Review by LordShibas

"A Terrible Port of an Excellent Game"

I would like to start off this review by saying that I love Final Fantasy IV. I truly do. It's one of my favorite old school games from back in the day and I've played it to death on the SNES as Final Fantasy II. However, I'm not a big fan of crappy ports of good games and that's exactly what Final Fantasy IV: Advance is. I'm not sure what went wrong in the development of this game, but there is no excuse for such a horrible port of this game.

If you have ever played Final Fantasy IV before on the SNES, stop reading this review and rule out any thoughts of purchasing this game. Go play something else, anything else. If you have never played the SNES classic, then you may find something to like here, but even then I couldn't see anyone enjoying this game in the long run.

What makes this game such a bad port? Many things really. The frame rate is terrible, the music has been butchered, and there is abiding lag during battles that simply cannot be ignored. On top of this, there are gameplay glitches, bugs that erase your save games, and many other things that will make you want to throw up if you have ever played the original. Yes, all of this is confined into one tiny GBA cartridge for you to take to your local game store so you can re-sell it.

For those of you that have never played the game, Final Fantasy IV: Advance is a remake of the SNES game Final Fantasy II. Some changes have been made to the game, some are good and some are bad. The game has undergone a slight graphical update, the music has been touched up a bit, there is now an additional 50 level dungeon, a bestiary, an always run option, and a new active battle system which makes the game require more user interaction than the old turn based system. You can switch between the turn based mode and the active battle mode in the options screen.

That about wraps up the changes, aside from some translation changes and some new character portraits. Now let's take a look at where this game falters, and becomes an extremely inelegant port.

Graphics 2/10

As I previously stated, Final Fantasy IV: Advance has undergone a slight graphical upgrade from the original. It may not be apparent at first, but you will notice it soon enough. The character models have a little bit mode shading, the character portraits have been upgraded for the better, and the encounter intro has changed slightly.

To go along with the update, Square has also included a terrible frame rate and enough slow down to make you sick. Final Fantasy IV: Advance is not exactly a graphical powerhouse. I've seen much better looking games on the GBA play with no slow down or frame rate issues. Some notable examples would be: Summon Night Swordcraft Story, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and Yggdra Union. All of these aforementioned games look superior to Final Fantasy IV: Advance, yet they don't have frame rate issues or massive amounts of slow down. There is no excuse for this except lazy development.

Sounds and Music 3/10

Ugh, what happened here? The classic tunes from Final Fantasy IV are some of my favorites, and I almost found myself half enjoying them playing this game, but they seem to be utterly destroyed in the GBA port. All of the music tracks sound grainy and will grate on the ears of anyone who has played this game previously.

The sound effects have been altered as well, and seem to have suffered the same fate. There are also issues with the sound effects no being recognized at all on some occasions. Again, this is a product of lazy development.

Story 8/10

This is the only thing that Final Fantasy IV: Advance does well. Granted, Final Fantasy II already had a dynamite story to go on, so all they had to do was not mess it up, which they did not. In fact, they touched up the translation a bit and improved it a bit. Some of the spells were re-named to be more consistent with later games in the series, text that did not make sense in the original version has been re-done to sound better, and there are even some extra scenes added.

The story revolves around a knight of the Castle Town Baron, who is the head of the “Red Wings”, which is a group of military air ships. An evil king is forcing him and his underlings to steal crystals for his own selfish purposes. Cecil questions the king's authority and is disbanded from his position and is basically thrown out of town along with his friend Kain. The journey begins with this, and these two will go off in search of themselves and the friendship of others.

The game really has some deep character development, and despite the sprites being tiny little RPG characters, they convey emotions very well, and you will often feel sorry for the characters when they are sad and be extremely happy when something good happens. The character development is top notch.

Gameplay 2/10

This game plays so terrible that it should be a crime. The original game played great and flowed smoothly with the turn based system, but the active turn based system is one of the worst things I have ever seen in a game.

The active turn based system utilizes a meter at the right of the screen for each character. When the meter fills up, the character can perform an action. However, how the meter fills up does not seem to be dependant on the character's agility at all. It seems more random than anything. Sometimes the meter will not fill up at all, and sometimes it will just jump to being full and you will get your turn.

Once you input a few commands, the active battle system seems to choke and will begin to lag. It lags to the point of not even being able to navigate the menus properly and often forces you to select the wrong commands. This is extremely frustrating and is quite possibly the most poorly implemented battle system I have ever seen in a game. Throw in the choppy graphics, the grainy music, and you have a game that induces more mind rot than fun. How this game is considered to be a finished product is beyond me.

Longevity and Re-Playability 2/10

I don't understand why anyone would torture themselves with this game. It's an abomination of a port and a disgrace to the classic that is Final Fantasy II. If you can stomach this port, then you have a fairly long quest ahead of you, including a bonus dungeon, but I don't see how anyone could look past this game's immediate shortcomings and end up enjoying it.

Conclusion

This game is simply a terrible port. It's a shame too because it's a terrible port of an excellent game, but it's hard to even notice that it's a good game due to the glitches and bugs. Square really dropped the ball with this game, and they should be ashamed.

My advice for anyone thinking of getting this game is to go play the original or the version that was ported to Playstation on the Final Fantasy Chronicles collection with Chrono Trigger.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/08

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


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