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Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (Nintendo DS) Review
Review by 
8/10 from 2 user ratings
Square Enix has a history of creating fantastic RPGs. As time has passed, they too have evolved into creating games with outstanding graphics, numerous cutscenes and lengthy gameplay. So what happens when they want to throw it back to the old days? Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, that's what. Does it live up to the Final Fantasy name, or is it a let-down?

The story of 4 Heroes revolves around four central characters: Brandt, Jusqua (Brandt's friend), Yunita (Princess Aire's bodyguard) and Aire (princess of Horne). The game begins on the morning of Brandt's 14th birthday in the town of Horne. That marks the day in Horne where boys become men upon presenting themselves before King Horne. Brandt's mother wakes him up and sends him on his way to the castle.

When Brandt arrives at Castle Horne, the king is distraught. His daughter, Princess Aire, has been kidnapped by the (wicked) Witch of the North, and to prove his worth, the King asks Brandt to find her. Brandt joins with Jusqua, and in the Witch's mansion, they meet Yunita who helps them slay the witch and save the princess and return to Horne triumphant. Except upon arriving in Horne, everyone is turned to stone. Brandt and Jusqua stay behind to figure out what happened, and Jusqua takes Princess Aire to safety. Thus the adventure begins...

Read: I'll get you my pretty! And your little dog, too!

Throughout the adventure, the party is temporarily aided by other NPCs, but the four main characters will eventually reunite. As the story progresses, the party is awarded various crowns that will not only change their outward appearance, but also aide them in battle.

If you've played any other Final Fantasy game that uses a job system (III, V, X-2, XIII and XIII-2, and the Tactics games), you'll be somewhat familiar with how the crowns work. Put on the Hero crown and you become very strong. Put on the Black Mage crown and you become a magical offensive powerhouse. Put on the Bandit crown and you can get steal items from enemies. You get the idea. You can still use spells regardless of your crown, but they will cost more ability points (AP).

AP, you say? Well, let's explain the battle system. It's very simplified. Each character has five AP at their disposal. All of your available actions are listed on the touch screen. Each action uses at least one AP, the exception being Boost (restores one AP and also has your character defend). If you attack, you use one AP. At least one AP is restored per round (certain skills restore more).

Now that we have that out of the way, battles play out similarly to other turn based games. They are random (grumble). You choose your actions in a round, your characters perform that action and then AP is restored. The kicker is that you don't choose which enemy (or ally) that you are using that action on. The game determines that for you, and while it usually get the allies' action right (who you want to heal), the enemy I often wanted to attack ended up not getting scratched. A little frustrating, but not infuriating. Once you get the hang of the battle system, you can set it into auto-mode (by pressing X during a battle) and set each character's pre-determined actions. This is helpful when you're wanting to grind.

That's a really big egg you have there!

After a fight, you don't earn gold, gil, or whatever. You get gems. Gems serve two purposes. First, you can sell them for gold to buy other items. Second, you can use those gems to upgrade your crowns (to learn new abilities) or weapons, armor and shields. This is crucial, especially in the latter half of the game.

4 Heroes can be controlled with either the d-pad or with the stylus. I found myself playing with the d-pad more frequently, but I alternated between the two schemes and they both work just fine.

Graphically, the game is a sight to behold. There aren't any CGI cutscenes, but Square Enix and Matrix Software did a terrific job of creating a vast world using cel-shading. It looks on-par with The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (on a technical level). It was also a nice touch to make every weapon, piece of armor, and crown give each character a unique look. All enemies are animated and the game never slows down. The music is decent, though none of the tunes are particularly memorable. The sound effects are good enough. There are no voices.

The bottom line is that this isn't a game for everyone. It's hard, especially the latter half of the game if you haven't prepared your equipment. I almost set this game down several times...but I'm glad I didn't. Beating the final boss was satisfying, especially after getting destroyed by several of the later bosses. The main quest will last between 30-40 hours (it took me around 36 to finish). If you like RPGs and want a challenge, don't pass this one up.

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Posted: 03/20/11, 00:15:21  - Edited by 
 on: 06/21/12, 21:19:14    
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Wait, what? I've never heard of "crowns" ever. What are you talking about, Ludist!?

Final Fantasy V and on, pfffft.

Looks like a fun game. Not sure if I can handle the "muddy" (how I perceive them) graphics of handheld games, though I'm a huge fan of pixels. I don't know why they fall off so much for me. I like the NES and SNES Final Fantasy games. Graphically, I don't know, yeah. I'm not a graphics guy either, you all know that! Ah well.

