Game Review

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

As challenging as it is charming

Having already had success with its two previous Final Fantasy DS remakes, Matrix Software decided to take a fairly different approach for the brand new and completely original Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. While some of the basic gameplay elements were carried over, the game received a fairly significant visual makeover, not to mention a host of new gameplay twists to give it quite a unique look and feel. Now the only question is, what will fans of the previous titles think of this radical reworking?

If you've played any of the two previous Final Fantasy titles on the DS, you should feel right at home with the basic layout of the game. As with most RPGs of this kind, you'll spend a lot of your time moving around on the world map, doing battle with a constant barrage of random enemies in order to earn gems and experience points for your characters. Along the way you'll visit many towns and dungeons where you'll be able to outfit your characters with better equipment and talk to people in order to gain valuable clues for your adventure. You'll even be able to see the time change from day to night and back frequently as you travel around the world map, something that can not only affect what monsters you'll face, but what shops will be open in towns at various times of day and night.

The biggest gameplay twists would have to be those found in the game's combat system. While it's still completely turn-based, your characters no longer have the ability to target individual enemies or use items and spells on individual characters in your party. Instead, you're given a basic set of three commands: Attack, Boost and Items, to choose from along with a host of spells and special abilities that you can set up. Every action you take will cost you a certain number of Action Points, and given that your characters only have a limited number of them available, you'll have to be careful what actions you choose during each round. You can choose to Boost during a round which will increase that particular character's number of Action Point, and as a general rule the more powerful the special ability or spell is, the more Action Points it costs to perform. You'll soon find that this system requires a great deal of balance and strategy in order to be successful in battle.

As with most RPGs, you'll be able to constantly upgrade your character's equipment throughout the game, but there's also a new feature called the Crown Job System that adds in an interesting twist. As you progress through the game you'll gain new Crowns that can be worn by your characters. When you place a Crown on a character it adds special abilities to their arsenal. You'll even be able to upgrade these Crowns, not to mention certain pieces of equipment, using various types of gems that you collect by defeating enemies in battle. Each time you upgrade a Crown, it will make a new ability available that can be set up and used. You'll have to experiment with different Crowns in order to find the ones that work best for your current situation, not to mention chase down specific gems needed in order to upgrade them.

If you're feeling a little lonely on your adventure, you can even stop by a Wireless Hub in towns you visit in order to play a multiplayer game. This can be a fun way to get other local players involved and is a great way to earn Battle Points that can be spent on useful items and equipment, some much stronger than you'd be able to purchase in regular shops. It definitely gives you some incentive to try the mode out, especially early on in the adventure.

Some fans will find the simplified battle engine a bit limiting at first, but it's really something that you'll have to warm up to as the battles become more intricate and challenging. The game's difficulty does spike quite often throughout the game, so you will have to spend some time level grinding and earning money for better equipment from time to time. Fortunately, the controls are extremely smooth and responsive and the ability to use the touchscreen for most of the game is a nice feature, although one that doesn't always work as intuitively as the standard button controls do. The developers have put together a very solid gameplay system, bit it is one that gamers will have to become familiar with before they'll truly begin to appreciate it.

The best way to describe the visual experience in the game is to liken it to a storybook. The game features a very colorful cel-shaded look that really makes the world spring to life. Everything you see looks almost like it was hand-painted directly onto the screen. Even the characters show a nice level of detail and animation, although gamers more accustomed to the 2D look of many DS RPGs might find them a tad blocky in their design. The developers have been able to include a ton of variety between the various areas you'll visit throughout the game and you'll rarely see the same visual stylings twice. It's clear the team wanted to create a very unique visual experience to go along with its innovative gameplay designs and it goes a long way in carrying the light-hearted theme the game employs.

Final Fantasy games have always been well-known for their amazing musical scores and The 4 Heroes of Light is certainly no exception. You'll get a wealth of synthesized musical tracks throughout your adventure and each one seems to fit the area it's being played in to perfection. Everything from soft ballads to up-tempo battle themes, there's something for everyone's taste in this game. It's easily one of the better Final Fantasy soundtracks, and hands-down the best available on the DS system to date. It might have been nice to have a little voice acting to further bring the game's storybook world to life, but it's difficult to complain given the high quality of every other area of the game.

Conclusion

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is certainly an interesting experience when it comes to many of its unique gameplay mechanics, but the game's overflowing sense of charm and hardcore level of challenge make it an irresistible experience for seasoned RPG fans. Sure the game does simplify many of the traditional RPG elements a bit, but those who'll give it a chance and learn how to put them to good use will likely find a game that's every bit as strategic and challenging as past turn-based RPG offerings, maybe even more so. At the very least you'll get to experience one of the most engaging Final Fantasy story lines the series has seen, not to mention one of the most exceptional RPGs available for the system.

