Final Fantasy IV for Android looks and plays similar to Final Fantasy III. Both (and the iOS versions as well) are ported from the Nintendo DS 3D remakes of the classic role playing games (RPG).
Note the following two videos are NOT present in the smartphone versions of the game.
This is one of the most expensive games for Android. Its pricing is more in line with console games instead of a smartphone game. In terms of play time I finished the first playthrough of the game and all the sidequests (but not all the rare treasures) using close to 50 hours – I’m sure other people can use less time than I do, since I wasted some time in trying to get a rare treasure for a sidequest, backtracking to places to get 100% map coverage, and getting lost in maze-like dungeons, and . Anyway I think it is safe to say that this game offers 30+ hours of play time. Square Enix seems to think that this level of play time justifies its really high price.
Note: At the time of this publication, there is a 50% off sale for Final Fantasy III [July update – this sale seems to have ended]. If you’re interested in buying one of these two games and never played their earlier incarnations on other platforms before, it’s a no-brainer to buy Final Fantasy III instead. (However, it’s worthwhile to note that many people think that Final Fantasy IV is a better game than Final Fantasy III.)
The controls are the same as Final Fantasy III for Android. Basically, when you touch the touchscreen, then drag it to one of the eight directions, the character moves accordingly. It is especially problematic when you need the character to face a certain thing on the wall at an angled direction. Some people hated it. I don’t think it is very good but I got used to it.
Graphics and Performance
As with Final Fantasy III, the graphics quality of Final Fantasy IV is improved over the Nintendo DS 3D remake. Coupled with the possibility of using a larger screen, the smartphone versions are the best versions of the game (as with Final Fantasy III).
Smartphone screenshot from http://www.siliconera.com:
Nintendo DS screenshot from http://www.siliconera.com:
On my Galaxy Nexus (with a dual core 1.2GHz OMAP4460 processor and 384MHz SGX540 GPU) running RasSaber Jellybean 4.2.2 firmware, the game runs well enough (not ultra smooth but significantly smoother than the YouTube video above) most of the time. Only in a few dungeons late in the game does the game slow down to be quite choppy.
Gameplay and Difficulty
The purpose of this game is simple: Save the world.
In terms of convenience, a major improvement over Final Fantasy III is the addition of Auto-Battle, which lets the characters automatically take predefined actions, such as Attack, Steal, use an item, play a bard song, or Pray (heal a little hit point and magic point for the whole party at no cost), etc. With the capability of turning on or off this auto-battle, this frees the player from having to select the same options over and over again during battles.
In Final Fantasy III, you have to manually zoom in to some places to discover treasures. However, it is no longer necessary in this game. When you face a hidden treasure, some sparkles show up. This is another improvement.
There are Normal and Hard settings to choose from when you start a new game. I chose Normal. I feel that I can level up faster in this game than in Final Fantasy III (perhaps because the Final Fantasy III job changing system requires increasing job levels for different jobs.) However, on the whole I think Final Fantasy IV is more difficult, because its monster level distribution is not consistent in the late part of the game, i.e. you may randomly encounter some monsters that are insanely more difficult than the other random encounters in the same place, that you have no choice but to run away. Some may say this means my level is not high enough – I must disagree with this, because if you level up to the point of being able to defeat everything at a certain point without getting any character killed, then the later bosses become too easy and it takes away the fun in facing the bosses.
While Final Fantasy III is strictly turn-based, Final Fantasy IV introduces the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. While you’re deciding whether to attack or cast a magic, your enemy can attack you because the enemy has filled up its time gauge (hidden from you). It toke a while for me to get used to it, and it made things unnecessarily difficult. In one of the boss battles, most of my party is scripted to die at the beginning. Obviously I have to raise them from the dead then cure them. However, with the ATB system instead of a turn-based system, if I do not time my operations precisely, the boss may suddenly attack my party between the time they are raised and the time they are cured, i.e. killing them again and preventing me from winning the battle.
If you think the job changing system in Final Fantasy III causes some difficulty, the new “Augments” (special abilities that can be given to a character) in this game cause another kind of difficulties. Some augments help immensely, but other than reading a FAQ you won’t know the precise steps to get them (often requires giving a particular number of augments to a character who will soon be scripted to die or leave the party, then backtrack to places you’ve already visited in order to get them).
It is common for a Final Fantasy game to have rare drops from monsters. However, in this game, a rare drop treasure known as Rainbow Pudding is necessary for an optional sidequest. There is a really low probability to get it – I got it only after fighting over 270 x 4 Yellow Jelly monsters. After this experience, I gave up and hex edited the save file to get other rare treasure like Adamant Armor.
There are optional bosses that do not show up in the first playthrough. It is only possible to find them in your second playthrough. In addition, you need to play the game two or three times if you desire to obtain more “augments”. Some people may consider these aspects to be advantageous for replayability, but I hate this.
I occasionally see 3D graphics glitches in form of a black polygon in version 1.2.0 of this game, but I don’t recall seeing the same issue in Final Fantasy III. This is quite rare and does not affect the game play in anyway, so this is not a concern.
One of the desirable goals the player should strive to achieve is to have 100% maps drawn (by the auto mapping function). However, I encountered an issue with this. At a certain dungeon, I mapped out the whole level but only got 99% map only. It toke me two hours to walk over every edge and corner of the map without being able to get it to 100%. Finally, I went back to the entrance stairs and then I got 100% – this is abnormal because I came from the entrance stairs originally and it should have been mapped already. (Note: In a few dungeons, it is essential to have every level mapped 100% the first time and fought all different types of monster for bestiary, because once you finish the goals of those dungeons, you do not have another chance to visit them.)
I have frequently switched from playing this game to doing other things on Android (such as browsing FAQ), then go back to the game. Naturally, since my Galaxy Nexus does not have a lot of RAM, sometimes the game is killed by Android – which is normal and expected. However, there are a few times when the game is not killed, but it cannot resume correctly. This is not really a great problem, since I can always reload the game and resume from the last quicksave.
Walkthrough and Differences from Nintendo DS Version
Refer to this excellent walkthrough by SBAllen. Since it describes the Nintendo DS version, there is one significant difference from the smartphone versions – there is now an Eidolon Search Sidequest that needs to be completed in order to obtain the Piercing Magic Augment. In addition, the character Whyt has been dropped. Only 1 Limit Break can be obtained now, instead of 2 from the DS version, this has huge implications for defeating the superboss Proto-Babil. For other differences, see this wiki.
Final Fantasy IV is a great port of the classical game to Android. It is expensive but I enjoyed it. Final Fantasy IV is more difficult to play than Final Fantasy III, even though leveling up the characters are faster.