All the cool kids are doing it, so why not me? Game blogging, that is. It's not like anyone else on staff will be getting their hands on this game anytime in the foreseeable future.
Anyway, yes, I have Final Fantasy IV - The After on my cellphone. At least, the preview and first chapter are on it. I'll keep this thing updated on a per-chapter basis, most likely.
1st. The actual game data takes up about 250k on my phone, but the save data pushes the size up to over 1000k. Makes sense in a way. Each chapter probably imports all relevant monster data as it's uploaded. I hope the older game data gets removed at the same time, though, or I might have space issues....
edit 12/15/08- As it turns out, when you purchase the game, you actually purchase access to the chapter and the ability to upload your savefile. You can have all the chapters active at once (if available) and simply switch out games at will. Each chapter has its own saves, in other words.
2nd. I so definitely need to get earphones for this thing. I can't hear it over ambient noise on the trains.
edit- 11/17/08 After some more time with it on the bus and at home, I think the above statement is more indicative of how noisy the evening trains are than of FFIV-TA's sound quality.
3rd. I probably should get a new phone charger while I'm at it. Programs drain my battery like nothing else.
Game Experience 11/17/08
Wow. Nostalgia is kicking in, big-time. It looks like they picked up the original game, tweaked it just a little, and then began work on the story. The music is exactly the same as the first game. The graphics have an improved color palette, and characters no longer appear "super-deformed" on the worldmap, so in that respect I'd say it's closer to FFVI.
Motion tends to be a little jerky at times, esp. with effects that cross the entire screen (e.g. healing pots, the map moving beneath a flying airship, etc.). I think that's more due to hardware restrictions.
The graphical update is much more obvious when there's a flashback sequence to events from the previous game. Those are all done with the original graphics, and the contrast is strong.
So far, we have an equal balance of old characters, new characters, and generic characters (no name, never gain levels, just there for support). That's just for those I've used so far. Many other characters have appeared in cut-away shots. The breakdown of characters in-party:
section / new / old / generic
Prologue -- 3 -- 2 -- 0
Chapter 1 -- 1 -- 1 -- 2
Chapter 2 -- 4 -- 1 -- 0
Chapter 3 -- 1 -- 1 -- 3
Prologue, or, "The first taste is always free"
The prologue is set in a really restricted area. At least they don't insult our intelligence and unnaturally restrict things. They just plop Theodore down on an island to walk around for a while. There's a town (Mythril), people to talk to, and some Red Wings warriors.
The first level is available at the full moon, so my Captain says, and we get an intro to the Moon Phase system. It controls physical, white magic, and black magic damage. Interesting.
We also get an in-battle tutorial for Band Attacks -- how to acquire them and use them. The Captain and Lieutenant (names withheld to prevent minor spoilage) have a nice one. Too bad Theo has to do the second half of the cave solo as a test...
Darn, open-ended ending to the prologue. Guess I'll have to get the next chapter soon....
Chapter 1 - Last of the Red Wings
Yay! Old characters! Only for a short while before cutting away to Theodore's story (since he IS the main character for this chapter), but always fun. Several dungeons in this chapter. 1 is identical to how it was in the original game, another has a large section added to it, but in a way that makes sense. The third dungeon (first one you go through, actually) is completely new, but is part of something from the original game too.
There are frequent "in the meantime" cut-away scenes for other characters. Gives a good sense of interconnectedness, and builds up the other storylines before they become available.
Now I just have to wait until the second chapter is made available....
Chapter Two - The Sealing of the Summoned -- 12/15/08
When this chapter opened up, I was really excited. Instead of a little island or some strip of continent to play with, I had an airship and the entire Underground. They just don't add much to the area, though, and that was rather dull. They not only recycled one dungeon in particular, but also the boss and basic plot outline that goes with it. At least things improved at the end.
Luka, Calco, and Brena make up for it with some fun battle mechanics and combo attacks. The (very) open-ended conclusion to the chapter leads well into Palom and Edge's chapters too, I think. Too bad the next chapter is Yang. We shall see how things improve later.
Anyway, Yang's chapter is available this Wednesday (12/17/08), so I'll probably be through with that by next year.
Chapter 3 - Father and Master -- updated 1/04/09
Sorry to take so long on this one.
Yang's Chapter turned out a lot shorter than the previous one, though probably that's because I spent so much time running around playing with Calco and Brena's special skills in Chapter 2. Still, there's more variety to be had this time, with two new dungeons and some interesting skills for Ursula, Yang's daughter.
The best part of the chapter was seeing Yang as an overprotective father, however. From a story standpoint, this chapter was tops. From a gameplay standpoint.. This chapter just reinforces the impression that not much original GAME material has been added in terms of monsters. For story, heck yeah. For characters, quite a lot. For monsters, I have yet to see anything new, not even any new bosses. The majority of the bosses in the game fall into two groups. The larger group is composed of suped-up normal monsters, and I must admit they've made some of those battles interesting and challenging. There have been two original bosses, however, that were copied and pasted directly from the first game, complete with a bit of storyline matching their original appearance. I would really like to see more original bosses that are actually original.
Oh well, Palom's Chapter is coming out this Wednesday (1/07/09), so maybe there'll be something new in that one.
Palom's Chapter - A Mage for Toroia - 1/27/09
Again, a good storyline chapter, with Palom forced into the role of tutor and mentor to a young priestess of Toroia named Leonora. Two of this chapter's three dungeons are actually new, with one re-hashed original boss (for a total of 3 so far) and... GASP! A bona-fide original boss! A villain, no less! Who promptly stomps me flat into the dirt! At least I wasn't expected to beat that one... -_-
Gameplay-wise, it was interesting to have a party of just two mages this time. If the chapter were longer, it might have gotten more annoying. As it was, there were plenty of healing pots placed strategically throughout the levels, just far enough apart that you had to work your magic a bit to get to the next one.
It's been fun to see how they fit the new characters into the original game's canon. At least 6 of the new characters so far actually appear at one point or other in the first game, but for the most part that's only revealed in conversations or flashbacks. The attempt at retroactive continuity really does help fit the characters in better, though, and doesn't feel forced.
Edge's chapter should be available tomorrow. Until then!
The Ninja Chapter
I was going to call this "Edge's Chapter", like it does in the game, but really, this one is a group effort. The chapter is split into five sub-chapters, each detailing the adventures of one of Edge's ninja cohorts as they search for information concerning the moon's return. In the process, we get a look at the pre-story for Rydia, Yang, Palom, and Porom's chapters. Each ninja has his or her own special skills, which range from the traditional ninja stars and stealing to more innovative attacks like Big Kite (jump attack) and Temptation (charm skill). Each ninja also has a different weapon specialty, making the sub-chapters quite different in feel at times.
Storywise, this chapter does a pretty good job presenting each of the four new characters, and even sneaks in some character development here and there. Not bad, considering each sub-chapter is about half an hour long.
Battery life is still proving to be a pain, so this chapter has been slow going. Porom's chapter should be out by now, and if I'm as seriously behind as I think I am, then Gilbert's chapter may be available soon as well.
cost / time tally: updated 2/28/09
Prologue - free, about one hour.
Chapter 1 - 500 yen, about two hours.
Chapter 2 - 300 yen, about four hours
Chapter 3 - 300 yen, about two hours
Chapter 4 - 300 yen, about three hours
Chapter 5 - 300 yen, about three hours so far.
total - 1700 yen, 15:40