The Bottom Line: But it. Stop making this a required category.
It's about time, says the back of the box these two games come in. When these two fantastic rpgs first came out, they helped to define the 16-bit era of rpgs. Although I have never played either of them before, I can honestly say that they stand the test of time.
Final Fantasy 4 Final Fantasy 4 was first released in the US as Final Fantasy 2, and now it has been re-released with all new monsters and spells and a higher difficulty level. But, having never played it before, I wouldn't know anything about that. But I do know that Final Fantasy 4 is one of the most solid and impressive rpgs I have ever played.
Final Fantasy 4 introduces us to Cecil, a dark knight who is quite possibly the greatest rpg character ever. We first meet Cecil when he leads an attack on the kingdom of Mysidia, in which many innocent people are slaughtered. Afterward, Cecil feels guilty about his actions and begins to question his orders. This angers the king of Baron, Cecil's hometown, and so the king sends Cecil and his best friend Kain to prove their loyalty to Baron by delivering a ring to a nearby town. But when the ring winds up destroying the town, Cecil's consience takes over and his guilt turns into defiance, as he decides that he won't allow the killing of any more innocent people. It's a spectrum of emotions that's very exciting and rare in video games. Later, there is a powerful scene in which Cecil renounces his dark knighthood for good and becomes a paladin.
And Cecil is just the beginning of a wonderful and diverse cast of characters. Almost everyone is fully fleshed out. Along the way, we also meet Rydia, a young summoner in the town that Cecil accidently destroyed; Tellah, a once powerful wizard who has forgotten most of his spells; Edge, a hot headed ninja prince, and many, many more. Opposing our band of unlikely allies is the evil Golbez, who hypnotized the people of Baron into stealing the crystals so he can use them for his own evil purposes.
It's good that there is such a great cast of characters to draw us into the game, because the graphics and sounds do little to do that. Although I have lowered my standards to rate these games (as they ARE from the 16-bit era), the graphis and sounds still come up to little better than average. The enemies in the battle scenes are motionless, the sprites are small, and the game fails to make use of the color pallete. The sounds and music, although fitting, are tiny. For an example of what 16-bit can do, you need only to pop in the other cd.
The gameplay is typical FF. If you've ever played a FF before, you'll know your way around. The controls in the menus are very responsive. No complaints. You'll need those responsive controls, too, because the difficulty in this game is through the roof! Although the battle engine is supposed to be tme based, it feels more like it's turn based, because for every turn you get, the entire bad guy party gets to attack you. Be sure to level up and bring along plenty of potions, because even regular bad guys will have you whimpering by your third turn. The bosses are even worse. They will quickly bring you to your knees, either begging for mercy or praying for a miracle to save you.
Man, I wanted to give this game 5 stars. But in the end, I just couldn't. The average graphics and sounds, although not annoying or anything, just weigh it down too much. But if you can get beyond them, you are likely to find a truly rewarding rpg. 4 stars.
Chrono Trigger Chrono Trigger redefined 16-bit rpg gaming. Or so I hear. All I know is that with it's memorable storyline and characters, it's unique battle system, it's nonlinear, freewheeling gameplay style and it's ten endings, it is so far the greatest rpg ever made. Feel free to quote me on that.
Chrono Trigger begins with the celebration of the new millenium in the year 1000 ad. Among the attendees of the millenial fair is our hero, Crono, whose best friend Lucca is demonstrating her new teleportation device at the fair. But when something goes wrong at the demonstration, Crono's new friend Marle is sucked through a time gate to the year 600 ad. Crono dives in after her, and so begins his adventure. His adventure will take him through many different time periods from the stone age to a very bleak future in his attempt to stop the evil Lavos from destroying the world in the year 1999.
Again, we have a unique and diverse cast of character at our disposal, every one of them fully fleshed out. Among the people you meet are the noble Frog, a knight hell bent on avenging the death of his friend; Robo, a defected robot from the future; Zeal, a queen who will stop at nothing to become immortal; and Magus, a truly unique villian whose intentions are not as malevolent as they seem.
The graphics and sounds set new standard is 16-bit rpgs. All the characters are very well drawn, and each one has their own look and battle stance. Some of the bosses, like Tyrano, Giga Gaia, and Lavos are so big that they take up almost the entire screen. The backgrounds are bright, detailed and colorful,and the time travel effects must have really pushed the Super NES to it's limits. The sounds are your typical tiny slash and clang stuff, but the music is incredible. Each era has different music, some of which could pass for orchastrated, and there isn't a note of filler to be heard.
The control is well done and very responsive. You can move diagonally, which is good because you can actually avoid some random encounters by running. And the battle system simply rules. Chrono Trigger introduces the combo system. Let me explain: The battles in this game are time based, which means your characters get their turns when something called a time gauge fills up. If two characters have their gauges filled at the smae time, you can opt to combine their special attacks for an attack that causes considerably more damage. The catch is that both characters use their mp and the move counts as one turn. It's a great idea that added an amout of strategic depth that Final Fantasy didn't have.
Another great thing about Chrono Trigger is that when you beat the game once, you can start all over again using the level you were at when you beat it the first time, along with all the weapons and items you had. This is good, because with ten endings, this game has plenty of replay value, and with the new game plus, you can avoid many frustrations that you had during your first playthrough.
Chrono Trigger is everything that a really great rpg should be. 5 stars.
These games are a great introduction for anyone new to the rpg world, and a great window to the past for veterans. If you can get past the now defunct 16-bit technology, you will treasure these games forever.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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The FINAL FANTASY CHRONICLES set includes new opening and closing cinematic sequences for CHRONO TRIGGER as well as several re-creations of memorable sequences, all of which add to the game's emotional impact, answer lingering questions, and offer insight into the game's successor, CHRONO CROSS(TM). New FINAL FANTASY IV features include a "dash" feature, allowing players to move quickly through towns and dungeons; a two-player mode that allows two players to participate in battles together; and a completely new, improved localization of the original unedited story. In addition, it contains some new cinematic sequences and includes all the original monsters, abilities, items and scenes that were not seen in the SNES version. CHRONO TRIGGER was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and is a time-traveling role-playing game whose story spans several different time periods.