Thats cool that it was fun though. I like games with a "retro" feel to them, especially when its a big name title such as Final Fantasy. --Oh! Did Cid make an appearance??

Posted by 
 on: 03/20/11, 00:20:54
Mr_Mustache said:
Wait, what? I've never heard of "crowns" ever. What are you talking about, Ludist!?

Final Fantasy V and on, pfffft.
Crowns = jobs. For the most part, it's the same thing.

Mr_Mustache said:
--Oh! Did Cid make an appearance??
Yes. He keeps track of your stats, though you don't meet him until a bit later in the game.

Posted by 
 on: 03/20/11, 00:52:23  - Edited by 
 on: 03/20/11, 00:52:41

I never had the job thing in any Final Fantasy game, haha.
I've played I, "IV," "VI," VII, VIII.. Yeah.

Who is your favorite Cid? My buddy like VII's. Makes sense.
I was most familiar with IV Cid, but I also enjoy the fish-loving VI version.

Posted by 
 on: 03/20/11, 01:31:35
Well, the job system came into play more in V. I guess I should edit that part.

For me, I like VI Cid, though IV Cid will always hold a special place in my heart. He was a fun character.

Posted by 
 on: 03/20/11, 02:10:54

Did you like Final Fantasy IV: The After Years?

I had played a bunch before, stopped for some reason, and tried to play again when my Wii came back. No good.

I was so lost, I just started over, and I had finished the story that week, haha.
I only had like another 20-25 minutes to go. What the heck.

Jarring end; I guess I gotta buy Rydia's Tale next..

Posted by 
 on: 03/20/11, 03:09:20
This game always intrigued me. Based on your review and description it sounds like I could really get into this.

Ah, the DS has so many great RPGs, and if I could somehow, somehow, get around to whittling my backlog down even just a little bit, I would love to add this to my game collection.

I have a soft spot for the Final Fantasy games of the NES/ SNES era.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 02:13:14
I was looking at picking this up the other day, it is very cheap. I think your review has just forced my hand, time to make a purchase.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 02:18:20
Speaking of Final Fantasy, I just checked the App Store and Square is trying to sell FFIII for $16.

Jesus Christ give me a break.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 03:06:11
Argh! I do love RPGs, they just take so long to finish! I will get back to this game one day, for sure. I liked what I played.

Good job on the review, ludist, though... is this a copypaste snafu?

ludist said:
The game begins on the morning of Brandt's 14th birthday in the town of Horne. That marks the day in Horne. Boys become men upon presenting themselves before King Horne.


I fail to see the problem. The iPhone really has warped people's perception of value, hasn't it? Since when is $16 not cheap? You're getting a remake of a classic developed by a sizeable team. Give me a break indeed!

At some point this race to the bottom has got to stop.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 05:28:47  - Edited by 
 on: 03/26/11, 05:34:44

No, as a gamer of two and a half decades who buys a fuckton of products, the iPhone hasn't warped my perception of anything.

What needs to stop is the ridiculous portrayal of smart phone apps as being a race to the bottom. 3 years ago it was a virgin market where fart simulators were being sold for a buck. Now it's a platform, while still infantile, has seen cost of new games rise 500+% over less than 4 years. How is that a race to the bottom? By definition it is, in fact, the exact opposite and pretty much on track to become exactly what I was saying in all those threads we bickered back and forth about.

New, high end games on the iPhone are retailing for 30-70% of what indie games on Steam or XBLA retail for. Maybe a couple bucks short. In a year it will be a wash. That's how DD works, and why it works.

That said buying a port of a nearly 20 year old game for $16 is absurd. I'd pay ten max.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 09:54:37  - Edited by 
 on: 03/26/11, 09:57:11

I bought Shadows of the Empire today for $9.99 at a used game store.

Made my way over to the rare-ish SNES/NES area.

Super Mario RPG cartridge for $50, and Final Fantasy III for $40.
How can stores still sell these at these prices? Unless you're a ridiculous collector (like me), theres no way you're buying the original when the VC version is out there for 8 dollars.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 09:59:44

A port of a 3 year old remake of a 20 year old game, you mean. But I get your point. I still think bitching about a $16 price for a game that came out at $40 on the DS (and has since dropped to $20 or so) is a little ridiculous.

edit - It's a race to the bottom because while you'd pay $10 max, you wouldn't believe the number of people I hear in real life AND on podcasts (people from the review AND the development side of the industry) balk at a $2.99 price on the iPhone, for games that are definitely worth 10 times that. It's just screwed up.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 19:09:40  - Edited by 
 on: 03/26/11, 19:12:20
Well, it's Squarenix, they charge more than normal retail ($40 versus $35) for their enhanced ports on DS, which is kind of silly. Yet I still bought a few. I guess the good thing about VC is Nintendo has a set price structure, otherwise SE would probably try to charge a bunch more there too.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 19:51:58

