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Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - Rydia's Tale
System: Nintendo Wii :: Rating: Everyone :: Players: 1
Genre: RPG :: Released: 01 June 2009

By Tim Schreier
27 August 2009 So for anybody like me that felt more than a little letdown by the initial chapters of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, there's good news: the Rydia's Tale expansion is the tits. I mean, I'm going beyond just recommending this to hardcore Final Fantasy fans; fans of retro gaming would be wise to check this one out. What makes retro revivals like this and Mega Man 9 successful is when the developer really nails what made the older games fun, and Rydia's Tale plays like it came out of those 16-bit golden years. (As far as I'm concerned, that's the highest compliment one can give an RPG.)

This episode has you follow Rydia. She starts off in the land of summoners, where the female antagonist has made off with their summonses and turned everyone into stone. Then she heads to the Dwarven castle (if there was motivation for this, it was lost on me) where she meets up with Luca, a character not far off from Cid the engineer. Luca then brings out two dolls, each possessing the ability to cast Black and White spells at random. And while these two characters are fun to play as, they're ultimately forgettable.

Nothing as far as graphics, sound, or controls has changed, obviously, but there is a decent amount of diversity from the initial chapters. You'll spend a large portion of the episode traveling around the underground level. And while you're still traversing through a dungeon, just the fact that you'll finally have what resembles a complete and balanced party makes it that much more enjoyable. Not only that, but due to the balance the new "moon system" is no longer a mere annoyance and is actually put to use.

Another thing that's a vast improvement is the sense of freedom. The first chapters would have you deliberately follow a path in a very restrictive way. While there isn't a whole lot of stuff to do, you're actually given an option to go to another town or ride the airship around. Believe it or not, this goes a long way to making the game feel more like a full-fledged RPG. Call me simple, but I like having the illusion of freedom it reminds me of my own sad, go-nowhere life. Anyway...

The level of challenge has been upped significantly. In the first chapters there's only one moment that was even the least bit difficult, and that was an optional fight. This episode will have you muscle through a dungeon with an increasingly steep level of monsters in such a way that you'll actually feel proud when you beat it.

Now that I've done all my glowing praise, the story element of this chapter can suck a dick. And that's not to say that we don't need more cocksuckers in this world (because clearly we do), it's just that Rydia's portion of this game takes the traditional corny storytelling of the early FF games and pushes it way beyond charming. Honestly, if I wasn't reviewing the game I would have been constantly pushing "A" to get through the dialog, repeating, "I don't care. I don't care. I don't fucking care!"

Rydia's Tale has done a lot of things right; as a matter of fact, my only real gripe (story aside) is there's a tad more grinding then I would have liked. Clearly the meat and potatoes of this game has been left for the downloadable content. If there is even one more episode of this quality, it could very well justify the purchase of the subpar $8 platform.

Score: 8.5

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