Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light on Nintendo DS has undeniable artistic charms but suffers from an underdeveloped story
- Gorgeous art by Yuka Miyamoto, demanding play, non-linear exploration in second half of game, great soundtrack, innovative battle system
- Manic shifts in difficulty, underdeveloped and weird story, underutilised strategic battle options
Despite its undeniable artistic charms, Matrix Software's first original Final Fantasy suffers from manic difficulty shifts and an underdeveloped story.
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
Matrix Software should have a big, friendly wooden sign hanging in front of their office in Tokyo -- a sign branded with a happy caricature of a black mage right below the text, "Ol' fashioned Final Fantasy just like Papa Sakaguchi used to make!" Their work on the DS remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV were particularly devoted to bringing the difficulty and simplicity of 8-bit RPGs into the modern age. The 4 Heroes of Light, their first original Final Fantasy, marries the job system of FFIII DS and the intense difficulty of FFIV DS with the stringent item management and storytelling of vintage Dragon Quest. While the game can be both engrossing and beautiful, it is ruined by wild shifts in difficulty and shallow storytelling.
The titular four heroes are teenage citizens of the Kingdom of Horne. You begin as one of these plucky, unnamed youths celebrating his birthday by reporting to the king for duty. The haughty princess -- another Hero of Light -- has been kidnapped by a witch, so it's off to rescue her, leading you to soon meet up with the princess' insecure attendant and another firebrand boy from Horne. After rescuing the princess, a magic crystal tells the group they are destined heroes and gifts them with a crown. The crowns, earned at pivotal story moments, act as the game's job system. With all four heroes in action, you get a full picture of the brilliantly simple battle system: Turns are dictated by level while attacks, dictated by AP, are automatically directed at the strongest opponent.
The core play in 4 Heroes is ingenious but is ruined by bad design choices. Immediately after leaving the first dungeon the group is separated, and the game's first fifteen to twenty hours are then spent with a party of only two or three characters with constant shifts in story perspective. The structure would work if it weren't for the near-random nature of when you are suddenly jumped to another continent and a different character. Each succeeding event, the attendant characters, and the inevitable dungeon (complete with boss) typically requires you to use the most recently unlocked job classes, negating any real strategic decision making.
The bosses in the first half of the game are intensely difficult as well, requiring you to use specific elemental equipment and spells to defend and attack to succeed at all. Each character can only carry fifteen items including their equipment and spells, so if you reach the end of a dungeon with the wrong gear (and there's typically no way of knowing what you need until you reach the boss) you have to either warp out using a dragon's wing or walk out. It's a frustrating and illogical design choice, almost negating the charm of the game's desert, ocean, forest, and snowy towns. The second half of the game sees all four heroes in your party and over half of the job crowns available. You have also collected enough gems (your currency and equipment/job leveling resource) to begin unlocking the most useful skills/gear. Rather than becoming a deeper game at this point, 4 Heroes of Light becomes so easy as to be banal. The third-tier skills for each crown (the maximum) are over-powered to the point of killing bosses in two or three uses. The end of the game, though, throws you into a long, brutal dungeon filled with multiple bosses and without access to your skills most of the time -- an end-game gauntlet true to 8-bit design, but one that makes no sense given the pace of the rest of the game.
4 Heroes has other problems. The story and dialogue aren't deep -- the play and art are the stars of the show -- but what little there is comes off as morally confused. For instance, you're tasked with saving a plague-ridden city late in the game. The town, a would-be Babel with a tower built to the sky, is convinced that they've brought the plague on themselves by offending their goddess. When you reveal the source of evil to be a demonic pharmacist and cure the town, they then insist it was because they weren't faithful enough to their deity. So the message there is that blind faith is both the cause of and answer to all problems?
Despite its many issues, it's impossible to deny 4 Heroes' artistic charms. The FF Tactics by way of Charles Schulz character design and the Mitsuto Suzuki orchestrated soundtrack are both wonderful and make expert use of the aging hardware. The game also has a wealth of content, with four insanely challenging optional dungeons that unlock the game's final eight job classes and a multiplayer mode that earns you new gear by adventuring with a friend. Still, artistic merits and admirable design ethos don't save an inherently flawed game.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Star Citizen dumps DirectX 12 plans to focus on Vulkan-powered graphics
- Dungeons and Dragons ditches pen and paper with D&D Beyond
- Exclusive no more: PlayStation 4 games are coming to the PC via PlayStation Now
- Adding video apps like Netflix to the Nintendo Switch is a waste of Nintendo's energy
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCJava DeveloperVIC
- FTLead Network Project ManagerNSW
- CCInfrastructure Test Lead - Contract 6-8 wks initially - IT Services - North RydeNSW
- FTInfrastructure ArchitectNSW
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- FTInfrastructure Project Manager Office 365 ImplementationVIC
- CCDigital Business ArchitectACT
- FTSenior Web DeveloperVIC
- CCServiceNow Specialist - Administration and DevelopmentVIC
- FTProduct Manager / Business Analyst Clinical Solutions (Lorenzo)QLD
- FTHadoop Service AdministratorNSW
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperVIC
- TPTest AnalystQLD
- FT.Net Developer (x2)NSW
- FTNetwork Security AnalystNSW
- CCPMO Analyst - Financial ServicesNSW
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- FTProject Co-OrdinaterNSW
- CCAutomation TesterQLD
- CCProcess Assurance LeadNSW
- FTTechnical Consultant - SQL Server programming skillsACT
- FTTechnical ConsultantACT
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTNetwork Security AnalystNSW