+Very likeable characters
+Augment systems helps gameplay along
+Fast paced battles
-A very difficult game, even those who mastered Final Fantasy IV previously will have a hard time if they don't go about battles right
In 2006 Square-Enix released Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS. It got by in America mainly because the game never had a prior release. The success of the game was such a surprise to Square that they decided to redo Final Fantasy IV. Unlike Final Fantasy III, though, Final Fantasy IV has had several releases. The original Super Nintendo, the Playstation version and recently, the Gameboy Advance. With so many versions out there already, Final Fantasy IV DS will need more than just a face lift to make it worthwhile, and it manages to do so. At its core its still the same classic game you've played before, but there are some additions that make the DS version worth playing, even for those who completely mastered previous releases.
The story of Final Fantasy IV is a classic and still holds up well more than fifteen years later. The game opens with Cecil, the leader of the Baron Red Wings. He has just completed a mission for the King of Baron to secure a powerful Crystal, but feels it was the wrong thing to do. When he returns and questions what has gotten into a King, the King strips him of his duty and orders him to deliver a ring to the town of Mist. Something has gotten into the King of Baron, and now Cecil questions his loyalty to the crown and ultimately decides he must do something about it. His journey will lead him not only to do what's right, but to eventually save the world.
The story is told through on screen text that's been redone to give the game a better feel as well as some dramatic cutscenes. There are even moments of voice acting in some of the games more dramatic moments. The voice acting and fantastic cutscenes help to flesh out the characters, who remain some of the most memorable in the series.
Battling is one of the best parts of Final Fantasy IV. It uses the ATB battle system, which means that the flow of battle is fast paced. Every character has an ATB gauge that must fill up before they can take an action. Every character also has unique standalone abilities to help you out. Tellah can use his "Recall" to cast spells he's forgotten, Rosa can pray and heal allies, Rydia can summon beasts. There are a ton of characters who join you, each with their own unique ability. However, when characters depart (as several will come and go throughout the story) they'll leave behind Augments to teach characters their abilities. Unfortunately you can only teach it once. Once a character learns it, they can't forget it or teach it to another character. Augments are more than just abilities departing characters used. There are also augments for standalone abilities like Auto-Potion and Counter. It's a good system that really forces the player to consider strategy. And you'll need to keep your wits about you, as Final Fantasy IV is a very hard game.
Final Fantasy IV has often been said to be one of the hardest RPGs ever made. Apparently Square-Enix took pride in that, as Final Fantasy IV DS is even harder than the original game. There's a strong need for strategy throughout Final Fantasy IV. The bosses in particular are brutal. Even those who mastered Final Fantasy IV time and time again will find this game to be very challenging. If you began with later installments (in particular, the Playstation games), Final Fantasy IV is a rude awakening.
When not battling, you'll be trumping through dungeons. The bottom screen of the DS displays a map of the dungeon. Uncover all of it and you'll get a reward. Usually an item that can be used. Final Fantasy IV also allows you to roam around using the stylus, but it feels like an after thought.
There's a lot of new stuff in Final Fantasy IV. The game has new secrets, new sidequests and new optional bosses for the gamer to tackle. It also has a new unique summon for Rydia called Whyt. Whyt, when summoned, basically takes Rydia's place in battle and uses the abilities learned by all the characters in your party. You can't control Whyt, however. You can raise Whyt's stats by participating in a series of mini-games, most of which are simple, but they're also not a whole lot of fun. It's necessary to bring out the best in Whyt, however. One neat thing about Whyt, however, is that if you power him up enough, you can go and battle friends online and see who has the stronger one.
Visually, Final Fantasy IV is easily one of the best looking games on the DS. The towns and environments all have the same layout as the original game, but they all look better than ever. The monsters in battle are equally impressive as are the games many cinematic moments. Some of the game looks a little pixelated in some spots, but it doesn't separate from the fact that its amazing looking. Final Fantasy IV DS is a visual masterpiece. If there was anything about the graphics to gripe about, it would be that the character models look a little too cute. This is especially strange when one considers the dark story and mature themes that Final Fantasy IV tackles. Regardless, it's still a beautiful game.
In addition to that, much of the music is reworked and sounds better than ever. Most of the voice acting is quite good. The voices themselves really fit for the characters. There are some instances where the voice work isn't as good as it could be, but it's still very memorable.
