Final Fantasy IV: The After Years( If you're wondering why my blog is so damn late, you have this game to blame.) If you're wondering why I'm playing this particular music, me too. Honestly, I don't want to remember anything about this game, which oddly extends into why I chose that music. That is how bad this game is; that is why you don't make sequels to Final Fantasy games. You end up with Dirge of Cerberus or Final Fantasy XII or worse, this game. So why'd I play it? Well, March is going to be a busy month, so to make room for the large cheese pizza that is Final Fantasy XIII, I had to stuff into my face the moldy breadsticks that were The After Years.
For those of you unaware as to what the hell I'm even talking about, it's a Wiiware port of an episodic cell-phone release of the sequel to Final Fantasy IV. Nobody was asking for a sequel, so I don't understand why they didn't localize some other games or, and I know they'll never do this, port the original Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests to Virtual Console. But I'm stuck with this game, so I might as well make the most of it. It's 18 years after the original: Cecil had a kid, Kain's still about as hard to manipulate as the Fox News demographic, and the world has started to look more like FF6. (That last one's not a joke, that actually happens in the game, with no explanation whatsoever.) Everything's going well until this random girl with less personality than a GameSpot video review decides she wants the crystals of the world. It is up to you to find out why she wants those crystals and stop her from doing so.
Kind of. None of that really happens until the final mega-chapter; everything up until that point is a 1-2 hour mini-chapter starring one of the characters from the original game. You'd think this would make for an interesting story that makes use of multiple perspectives nicely, but there's barely enough room for anything in each one; you just hack your way to a cliffhanger ending/unskippable credits sequence, leveling up quite quickly along the way. There are only about two times in the entire game where storylines intersect, whereas the rest happens in odd succession. Speaking of which, it may be helpful to know that I bought the entire package at once, completely oblivious to the point of episodic gaming. That would explain most of the quibbles I have with the story, like how it lacks any sense of unity, or how nothing is explained until the end, but it doesn't help explain why I'm bitching about battles a turbo button could win or how leveling in this game gives you no sense of progression or progress.
OK, I guess the episodic thing can explain that; I doubt you could get high levels in the amount of time it takes to watch Avatar. What it can't explain is the repetitive battles. Sure, each character has a special ability and a variety of moves, but you'll never need them for several reasons. First, a lot of the special skills you encounter are stupidly useless, from Ceodore's Awaken (it just makes him glow for an entire turn) to Edward's Salve, which really caught me off-guard. Seriously, it's salve! You'd think that would win every battle ever ever, but no, turns out that belongs to attack. Just mash away at the attack command and watch as everything vanishes into an alternate dimension, fearful of your cunning stratagems. If you're really ballsy, you can spam the Bio spell until the end of battle, but again, all you need is the attack button.
What's that? Something about the moon? Fuck the moon, I can just mash the attack button! And fuck that little down arrow next to the attack command, too! It may say that I shouldn't attack because it's now weaker, but I'm not noticing any changes! Do you see the problem here? Repetitive battles and short stories all point to one conclusion: this was an incredibly lazy game! They just took FF4, changed the story, added some useless new features (like the "reveal this unto me, O great GameFAQs" Band thing), and shoved it out the door as an old school Final Fantasy. How exactly can you fuck that up? Well, this game, for one. But I understand what you're saying, so let me elaborate, pretending that the last few paragraphs were mere warm-up.
Let's see, what else can I t-oh, graphics! As I've already mentioned, the game steals quite a bit from Final Fantasy VI, barely even bothering to cover up its theft. Terra becomes Rydia (F for "really fucking creative"), Terra puts her hair back up and becomes Porom, and Celes dons her opera outfit and changes absolutely nothing whatsoever. What's worse, when converting FF6 into FF4, they screwed up some of the little details that, when not present, make the game completely unlikable. I'm not saying it's completely lacking in those details; the towering castle spires and...tower prove that. Yet when that same tower looks like a cardboard cutout of an actual tower, the word "lazy" starts echoing in my already cluttered mind.
As always, this extends both to the story and the gameplay. Since I can't remember why the hell I said the story, I'll just go with the gameplay. Remember how I mentioned the length of each chapter earlier? You know, how the last one is the only one of decent length? Well, I can't give it any points, because most of it is just an area that puts the word "dungeon" to shame, what with it having more floors than pixels, each one housing a boss from ANOTHER Final Fantasy game!? What? Why is Ultros in my FF4? Why is there a fucking train in the middle of the moon? Why does the game sloppily try to retcon all the Final Fantasy games into one universe, missing the appeal of a Final Fantasy game? But most importantly, why are all these bosses so damn easy? You'd think a dragon with two heads would be strong enough to rule the world two times over (once for each head), but apparently, he's weak to the Mother 3 Boss Strategy: up-stat yourselves, down-stat him, beat his ass until you have enough blood and poo to make everybody vomit into what is, in terms of quality, this game.
