‘Final Fantasy IV’ Pixel Remaster Review – Reaching for the Moon

Final Fantasy IV has had more remakes than any Final Fantasy game save the original. Up until now, there have been no less than eight distinct versions of this game, and Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster ($17.99) marks its ninth. Is this finally the definitive version, or are we left with yet another case of a version that is better in some ways and worse in others? If you know the general idea behind these Pixel Remaster games, you probably already know the answer to that question. Let’s ride it out anyway, friends.

Originally released in the West on the Super NES under the title of Final Fantasy II for reasons that feel sillier all the time when explained, Final Fantasy IV had the unique pleasure of presenting three sequels’ worth of improvements as a single game’s jump for English players of the era. It follows the story of a Dark Knight named Cecil as everything he once trusted and believed in starts to crash down around him. It’s a rather linear affair as Final Fantasy games go, and your party make-up at any given time will always be determined by where you are in the story. There’s a rather large cast of characters who rotate in and out as the story demands, each representing a Final Fantasy job class archetype of one sort or another.

In the early months of the Super NES’s life, this strong emphasis on dramatic storytelling and a relatively rich cast of characters was quite impressive. There were abilities and spells we had never seen before, and the twists and turns in the storyline made for a highly compelling RPG. Hindsight tells us many of the things that seemed to originate with Final Fantasy IV had actually appeared in prior games that didn’t make it to the West, but you really can’t argue with how nicely polished all of those bits are in this fourth game. Indeed, this game is incredibly accommodating as far as giving the player a fairly smooth ride. There are some tricky bits, but it wants anyone to be able to see its tale through to the end.

I was obsessed with this game when it first came out. I had a solid fling with the original game, enough that I took a punt on this one with my hard-earned newspaper delivery money. I had no idea what I was in for, but it didn’t take long for it to grab me. The opening scene with that amazing Red Wing theme playing as the crew of an airship reflect on their dubious actions. A conflicted man expressing doubts to his king, only to be cast away along with his best friend. A late-night talk with his girlfriend, who believes in him more than he believes in himself. The two friends embark on a journey to redeem themselves to the king, stepping onto that bridge at the front of the castle as the music swells. The Prelude, now generally viewed as the main theme of Final Fantasy, heard through that outstanding Super NES sound ship. What is this? What did I get myself into?

For just about that entire year, Final Fantasy IV was on my mind. The music was seared into my brain. I was sketching the characters on the back of every school worksheet and in the margins of every notebook. My friends and I would discuss potential secrets. I worked through the game, getting pulled around emotionally by every goofy bit of melodrama. Final Fantasy IV has melodrama to burn. I got to the final dungeon and, feeling unprepared, stopped and spent some time grinding. One of my friends in the neighborhood stopped by, and I thought I would just show him the final boss even if I couldn’t defeat him. And then, somehow, I did. And gosh, what a boss. Final Fantasy always brings the heat with those final boss battles, even if the set-up is a bit rocky at times. When I landed that final attack and the familiar crack of sound and rumbling of a dead Final Fantasy boss hit, my friend and I cheered. I had dinner late that night, insisting to my parents that I had to watch the whole ending. What a game.

Indeed, it made such an impact on me that when the next Final Fantasy installment was released, I was extremely skeptical of it because it had the audacity to not continue the story of the characters I loved so much. Who are these new chumps? Well, I’ll buy it, but don’t expect me to like this as much as Final Fantasy IV. Life is funny. We’ll get to that story in a couple of months, I imagine. Suffice it to say that this game absolutely knocked my socks off when I was twelve.

Gosh, but that’s the key, isn’t it? I was twelve. And games like this were a lot rarer back then, especially in the West. I probably can’t separate my nostalgia for this game from this review. Not completely. I’ve tried many times, and you may have read some of those attempts. I know this game’s faults very well. The story is so melodramatic and relies on so many cheap emotional pops that it borders on parody at times. There aren’t a whole lot of options in terms of character customization. You go through so many underground caves, friends. That’s the one piece of music you might be tired of by the end. It’s a very linear game, with only the barest of opportunities to venture off the path for some extra rewards. I know all of this. I still love it. I was twelve, and to some extent when I fire this game up I am still twelve.

Stepping past the fuzzy feelings of youth long past, I do think Final Fantasy IV has a lot going for it even now. For all of its twists and turns, this is a very earnest and easy to follow story, which isn’t something we can always say about Final Fantasy games anymore. The emphasis on a fixed party means the developers know exactly what the player has in their toolbox at any given moment, and that allowed them to put together some very interesting boss encounters that force you to actually think a little. That soundtrack is still incredible. And by design, this game is a nice introduction to Final Fantasy as a brand. Maybe not quite as representative as it once was, but it’s one of my top choices if someone new to the series wants to get into it. There are better Final Fantasy games, but this is certainly one of the more agreeable ones.

Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this review that there have been several versions of this game. Some are easier, some are harder. Some are more straightforward, others surprisingly complicated. Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster leans more towards the soft and friendly end of those spectrums. In most ways, it takes after Final Fantasy IV Advance. It has all of the extra items and abilities that were cut out of the original Western SNES version and the Japanese Easy Type version, and the difficulty of enemies and bosses falls largely in line with Advance. Quite a different experience from the rather challenging and complex 3D remake that mobile players have had access to up until now. Assuredly a better place to experience the game for the first time.

There are some modest graphical improvements, but the game largely preserves the original look of the game, and I’m kind of here for that. I liked the ultra-clean and detailed PSP sprites in that system’s version of the game, and I even like the SD low-poly designs of the 3D remake. But the story was originally built around these rather simple sprites, and I think they do an able job of expressing themselves for all their simplicity. You get a few more details here and there in this pixel remaster, but given its original roots on a rather color-rich 16-bit platform it’s obviously not the big step we saw in the first three Pixel Remaster games.

What is a big step is the soundtrack. As with the other Pixel Remaster games, the soundtrack has been replaced with luxurious fancy-pants orchestral arrangements. This game already had a wonderful soundtrack, and hearing it like this is an absolute revelation. I’m getting shivers thinking about Final Fantasy VI already, friends. Tracks like the Red Wing theme, the Theme of Love, the Prelude, the Final Boss music, and the Battle with the Four Fiends are stone-cold video game classics and I’m simply in awe of how they come off here. If there is a reason to rate this particular version of the game above any of the others, it is on this point.

The biggest bit of bad news is a familiar tune for those who have been paying attention to these Pixel Remasters. The game content here is as it was in the original version of the game. None of the content added from the Advance version onward is included here, nor are any of the features from the 3D remake. They’ve even gone and cut the secret Developer Room for whatever reason. It’s unfortunate as the new additions in Final Fantasy IV Advance helped address some of the more obvious criticisms of this game, notably by allowing you to change your party make-up near the end of the game. For better or worse, this is pretty much the original Final Fantasy IV in terms of content and mechanics. Well, I suppose the 3D remake is still there for those who want more crunchy RPG mechanics.

So, is Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster the definitive version of Final Fantasy IV we’ve been wanting? Unfortunately, no. It’s just another very good version of the game, but it’s one I would wholeheartedly recommend for the new player over its 3D counterpart. Its biggest crime isn’t a grand one; it merely leaves out some valuable extra content that enriched some earlier remakes. It also doesn’t have controller support, and the English font is still tiny and narrow. I don’t expect the extra content thing to be addressed, but I sure hope those other bits are at some point.

If you’re just playing Final Fantasy IV for the first time now, I wouldn’t expect it to be as special to you as it was to me thirty years ago. But you know, it’s still rather playable and enjoyable for a game of its vintage, especially within the RPG genre. There’s a reason Square Enix keeps coming back to this one, I think. It’s a welcoming entry point into the series, an exciting if often cheesy roller coaster ride, and on the whole a game that somehow makes you fail to notice its flaws because its strong points are so strong. Moreover, it’s different enough that I think even owners of the existing mobile version of Final Fantasy IV will find it worth grabbing.

90 thoughts on “‘Final Fantasy IV’ Pixel Remaster Review – Reaching for the Moon

  1. Loretta says:

    Admiring the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed
    information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t
    the same unwanted rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved
    your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Rigoberto says:

    I got this website from my friend who shared with me regarding
    this web site and now this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative articles here.

  3. Allen says:

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was once totally right.
    This put up actually made my day. You can not consider
    just how so much time I had spent for this information!
    Thanks!

  4. Fleta says:

    Ahaa, its pleasant dialogue concerning this post at this place at this web site, I have read
    all that, so at this time me also commenting at this place.

  5. academy.autodesk.com says:

    My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for
    about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is
    there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  6. Juliet says:

    Hey there! This post could not be written any better!

    Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article
    to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Christena says:

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your weblog.
    You have some really great articles and I think I would be
    a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some content for your
    blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.
    Thanks!

  8. Devon says:

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I will send this article to
    him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

  9. Herbert says:

    Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?

    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Thank you

  10. Caren says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very
    neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your
    useful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

  11. Mellisa says:

    Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is wonderful,
    let alone the content!

  12. Tiffany says:

    Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of
    hard work due to no backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  13. Rodney says:

    Hi there, I do believe your website could be having browser compatibility
    issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks
    fine but when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues.
    I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, great
    website!

  14. Yolanda says:

    Every weekend i used to go to see this web page, for the reason that
    i wish for enjoyment, since this this web page conations in fact good funny information too.

  15. Damaris says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but
    I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re
    going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  16. Dorothea says:

    Hi my family member! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include approximately all important infos.
    I’d like to look more posts like this .