Final Fantasy IV DS is how an old school Final Fantasy should be done. It's old school charm comes out a lot (particularly in the difficulty), but at least Final Fantasy IV gets more than just a facelift. With new quests, story sequences, an ability system and a refined script, Final Fantasy IV is worth picking up even if you played the original to death. This is how Final Fantasy IV was meant to be played. If you haven't played Final Fantasy IV, this is a good version to pick up. If you have, it's worth reliving again.
Hardcore RPG gamers of the old school variety will know what I'm talking about. When this game was originally released in the U.S. as "Final Fantasy 2" on the Super Nintendo; this genre barely existed stateside. But those of us that picked it up had our tastes in video games -if not in all entertainment- permanently changed after playing FF4. There were two kinds of people I showed this to back in the day: people who couldn't even comprehend a game where instead of controlling a character directly you issued them orders and watched them carry them out, and people who became instant hardcore RPG fanatics. Type B: this one's for you.
FF for the NES was a cute little adventure where you handpicked your party out of a small array of cookie-cutter archetypes and set about hunting treasure and fighting monsters and such. It was a start. That and "Dragon Quest" were the only games in town at that time. Then, along with the SNES came this mindblower. Having been skipped over by two Japanese sequels, Americans were treated to their first video game that was on par with other mediums of entertainment. Mario could jump around, Sonic was fast, Samus had cool weapons, and Link had massive worlds to explore, but did you ever really FEEL for them? Did you ever have to watch them die for reals, knowing that you wouldn't be playing as them again in this playthrough? this game made me feel loss, excitement, accomplishment, and a genuine NEED to see what was going to happen next. FF4 has a story that could compete with the best novels, great art designs, wonderful characters with unique abilities and personalities, epic powers at your control, and what I still consider to be the finest score ever in a video game. This one changed video games from a childhood diversion to a lifelong obsession for me. I've spent nearly two decades wishing for a direct sequel (FF: Mystic Quest" was a HUGE letdown), a cartoon series, a movie, something/anything to pay homage to the video game that deserves it most. Final Fantasy VII on Playstation was the first huge hit of the series and the one that gets most of the love from younger fans, but it lacks the flawless execution, focus, and originality of 4. Nonetheless, it's popularity earned it a cool CG movie and spin-offs. But my prayers have been answered in a way with this ground-up remake of my favorite game of all time. I bought the Nintendo DS just for this game. Now let's just hope it catches on this time around and gets the FF7-like treatment it deserves.
I showed the opening animation to a woman at work and her jaw dropped. "SO COOL!" were her exact words. That barely begins to describe how much I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters realized in 3D glory after some 17 years of picturing it in my head. FF4 has been faithfully reproduced in it's entirety with completely redone graphics, new character models, actual cutscenes, some voice-acting, and many more new additions that only make this classic better. You can now raise and train your very own monster who can be conjured to battle in your summoner's place using techniques learned from your party. The training consists of several mini-games that use the DS's stylus in interesting ways. You can even draw the monster's face however you like. Very cool. The dual-screens make using the mini-map extremely handy. The augment capability adds some customization to the game and assures that even when you say goodbye to your favorite characters, some of their talents can still help you out. The only way I could be happier with what I got was if it had been given the full-on next-gen treatment on the Xbox 360. And yes, I would buy this game yet again to experience that. It is that good. A hundred bloated Lost Odysseys, Legend of Dragoons, and Blue Dragons as well as subsequent Final Fantasy games have tried and failed to recapture the one-of-a-kind character work, epic story, unforgettable score, and perfect pacing of this almost-forgotten relic of a genre that is still going strong in part because of the groundwork laid by this title. This is the most fun one can have with one tiny game cartridge.
I spend most of my free time watching genre films, reading comic books and novels, playing story-based video games, and watching any outstanding television series out there, so rest assured that I know a great story when I see one regardless of the medium. Playing through FF4 -even for the dozenth time- gives me the same feeling I get when watching the Star Wars Trilogy or reading The Lord of the Rings. Great fiction is great fiction and this is the kind of game, dated as it is, that reminds me why I'm still doing this at age 30. If you've ever enjoyed a role-playing game in any way, shape, or form don't hesitate to pick this up. It is the best Japanese RPG of all time and it accomplishes that without mindblowing graphics, dozens of lengthy cutscenes, or even decent voice-acting. Buy it!
"What do you mean?"
That's likely the first thought crossing your mind, so you clicked into my review. Don't worry, reader...I will explain in clear terms. But first, some history, so you know I'm not full of it.
