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An Enjoyable Spin-Off - Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light Review
Final Fantasy games have managed to make their rounds on pretty much every console that matters. Major entries in the franchise have appeared on home consoles while spin-offs have frequented handhelds. The famed RPG series definitely branches out in its appeal, and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light for the Nintendo DS offers a niche-quality adventure that may not be for everyone but is highly enjoyable in its own right.
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The 4 Heroes of Light Storyline
You play as a young man named Brandt. Upon turning 14, he goes to meet with the king to go through the traditional ceremony into adulthood. Things quickly go awry as the king requests that Brandt help him find his daughter, Princess Aire, who has been kidnapped by a vile witch. Initially, this plot seems like a shallow save-the-princess fetch quest, but as you progress further you discover that it is far bigger than that, and you meet many new allies and enemies along the way. The story never gets too deep, but important revelations pop up from time to time to keep you interested.
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Gameplay - Leveling Up and Battling
Something that makes The 4 Heroes of Light stand out is its old-school design. The game is very reminiscent of an older generation of RPGs. You can’t get by simply battling major threats; you need to do some serious level grinding throughout the game. While this may not appeal to everyone, it is certainly an enjoyable aspect if you’re looking for a big challenge. There are moments where you level up sufficiently before a major boss fight only to lose the battle. This forces you to go back onto the field and engage in some random encounters. Reaching that necessary level then becomes a major part of the game, and this may be enough to turn some gamers away from The 4 Heroes of Light.
You have different abilities on the field of battle, and whether you’re attacking or defending, you use up some of your action points. Your AP total consists of five points, and you lose a different amount depending on the intensity of your actions. You regain a point every turn, and you can rest to regain another point. This adds a nice layer of strategy to the game, and it makes you choose your actions wisely. There are definitely moments where things can get frustrating, especially if your survival depends on you performing a massive attack on an enemy or a big defensive move which can only be performed by using up more AP than you actually have.
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Gameplay - Job System and Item Management
The flow of the game is pretty basic. You go from town to town, fighting enemies in turn-based battles along the way, and meet important people that aid you with important information or their services on the battlefield. The job system from past Final Fantasy games returns. This game’s system is based on a collection of hats, or crowns, that your characters can equip. The bandit crown allows you to steal items from your enemies while in battle; the black mage crown enhances your black magic abilities and reduces the number of AP points you expend; and the bard crown allows you to increase your party’s attack and defense stats. You discover a wide assortment of crowns on your journey, all of which can be enhanced by adorning them with gems that you pick up after battles, and experimenting with the different jobs is a lot of fun.
In addition to gems, you collect all manner of goods after defeating enemies. Weapons, health items, and other collectibles are yours for the taking after you succeed in battle. Unfortunately, your characters’ pockets aren’t very deep because you can only hold on to to a certain amount of items at any time. At first this isn’t a big deal, but it becomes a nuisance later on due to the fact that you need to visit different shops around town if you want to sell or store your items. And because you have to constantly buy new weapons and shields to adjust to your enemies’ strengths and weakness, jumping from shop to shop across the various towns is something you have to do in order to free up inventory space.
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Controls - Character Movement and Menu Navigation
All of your actions can be performed using the D-pad and buttons on the DS, or you can opt to use the stylus and touch screen to move around and select actions. The standard button controls work better overall, and they are far easier to recommend over the stylus control option. Sadly, menu navigation is a bit clunky throughout the entire game. Switching between character menus and selecting different options isn’t terrible, but it definitely takes some getting used to. Making choices on the game’s various menus is a lengthy process, and one that begs for a bit more simplicity.
Additionally, you never get to choose a target for your party members to attack. You simply select an action, and your characters perform it automatically. Some gamers may find this mechanic a bit of an annoyance, though once you get the hang of the game, it quickly becomes just another part of the gameplay experience.
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The 4 Heroes of Light has a colorful storybook look to it. Though the DS’s limitations warrant a few pixelated areas, the game still manages to convey an impressive aesthetic that’s really pleasing to the eyes. The different towns are all brimming with personality, foliage is bright and bold, and dungeons appear dark, damp, and mysterious. The character models themselves look fairly decent as well, and seeing your characters don different outfits depending on the crown they wear is pretty cool.
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The game’s soundtrack isn’t as charming as its crisp and colorful visuals, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. As you delve deeper into your adventure you hear a variety of themes that range from whimsical to ominous. Every song in the game is effective, and while some are more enjoyable than others, the entire game sounds good overall.
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Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light Overall Score
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is a nice little RPG for the Nintendo DS. Though the level grinding can become tedious at certain points, it’s a great nod at the RPGs of the past. There is plenty of game here for fans of both Final Fantasy games and RPGs, and it’s easy to get lost in the game’s world. You can even play alongside some friends in local co-op to rake in some dough and special items. When all of the game’s parts come together, you get an engaging role-playing experience that teases you to continue playing. And after you jump those grinding, backtracking, and menu navigation hurdles, you get an incredibly satisfying game. If you have the patience to get through the first few hours of the game, then you will find a solid RPG in The 4 Heroes of Light.
A collection of reviews for various Final Fantasy games.