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Final Fantasy Chronicles - Review

The Long Haul Is Over

By: Zachary Lewis


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 4
   Originality 1
   Plot 8
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 3
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

60-100 hours

 
Overall
4
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   We've begged and pleaded with SquareSoft for years, that they might at last rerelease Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger in the U.S... After the long wait and multiple web-polls had ended, most of us had given up hope of the remakes ever crossing the ocean. But, occasionally Square does surprise us. Unfortunately, the suprise was twinfold.

   The Final Fantasy Chronicles collection started out on somewhat of a disastrous note. The first printing of the discs contained some sort of printing error that made it very difficult for most systems to run the software properly. For a good many owners of the original PlayStation, a replacement copy had to be purchased at their own expense. When you combine this with the largely unforgivable trouble raised by SquareSoft's job on the Chrono Trigger disc's loading time, it's an absolute amazement that the game has done as well as it has.


Off We Go! Into The Wild Blue Yonder!
Off We Go! Into The Wild Blue Yonder! 

   Out of the small number of things that were actually changed in both games, Chrono Trigger's musical score, and FFIV's translation immediately spring to mind. The former underwent a slight 'PlayStation-ization' of sorts. Although the music is basically identical note-for-note, the actual instruments used are slightly different than before. The collection as a whole, has some slight music timing trouble. Occasionally, right after a battle the victory music has a gap before it actually starts playing. The rest of the sounds - as well as the music in FFIV - are identical to the ones we heard in the SNES era.

   Comparing the localization of each game to the prior SNES versions, is an interesting experience. It's obvious that Nintendo had a large amount of each game cut out due to their huge restriction policies. Exactly how much we were missing, a lot of us never knew. Final Fantasy IV is almost a completely different game now. This is made all the more true by the fact that the Japanese rerelease was so bad as to be unplayable. The text is cleaned, and retranslated from the Japanese hard-type version of the game. Items and monsters that were taken out in order to make the game easier for Americans have been put back. The story is much more complete, and, because they have a sense of humor, the classic 'spoony bard' line is back, too. Chrono Trigger is slighly touched up in places, although no major changes really sprang out at me. In fact, the only part of the collection that should have been truly eye-catching and magnificent - the FMV and anime cutscenes - didn't even impress me. The animation in Akira Toriyama's anime is blotchy and the frames are stilted and have a low framerate. The equally unimpressive computer graphics in Final Fantasy IV come only at the beginning and end of the game, and don't maintain the quality of Square's other remake work; such as that seen in Final Fantasy Anthology.


A Very Happy Marle
A Very Happy Marle 

   Remakes and collections of games are about as common nowadays as stars are at night. There simply isn't any originality in the idea that people who missed the games last time around, want to play them now. Speaking of being unoriginal, the battle system of Final Fantasy, although the industry standard, is not exactly groundbreaking at this point. Everyone has used ATB at some point or another. Chrono Trigger is merely a variant of the ATB system with a couple added character abilities. Foremost among these is 'Tech'. By using tech skills, you can combine the powers of characters and create super-powerful attacks that typically adjust the outcome of battle. Both games are based on the typical EXP and AP system. Also typical of remade games, is the difficulty. FFC is far from difficult, unless you're completely new to RPGs in general. Neither game is extremely long by today's standards, but neither are they particularly short. The games are basically composed of a large amount of average material.

   Although the collection does have its' drawbacks, the story presented in each piece makes up for most them. To say that Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV are epic masterpieces in the plot department, would not be a stretch. Like the in-game controls of both games, the plots are flawless and pristine. Go from saving the planet from destruction by protecting the elemental crystals, to repairing the history of your world by traversing time, in a matter of moments. FFIV is simply a classic. If you've never played it, you don't realize what you're missing.


Yoshitaka Amano This Is Not...
Yoshitaka Amano This Is Not... 

   As I mentioned before, neither game is unusually difficult or extremely long and arduous. It shouldn't come as any suprise then, that the replay value is slightly higher than what I might typically give another game. With the added bonus of the unlockable movie clips and soundtrack to Chrono Trigger, as well as the varying endings you can see via 'new game +', the collection has a higher replay than normal. It might seem like the Final Fantasy half of the set doesn't help factor into the good replay value. Not so. It's just that, in my experience, Final Fantasy games tend to lack that special 'something' that makes a game fun to play through, more than once.

   Although it's far from being perfect, we did get our just desserts. Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger have been rereleased here in the U.S. What we make of SquareSoft's efforts on our behalf is up to us.





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