Long time Final Fantasy fans know the US release of FF2 on the SNES was a dumbed down version from the original project of FF4. It was later called “easytype” for a reason. FF4 Ultima fixes that. You can call it the FF4 Deluxe Collector’s Edition package. Ultima keeps the plot going and makes TONS of changes to everything. The plot script is cleaner and makes more sense, you got new changes in the overworld, underworld and even the moon! Expect to get lost if you try to take the normal way to the Towel of Bab-il in the underground from the Dwarf Castle! Look out for new areas in familiar dungeons and caves too! New places to take the Hovercraft too! Best way to explain the changes is this list from the page on romhacking.net and the FF4 Ultima website:
List of features, additions and changes:
- 35 New Weapons! Including Ultima Weapon!
- 40 New Spells! Also revamped existing spells!
- 26 New Bosses!!
- Can turn Enemy Encounters On or Off!!
- New Enemy Graphics!! (HUGE thanks to chillyfeez!)
- New Areas! New Side Quests!
- New Events! New Endgame Scenarios!!
- New Equipment Screen with DETAILED buffs and stats!!
- New attack/swing/spell animations!
- New weapon graphics!! New sound effects!
- New maps, new areas and new edits to overworld maps!
- New events! New enemies!! Sprint with the Y button!!
- New commands for characters. New Armors and Gears!
- Revamped shops/equipment and balanced their progression.
- Dark Knight Cecil now dual-wields and is 2-handed!!
- Edge is now buffed offensively! Stealing is also buffed!
- Rydia has also been buffed(slightly). It’s a surprise!
- Cecil has been buffed as a tank.
- Rosa can use more White Mage combative gears.
- Kain has new offensive buffing spells at end-game and new commands as he rejoins the team.
- Rare items and summons now drop much easier! This hack is designed as a ‘play-through’ without grinding.
- Many enemies now have meaningful rare drops, and all end-game enemies now have rare ultimate drops!
- New thrown weapons and back-row weapons!
- Lots of secrets that can lead to early acquirement of better equipment!
- Few minor tweaks to the base game such as save points, etc.
- Useless finds now replaced with good items or equipment!
- All weapons/armors used by characters no longer in party are now usable by at least one character from the end-game party!
- MOST items/equipment are now non-missable. Meaning they will be acquirable in some ways at end-game.
v8.35 added the option to patch FF4 as Normal Mode or Novice Mode. I’ll copy the changes from the included faq file:
-= Normal Mode =-
- -This is the intended version and difficulty of this hack by the devs.
- -The Main Story parts of the game should be accessible to the general audience. The Optional and the Extra Endgame content, however, will see a spike in difficulty.
-= Novice Mode =-
- -99% of the Main Story parts of the game remain the same as Normal Mode. The only changes are the Required Bosses in the Lunar Subterrane/Core, including Zeromus. They have been nerf’d.
- -All of the Optional and Endgame Super Bosses have been nerf’d! They are now much easier and the difficulty progression should be much more natural from the end of the Main Story game.
- -Saves are 100% compatible and transferable between the Normal/Novice Modes. So, if at any point in the Normal Mode becomes too difficult or overwhelming, simply move your saves over to the Novice Mode and you’ll be good to go!
- -All other items, weapons, gears, spells and other aspects of the game remain the same as Normal Mode.
So after multiple changes to my own personal review of this, and fact that I wrote this originally while doing end-game content, I finished this for sure some time ago. I had a blast with this, this is the best version of FF4 ever! I was surprised how difficult even some of the normal enemy mobs could be by the time i hit the underground and then the moon, old enemies I knew from the vanilla game and new ones! Don’t expect to always use the same techniques you used in the vanilla FF4 to fight some bosses either, some bosses have new tricks which could result in a dead party fast. So you may find yourself having to tweak your strategies. New bosses show up at some locations, and they seem placed there organically per plot or in general. Traveling by airship and Big Whale around the new world maps is fun and makes you want to see what’s inside any new locations. Some new items can be traded for something ever better too! The new gear is great from beginning to end-game of Ultima. Great that the treasure chests are all useful one way or another and not just crap you’ll have sitting around to sell off or choke your Fat Chocobo with. I was surprised by the cleaner script going along and during important events. Did I mention playing Ultima is the first time I EVER got a Pink Tail from the Pink Puffs after all the years playing snes FF2 and Free Enterprise? XD
Ultima also brings back Japanese only items from FF4 such as the silver and golden apples for increasing hp, sirens for rare enemy calls, the moon and starveil items, and more! Stealing is fun now and doesn’t feel a chore! The game starts out at a normal difficulty about the same as in the original, you’ll find a bump in the difficulty later in the game, then near the end it can get what some old school gamers consider “Nintendo Hard.” There’s also tremendous rewards for beating the superbosses as post-game content in the form of gear and new spells! Expect new areas on the Moon too! I love how some party members in what becomes your end-game party have new abilities and can equip new stuff! Having Rosa using something other than a bow and arrow is so much fun. Being surprised at the new spells and gear is great and the graphics are pretty too! Some members even learn new spells not in the original! Be prepared to run into old favorite bosses from other FF games too! Peeking around I’ve noticed many the new bosses, and end-game ones, are from other FF titles and they seem to have been inserted organically into the game, instead of “oh you’re here, so let’s just add x, y, z here even though it may not make logical sense.” Then again, logic does tend to go out the window at times with a FF title. I mean look at the Big Whale. XD Also worth noting if you’re in areas that you’re familiar with, and you come across a save point that wasn’t in the vanilla game, SAVE, or you’re gonna have a really bad day.
I do plan to stream this at some point! I am a little scared of the upcoming huge difficulty bump. I love the quality of life improvements, but maybe I’m spoiled from playing Free Enterprise. Also kinda wishing all items had a tag at the top of the item screen telling briefly what they do. Kinda annoying when you find something, need to save, go into battle to see what it does, then reset so you don’t waste it.
In conclusion, I love this. If you like any FF game, or FF2/4, give this a try!!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Crystals sitting in the Lunar Palace
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