arrows rain from the sky when Rydia uses it. Also you don’t have to go through the item menu to select it. You can replace Rydia’s fight command with the rod item and save yourself seconds of wading through menus.
Gibert (aka Edward) is infinitely more useful in Final Fantasy IV DS because you can select songs to sing from a menu. He starts out with the useful lullaby that puts enemies to sleep, the Song of Silence and Song of Temptation. After a few levels he gains Kaifuku no Uta (Song of Recovery). This ballad freezes Gilbert’s time bar while he recovers the party’s HP at set intervals. It’s like a full party regen effect at the cost of his turn. During the Antlion battle I put this to use to let Rydia focus on attacking with her Chocobo summon instead of doing double duty as a healer. Speaking of the Antlion fight it’s a little different. When the Antlion’s eyes are white he counters physical attacks with an underground claw grab. When his eyes are red he counters magic attacks like Rydia’s summon monsters. You have to alter between using the two characters to prevent getting hit.
After you get Rosa a cutscene plays out with her encouraging Rydia to use fire at Mt. Hobs. Yang is at the top of the Mt. Hobs fighting the Mombomb. When he uses the kick command he flies forward to do a flip that hits all of the enemies. It feels like the attack does more damage in FFIV DS than the other versions, but I haven’t done any mathematical analysis to confirm this.
When you finally get to Fabul, it doesn’t look like a carbon copy castle with gray stone walls. Fabul has a distinctively Asian feel to it. There wasn’t much time to walk around because the Red Wings were on their way! The preset fights with only the male cast members were much easier than other versions because Gilbert can cure the party without resorting to using potions. I stuck him on the Song of Recovery and pressed through the battles with ease. In the Crystal Room, Rosa gets snatched away in a fully voiced scene. If you played any other version of Final Fantasy IV, Golbez walks over Rosa’s square and she vanishes. I always imagined him carrying her on his back or something, but this doesn’t happen in the cutscene. Rosa vanishes in his cape. Kidnapping-lite.