Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light is an eight-week old kitten. It's got huge green eyes, a little pink nose and ears that twitch when it sleeps; the very definition of cute. Yet if you were to try and scoop it up for a cuddle, it'd scratch your eyes out with knife-like claws. Only the most experienced of cat owners can tame the tiny beast, which will tear your skin to shreds unless you know exactly how to treat it, and Four Heroes of Light should be handled with the same care. It makes use of gorgeous pop-up book visuals, cel-shaded with faint water-coloured hues, to look as if it was designed for a six year-old girl. The RPG mechanics underneath, however, are ball-bustingly hard. Six year old girls are going to get their asses kicked.
The first half an hour of the game lets players know from the off there will be absolutely no hand-holding here. After accepting a quest to save a princess (the game revels in its role playing clichés) the young Brandt (although you can name him whatever you want) is thrown out into the world with nothing more than a basic sword and a potion. You have no allies, no spells and no option to run away. You'll die a lot. Thankfully, each time you do you'll be returned to the nearest town, with all your hard earned experience points left intact. You might lose a few gems - precious rocks that can be swapped for even more precious Gil - but you'll be ready to fight another day.
After dying three or four times, you'll make it far enough through the first dungeon (a cave, surprise surprise) to meet Jusqua, one of the other four heroes of light. Jusqua is a bit of a Billy-badass; rude and arrogant in equal quantities, but he sure knows how to swing a blade. This is fortuitous, because the first battle with him in tow is against a hulking great big Minotaur. The combat system is traditional in the best possible sense of the word; turn-based, with a simple interface and all the time in the world to make your decisions - none of that new-fangled ATB malarky. Instead of using MP, however, the game makes use of a five point ability system. Casting a fire spell, for example, expends two ability points, but these can be replenished at any stage by sacrificing a turn to 'boost'. This might not be an immediately enticing option, but doing so will also increase your defence. Boosting quickly becomes a staple of combat, and is absolutely vital in downing tougher enemies.
After saving Princess Aire, who just so happens to be another of the four heroes of light, the crown system becomes available. Essentially evolutions of the age-old job system, crowns allow the player to change the class of their character on the fly by changing the item on their head. The first crown you come across is known as the Wayfarers hat, which boosts all attributes by a point as well as offering the ability to escape - an incredibly important skill early on in the game, I can tell you. Later on you'll come across black mages crowns, white mages crowns, crowns for warriors and crowns for thieves. Each crown is reflected in your character's in game appearance, too, as well as any other robes, shields or suits of armour you might happen upon.