Yes, I'm calling this game crap, as if that hasn't sunk in yet. I love JRPGs, yet this game's repetitive nature made me realize why so many people smugly hate the genre; I'm an old school guy, yet even this-wait, no, it's not that the game is old school; it's just that Square thought the word "old school" translates to "you don't have to do anything at all." But of course, it didn't. If you're going to go old school, you either provide a clear context (Mega Man 9) or use it as an opportunity clean up some of your past fuck-ups (Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon); you, however, couldn't be bothered to fix obvious shit like the character's pockets, given that they lose half their life savings every time they run from battle. Hell, you couldn't even proofread the crap you introduced in this game, like how there's no "just sleep" option for changing the moons, meaning you either need an inn or an oddly easy to set up cottage to achieve a moon change. So what we have here is an extremely flawed game that nobody wanted and that will no doubt garner controversy in the comments. What could possibly fix this game? Hmmmmm........
- I think somebody dropped Final Fantasy IV on the floor, as the story's ridiculously fractured.
- Christ, even as an old school JRPG gamer, this game forces me to question my love of both.
- The attention to detail is in such a deficit that I feel I have to point out their fuck ups with the award: Twizzler Punch Award for Not Drawing Individual Punch Sprites for Each Character.
I was going to post a kickass video detailing why I love Final Fantasy so much, but that part of my mind simply isn't functioning after this game. So here's a ridiculously old Flash cartoon:
Adventure Island( Wow, that game was awful.) Let's just not talk about it anymore, even though I know that's what will comprise half the posts in this blog. What's that other half gonna consist of? Most of the crap I'm going to say right here, of course. Obviously, many of you are wondering how such an obscure NES game can generate enough random crap for so many posts. First, slightly freaked out that you know that it's an NES game but not much else. Second, remember Cocoron? No? Play it. Now.
Wait, no, not now. Now is the time for Adventure Island, a game starring a fat, shirtless guy with a mustache. I assume that he is Ron Jeremy. The storyline kinda supports it, since the goal of the game is to rescue a princess who looks like a blow-up doll. Wait a minute, I just noticed something: this game's more of a Mario rip-off than the Obscure Giana Sisters! Look at the evidence: fat mustache man, princess desperately in need of a good sexing, 32 levels, the ability to shoot (what I hope were) fireballs, decent ph.....oh, wait, that's kinda where the similarities end. For those of you who can't predict basic anythings, I was going to finish that with "decent physics", something I remembered Adventure Island was severely lacking.
The biggest problem that I can think of is the drift. Everything about this game feels like Disney on Ice, only with Ron Jeremy: stopping requires about 20 feet ahead of you and jumping onto a moving platform will make the physics implode. It feels somewhat cruel, since a lot of the levels have you hopping between areas less than a pixel wide. You'll trip into an enemy/fire/rock/blade of grass, get angry, and blow up your NES. That, of course, leads to game over, since you can't play Adventure Island on an exploded NES. Fortunately, the game's quite easy (until the end levels), so you'll only get game over about a few times. Which was good for me, since it meant less time making a dirty bomb that plays bitching chiptunes and more time actually noticing that this game does some cool things that make it more than Shirtless Mario Bros.
I don't know where to begin with it, so I'll try to think in terms of Ron Jeremy.....I know, eggs! Like Ron Jeremy, you'll spend most of your time ruining eggs for your own profit. But unlike Ron Jeremy, ruining these eggs results in things that aren't one of his pornos, like skateboards and fairies. All the fairy does is give you invincibility, so let's move onto the skateboard. What does it do? What the hell do you think, idiot, it makes you move forward! The catch? You can't stop. The closest thing possible is holding back, but even then, you're kinda screwed. It makes the jumps harder and some just comedic material for the sadistic programmers. Besides plunging to your helmet-safety-disproving death, it can also lead you to trip over petty things I listed earlier. And into your death.
If this is coming off a bit negative, keep in mind that it's been quite some time since I've played the game, so I may not be in the right mindset. In fact, I'm probably in a horrible mindset, since I actually liked the game. Hell, it has enough quirks and charm to get me to like it. Yes, I love playing as a guy who can be the mascot for egotism, but that's not all I love about the game; I also liked the fruit based gameplay and the fact that I was collecting pots in each level, apparently meaning that I'm playing as Ron Jeremy in his younger years. You know, when he experimented in the gay porn industry. And that's what this game does: it experiments. Not with gay porn, you sick pervert, but with platforming. And it works, so I'll give it the only award I can possibly give it:
- Ron Jeremy at his finest.
- "Reflex-based" does not even begin to describe this game.
- Quirky does.