A perfect mix of entertainment and challenge. I give Final Fantasy IV for the DS 9.3 Crystals out of 10.
The overall presentation of this game is mind blowing. From the opening cinematic and real time graphics to the musical score, everything in this game was beautifully assembled. The graphics retain a lot of the cuteness that was seen in Final Fantasy III for the DS, but this time the characters are a lot more proportionate, not just to each other, but to the world around them. The characters have made a great transition from their old 2D counterparts. They seem much more 'realistic', yet they retain the charm and unique qualities that they had in the original game. The character's look pretty much the same both in and out of battle which helps the battles feel more like a part of the story than just a means of growing stronger. The game also has many cut scenes which retain similar graphics still, but provides you with interesting camera angles and voiceovers that really help to immerse you in the story.
The sound in Final Fantasy IV DS was done just as well as the visuals. Mr. Uematsu has provided us once again with a soundtrack that is amazingly fitting to the world it's supposed to represent. Many people may believe I put to much emphasis on the soundtrack of these games, but I don't. Before Voice acting was common place, music was the biggest component when it came to getting an emotional response from a gamer (with the only exception being the script); so when this game was originally released, we had nothing but a badly translated script and the musical score to add any real emotional flair to the game. Lucky for us, this soundtrack delivers. There was another addition to the DS version of Final Fantasy IV however, that makes my above statement almost pointless. Final Fantasy IV contains voiceovers, and in my opinion they were extremely well done. Each of the character's sounds how you'd expect them to sound, give or take a couple of rare exceptions. I've heard complaints about the voiceovers from other people and FFIV provides a solution to that too; it gives you the option to turn off the voiceovers. So if bad voice acting can ruin a game for you, it's as easy as entering the config menu and turning it off.
The story is also one of the things that shine in Final Fantasy IV. From the very beginning of the game you are introduced to characters that have deep personalities and backgrounds which makes it just as interesting to learn about your characters as it is to learn about the conflicts at hand. There won't be a single character in the main cast that you won't love, or at the very least, be able to empathize with. What begins as a simple and somewhat rushed plot turns into a intriguing tale with countless plot twists. Once you start playing you will constantly want to complete the next dungeon so you can find out what happens next.
Final Fantasy IV is the first game in the series to implement the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. The battles are still turn based, but take place in real time. This means that your opponents won't wait for you to scroll through your long item list, or wait for you to choose a spell. Instead they will continually attack you as their turn comes, which means that you have to think fast to survive. It adds a new form of strategy to the old Final Fantasy formula. Another change to Final Fantasy IV is that it is the only game in the main series that allows you to take control of five characters in battle at a time, as opposed to the usual four. While on the topic of battles, there is something else I'd like to point out about Final Fantasy IV for the DS; the battles in this game are difficult, and refreshingly so. There are a number of boss battles that you will surely have to fight multiple times, giving you the illusion that you are actually fighting enemies that could very well be powerful enough to put the world in peril. Even random battles become a challenge, to the point where you actually believe you're fighting for your life, as opposed to just pressing the 'attack' command. Because of the difficulty, you may need to grind more in this installment than most, but they've adapted to that as well. Final Fantasy IV has an auto battle system that you can use to make grinding much easier. You simply go to your menu and select the command you want each of your party members to repeatedly perform in battle. In all honesty, I didn't get much use out of it, but it is a great idea, and it works quite well.
The DS version has also added a number of touch screen based mini games that you can play to boost the strength of a new, customizable summon named 'Whyt'. The mini games are a nice distraction, and are pretty fun to play, and all the status bonuses they give to Whyt are actually useful throughout the story. In addition, you can use your wifi connection to battle your Whyt with a friend's, adding even more to this mini game.
Another complaint about the other versions of FFIV was the lack of customizability. That has changed in the DS version as well. There is now a system of acquirable abilities called augments, which can be equipped to any character that you see fit. Some of these augments include the Counter and Auto-Potion abilities. Be careful who you equip them to, because once chosen, they cannot be removed from the specified character.
Final Fantasy IV for the DS is a masterpiece. It has an amazing story, loveable characters, difficult and exciting boss battles, and an amazing soundtrack that helps to bring it all together. In all honesty, my only real problem with this game is it's short length, clocking in at around 35 hours if you're and avid RPG player. The bottom line is, anyone who likes RPG's should play this game. I give Final Fantasy IV for the DS 9.3 Crystals out of 10