Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
- Price: 800 Points
- In Real Money: £6 / €8
Much like Capcom’s 8-bit styled MegaMan 9, this direct sequel to the 1991 entry in the series has been designed to look and play like a SNES title. It’s also episodic in nature although as with My Life as a Darklord, the way this has been implemented is rather unappetising.
The game is set 17 years after the original. We find Ceodore, son of Cecil and Rosa, taking his place as our new precocious hero. The moon detached from the Blue Planet’s orbit at the end of Final Fantasy IV has returned mysteriously, and those bloomin’ Crystals start to throb in a “here we go again” sort of way.
A total of 13 existing characters are reintroduced in older forms while 11 new characters have been added to the pot. In other words, it’s every bit as sprawling and busy as you’d expect from the Final Fantasy series. Familiarity with the previous game isn’t essential as such, but it certainly helps. You’ll know already if Square’s wordy dialogue and leisurely storytelling is your cup of tea, so there’s little point chalking it up as either pro or con. Suffice to say, it feels every inch the classic Final Fantasy adventure.
Gameplay is much as it would have been back in 1991, making for a familiar and intuitive experience, but there are some new features of note. The phases of the moon change each time you rest, and this lunar cycle has an immediate effect – both positive and negative - on your party and the enemies you fight.
There’s also the ChronoTrigger-inspired Band System, which allows you to combine attacks from each character to create new, more devastating, offensive moves. With so many characters to choose from, it’s no small addition to the tactical meat of the battles.
All of which should, in theory, make The After Years an instant purchase for fans. At 800 Points for an all-new Final Fantasy game in the classic style, it’s hard not to recommend this course of action. That is until our old friend DLC drops in for a visit. The initial purchase only gives you the main story. If you want the sidequests, and the character-specific storylines, then you’ll need to fork out for an extra 13 chapters, which adds another 3700 points to the asking price.
They are, of course, entirely optional but the sort of people most likely to be attracted to a SNES-styled sequel to a 1991 JRPG are also those most likely to want every last drop of gameplay. Perhaps more than any other genre, this is the one where you know that simply playing the main storyline is less than half the experience. With that in mind, while The After Years is a treat for fans in concept and execution, it’s a slap in the face from a commercial standpoint.