Review by Computerbug8
"Not a bad first impression for handheld Final Fantasy games"
Final Fantasy IV Advance (FFIVA) is the first Final Fantasy game I've played for the GBA, and it really feels right at home there. It's got everything you'd expect from a handheld RPG. (Although I'm not so sure how it plays compared to previous versions, because I've never played the SNES version or any of the other incarnations of it)
In FFIVA, you start off as a man named Cecil. He's a dark knight in an army called the Red Wings. He's a respected and hardened soldier, but when he sees how evil the Red Wings' actions really are, he decides to call it quits for being a dark knight and instead tries to be a force for good.
Of course, that's not all there is to the story, but that's just about all I should say, because I don't want to give away anything. For a port from the SNES, the story to FFIVA does not disappoint. It's got its fair of twists and turns, and it really picks up towards the end and at select times throughout the game. While the story gets the job done, it does have its drawbacks. The main problem with the story is that it's very repetitive at times. The game launches you into what I call a "Sterotypical RPG Scavenger Hunt" where you have to go around and find legendary crystals, and there are quite a few of them for a SNES RPG port. (Aren't I so creative when naming my made up terms?) The story is repetitive mostly because you are doing the same "hunt" throughout the entire game while stopping to do a few other plot-critical things. And I don't know how to say this without spoiling anything, but the story also frequently uses a certain "plot twist" that you're familiar with if you've played a FF game before.
Despite some repeating parts, the story to FFIVA is a good one that will satisfy you. It's got a more epic feel to it than other FF's I've played (*cough* *cough* FFX-2 *cough*) and it really picks up towards the end and throws things your way that you'd never expect.
GAMEPLAY OUT OF BATTLE
Not a lot to say here. Most of the time when you're not in battle, you're going through dungeons or through towns. Oh yes, and you gain access to a few vehicles throughout the game that can make your travelling more convenient. But you'd better be careful, whether you're on the overworld or in a dungeon, because there are plenty of enemies lurking in the shadows just waiting to ambush you in a random encounter. Speaking of which...
FFIVA is like most traditional FF games when it comes to combat. Upon entering the battle screen, you are forced to command your fighters as they take turns battling enemies and bosses. All of your fighters have time bars which gradually fill up, and when your bar fills up completely, you can attack an enemy. Once you've attacked, your bar empties and you have to wait for it to refill again before you can attack. You are responsible for controlling allyour party members to attack during a battle, but it's not hard.
Like in other FF games, you can summon monsters to aid you in battle. I, however, found myself not using them very frequently because they did stuff that other spells could do, except summoning took about 20 more MP to do.
The time bars occasionally lag, and the time it takes to stop lagging can range anywhere from half a fraction of a second to up to two seconds. The lags get pretty annoying, but hopefully you'll learn to deal with them. Also, something that was apparently lost in the SNES to GBA transition was the game's difficulty, because FFIVA isn't a hard game at all. Most of the bosses have a lot of HP, but it's fairly easy to recover from even their most powerful spells. I barely lost any fights the entire game. In fact, the only one I remember losing to at all is the final boss.
Even with the lag and lack of difficulty, FFIVA's battle system is fun to play. Controlling your characters is easy and learning how to handle all of them is fairly straight forward.
The game features a couple sidequests that can become activated towards the end of the game. Performing one sidequest can get your characters some powerful weapons or armor while the other is an unlockable dungeon that you get for beating the game. For a port to the GBA, FFIVA has a pretty nice amount of things to do to keep you occupied when you feel like you don't want the game to end quite yet.
There's not a heck of a lot FFIVA offers you that would give you the urge to play through the game again. You could always create your own challenges to make the game harder for you, or you might want to play it again for your own fun. Hey, whenever you're stuck waiting at an airport terminal or have to suffer through long car trips, this wouldn't be a bad choice for a game to pull out and play while you wait.
FFIVA is a fun game to play, even if there are a few problems here and there. If you're playing this game, you're not playing it for the challenge. But the lack of any huge difficulty isn't much of a problem because the game itself is still fun. The random encounters really get annoying, especially when it feels like you can't take a single step without getting into a fight. With those problems aside, the game plays very nicely for a GBA RPG that shouldn't disappoint.
The graphics in FFIVA seem to really hit the spot. Everything looks very colorful and high quality for a GBA game. While the character models don't boast of anything incredible, they do look very detailed and nice. The enviornments are also rendered very well. In battle, the spell animations are good for the GBA's standards (or originally for the SNES's standards) and the enemy models look great. Your enemies all look very detailed and well displayed. I really didn't have much of a problem with the graphics.
I didn't have much trouble with the sound either. While the music loops a lot and it can get annoying listening to it over and over, it doesn't sound awful at all. The battle music draws you in, as does the music in boss battles, especially the last one. Most of the tunes are memorable and are fun to hear. (especially on the unlockable sound test you get after finishing the game) There are a few sound effects as well, like swords clashing, magic being cast and creatures being summoned. There's nothing to boast about them, but like the music, it didn't get on my bad side at all.
For a handheld RPG, FFIVA clocks in at a pretty good time. A first playthrough will keep you occupied at least 20 hours, but should take you no more than 25. And the sidequests add a few hours on, making the game even longer. For a handheld RPG, FFIVA certainly gets the job done by making a long game.
+Colorful and nice looking graphics
+Lots of plot twists
+Pretty long lifespan for a handheld game
+A few sidequests to make the game longer
-Story is a bit repetitive
-Occasionally lagging battle system
-Not a lot of challenge
FFIVA is a fun RPG to play for a the GBA. While it definately is not without its flaws, it's hard to find anything seriously wrong with it. However, it doesn't have a great redeeming feature to it that would boost its score any higher, but it's fine the way it is. FFIVA has great music, a good story and the graphics are nice, all three of which FF games are known for.
I would say anyone who has a GBA should pick this game up. Of course, that's assuming you have nothing against RPGs or the FF series. FFIVA is a good game, it doesn't provide a lot of challenge and looks and plays real well. Just perfect for the casual gamer, yet still fun for hardcore FF or RPG fans.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/06
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