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Customer Review

117 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Impressions - Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light, October 7, 2010
This review is from: Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (Video Game)
Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light is the most recent installment into the Final Fantasy handheld market. While it's not a full fledge sequel to a numbered Final Fantasy game, it still contains a lot of the little nuances that we have all come to love from the series. Does this game deliver a profound handheld experience on the Nintendo DS or is the cutesy art more at home with a younger crowd? Read on to find out how I felt after a couple hours with the game.

The first thing you may notice when looking at the gameplay for Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light (FF4H from here on out) is that the artwork is very...different. Some may not like it, I know I didn't when I first saw it. I thought it looked a little childish. Don't be put off by it though. For starters, it grows on you and you will learn to appreciate the time and effort the artists no doubt put into making the art. Secondly, it's deceiving. You would think a game with graphics like this would be easy or child friendly. Wow, this couldn't be further from the truth. FF4H is one of the toughest handheld games I have played in a wild. It's not because the game is unfair, it's just old school. If you played Final Fantasy games back in the NES days and Super NES days, you'll know that something exists called "grinding." Grinding is the art of killing enemy after enemy with no direction only to gain levels. This is something you absolutely must do in this game and do it a lot you will.

The game begins with no tutorial. You wake up in your house as a 14 year old boy name Brandt (you can change the name) and are instructed to go to the castle to present yourself to the king, since today is your birthday and it's the day you become a man in the Kingdom's eyes. After making your way to the castle, you find out the princess was stolen by a witch and you much track her down and rescue her. With a sword and a smile, you set off to her lair to reclaim the princess for the King. And with that, the story begins. You are given a general direction to go and the lair isn't hard to find, but after your first fight you'll realize the game doesn't F' around.

The fights are tough and require you to constantly have a fresh supply of potions. Unlike in previous games though you can only carry 15 items on any character at any given time. With 4 max controllable characters, each with their own set of armor that counts as a spot, a weapon, accessory, and non stackable items...this becomes a bit of a meta-game. You are going to constantly be checking your inventory to make sure you only have the bare necessities for survival. You can drop off extra items at a range of "shops" across the land that hold your excess items. Think of these as ATMs for your items.

Fights are actually handled a little different as well in FF4H. Instead of mana, you are given 5 AP orbs. You begin with 1 filled in the beginning of the game and each turn you take awards you one more. Basic attacks use up 1 AP orb while magic usually takes 2. If you only have one orb and want to use magic, you can use the boost option which will give you an extra AP (along with the AP you get from the end of a turn) to give you 3 for the next turn. It sounds a lot more confusing than it is so if you are getting hung up on this don't. It's no biggie. The next way it's different is that you can't pick who to fight. You hit attack and the computer automatically picks an enemy to attack. It's a little odd that this happens but it speeds things up a bit and the computer usually does a good job of prioritizing enemies. This really helps with grinding too since you can just keep spamming attack and not worry about who to hit...the game will do that for you. The system is new, but it's not bad. It just takes a little time to get used to it.

One of the main new additions to the game is the way the game handles jobs. Instead of picking a class (like a thief, mage, etc.) you pick hats that you acquire over the course of the game. You begin with no hats but after defeating the witch you get your first. Each hat grants powers and stat benefits and can be upgraded using gems you find off of enemies. Think of the hats as a way to change your party on the go without having to go back to a town. You always have the hats on you and switching is as easy as going into a menu. As you upgrade, new abilities become available, but they aren't shared with other members. Each hat for each person must be upgraded separately. From what I can see, the system works fine with the non transferable upgrades being the only issue I have. But, it makes sense though. The person who is your white mage will probably also be your other magic classes in order to keep the equipment with one magic user. Switching to the warrior class doesn't make much sense since they don't have the weapons or armor.

The game is old school in style and technique and as such random battles are the norm. These used to be all we had back in the day so if you are like me and got spoiled by seeing enemies on the battlefield, you might be taken back by this. It's not so bad though and you'll be in your groove in no time.