Final Fantasy IV is actually the sixth Final Fantasy game, but the fourth to be released as part of the official series. If you didn't know, the Final Fantasy games (with the exception of X and X-2) have little to do with each other and are not true sequels. Think of them as separate books under a brand; each one tells a different story, even if they might use slight pieces concurrently (such as spells). There were Final Fantasy games released on GameBoy, as well as "Mystic Quest" which didn't really count, but since it held the name, I list it here.
Back in the days of Super Nintendo, Squaresoft released this game as "Final Fantasy II". There were two separate versions, referred to as "Easy Type" and "Hard Type". The SNES version was allegedly the "Easy Type", though I can't fathom why that was...*cough*EvilWall*cough*...Final Fantasy IV was then re-released on the Final Fantasy Chronicles game set along with Chrono Trigger, replete with new CGI cutscenes to further the gameplay. This version was allegedly the "Hard Type". As if that weren't enough, Square Enix (as they were now called) released Final Fantasy IV on the Game Boy Advance - again, allegedly the "Hard Type". And now here we are.
But wait - this isn't the same as either previous version. This is a remake, not a port. The game has been converted to full 3D. Some of the spell and summon names have been changed. And Square Enix has added some features to the game to make it just enough "new" as to make it interesting. So I'll go down the list of good and bad, and then elaborate.
*** THE GOOD ***
- The difficulty is now more in line with some of its latter forefathers, especially with the Active Time Battle system. Bosses such as the Mist Dragon (the first "boss" you'll encounter) are actually challenging if you don't know what you're doing. New gamers might actually get whooped repeatedly. Veteran gamers who understood the patterns will find challenge, but not nearly as much as new gamers. Oh, and by the way...Dr. Lugae? He's no longer a pushover. That's all I got to say about that.
- Certain characters who where difficult to use because they just weren't useful were given additional skills to help them contribute in battle. One character's ability was so blatantly useless as to be laughable, yet he was one of the final characters in the game. This has been changed to where his skills contribute almost as well as Rydia's spells.
- "Augments" add a whole different dimension to the game. With these, you can effectively take the natural skills of other characters and apply them to anyone you want. SO for example, you could have Cecil set up with Counter, Kain set up with Draw Attacks, and have Cecil cover, which effectively makes Cecil a tank while Kain is free to dish damage. That's just one example of the various combinations you can employ to go through the game.
- Item limit is removed - no more relying on the Fat Chocobo to store excess Elixirs.
- Summons, now referred to as Eidolons, have been powered up substantially. In the older ports there came a time when your summon could barely do the damage of Fire 1, so by the time you got Fire 3, there was no point in using Ifrit. (There is a negative to this though, more later)
- The graphical detail of the game is top notch for the DS, especially in certain caves and dungeons. It's clear they put some work into making the game as visually appealing as they could.
- The audio has been remixed, and even improved in some areas. FFIV's music had always been quite good, but the remixes are even better (negative here, more on that later).
*** THE BAD ***
Yes, there are some not-so-good things to this, I'm sorry to say.
- Eidolons. Remember how I just got done praising them for what they bring to the table now? Well, there's a new problem. With the exception of the Four Fiends there's really no point to using them over spells except to watch the scene. This has more to do with how slowly it takes Rydia to call them than anything else.
- Some tracks were remixed with added instruments that totally kill the spirit of the original song/atmosphere it was used in. Troia comes to mind.
- The "sudden death" set of notes was removed. This is what plays the moment someone dies as part of the story, usually at a point when Cecil is yelling their name out. I have no idea why they removed this.
- Cecil's "Darkness" ability was nerfed. On the SNES version, he didn't have this ability. On the PS1 and GBA versions he did. It sent out a wave of dark energy to hit all enemies and caused you damage when you used it, but it was quite useful. Here, it just makes his attacks stronger and takes energy when you attack, but you can only hit one enemy.
- The ability to equip weapons has been altered. Characters who could easily equip certain weapons no longer can or the way they equip said weapons has been changed. For example, Cecil could always equip a bow and arrow as an alternative to a longsword, which was particularly useful in one specific cavern, but now he can only equip daggers and swords, making him effectively useless when you get to that part except to Cover. Plus, depending on how you equipped Rosa's bow/arrow combination, her power went up a bit. This has been removed as well.
- Because everything is in 3D it makes navigating caverns and towers extremely difficult. I'm sure this was intentional, but because you can't change the camera, you can't easily tell which way you're going. Some might actually like this as it forces you to learn the paths all over again, but I don't care for it. The camera is almost directly in front of you, you don't get a "top down" view and can't tell which path leads to a dead end and which does not. I don't mind the camera angle, as long as I can move it at will. This also causes a minor annoyance at one castle where someone is eavesdropping on the throne room: in the older version you can clearly see the perpetrator as they jump up momentarily. This adds suspense that is missing on this version.
