Review by Dash_Jr
"Not as magical as V"
Final Fantasy, a name that should be familiar to any gamer who has played or heard of role playing games. Why? Because Final Fantasy games have been around since the Nintendo/Famicom days. It was Square's last ditch effort at the time when they were about to go out of business. Well as luck be had, Final Fantasy saved Square from being closed down because they put everything into making the first Final Fantasy game. Well to this present day, Final Fantasy games have been coming out from all directions. Many consider the Super Nintendo versions of Final Fantasy as the turning point in the series, but this has been stated countless times already. Irregardless, Square and Nintendo fell on bitter terms during the Nintendo 64 days thus ending the days of Final Fantasy on Nintendo consoles.
Well as time wore on, Nintendo and Square finally patched things up allowing Final Fantasy games to return to Nintendo systems. They released one for the Nintendo Gamecube and several for the Game Boy Advance. This gave Square the chance to release remakes of the earlier Final Fantasy games(minus Final Fantasy III which later became remade for the Nintendo DS) onto the Game Boy Advance giving some fans a chance to play versions that weren't available to play in the US. Final Fantasy VI, is the latest and last of the said Final Fantasy Advance series. Seeing as this is the last version of the Final Fantasy Advance series, did Square go out with a bang? Well yes and mostly no.
Ah yes, the tuning fork for many. But to me, the story is the killing joke(a little Batman humor hehe). The story is basically about an empire set to bringing back the power of magic through a technology called Magitek. The setting does wonders as you can see the effects of technology on the world of Final Fantasy VI like steam engines and machines. The world is sort of like a post Industrial Revolution era with a lot of emphasis on advancing technology. The game has the most playable characters than any other Final Fantasy, which is a hit and miss.The characters all have their individual personalities, which is pretty humorous at times. Some of them tend to clash with each other, that which adds a little break in the serious tone of the storyline.
The gameplay,although it adds new additions to the other titles, it still continues on with the old school role playing game feel. You battle monsters, traverse through dungeons, speak to NPCs, etc. But one thing that did not make it into Final Fantasy VI is the class system. You can no longer change into different classes here, but that doesn't harm the gameplay as much.
The battle system in Final Fantasy VI is the same as the previous versions, the Active Time Battle System. The ATB is too much of a pain to enjoy though. Each character in your party takes turns in battle through the ATB bar. Each time it fills, you can do an action such as attack an enemy or cast a spell. But the problem is, you have to wait for the bar to fill up. This may not seem like a problem, but in reality it is. For one thing, both you and the enemy can be there waiting for the next turn. Like I said before, some gamers may like it, but to me, it was very annoying. If you have someone on your team who's a healer, you won't be able do anything until your ATB bar fills up. That gives the enemies plenty of time to attack and possibly defeat any of your team members. I only wished that the battle sytsem would remain as a standard turn based system used in numerous old school RPGs.
A new add on to Final Fantasy VI are Espers, which are the summons of the game. The usage of Espers allows characters that previously could not learn any magic to be able to use magic. Not only that, but Espers can be used in battle in the same sense that summons from past and future Final Fantasy games have done.
Some people have critcized the sound for being watered down compared to the Playstation and Super Nintendo versions, but gamers have to remember that this is a Gameboy Advance not a Playstation 2, so the sound may not be as grand as a console's sound. But the sound is still pretty goodm, especially one track which has become my favorite theme for any RPG game. When you're on the Veldt, which appears to be based on a savanna of some sorts, you hear a rapid jungle beat, yet while you're in a boss battle, you tend to hear an epic score(The Fierce Battle) to fit the mood. The sound isn't as bad as people say. It's actually pretty good for a Gameboy Advance game. The sound effects aren't anything special, but they do get the job done.
Ok, here's where things go into two: the graphics are good and bad. Let's start with the good. Unlike the previous Final Fantasy Advance games, the graphics here are a little better. They actually have some depth to them. I said before that this game has a "steam based technology" aspect to it, and the graphics really show it. Factories look rusted and widely used, the towns are lively and diverse. The world actually does away with the medieval setting and goes to a modern, post Industrial Revolution feel, which is pretty neat.
But one problem I had with the graphics is occasional lag here and there. It doesn't stop the game or crash it, but it is a bit annoying to experience at times when this is the last Final Fantasy Advance title.
Overall, I'm pleased with the graphical style of the game as the style is a homage to old school RPGs, which makes the Advance series of Final Fantasy games the best in my book.
I have to give Square props here, the game is pretty long. It can take you well over 50 hours maybe just to complete it. There's numerous side quests to complete like the Dragon's Den and the Soul Shrine. Not only that, but there's a couple of new Espers along with the traditional bestiary and music player that is common with the Final Fantasy Advance series. Other than that, the game's replayability is pretty good. Nothing too fancy; just some good old side quests to keep the fans busy.
Overall, I found Final Fantasy VI to be an ok game and a decent port, but not as magical as people have praised it to be. The graphical style in the game is a high point along with the music, but the overall story doesn't feel as epic and dark as IV's story, or as involving as V's gameplay since the class system was scrapped in VI. But for anyone looking for an RPG to play in their spare time, VI is good round, but don't expect anything more once the adventure is done.
+ Excellent soundtrack
+ Detailed graphics
-A few lag spots outside the battles
-Too many characters at times
-Minigames can be a bit tedious
-Gameplay is not as good as its prequel
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 01/01/08, Updated 01/03/08
Game Release: Final Fantasy VI Advance (US, 02/05/07)
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