The graphics, as mentioned earlier, is something that you will either like or not like. Hell, you may be like me and hate it to begin with but grow accustomed to it and even begin to appreciate it. The graphics are pretty good too for a DS game. Don't let this be a reason you don't try the game out if RPGs are your thing.

The only gripe with the game so far would be the difficulty. At times, it's frustratingly hard. The first boss I came to (the aforementioned witch) kicked my butt in a couple hits and sent me back to the town. I killed her the next time I saw her because I was better prepared and used fire spells, but I was taught a lesson...the game won't hold your hand. Another gripe is that the game never tells you where you need to go. This got so bad that I had to go out the next night after getting the game and buy the strategy guide. Remembering back to my youth and playing FF1 on the NES, I had my mother there to help me - holding a Nintendo Power as I traversed the world map. In almost the same fashion, here I am today with the TV of old now in the palm of my hands and that old Nintendo power held by my mom a strategy guide resting on my dog's back as he begs for attention.

Final thoughts on the game - if you are an RPG fan at heart and love a challenge and don't mind grinding, you'll really appreciate this game. It's a little short in the story department so far but most of these types of games are. They are meant to be simplistic. If, on the other hand, you don't like tough games or spending a lot of time grinding to increase your level to just survive the next boss battle, look elsewhere, because you will find a less than forgiving game in Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 8, 2010, 5:15:34 AM PDT
Fortang says:
Thanks for your well written review! I am receiving this game today and I am hoping to play it over the holiday weekend. I remember the old school RPGs for the NES as well, especially the original Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games. I'm looking forward to a challange with this game!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2010, 6:03:21 AM PDT
Scott P. says:
You're welcome, and thank you for reading it!

If you liked those games, I'm sure you will enjoy this one. I can't put it down. It's not very difficult if you are patient and take the time to enjoy it completely. If you try to rush through the game though, prepare to be given a rude awakening.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2010, 7:51:37 AM PDT
romevi says:
Nice! Though I like to get as much as story as possible without too much grinding, knowing I'm going to be fighting monsters a lot in here is a bit refreshing, and will help me be a little more patient when it comes to mastering leveling.

Thanks!

Posted on Oct 8, 2010, 9:17:56 AM PDT
Why does it seem that so many DS RPGs rely on grinding? Maybe it's because I've played too many older classics (Dragon Quest IV and V, Final Fantasy III), but I feel like I'm doing nothing but levelling up to beat the next boss, whose difficulty seems to have jumped astronomically.

Good review, though. I don't think I'll like it, though.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2010, 10:00:07 AM PDT
This is an old-school JRPG, bottom line. If you are tired of game like DQ or the original FF's, this game is absolutelly not going to work for you. Personally I couldn't be more excited to have something that doesn't cater to all the newer gamers out there who don't appreciate this style.

Posted on Oct 8, 2010, 10:30:01 AM PDT
Rob says:
Thanks for the good review! I really wanted to know about the difficulty and was basing my judgment on the graphics. I'll definitely check it out now.

Posted on Oct 8, 2010, 5:00:50 PM PDT
T. B. says:
that sounds about normal for the grinding. i know for the final boss in 4 i lost and had to go back and change some of my jobs, adding in a ninja to throw shiruken, and level that up to 99 before taking the boss on.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010, 10:54:13 AM PDT
Lots of older gamers are kind of tired of this style as well. Nostalgia is good and all, but some things should be left in the past. ;-D

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010, 11:22:29 AM PDT
Scott P. says:
I do agree. Sometimes is does get dated, but if there are other things that are new in the game, be it a new class system and graphics (like this one does) it's a little more tolerable and fun.

Posted on Oct 19, 2010, 4:34:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 19, 2010, 4:34:44 AM PDT
This is an excellent review. Altough (and because) I already bought and played it, I would like to thank you for this fine and helpful text.
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