How is what is going on with the price structure, what the games are actually retailing for on the App Store, by any definition a "race to the bottom"? Prices are doubling year over year and the quality is going up exponentially. I'm looking at my iPhone right now under the "role playing game" category just to make this relevant to this thread. The list goes as follows for the top ten:

1) Eternal Legacy- $.99
2) Sacred Odyssey- $.99
3) Final Fantasy III- $15.99
4) Final Fantasy- $3.99
5) Secret of Mana- $3.99
6) Final Fantasy II- $3.99
7) Chaos Rings- $5.99
8) Illusia- $.99
9) Cartoon Wars- Gunner- $.99
10) Inotia 3- $.99

Half the games on that list are retailing for between 400-1600% over what every single game on the App Store costs a couple years ago. $4.99- $9.99 is kind of the new standard for quality games like Dead Space or Infinity Blade. And those games sell at those prices.

Unless I'm not understanding what a race to the bottom is what is going on is the exact opposite of that. It's more like a race off the bottom. Shitty cheap games retailed for a buck because nobody even knew if there was a real market for cell phone games and now everyone from EA to Capcom and Epic are on board making games that are in some (limited) cases on par with DS offerings. The quality will continue to rise, as will prices because the market dictates it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/26/11, 22:39:49

Companies are free to charge what they want. As long as people are buying, I don't see what the problem is. Case in point, a company ported Nippon Ichi's Spectral Souls to the Android Market. A lot of people are whining about the price (almost $15 USD), but it's still managed to sell around 100,000 copies.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 16:16:02

I don't disagree with this, I was simply saying I personally find a $16 price tag on a 20 year old game kind of absurd. That being said I am obviously in the minority as it's currently the 3rd best overall selling rpg on the App Store. Truth be told I'm buying it the first time it goes on sale, it is a good game and one of a handful of jrpgs I've ever really enjoyed. I really hope Square keeps porting all their old games over. I'd buy a remake of FFVI, FFVII, FFIX and Chrono Trigger to be sure. I'd also buy FFIV and FFV just because I've never played them.

And on a side note, how in the fuck does a game like Eternal Legacy (ie FFXIII for very poor people) score so well? I don't like the trend in iPhone game ratings in gushing about a shitty game with decent graphics. Who cares. The VA in this game is so horrendous and the story so abysmal I would give it a 5 just based upon that. Sure it's pretty but that hardly qualifies it as being a good game.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 19:42:50
...You've never played this FFIII. You're probably thinking of the SNES FF "III"' which really was VI. FFIII came out in North America for the first time on the DS.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 19:50:19
Like @Pandareus said, wrong FFIII. This was the DS remake that came out a few years back of the old NES game. They really smoothed up the graphics too.

Also, welcome to the realm of the smart phone. Mediocre games get good scores because they almost emulate a console (or handheld) experience.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 20:59:00  - Edited by 
 on: 03/18/13, 23:31:08
ludist210 said:
Like @Pandareus said, wrong FFIII. This was the DS remake that came out a few years back of the old SNES game. They really smoothed up the graphics too.

Also, welcome to the realm of the smart phone. Mediocre games get good scores because they almost emulate a console (or handheld) experience.

In more than a few cases, yes. Some of those games though, like Infinity Blade, are actually good.

Ironically the iPhone has made me start playing some jrpgs again. I am far too lazy to take my DS anywhere with me and haven't bought a game for it in years and I don't play it at home because I'd rather play my Wii or PC. Inotia 3, Zenonia 2, Ash, etc are good games.

Knowing I haven't really played FFIII (I'm still a bit confused here because I have played the SNES FFIII and whatever I emulated as FFVI... supposedly the "best" in the series by fans... so did I play this or not?) I'm half tempted to buy it. Or if it's the same FFVI I played I'd buy that too.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 21:06:36

No you haven't played this FFIII, unless you played it on DS. Like I said.

In Japan there were three FF games that came out on the NES, and three on the SNES.

Only I, IV and VI made it to North America, and their titles were changed to I, II and III. What you've played, therefore, is FFVI.

To be completely honest, I didn't find III (i.e. the real III, the one on DS and now iPhone) to be very good.

Posted by 
 on: 03/28/11, 21:13:37  - Edited by 
 on: 03/28/11, 21:14:56
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