Review by Xkefka3X
"Another day, another port of FFIV"
Having played the SNES, PSX, and wonderswam remakes of Final Fantasy IV, I felt compelled to share my opinion on this beast of a port.
The most evident change made to the handheld ports of this game over the console ports is the graphics. This is apparently where all of Squares "effort" went (take note of the qoutation marks). The most noticeable graphics changes are as follows. All graphics for towns and dungeons have been touched up (this was also done in the wonderswam game). Battle backgrounds have been completely redone to have a more realistic look than what was offered in the SNES era. The mode 7 graphics utilized while flying around in the airship have been touched up as well to give the game a more 3-d feel to it.
Final Fantasy IV's story has always been the game's strong point and this port delivers the story as we would expect from an FFIV port. This game is based off of the hard version of FFIV so you get extended scenes with more character developed integrated into them. The story of this game, though simple on today's standards, was top of the line in 1991 when the game came out, follows resident Dark Knight Cecil. Cecil is being sent out to capture the crystals and to destroy all who oppose the kingdom of Baron. Once Cecil questions his kings motives, he is released of his command and sent on a journey to deliver a package/bomb ring (depending on which translation you like) to a village. From there the story does unfolds into an intricately woven plot of love and betrayal. The translation of Final Fantasy IV Advance is fairly similar to that seen in the PSX port of this game. The dialouge is a bit more refined than the PSX remake, but for all intensive purposes, they could've lifted the dialouge right out of the the PSX game and gotten the same effect. The story itself is worthy of a 10 out of 10, but for this game claiming to be new and improved version of a game we've all come to know and love, there is very little change that will remain in my head that is specific to this version. I remember playing the PSX game and being impressed with how much more dialouge was present, this game has less dialouge than the PSX FFIV does.
The music in the SNES FFIV was one of my favorite videogame sound tracks I have ever heard. This still holds true 14 years after the original release of this game. So why the 7/10? Final Fantasy IV Advance is the first port of this game to actually try to remix some of the themes from the original game. When I heard Square Enix was doing this, I was anxious to hear my beloved "Main theme" in an all new glory and splendor. However, what I got was a quality that was improved over the original SNES music, but no where near the quality of that of Final Fantasy Origins released just a year earlier. In some songs, they also brought out the base portions more, which changes the overall sounds of the songs. This is something you will either like or hate, I personally hated it. The sound effects were redone as well, and they sound absolutely atrocious. It is almost as though they finished the game, realized that they forgot to put sound in, so they threw all sound effects in within 1 day. I cannot see how anyone would think the sounds of a rod hitting something with a high pitch NOISE would be enjoyable to a player. All and all, I would have prefered them left the old music and the old sound effects in the game over their new and improved music.
For gameplay, I am not going to go into actual gameplay mechanics for Final Fantasy IV as I have done so in my wonderswam review. Rather, I will go over what makes the gameplay of FFIV Advance unique and, well terrible. First I will go over the few nice aspects of the gameplay. This game has 2 dungeons made specifically for this game. It also allows you to use your fallen comrades for the final portion of the game. This adds a little bit of replay value to the game, and the 50 floor dungeon is quite difficult, so it will make the game take a longer period of time if you want to complete that. The things that make the gameplay bad also ruin the overall playability of this game. The first thing you may notice is that this game has a much smaller viewable area than does FFIV for a console. This makes sense as the screen is smaller for the gba. The characters now walk at the "run" speed used in FFIV for the PSX which means you may have to keep tapping left and right till you can line your character up to walk up a row of steps in a dungeon. I have had to fight many enemies from just having trouble lining my characters up to progress through a level. The battle scenes seem very choppy. The battle pauses at inappropriate times and the screen will temporarily freeze up while magics are being casted. This stops you from moving your curser around for a few seconds. Multi-targeting enemies is very difficult to do in battle. The choppiness of battles is also seen on the field. The screen does not have a fluid movement when your character walks. It is very choppy and at some points, almost sickening if you keep watching it. A final huge flaw is that this game is EASY. VERY EASY. For this being a port of the hard game, it doesnt hold a candle to the PSX or even wonderswam gave in terms of difficulty. I was extremely dissapointed that when I fought the octomammoth with no magic points for Tellah or Rydia, I was able to just attack it and kill it with relative ease. He just sat their and took my beatings till he died. These gameplay flaws show Square-Enix's half @$$ed job at port and make this an almost unplayable version of the game. What should we expect in terms of quality when the game was only announced about 5 months before its release.
In the world of ports, this game does a poor job of living up to the original. Square Enix was willing to put the time into the music, but not the sound. They put time into the graphics, but not the gameplay and four translations later, people are still complaining about the "spoony bard" line that has been present in almost all (not sure if it was in PSX or not) translations of this game. To be honest, I regret purchasing this game, and I would not recommend this game for purchase. If you can, purchase the PSX version of this game, because despite some of the improvements made to this game, the glarring flaws in the gba version will ruin the entire experience from you. Final Verdict: DO NOT PURCHASE.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/05
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