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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions

APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions – July 31, 2013 5:28 PM (edited 7/31/13 1:28 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
It's the game that was designed to recapture the 16-bit magic against the game that actually started that 16-bit magic. FFD is an interesting one, as I've played the game briefly in the past, but never far enough to get to anything new and exciting. Will I do so this time? Let's find out.

Game 1: Visuals
FFD is a sprite-based game, but they are extremely hi-res sprites on beautiful iOS screens. The design is a bit uninspired, but it's undeniably sharp, at least. I can't exactly blame them for making the animations relatively simplistic, given that they were going for a retro feel, but we're talking FF5 levels of basic animations here. In fact the entire style seems like a hi-res FF5. Which, given my feelings about FF5's graphics, isn't a good thing.

FF4's actual graphic quality isn't great, but the way they used those graphics is. Keep in mind this wasn't just the first next-gen FF, this was one of the first SNES games, period, and Square pulled out all the graphical stops to show off the new hardware: mode 7, transparency, huge sprites with plenty of colors. I'm particularly fond of the battle animations, but even the map animations are kind of great considering the tiny square character sprites involved.

FFD's graphics are just too plain, hi-res or not. FF4 manages to do a lot more with less, and tends to be a more attractive game in motion if played on an actual SDTV. Good luck finding one these days, though. Still, it makes sense that the game designed to show off what new hardware can do would look nicer than the game designed not to show what new hardware can do.
Final Fantasy IV leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
No tracks really jumped out at me in FFD, and the battle music is middling at best. There's no voice acting, and the sound design isn't anything to write home about. It gets the job done, but only just.

FF4's best tracks don't show up early on, but its battle music and minor boss music aren't too shabby. The sound effects are kind of grating though, especially the battle start sound. A lot of the early music is quite ethereal, which I recall getting me made fun of by my brother at age 10.

FF4's battle music alone, possibly my favorite in the series, trumps anything FFD has to offer. FF4's early-game audio isn't the be-all end-all (that comes later), but its competition isn't very stiff in this case.
Final Fantasy IV leads 2-0

Game 3: Combat
Combat in FFD is actually pretty fun. As bad as the touch-screen controls are for navigating the world, they are great for combat. Of course, my pudgy fingers ran into a few issues with the relatively small buttons on an iPod, but it's hard to complain too much, given the convenience. There aren't a ton of abilities to be seen here, but we have black and white magic, status ailments and cures, and all the other basic Final Fantasy elements. Auto mode is particularly fantastic for the early game, combining auto-attack and increased battle speed.

The first dungeon worth of FF4 combat is incredibly boring. I wasn't even attacked in the Mist Cave until I reached the boss. Cecil and Kain are just too powerful early on. However, once you get Rydia and enter the Water Cavern, everything changes. Now you have a vulnerable party member and spells that must be used efficiently to get through the monsters without having to backtrack to heal up. Certainly Tellah helps, and between the two of them you have a lot of options. Interesting mechanics like Zombies Cecil can't hurt, a Rod that's better as an item than a weapon, and Water Bugs that are healed by magic are all the sorts of things you don't usually see for quite a while in an RPG.

Had this been a 20-minute comparison rather than 30, FFD wins hands down. But once FF4 combat gets going, it goes strong. This is not an easy game, and you need to form a strategy and stick with it right away. It can be a bit unfair (such as when you're attacked from behind and level 1 Rydia is dead before anyone gets a turn), but interesting and hard is better than straightforward and easy.
Final Fantasy IV leads 3-0

Game 4: Advancement
I gained a few levels, but didn't seem to gain any new abilities or anything. The only advancement I really saw was in new gear, but there was quite a bit of that. Everyone is currently listed as "jobless," so I'm sure things get crazy later, but even with four characters of the same class, it made sense to split up items based on their particularly abilities (with magic, for instance). The gear is pleasingly diverse for the early game, too.

As with combat, there isn't much to speak of in the way of advancement while Kain is in the party. Once Rydia joins, things change quite a bit. She levels up very quickly, gaining a ton of spells in the process. You can by better armor than she starts with, but really the differences in how you play are all reflected in combat.

I have to give this one to FFD because, even early on, it has the one thing FF4 lacks in terms of advancement: choice. Short of the occasional "which mage should I give this hand gear to" question, FF4's advancement, both in terms of leveling and gear, really only has one path. Gaining a bunch of spells is fun, but as I said, that's more of a combat thing. You don't really have any impact on how your characters work in FF4, and that's a problem.
Final Fantasy IV leads 3-1

Game 5: Characters
The four characters in FFD are about as cookie-cutter as they come. Sol is the blundering hero, Diane is the misunderstood woman, Glaive is the serious friend, and Aigis is the hero who's probably fated to die in the first two hours or something. Or be the final boss. It's hard to say. What's also hard to say is if they have any personality. I'm giving them an Incomplete grade there.

Cecil has many shades of the angsty protagonists to come in the FF series, but the characters around him aren't half bad. I don't love Kain like I did as a kid, and here he spends his time eavesdropping on the king and acting like he just doesn't have time to care. Not cool, Kain. Well, I mean, sure it's "cool" in the sense of, well, cool, but... anyway forget Kain. Rosa doesn't do much except try to cheer Cecil up, but the pair of psychotic old men that are Cid and Tellah are pretty great early on. It's also nice to see Rydia quickly progress from overpowered child to pathetic weakling to utility mage in the span of 10 minutes.

FF4 didn't have to do much to win here. FF games with job systems tend to have relatively uninteresting, blank-slate characters, and FFD is no exception. FF4 is about as opposed to the job system philosophically as one gets, and having well-fleshed-out characters goes hand in hand with that.
Final Fantasy IV wins 4-1

FFD never really had a chance. I've heard good things about the game, and what I've read sounds great, but it just hasn't started getting interesting at all 30 minutes in. FF4 takes a bit to get interesting, too, but it's within the 30 minute time limit, so it comes away with an easy win.

Next Game: (5) Final Fantasy X vs. (28) Blue Dragon

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions – July 31, 2013 5:48 PM (edited 7/31/13 1:48 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Just out of curiosity, have you ever thought about sending these write ups to gaming blog sites like kotaku to see if they would publish them? I could see them throwing a series of these up if they were polished up for a more general audience a bit.

Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions – July 31, 2013 5:50 PM (edited 7/31/13 1:50 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I hadn't considered that, but it's a good idea. I have also been thinking about writing some kind of writeup for each game I have a guide for. I'm not really sure what I would say, though. And the APFFRT thing seems a bit too random to just put out there. That said, I certainly have a lot to say about FF games. Maybe I'll send some well-thought-out counterpoints to Chris Kohler. Wink

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions – July 31, 2013 5:55 PM (edited 7/31/13 1:55 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Maybe you should revisit your very first APFFRT, which was probably a little less random than then newer ones are, and a little better explained as things go on. Do a little clean up, maybe add in some of the newer games in the series...

Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions – July 31, 2013 6:00 PM (edited 7/31/13 2:00 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
That would be a fun idea, but the problem is that I really don't remember those games very well. I mean, that's why I'm playing them this time. It's kind of one of the reasons I want to do writeups on the guides - I want to have a record so I remember this stuff. I mean, look how excited I was playing the first half-hour of FF9, because I had forgotten how great it is. There are just too many games and not enough time!

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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