Review by RykuXr
"Final Fantasy IV is a fun portable RPG on the GBA with a few problems."
Final Fantasy IV Advance is a remake of Final Fantasy 4 (originally released on the SNES and named Final Fantasy II in the U.S.) for the GBA. FF4 was and still is a really good RPG and one of the best in the FF series. Now you can play this 15 year old game with some nice added extras, while you're in your car.
Story: The story begins with Cecil who is a dark knight and captain over Baron's army. He does whatever his king asks of him, until his missions start to get innocent people killed, when he's trying to get all of the world's crystals. He obeys the king for a while, but when he can no longer kill innocent people and destroy villages, the king strips him of his rank and gives him a very small mission to do. He's tasked to go to the town of summoners and deliver and item, but when he reaches the town something horrible happens that makes Cecil dig deeper to find out what evil is behind all of this. Cecil will come across many different people who will join him in his quest and you will end up feeling a connection with them all. The story is very interesting and well written, so much so that you'll always want to know what's going to happen next. All the characters are unique and have different abilities than any of the other companions that you meet. Dialogue is well and moves the story along at a nice pace, the story is one of FF4's strong points. The story is what really makes FF4 such a good game, not that it wouldn't still be pretty good, but it wouldn't be nearly as good without a good story behind it. For a story that's about 15 years old, it still holds up very well and compares to many other titles in greatness.
Audio: While there's no orchestra, famous bands or amazing sound effects, FF4 puts the music and effects to good use and they all fit very well. The game does use MIDI files, but they sound great and are some of the best MIDI files in any game, including games like Zelda and Golden Sun. Each character's theme song fits their personality well and is unique and different for everyone. The main theme song is still great, the music is moving and sometimes exciting or sad, but it works well with every detail in the game. Sure the music is great, but that's what we've come to expect from any FF game, but what about the sound effects? Yes, it is a GBA game, but the sound effects aren't that great, they do a fine job for being MIDI files, but they lack the luster of some other handheld titles. The sound effects aren't bad, they just don't have the big boom that you would expect, but they still are good for MIDI files and there really isn't a lot of bad things to say about them. Each piece of music fits the event that's happening and compliments it very well, just like in many of the other good RPG's on the GBA. Overall, the music and sound is good and is just what we've all come to expect from any FF game, of course some sounds aren't great, but they aren't the worst and of course there's always the great soundtrack in the game.
Graphics: The graphics are done very well for a GBA game and it really compliments the great artwork. While the graphics haven't changed a whole lot, they still look good and have a coat of fresh paint on them. The top-down characters look like any average RPG, but the art is very good and is redrawn a bit, so the portraits for the characters look a little different than they did in the SNES version. The over-world has nice bright colors and has little, but pretty good detail to it as you roam it. The graphics are definitely up to par with most other GBA titles, but it's really the art that will catch your eye the most. The portraits for the most part look great and have nice attention to detail, but some of the other portraits don't look right for the character, but still are done well and have a good amount of detail to them. When you finally obtain an airship, you'll get to see the over-world in a different perspective and it looks really good. The times that you're in the airship is actually some of the more impressive graphics and they really make you feel like you're flying, even though it's on a small screen. The enemies that you come into contact with in the game have an equally great amount of detail, especially the bosses who look great, but sadly there's no animation for the enemies so you never see them move a muscle. There are no CG, Anime or any other type of special cutscenes, but the normal graphics do a find job, so there's really no problem there.
