Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - Rydia's Tale
WiiWare Add-On - 300 Wii Points
Rydia's Tale is an a DLC add on for Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. It requires The After Years main story in order to play. You can download it from within The After Years main menu.
In Final Fantasy IV Rydia was the last of the summoners of Mist, a village that was destroyed by Baron. Needless to say, she goes through a lot in that story. You can read about one of the most memorable events in FFIV in this edition of The Memory Card
Rydia's Tale begins when Rydia returns to the Feymarch (the land of summoned monsters) to check on the King and Queen of the Eidolons. They banish her from their chamber, and and she finds all the monsters of the Feymarch have been petrified by some unknown force.
It turns out that one of the Eidolon's had a hot date lined up, so naturally it falls to Rydia to save the day and get him some hot Eidolon action.
This expansion takes place at the same time as the events in the Main Story of The After Years. The adventure takes you to the Underworld and reunites Rydia with Luca, the young Dwarven Princess from Final Fantasy IV.
Luca is all grown up now, and wants to be a master engineer like Cid. While the expansion is called Rydia's Tale, Luca is actually the more developed character. This suited me just fine, as she's a very likable character and her story fit nicely within the scope of the story.
Since she's a mechanical whiz, Luca has whipped up two automatons who join you in your quest, Brina and Claca. Neither character speaks, but like the weighted companion cube you find yourself invested in both of them as you go through the adventure.
Brina is a dancing doll. She may be the star of Joss Wheedon's latest TV show. I don't know, I haven't seen it. But, since it's a possibility, let's just say that she is.
When she dances, it confers a random benefit on the party. In many cases it's not the benefit you were hoping for. For example, she loves to resurrect the living or dispel non-existent status ailments.
In this respect she is a bit like aunt Clara. She means well, but she's a bit scatter brained. Did you know that Aunt Clara and Aunt Hagatha are different people? I didn't.
Brina has a brother, Calca. The word Calca sounds like a calcium supplement that Aunt Clara might take to repair her aging hip. Aunt Clara is almost certainly dead by now, so I feel really bad about saying that.
Let's change the subject back to Calca and his remarkable super power.
Calca has the ability to Jive! This is a lively and uninhibited variation of the jitterbug, and also a manner of speaking often employed by turkeys.
As with Brina's dance, most of the Jive effects are totally ineffective. Since he's actually a pretty good fighter, It doesn't make a lot of sense to waste his turn jiving instead of attacking.
Brina and Calca on their own are both decent characters, but it is by their power combined that you get to see their coolest ability.
Calca and Brina can band together to form a soulless killer baby doll! It does decent damage, but it's real charm comes from the fact that the two of them have to dance into one another to form the monster doll - like a Busby Berkeley Baby Voltron.
Like the main story, the bulk of Rydia's tale is a dungeon crawl. But I found the balance of characters in this expansion more interesting than in the main story. This made the the dungeon crawling feel a bit less sloggy.
Rydia and Luca's abilities are both quite different from one another, unlike Ceodore and the hooded man from the main game who were both essentially fighters. Calca and Brina fall outside of the usual FF class system, making them an interesting addition to the mix. Though Brina can restore health with her dance ability, there is no dedicated white mage in the group. This makes healing items, especially phoenix down, more valuable.
Since the party is a bit more diverse, the phases of the moon have a bit more impact here than they did in the main story. Still, it doesn't feel like this expansion fully explores this feature's potential.
Two characters can combine abilities in this expansion, just as they could in the main story. Fewer characters cycle in and out of the party in the expansion to try this with, but the roster has at least two band attacks that are useful throughout the game.
Despite this being Rydia's Tale, don't expect to do much summoning. All the main Eidolon's are petrified, and therefore unavailable.
The story in Rydia's tale is more self contained than the main story, and this is a good thing. Overall it's more coherent and diverse, and the ending feels like the legitimate end of an episode rather than a tease.
Rydia's Tale also includes at least one side quest (of sorts) and one optional dungeon. Most importantly, it lets you fly an airship. These things add up to a much greater sense of freedom than you get from the main story.
Don't expect any of your characters or items from the main story to carry over into Rydia's Tale. They don't. But it does seem like the save you create at the end of each story will eventually be used for... something.
In total, Rydia's Tale is about three hours long. Your mileage may vary, but expect to pay about $1 per hour for this expansion.
I know paid DLC rubs a lot of people the wrong way. If you want to make a value for money case, you could argue that a new 12 hour retail game costing $60 comes to $5 per hour, so Rydia's Tale is actually a pretty good deal for your entertainment dollar.
The same caveats from the main story apply to Rydia's tale. If you have a problem with old-school J-RPG design, grinding, linearity, etc. Then this probably isn't the game for you.
If you've played through The After Years and enjoyed it, I'd say that Rydia's tale is more satisfying than the main story in many respects and well worth your three hours and three dollars.