- A brief cutscene plays before almost every special ability. It detracts from the fluidity of combat to have to watch Kane for two seconds before he executes the Jump command. I really wish you could disable this.
- The placement of "Switch Rows" has nearly cost me battles. It should be on the left rather than right under "Defend". Because I'm used to fast paced battle, I'm used to pressing right to defend and left to switch rows. No idea why they would change this.
So...do I recommend this game? Absolutely. My negatives are personal nitpicks based on my extensive knowledge of this game, for the most part. I would say if you're a vet like I am who remembers the game from SNES, just don't expect the exact same experience. Square Enix has tried hard to freshen the game in quite a bit of areas. A lot is the same, but a lot has changed, including the names of things.
on January 11, 2011
I'm going to keep this short. Final fantasy IV came out many years ago as final fantasy 2 and was awesome. Remastered for the gba a little while back, and now we have the ds version. Final fantasy 4 is a fun game that those who are hardcore fans of final fantasy and just regular rpg fans will enjoy. In comparison to the older versions you have 3d graphics, cut scenes that have great voiceocers, a soundtrack that just rocks, and really fun extra mini-games. But the downside in this remake is that random encounters get outta hand sometimes where you are constantly fighting random encounters, and if you go on youtube look up the older version you will notice that you get to attack 2-3 times before the enemy even attacks you, while in the ds version the enemies are on the same speed you are which can make the game very hard sometimes which adds on to the fact that the game is hard in itself at times. So heres a breakdown of the pros and cons
+good graphics for ds
-attack less in comparison to original
-hard at times
I say go and get this game despite the difficulty, this game has a lot going for it and is worth it when you finish the story!
on February 20, 2009
Due to the success of the Final Fantasy III DS release, Square Enix thought it could make some quick cash on Final Fantasy IV: DS version.
Okay, they were right. Even though this is the third version of FFIV out there, it was my first introduction to the game. The main thing I was impressed with was its ability to withstand the test of the time. Even though this version is a full 3D remake of the original -complete with voice-acting and a gorgeous CGI opening, the overall story and gameplay stayed true to the original and were amazing.
Lord Cecil is the leader of the Baron Red Wings and is very loyal to his king. However, after Cecil defies the king he is sent on a mission to Mist. The mission turns out to be nothing it seemed when the package Cecil was instructed to deliver ends up destroying the village. In his guilt Cecil rescues a young summoner named Rydia, the sole survivor of the attack.
The plot of FFIV is more complex that many of the FF plots, includes a wide range of characters and is considerably more difficult than usual. The game even allows you to have up to five members in your party. There are around ten different playable characters in the game, ranging from white/black mages and summoners to sages, monks, paladins, bards, ninjas and others. Some fans may not like the fact that characters constantly enter and exit the party, but it didn't bother me too much. I liked the variety and versatility this approach allowed -plus it made the entire game about plot. There was always a reason for characters leaving and entering; a surprising number of characters even die!
But I have to admit -this is the most difficult Final Fantasy game that I have ever played. I think I died more times than I ever have in any video game, but instead of throwing the DS down and avoiding the game for a few days (like I usually do), I just had to pick it back up and try again. Why? The plot was just that engrossing -and I enjoyed the challenge. As opposed to most FFs where you can just bust into a boss fight and win due to the sheer power of your party's level, you can't really do that here -you need a strategy. Yes, you heard me right -there's more strategy involved, which may make the game unappealing for some.
If you've played FFIV before, however, it may not be worth the money. The updated graphics are a treat and the voice-acting is surprisingly well done (heck, the music even sounds good by modern standards). Yet, this game does not make use of the DS's touch-screen capabilities at all. Even though the bottom screen is not completely neglected (maps, battle statuses etc.), it is not fully utilized. I know this is a minor thing, but the touch screen is such a big feature of the DS that it's a shame when it's not used.
