Final Fantasy Chronicles Review
It seems like it has been forever since the last time I played a good Playstation game. With all the focus on the PS2, I'm sure all of you will agree with me on that. Around this time, last summer, I would be waiting the arrival of the sequel to one of the best RPG games ever, Chrono Cross. Fast forward one month and there I am playing my long awaited journey as Serge, Glen and Kid. Praising the heck out of the game, I awarded Chrono Cross a perfect score, and also bestowed it as Game of the Year, sharing the honor with Final Fantasy IX, however. The same could be said for Final Fantasy IX. And now for the third time in less than a year Square makes me burn inside of anticipation with their recent release, Final Fantasy Chronicles. Announced early 2001, Final Fantasy Chronicles is what Final Fantasy Anthology was two years ago. It's a re-release of two classic Square games, Final Fantasy IV (originally FFII) and Chrono Trigger in particular. Both FFIV and CT have been considered to be the ripest of all RPGs that Square has ever produced. Albeit my two-cents beg to differ...'every' SquareSoft RPG is just as ripe as the next one, I never disliked a Square RPG, whether it was Mana, Saga Frontier, Chocobo's Dungeon, Front Mission, Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger/Cross. Every Square RPG has always stood up above the crowd, and these two are perfect examples.
It's fair to say that both games deserve a 7.0 in graphics because at their time they were considered "hardware pushing" visuals. Despite them being sprites, both games feature inspired artistic designs. Character portraits for each characters are great examples of classic Square art that never seems to show its age. That visual score's most directly targeted at Chrono Trigger, as its visuals rival many Playstation RPG's such as Alundra, or even Breath of Fire III. The settings that CT has to offer are truly wondrous, and come alive when an anime movie sequence comes to its feet during gameplay. Which brings me to the next visual aspect, Square has implemented movies into both Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger. FFIX features CGs, and CT includes anime cut-scenes much like those found in XenoGears. That's about all I can say about the visuals, plain and simple, they both look like decent games, even though one of them is extremely outdated.
Final Fantasy IV
I've just recently discovered, and hold true to my word, that Final Fantasy IX and IV are cousins story wise. Let me explain how I figured this out. First of all much like IX, IV circles around a kingdom who's leader (Baron) has gone mad, and his apprentice (Cecil) is trying to find out why. Second of all, Final Fantasy IX and IV both have white and black mages who have the same exact designs as far as clothing goes. Third and also the most important is that both games revolve around the "Crystal." Now either I'm just dog-gone senile, or I have unraveled something. [Story Spoiler!] Now as I mentioned previously, Final Fantasy IV is the story of Cecil, a powerful wing commander who gets demoted from the job by the king because of his protest to killing innocent people during given missions and objectives. Cecil tries to plea with the Baron, so Baron tells Cecil to take a ring along with him to a village past the mountains, and to go with Kain, Cecil's childhood friend.
Upon arriving at the the village, which is later found to be the village of Summoners, the ring given by the Barron activates itself and ignites the whole town on fire, it was a trap! Both Kain and Cecil find a girl alive and try to get her out of the blazing town, but she refuses and challenges the two by summoning a force that creates a violent earthquake. The quake sends Cecil, Kain and the girl flying and this is where the game's journey begins. Final Fantasy IV is a hard-core RPG fan's dream, there are many random battles, which are relatively easy if I do say so myself, exploration is tougher than current RPGs, as there is no map, but that's just what makes FFIV great. On some levels it's easier than today's RPG, but on many others it's much harder. Final Fantasy IV is the traditional medieval FF game, as the setting perfectly shows. In addition to CG cinemas, FFIV also features new magic spells, monsters and items, which are exclusive to the US version.
Despite this being an 8-bit SNES game, FFIV's dialogue is probably the best of any game. Every character has a life-like personality to him, there is great usage of harsh language which makes a game such FFIV even more realistic. The character personalities rival those found in Chrono Cross. Joining Cecil and Kain are characters such as Rosa, Cid, Rydia, Edward, Tellah, Yang, Edge, Fusoya, Parlom and Porom. Final Fantasy IV features the original job system in its blood vain, as you've got everything from Engineers (such as Cid), to black mages (such as Parlom) to Dragoons (such as Kain) and Dark Knight (such as Cecil). Final Fantasy IV is an amazing game, one that pretty much features the perfect gameplay all FF games have, the excellent dialogue and on top of that a 40+ hour quest is something that we are seeing less and less of these days. Thankfully Square's looking to change that.