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Game Trailer

Here is the newest video for the upcoming DS RPG Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light showing the game's Crown Job System in action

User Comments (38)

G-MaxiMillion

#1

G-MaxiMillion said:

Ah, I see there's a crown job system! The game looks promising, and will be played with for certain.. but I find the art a bit unusual for a Final Fantasy title.

pikku

#2

pikku said:

oooh a 9! I may have to actually read this review when I get back from school! :3

Big_A2

#3

Big_A2 said:

Some guy on a forum I go is in love with the game. I'd love to check it out, if only I had the time to play it...

Majora

#4

Majora said:

Thanks for the review, Corbie. This game will be mine this weekend: I was waiting a good and deep review.

HanuKwanzMasBif

#5

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

I did not see a nine coming... Huh.
It's a shame I can't buy this game, due to Epic Mickey and Shantae and whatnot.

jdarrell

#7

jdarrell said:

Losing equipped equipment when characters switch in the first half of the game was irritating though.

Slapshot

#8

Slapshot said:

@Corbie... Great Review man!

Im going to have to pass. Ive found that I just really dont care for the older Final Fantasy games. I love Final Fantasy Tactics though, but I like the more Japanese style of RPGS like Ys and EO.

Spoony_Tech

#11

Spoony_Tech said:

This one is going to have to wait. Already got dragon quest 9 and etrain odyssey 3 and still have not beat those. I really want golden sun over this so I will pick this up next year some time not to mention most square games go for 40$ so not on my now list.

If you haven't noticed we get most of our DS rpg reviews from Corbie and I happen to think he does a wonderful job with said reviews and why does the way a game looks knock it down a notch. Most hated the way wind waker looked but that game deserved high praise!

theblackdragonAdmin

#12

theblackdragon said:

if only i had a week off from both jobs to just play the hell out of this... it's really a lot of fun :3

LordJumpMad

#13

LordJumpMad said:

I must behind the times.
didn't know this was out already.

Well my sis will like this one, since she a Big FF fan.

jkgatling

#14

jkgatling said:

Im yet to play Dragonquest 9 (I got it though) so im gonna skip this one, for now.

AlphaNerd01

#16

AlphaNerd01 said:

Wow... I totally missed this. Probably rent this from Gamefly, since Dead Rising 2 is on backorder.

motang

#18

motang said:

I will sure be picking this one up soon, especially now that DragonQuest 9 has pissed me. Get this I spend little over a hour going through a dungeon (from a treasure map) just to get my ass handed back to me by the stupid horse looking boss...grrr...so I have put that game down for a bit.

FonistofCruxis

#20

FonistofCruxis said:

After reading this review I might actually get this. The story looks really basic in this game yet you said it has one of the most engaging storylines in the series, could you explain?

B-ry

#21

B-ry said:

I think I'll pick this up, I haven't sunk into a Final Fantasy game in a long time. Nice review Corbie!

Kid_A

#22

Kid_A said:

Wow! This is the best review I've read of this game. Sounds like one to put on my list.

WolfRamHeart

#23

WolfRamHeart said:

Very nice review Corbie! I've had my eye on this one for a while. I'm kind of surprised that I haven't picked it up yet. I guess that I have just been too busy with Etrian Odyssey III and now Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is right around the corner too. I will definitely be getting this as soon as I have time for it.

reborn

#26

reborn said:

Hardcore playability (but not impossible :P) + JRPG + Outstanding graphics = EPIC WIN :D

Hyper_Metal_Sonic

#27

Hyper_Metal_Sonic said:

I'm not going to lie, initially I found the art style to be quite bad, however as I saw more of the game it grew on me and I actually like it now. It's also nice that its a vintage RPG experience. I picked the game up on Sunday but have only put like 20 minutes into the game.

BillyMays

#30

BillyMays said:

@corbie I hate to be nit picky Corbie, but you said the soundtrack was orchestrated, while really most of it is synthesized, in other words it has 8-bit-ish music. Don't get me wrong, i still think the soudtrack is good, but I think you sould at least say most of the music is 8-bit-ish.

CorbsAdmin

#31

Corbs said:

Yeah I meant to say synthesized, but it has more of a 16-bit sound to me than 8-bit beeps.

EdEN

#32

EdEN said:

Well, added to the list. My end of year bonus better be big enough for all the games...

Mabbit

#33

Mabbit said:

hmph! what is this blasphemy? this game is just a dragon quest IX knock off

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#35

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

@briunj04 >-> How does is it a dragon quest IX knock off. Its not like they share the same elements. The battle system is different in both games and at least in dragon quest you can customize your character to look the way you want it. Plus the job systems may appear similar but finding jewels vs. gaining skill points are quite different. There is also the consideration of switching jobs on the fly rather than backtracking to All-trades abby to switch jobs.

EdEN

#36

EdEN said:

I also need the points for my SE account. Maybe this year I'll make it to gold...

MeloMan

#37

MeloMan said:

I think this game would be fun. I don't have the extra cash for it, but I may still gamefly it someday. I still don't like the visual design... it's nice, it just doesn't appeal to me particularly. Not much a chibi fan tbh.

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