Whether you're new to the Final Fantasy universe or you're new to FFIV, this is a fun, challenging game, as well as one of the best in the series. I was particularly refreshed by the lack of belts/zippers on characters, the strong character originality and the fact that the female lead was not an annoying Damsel-in-Distress like many modern FF female leads are. Thank you FFIV. Thank you for reminding me why I love Final Fantasy!
on January 21, 2014
Oh how I miss the era of 90's games, where the JRPG was king. There were many gems during that time, but Final Fantasy IV will always have a special place in my heart. The definition of a JRPG classic, FFIV was a pioneer landmark that truly ushered in an age where video games could tell a complex story just as well as any movie or novel. While many Final Fantasies came after this one, most of which can be argued to be "greater"/better, FFIV's status as a classic cannot be denied, and I'm happy to say this remake of it is worthy of the original in every way.
First off, the original FFIV is a beloved entry in the series for a number of reasons. In many ways, it was the first of its kind in terms of storytelling in games. It has a rich world filled with likable, memorable characters with motives that make each easy to relate to and root for. The story is filled with events both exciting and poignant, many of which are truly unforgettable. The whole experience is saturated with charm and a tangible sense of adventure. The gameplay follows the traditional JRPG formula to great effect, with a wonderful balance in its RPG elements. Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack for this game is legendary, giving the already exciting story even more grandeur and gravitas. The game is definitely one of the best entries to grace the Final Fantasy series, and I hold it in high esteem in my heart alongside FFVI, VII, and IX. It's a lovely game. That been said, when you get a chance to play a remake with so much effort put into it, and from the same core team that worked on the original so many years ago no less, you take it, and you thank yourself and the gaming gods you did. This is, without a doubt, my personal favorite version of FFIV.
Why is this my favorite version of Final Fantasy IV? After all, you can get the game in its original SNES form (including digital rerelease form for the VC and PSN), as well as ports for the PS1 and GBA, and an even more recent, arguably more retro remake in the form of FFIV: The Complete Collection for the PSP which contains both FFIV's sequel AND a brand new interquel. So again, you're probably wondering why this is my preferred version. Let me tell you...
- The script. The script in the original SNES release, when it was known as FF II in the US, is imfamously known to be terribly botched. The localization team back then had no idea what they were doing. For this DS remake, however, Square went all out and had Tom Slattery translate this new version's script (the stellar Chrono Trigger DS translation was his work as well). The result is a script that finally gives the timeless story of Cecil and his companion the grandeur, depth, and sophistication it has always deserved. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, thee vest best translation of Final Fantasy IV. It has a tremendous amount of depth and nuance to it, and this story has never been more enjoyable to take it. It also has a great deal of levity and humor to the mix as well, including the "YOU SPOONY BARD!" line lovingly preserved. It's a wonderful balance that makes the story so compelling and charming. Complimenting this script in certain places are excellent cutscenes with voice overs from voice actors renowned in the business for their skill and ability, and they hit it out of the park here. Almost every character benefits a lot by their voice actor and new script. Not only that, but some characters' stories have been expanded to include more depth and background, which is also very much welcomed. Knowing that the same core team as the original wrote these new parts makes the entire story in this game feel brand new again. This, in my opinion, is the most compelling reason to view this as the definitive version of FFIV.
- The engaging changes to the gameplay. In order to make this game appeal to veterans of the original game, the development team worked hard to give this game a much increased level of difficulty, and they definitely succeeded. This version is hard as nails in terms of its combat. Enemies hit a lot harder. Bosses are so difficult, you really need to learn the right strategy just to stand a chance at beating them. While some may chafe at the difficulty of this game, I personally thought it made it more engaging. You are required to be quick with your fingers and your mind as you enter battles, employing proper strategies to stay on top. I really enjoyed this myself. There's also a new "Augment" system in place that allows you to teach certain skills and abilities (ones that used to be limited to certain characters) to anybody of your choosing. This new system allows for even more strategy and planning, as you can combine abilities in ways that lead to devastatingly powerful characters. For instance, teaching Cover and Yang's Kick augment to Cecil allows him to retaliate after defending an ally from attack with a super powerful blow to, not just the enemy who attacked, but every enemy. Talk about a powerful combination! This augment system made what was already a fun JRPG into an even more engaging experience.
- The visual enhancements. This tends to be the most controversial aspect to the game that turns people away. No one will deny that the environments and enemies look fantastic. Battle screens look splendid, the overworld is charmingly colorful, the towns all have distinctive personalities, and the visuals shine even in close-up scenarios in the cutscenes. What people seem to have a problem with are the "chibified" models for the main characters, but I personally like them a lot. I don't understand why some think they're untrue to the originals. If you look up promotional art for the game from its release, they looked a lot like the characters do in this game, except now they're a lot more detailed. Heck, they look like the PSP version's do but in a 3-D world. I find they are given more emotional expression in this style. I don't get the hate. I think the visuals in this game are pretty gorgeous, and they really seem to push the DS beyond its capabilities. As far as I'm concerned the visuals are a win in this game.