Sometimes I stumble upon thinking which game I love most, is it Chrono Trigger, or is it Chrono Cross, or maybe it's Final Fantasy IV, or IX, or VI? *Sigh*, a question I'll never truly be able to answer is which Final Fantasy/Chrono game is my favorite. Downright honestly I don't have one, if I were to list my favorite FF/Chrono games, I'd round them all up as a tie, including Tactics and VIII. It's hard to decide which Square game is best, but not very hard to decide what is one of the greatest RPG games ever made. [Story Spoiler!] Chrono Trigger (or time manipulator) revolves around a young hero who's name is Crono. Crono's best friend (Lucca) is an inventor who just created the worlds first transporter, and is showcasing it at the Millennial Fair. Crono's excitement over the fair has been building highly, and when he finally arrives at the fair, a girl bumps into him. She asks if he would show her around, she claims to be new. She calls herself Marle when indeed she is the Princess Nadia of the kingdom Guardia. Crono will eventually have to take Marle to see Lucca's new invention, when Marle decides to test out the machine, she is mysteriously sucked 400 years back in time, where is she mistaken for the lost Princess of Guardia 600AD, Leene. Here is where Chrono Trigger's flawless adventure picks up.
Starring seven unforgettable characters, Crono, Lucca, Frog, Marle (Princess Nadia), Robo, Ayla and Magus, Chrono Trigger spans over 35 hours of mesmerizing gameplay, that captivates anyone who touches it. Chrono Trigger features a unique 'elemental assignment' inclusion, which in comprehensible terms means that each Chrono character has his or her own elemental sign. Chrono is lightning, Lucca is fire, Marle and Frog are water, and so on. Each elemental assignment grants that character with certain types of magic attacks, lightning element will allow you to cast, lightning, lightning 2, life and luminaire. Meanwhile fire gives, fire, fire 2, flare and protect. And the same goes for other element types. But you aren't given all of the magic attacks at once, as it is with any ordinary RPG you have to earn by gaining experience and leveling-up. Another amazing inclusion in 'Trigger is the line attack, if your enemies are lined up in order and you attack them, you will attack all enemies that are in the line; the game will reiterate on that. I'd give the overall gameplay mark a 15 if I could, but I don't think that would be fair. Overall even though these are 8/16-bit games that were released on 15/10 year old consoles, these games are pretty much impossible to come by today, and if you happen to stumble upon both, or even one, waste no time to pick the game(s) up. Otherwise, if you've never played Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy IV, it is your duty to go get Chronicles, it's the reason you should be happy you have a PSOne.
Both CT and FFIV have been said to have the most compelling soundtracks of any Final Fantasy game. While in some areas that may be true, it's a coin toss between the aforementioned, and Final Fantasy VII (just my personal opinion). Aside from any comparisons, it's almost impossible not to love both games soundtrack, if you love CT's you must love FFIV's, and vice-versa. I say that simply because they were written by the same music producer, the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, with some co-work on CT's sountrack done by Yasunori Mitsuda. Realistically speaking, Final Fantasy IV's 'bleeps and bloops' may get to those who are used to today's RPG soundtrack. My only complaint on FFIV's soundtrack is the battle theme, I'd rule it as the most annoying FF battle song, but aside from that everything else is great. Chrono Trigger's soundtrack has always stood out as my second or first favorite out of all RPG's I've played. Like I said I have a dilemma choosing between Final Fantasy VII's soundtrack. Anyways, Chrono Trigger's music features pretty much flawless tunes, amazingly coordinated and never tiresome, CT's sound is definitely some of -if not- the best around.
Can't say much for controls, you can re-configure them to your liking, though I am disappointed that I can't use analog for Chrono Trigger. Final Fantasy IV I understand, but Square should've taken that extra two-hours and implemented analog compatibility. Even though there's no analog functionality, I should make note that Final Fantasy IV is a two-player game, much like Final Fantasy IX is (you see there we go again...). You select the characters you want to be completely controlled by the second player and the action will take affect when you enter any battle. Both games move fine, the controls should take absolutely no time to get used to, since after all they are derived from a controller with only six buttons on it.
By now if you haven't played either game, and claim that you're an RPG fan you my friend are poser, that is unless you can prove yourself not, by purchasing this amazing set, and while you're at it get yourself a copy of FF Anthology as well. Final Fantasy Chronicles features near perfect porting of both RPG titles, with the exception of Chrono Trigger's slightly laggy load times. Both games may not contain eye-popping visuals, but you will definitely appreciate the fine art that each RPG features. Each RPG will span roughly or possibly over 40 hours of gameplay, which tallies up to an equivalent of nearly 80 hours of RPG goodness, depending on how experienced of an RPG gamer you are. Final word: kudos to SquareSoft for bringing over two of the best RPG's you're likely to ever play.