Review by ffmasterjose

"Walkabout"

To many, Final Fantasy IV is one of the better in the famed franchise. With good gameplay, great sound and an unforgettable story it indeed deserves it's stake to fame. However, due to the time when it was originally released, many younger gamers of today may have only heard of the game rather than played it. This was dealt with when the game was re-released on the Playstation in the form of Final Fantasy Chronicles, which was met with wide success. When the next generation of consoles rolled around, that re-release even became outdated to an extent. So to keep up with the growing market and to please fans alike, Final Fantasy IV was once again re-released late last year for the Game Boy Advance. Ever since the game's release on this system, gamers already accustomed to the game have gotten another chance to experience a classic role-playing game while the newer generation has been given the gift to get in on what everyone's talking about.

Final Fantasy IV Advance plays well overall. The controls are very basic and simplistic, thus very easy to pick up on. Movement is mapped to the directional pad and a sprint feature is included to spare time from walking slowly to each destination. Since the game can be played on several systems it really depends on what your preference is. Whether you pop this game in your old GBA or even your Game Boy Micro it will handle well enough.

The fun factor is one of the highlights of Final Fantasy IV Advance. Whether you're on a long journey to a mystical village going through a mysterious cave or slaying an enigmatic beast that blocks your path, the action will pull you into the game. There are however, periods of inactivity that can occur while you're navigating between locations, and it's fairly easy to get lost if you don't know where to go next. The game's difficulty is not hard enough to push players away but at the same time, not so easy where things get boring; so it's a blended mix. One of the few flaws of this game is it's tendency to lag while the on-screen action gets backed up. This does not mar the game itself though and will only annoy a handful of gamers, the rest will be paying too much attention to notice. Final Fantasy IV delivers one of the best portable role-playing experiences around matched by few and mimicked my many.

Final Fantasy IV tells one of the best stories known to gamers. You are Cecil, a Dark Knight serving in the King's manor. At the start of the game Cecil returns from a mission the king sent him on, to retrieve one of the world's crystals from a small mage town. Cecil deals with his own guilt and questions the king's motives after he returns from his successful mission. For his "insolence" the king sends Cecil on another mission, this time his close friend Kain will accompany him. Before he leaves, Cecil's friend Rosa expresses her concern over Cecil but he reassures her that everything will be alright. The story behind Final Fantasy IV is truly inspirational, and easily the best part of the game. The characters you encounter (good and bad) are wholly original and bring their own element to the game. The plot develops at a steady rate, slowly forcing the player to almost crave what will happen next.

Graphically, Final Fantasy IV Advance is on par with it's predecessors as well as other handheld games. Character sprites are not done in the best detail but this is to be expected. On the world map is where things tend to look 2D. But once in battle, more detail is given to battle participants as well as skills and spells used. The visuals may not be the most detailed, but that has never stopped gamers from enjoying Final Fantasy IV before and if anything, they give a more nostalgic feel to the game.

The audio quality for this game isn't crippling but it not stellar either. The Sound track is more than average for an RPG, especially a Final Fantasy game. Those who have played the game before will recognize their favorite tunes right away while the newcomers will be overjoyed at the breathtaking score. The music tends to fit the mood and only improve the action on-screen, whether it's the fast rhythm of the battle music or the slow pace of a heartfelt moment. The presentation of the great score however, is muffled due to the handicap of a handheld system's audio quality.

Final Fantasy IV Advance is one of the lengthiest games in the Final Fantasy series. There are dozens of worlds to visit and a seemingly endless quest to stop the forces of evil. It may take well over twelve hours to finish the initial game, and if that weren't enough the bonus content packed in this little cartridge is surprising. There are new dungeons added to the game itself as well as incentive to beat the game several times. So even if you've completed this game several times before on another platform, you haven't done experienced everything this game has to offer...yet.

Without much dispute, Final Fantasy IV Advance is definitely a game you'll want to purchase for the long run. It serves exceedingly well for all types of scenarios, the occasional play or daily enlightenment. Gamers of all variations will find enjoyment in this game; ranging from season veterans who know this game like the back of their hand to the modest gamer who's intrigued over this fresh adventure. Final Fantasy IV continues to stand tall in the series from which it calls home as well as other role-playing games in general. Truly a piece of history, this is a gem that cannot be missed.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/30/06, Updated 05/16/08

Game Release: Final Fantasy IV Advance (US, 12/12/05)


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