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   Final Fantasy IV Advance - Staff Review  

An Advance for a Classic
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
20-25 Hours
OVERALL

3.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Now entering the stage is Final Fantasy IV Advance for the Game Boy Advance. Though this is the third version of this title to be released in the United States, it offers the more new content than the prior releases. With a brand new translation, extra dungeons, and other bonus content, FFIV Advance is a decent port. It's far from perfect, but it brings this classic title to a portable world, which is a plus for gamers on the go.

   Final Fantasy IV's story has not changed since its initial release. Gamers still play the role of Cecil, the dark knight of Baron, who is venturing across the world to discover the truth about Baron's injustices. He is joined in his journey by the youthful summoner, Rydia; the vengeful grandfather, Tellah; and the noble monk, Yang, to name a few. Characters come and go from Cecil's party throughout the game, but each character has a reason for doing so; there are no characters in this story who are there just to fill a spot in the party. Each character has a good deal of development throughout the game. The story itself is filled with tragedy, sacrifice, betrayal, and love. Gamers will find themselves falling in love with some characters and hating others. Final Fantasy IV's new translation brings Cecil's epic tale to life with a new, improved flair.

Heatwave! The goggles, they do nothing!

   Graphically, FFIV Advance looks like it did back in the SNES days. Characters now have updates portraits in dialogue boxes and menus, and the developers have also completely redone the battle backgrounds, just to name a few. Still, this game looks as good as many other Game Boy Advance games. The music of Final Fantasy IV is also just a slightly remixed version of Uematsu's initial tracks. Though not original, this music stands the test of time by remaining impressive to date. The game's dungeon music is adventurous, town themes are flowing, boss music is intense, and character themes take on the personality of the characters they represent. Sound effects have also changed little, but those who are very familiar with the original SNES version will notice the slight changes. In the grand scheme of things, the graphics and sounds are nothing new, but are sufficient when compared to other GBA offerings.

   Menus and game interaction are fundamentally the same as FFIV's prior releases, but they offer a few nice improvements, such as a cleaner shop menu. The quick save feature common in portable titles is here as well. Final Fantasy IV Advance does offer a few new features though. The addition of a bestiary, though minor, is helpful for those looking for more information on what enemies drop or what they are weak against. This version also adds two new dungeons and the ability, near the end of the game, to play as five characters that were not available in other releases. The addition of being able to play as these characters adds the problem of how to best equip these previously unplanned-for people. Well, one of the two new dungeons was added solely to solve that problem, offering new weapons for these characters upon completion of that character's section. The other dungeon is a post-game foray designed for a little extra challenge and playtime. It is ultimately pointless, since it merely offers new advanced equipment only after the player has finished the main story. Neither of these dungeons adds to the main story directly, but instead help to enhance and length the experience through further character development.

Good job. DOH!

   The battle system, though dated, is still fun and engaging. Using a turn-based battle system, characters are allowed to attack as their turn comes up in real-time. This means that one character could take two turns in the time a slower character or enemy takes one. This part of the system is marred by a development glitch that sometimes allows characters to take two turns without a wait. This unintended design does take away from the overall challenge of the game. On top of the glitch, Final Fantasy IV Advance is somehow much easier than its prior releases. Normal enemies require little effort to defeat and bosses can be taken down in just a couple rounds. Only the final boss and some of the optional bosses even offer the chance of defeat. Looking past the problems unique to this version, the battle system is fun. Each character is unique, requiring a different strategy for battle depending upon the character combination at the time. The player can have as many as five characters in a party at one time. Sometimes gamers will have one fighter and three mages while other times the tables will turn giving the player two mage and three fighters. It is not until the end of the game that the new feature of party customization becomes available, offering up even more strategic choices.

   This latest version of Final Fantasy IV is not perfect, but it does give gamers that have not had exposure to this title the chance to experience an epic story with wonderful characters. The new features and dungeons are good enough to bring back gamers that have played through this game many times on other systems. Clocking in at around twenty to twenty-five hours, FFIV Advance makes for a fun game to play no matter where a gamer might be.

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