- The audio enhancements. Like I said earlier, Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack for this game is splendid, filled with a sweeping grandeur that still sounds great. For this remake, they remade the wonderful compositions with much more lush orchestration that befits such a moving score. Anyone who hears this game's version of Interlude, The Red Wings, the Overworld Theme, all of the battle music, etc. are in for a genuine treat. Wonderful job here! Like I said earlier, the voice acting in this game is another audio aspect that could have been disastrous but turned out great here.
Let me be clear, I am not bashing any other version of FFIV with this review. I love the PSP Complete Collection version of this game a lot myself, but with the aspects mentioned above, it is my personal opinion that this DS remake is, hands down, the best version of Final Fantasy IV available. The original was and still is a wonderful game to take in, with many timeless aspects, but with the DS remake, you get what was already a classic elevated to the level of a masterpiece. Square did great with this one. IF ONLY they would give Final Fantasy VI the same kind of treatment for the 3DS! So buy it, prepare for an amazing tale of redemption, friendship, and adventure, rediscover a landmark in video game history.
on May 23, 2015
FF series just keeps getting better and better! FF4 might be an old game, but the DS version has crisp graphics, great voice acting, and even mouth movement during cuteness! It may seem like a small thing, but it helps you feel more immersed in the game. During cuteness, there are sound effects too, like Cecil's armor, and footsteps. These are big changes compared to FF 3. Combat has a wait system now, and there is even movement in the enemies! They are more detailed too. The music is great too. There are several memorable characters, and without spoiling anything, there are times when you feel emotionally tied to some of them too. All in all, one of my favorite early FF games.
on March 31, 2016
A 3D version of my favorite Final Fantasy? Sign me up! One of the reasons I got a DS. Not a true "definitive" version like the PSP remake, but it feels like a whole new game. Like watching the Battlestar remake. You know the story, but it's all new at the same time. This is such a great game! Too bad they don't do all the older Final Fantasy games like this.
on March 23, 2012
Final Fantasy IV DS. What can you say about a game that has it all? I won't go into all of the "deets" of the game because plenty of others have wrote excellent reviews covering the pros and cons of the game. My review will be more of a final fantasy geek's praise of the game that is FF 4.
This was the first final fantasy to have a rich story; something fans of final fantasy 7 on up have taken for granted. Final fantasy 1 through 3 didn't have rich stories giving the gamer impressive character development and novel like problems to take care of; in previous final fantasies the stories were, well, bland. Think vanilla ice cream. Is vanilla ice cream good? Well, yeah, but there are more exciting flavors out there.
You'll fall in love with the story, the battle system, and the updated graphics of Final Fantasy IV. Get this game, especially if you're a fan of final fantasy; you won't be disappointed.
on December 25, 2012
SNES. DS. iOS. If there's a gaming system that ends with S, you're sure to find FF4 on it.
You probably already know the storyline. A man turns from darkness to the light in order to save his country, his planet, and so on and so forth. Even if you didn't play any of its many iterations yet, you've played something like it. Final Fantasy 4 was that influential and that prototypical. If it feels like you've seen it before, you probably have; it's left its footprints in virtually all JRPGs since.
The DS version is basically the exact same thing as the original SNES version... except it's actually HARDER. I've been a gamer for decades now, and this game eats my lunch repeatedly! The original was tough, but this one is freaking nasty. The only other real change to the game, other than the beautiful and scene-stealing graphical upgrades which are worth the price of admission alone, is a weird kind of job skill system, where you're able to add one or two skills per character, giving them some new abilities. For example: your paladin can use healing items at a much stronger efficiency, or your monk can block others from taking harm in battle. Honestly, it's not that interesting an addition, and could have been left out entirely.
As for the game itself, it's a gem. It's the video game version of a classic novel. Don Quixote on cartridge, a silicone Sybil, waiting to be discovered or rediscovered, one of the pinnacles of the JRPG genre and one of the very best video games of all time. The only question is, do you need yet another version? This one? The original? The new iOS one?
My answer would be simple: get them all and enjoy them at different times, in different places. It's like when a novel is made into a movie, then made into a TV show. Who's to say one is more worthy than the other? Well, I say it's a great game. I say it's one of the best ever. I say get it immediately and I'll see you in about 80 hours when you're done.