  17. us.community.sony.com says:

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely helpful info specifically the last part :
    ) I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular info for
    a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  18. Ariel says:

    Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to
    get guidance from someone with experience.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  19. Ivey says:

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Opera.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do
    with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Kudos

  20. Lynne says:

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  21. Earnestine says:

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like
    you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to
    drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog.

    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  22. Thalia says:

    Howdy! Someone in my Facebook group shared this
    website with us so I came to check it out.
    I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and brilliant design and style.

  23. Evan says:

    It’s perfect time to make some plans for the
    long run and it’s time to be happy. I have learn this post and if I
    could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you could write next articles relating to this article.
    I desire to learn even more issues about it!

  24. Drew says:

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this website yourself or did you hire
    someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking
    to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.

    many thanks

  25. Melina says:

    I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of house .

    Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this information So i’m glad to show that I’ve a very excellent uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.
    I such a lot indisputably will make certain to
    do not forget this website and give it a look regularly.

  26. Debora says:

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a
    comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Bless you!

  27. Horace says:

    Hello, I do think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks
    fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues.
    I simply wanted to provide you with a quick
    heads up! Apart from that, excellent blog!

  28. Elida says:

    We stumbled over here different web page and thought I may
    as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to looking into your web page repeatedly.

  29. us.community.sony.com says:

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your
    website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got
    an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  30. Rene says:

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of
    this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot
    of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between superb
    usability and visual appeal. I must say
    you have done a awesome job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very quick for
    me on Opera. Superb Blog!

  31. Ida says:

    hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve certainly picked up anything new from right here.
    I did however expertise several technical points using this
    site, as I experienced to reload the web site a lot of times previous
    to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK?

    Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes
    affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of
    your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update
    this again very soon.

  32. Elissa says:

    fantastic post, very informative. I ponder why the
    other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should proceed your writing.
    I am confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  33. actualtestdumps.com says:

    Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came
    to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog
    and superb style and design.

  34. Suzette says:

    Hi there, I discovered your blog by the use of Google at the
    same time as looking for a similar topic, your website came up, it looks good.

    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it
    is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I will appreciate in the event you proceed this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited out of your writing.
    Cheers!

  35. Milford says:

    Heya great blog! Does running a blog like this take a massive amount work?
    I’ve virtually no expertise in computer programming however I was hoping to start my own blog
    soon. Anyhow, should you have any suggestions
    or techniques for new blog owners please share. I understand this is
    off subject nevertheless I simply needed to ask.
    Many thanks!

  36. Zac says:

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone
    to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and
    would like to know where u got this from. cheers

  37. Rosaline says:

    Good day! This is my first comment here so
    I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say
    I really enjoy reading through your articles. Can you
    recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover
    the same subjects? Thank you so much!

  38. Annetta says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always useful to read content from other writers and
    use a little something from their websites.

  39. Rosita says:

    I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers

  40. Virgie says:

    hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up anything
    new from right here. I did however expertise
    several technical issues using this web site, as I experienced
    to reload the site many times previous to I could get it to load properly.
    I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will
    very frequently affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for a lot more of
    your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again very soon.

  41. Valeria says:

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the
    book in it or something. I believe that you simply
    could do with some percent to pressure the message home a bit, but other than that, that is excellent blog.
    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  42. Darrin says:

    You really make it appear so easy with your presentation however I find this topic to be really
    something that I think I might by no means understand.
    It seems too complicated and very huge for me.
    I am having a look ahead for your subsequent submit, I will
    try to get the hang of it!

  43. Kathi says:

    I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering
    problems with your blog. It appears as though some of the written text
    in your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let
    me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a issue with my web browser
    because I’ve had this happen before. Appreciate it

  44. Clarice says:

    Hello outstanding website! Does running a blog such as this require a
    large amount of work? I have virtually no expertise in computer programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.

    Anyways, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject but I simply had to ask.

    Thanks!

  45. Aurelia says:

    Generally I do not read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me
    to try and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me.
    Thanks, very great post.

  46. Bertie says:

    Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative.
    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you
    continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  47. Roosevelt says:

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your
    site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a acceptable
    deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast provided bright clear concept

  48. Madeleine says:

    naturally like your website however you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts.
    Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find
    it very troublesome to inform the truth on the other hand I’ll surely come again again.

  49. Tessa says:

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this blog.

    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to
    get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and appearance.
    I must say that you’ve done a very good job with this. Additionally, the blog
    loads very quick for me on Safari. Superb Blog!

  50. Valentina says:

    I am not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.

    Thanks for magnificent information I was looking
    for this info for my mission.

  51. Gidget says:

    I just could not leave your web site before suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the standard information an individual
    provide to your guests? Is gonna be again continuously in order to inspect new posts

  52. Fletcher says:

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and
    actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.

  53. Lillie says:

    Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me
    an e-mail.

  54. Reina says:

    magnificent post, very informative. I ponder why the
    opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this.
    You should proceed your writing. I am confident, you’ve a
    huge readers’ base already!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *