TGS '07: Final Fantasy IV First Hands-On

We take a first look at the DS remake of one of the most classic RPGs ever created.

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Square Enix is no stranger to rereleasing their Final Fantasy games on different platforms well after they originally came out. If anything, the pace of remakes and rereleases has increased in recent years as the DS and PSP has become the new destination for the vintage Final Fantasy games. Next year, the latest FF remake will hit a handheld console near you, as Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy II in the US) comes to the DS.

Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy to be released for the Super Nintendo, both in America and in Japan, and was a stunning step forward in RPGs when it was first released. With vibrant, memorable characters, a storyline filled with struggle and betrayal, and even a trip to the moon, the game was packed to the brim with content and is still fondly remembered by many gamers.

Final Fantasy IV looks almost identical in style to the recent Final Fantasy III remake for DS, at least in terms of the character styles. The demo here at TGS starts with a couple of heavily armored characters, apparently Kain and Cecil, walking toward each other in a dark corridor. After meeting each other, they greet each other tersely, then head out into a castle courtyard where many more characters await them.

After that cutscene ends, you take control of your party of characters as you roam the overworld. Your character appears larger on the screen than in the Final Fantasy III remake, or perhaps the view is simply closer to the ground; regardless, the basics of overworld exploration is pretty much the same, except for the addition of a completely obscured map on the bottom screen that becomes visible only when you travel to new areas.

Combat here is classic Final Fantasy, in that your characters are aligned on the right side of the screen and face off against enemies scattered around on the left side; the view is static and doesn't feature any camera trickery. It's a relatively simple view, but one that might be needed since the game uses the active-time battle system. Each of your characters has a timer bar associated with them, which fills up after battle begins. When it's full, you're able to perform an action, which will drain the bar completely and start it refilling. Some characters' bars fill more quickly than others', and with a full five party members, you'll almost always have someone waiting for commands. However, the enemies act in the same manner, so if you don't input commands quickly enough, you'll allow your opponents to hit you multiple times. For the purposes of the demo, the party members include Kain, Cecil, Rydia, Rosa, and Tellah, and all of them are relatively overpowered compared to the enemies you face, so there wasn't much challenge to be had here.

Thanks to the all-Japanese menus, we weren't able to get too far into the FF IV demo, but it looks like it should be an enjoyable remake of a classic game when it hits DSes stateside sometime next year. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more info on the title as it becomes available.

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