Gameplay: This is what FF4 did like any other RPG, but with a nice added twist. FF4 was the game that redefined the genre with the new(at the time)ATB system that, let you have the same turn-based combat as other RPG's, but with some real time elements thrown in. At the time this was new and exciting, but even though it's an old concept it's still fun to use. You run into random battles in the over-world (sometimes too much) and then the battle starts like any other RPG, but once the battle begins you had better select your attacks, spells or items before the enemies kill you and your party members. You do get a fair amount of time to select your attacks, but don't just sit around because the monsters sure won't and bosses usually get to attack much more than regular enemies, so keep that in mind. When you enter a random battle there's three situations that can happen, you can enter a battle just like normal and then when your meter fills up you can attack, you can enter a battle backwards and the monsters will attack first and very often, but your attacks won't do much if anything at all or you can enter a battle with your meter filled up and you can attack right away. These situations are random, so there's not a certain way to make sure you always attack right away. When you defeat all the enemies you get exp. points, just like the usual RPG's and every few levels you'll learn a new skill or magic spell, while raising your overall attributes with every level that you gain, you also get money from fights which really helps later on in the game. If you're not running into random battles and earning exp., then you're solving puzzles in the many dungeons you go through. Most puzzles are simple and either require a key or just a little thought, but there's nothing too tricky and if you've played any RPG then you'll know what you're in for. Most dungeons aren't really long and you go through them to get an item at th end, with a boss fight too of course. The bosses look great and are a lot of fun to battle, since every single one requires a different strategy to beat. Sometimes you'll fight more than one boss or the fight will go on for a really long time, but either way you won't be bored since you have the ATB system to contend with. Now as I mentioned before, you end up changing, getting new party members and losing them quite a lot, but don't worry because when you get them they'll usually be at about the same level as your party or higher, so it won't be a problem for you to just continue instead of leveling up the new person(s). There will be times when you don't have a healer in you're party, but if you use your head you'll get out of the fight alive and you'll usually have a healer in your party anyways, so it really isn't a problem. Of course you won't just be fighting and solving puzzles, you'll also be visiting towns, people and shops to upgrade your equipment. Most towns are pretty normal size and won't take you a long time to go through them, but there's also secret areas where you can get rare or expensive item for free. There aren't too many towns and you'll come back to some from time to time, so it helps that there aren't too many different towns to go through. In towns you'll be buying items, finding secrets, talking to people and learning about where you should head next in your quest. Usually there are a good amount of people to talk to and they all have interesting and sometimes helpful things to say, so listen up in case there's something to be heard about a boss or dungeon, because it might prove very useful to you. Eventually in the game you won't have to walk on land so much and that is when you get your first (yes you get more) airship, which you can use to reach new areas and avoid unwanted battles with the foes bellow you. the airship isn't the only vehicle in the game, you'll also get to use a hovercraft that goes over the ground and will eventually help you out greatly later in the game. While there's not a lot of variety to these vehicles they are helpful and add greatly to the game. For a 15 year old game, you would think it wouldn't play like more modern games, but this is the game that redefined the RPG genre and is the reason we have the games that we do. There is one thing that could end up being a bit annoying, but you don't have to let it. Like most RPG's you need to level up from area to area, so that you don't get pummeled by the bosses and monsters, but in FF4 you can actually go through the game without having to do a lot of leveling up..............until the end that is. Don't make this mistake, because if you do you'll be sitting around for quite some time before being able to go on to the last part of the game. Level up about five levels after every dungeon, to make sure you're not stuck at the end, annoyed and ready to quit because you have to spend so much time leveling up. One of the few problems, is the save system because you can't just save anywhere, like in FF:DS. It would take a bit of difficulty out of the game, but since this is a portable game you need to be able to quit whenever you need to. Besides that and some other annoying things, bland areas at time and sometimes getting confused as to where you should go, FF4 is a good RPG that will last the average gamer about 17-25 hours your first time through.
Features: There aren't a lot of things to do after finishing FF4, but there are some to pass the time and have fun with. When you beat the final boss you unlock part of the brand new 50 level dungeon, if you beat the boss with every character that you have you'll unlock the entire dungeon, then you can go through all 50 levels and level up your characters more and get secret items too. This new dungeon was not in the original version and is very hard to complete, but it is well worth it and is a nice added extra to add length to the game. Now if you love FF music a lot(and I know you do), then you're in for a real treat. Once you beat the game you will get access to the sound room and be able to listen to any song that was in FF4, including The Chocobo song and other favorites, which will pass the time quickly and is nice if you liked a certain song, but don't want to have to play the game again to listen to it. There's no multi-player or art gallery, but then again we don't really need any of that anyways. The 50 level dungeon is pretty much the only reason to get FF4A if you have already played it before, so if you've played other versions don't bother with this one.
Replay: Some games you don't play through again because they're too long, some because there wasn't a good reason to play through it again and sadly FF4 falls into the later category. You would think for a pretty good game and one that's stood the test of time that you would want to go through it more than once, but you just don't with FF4. You've seen the whole game, you know the story, you can get any item or secret at any time, so there just isn't a reason to go through it again. It is too bad that there's no replay too it, but there are just some games that you don't want to go through again and FF4 just happens to be one of them.
Overall: FF4A is a great portable 15 year old game, that is fun to play, even if it's mostly because of the story. The characters are great and are really brought to life through the great writing done. The art is great as usual and compliments the game nicely. The music is great and heart warming and the main theme and individual ones also sound great, but the sound effects aren't the best and could've used a bit more realism, but they really did a great job musically just like in most of the FF series. While there are no special cutscenes, the graphics look crisp, clear, colorful and fit right at home on the GBA's little screen. The adventure and battles are fun and challenging as always and the boss battles are exciting and just a lot of fun to play. There are a few bad things, like the sound effects and a few poorly done portraits and of course the save system, but no matter if you've played an FF game before or not, you will not regret picking FF4A up, because it's a nicely done GBA game that doesn't have any replay. If you've already played another version of FF4, then you really don't need to fool with this one, because the few changes aren't enough to purchase it again.
Rating: 8.2 It's a fun little RPG with a good story and a few problems, but it's a fun ride while it lasts.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/11/06
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