When it comes to the number one video game spot for me, the eternal struggle is between Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger, and Seiken Densetsu 3. More often than not, I'll regard FFIV as the winner, mostly because it was the game that kick-started my love of RPGs, and was a fantastic title in itself. Sure, VI has the superior soundtrack, and VII has the edge in story, but when it comes to Final Fantasy, IV is still my favorite. When the After Years was announced, I felt like I had finally been in the right place when it comes to consoles. After the SNES, I've always felt that I was on the wrong side and constantly had to keep backlogs of other system titles to pick up when I could afford another console. But this time, the title I wanted more than anything at that moment was coming out for a system I own.
Rather than detail each chapter, I'll pull elements from the two chapters that seemed to capture the high and low points perfectly. The opening tale, focusing on Ceodore, is a perfect example of what this sequel is capable of - Ceodore's struggles with his father's legacy as he is thrown into a conflict. It fits, and the story arc is decently engrossing. Unlike some, I did appreciate them using the same settings because it gives the world a sense of continuity. Some things are smartly changed, especially the extra basement in the Mist Cave. The few new gameplay elements such as the moon phases and band system are given a good introduction. Overall, this first chapter is good run around the block to get the game's momentum going.
Problem is, the momentum never actually leaves that point. Every chapter is just like the first. A few dungeons, a couple plot points that meander around a story that never goes beyond some generic villain mimicking Golbez. Yang's chapter is what put me over the edge. A little ways in, Yang is charged with defending the wind crystal, again. From Baron, again. The only difference in the sequence is that Cecil and Edward are swapped for three nameless monks. Even the monsters are the same. So at this point, one would assume that when Kain shows up, it's going to be just the same right? He even attacks fast and does high damage, so I just laid back and let him kill me. Then I was smacked with the title screen.
It was like a big "fuck you!" from the developers, like they could be heard to say "oh, you think this is going to be the same battle? In your face, fuckstick!" This twist of Kain is the sort of fan service I find insulting. Luckily, the game is so damn easy that I loaded it back up, and mindlessly kept punching the 2 button while doing other things in another room. Which brings me to the other big problem: the difficulty is a joke, and leveling up/item collection is pointless. Nearly every encounter can be won by spamming attack, and since each chapter is only an hour or so, there's really no point in trying to build up the party. Just as you are getting familiar with the characters and formulating strategies, the chapter is over and you're at the beginning again.
The graphics and sound are on the mark, basically boasting the same cleaned up feel as the PSP remakes. That's really the only consistently good thing going on here. There are great moments for a die-hard FFIV fan, but they are few and far between. The $37 may seem reasonable when portioned out across each chapter, but do yourself a favor and spend a couple hours just imagining what you think Cecil, Rosa, Kain, and the rest are up to. Odds are it will be more satisfying than The After Years. Also that title is a little too close to a certain Saved by the Bell series.
LOOK WHO CAME:
Dr Light ate your Magicite