Review by benatunk
"It's super, thanks for asking!"
To many, Final Fantasy 3(6j) is the be all and end all RPG. And it's easy to see why: beautiful graphics, music, great characters, and tons of secrets. More importantly, it's the first Final Fantasy to have a great localization, courtesy of Ted love-him-or-hate-him Woolsey.
Now, Final Fantasy 3 has made it to the Gameboy Advance, retaining it's original numerical designation, and a few changes here and there.
Final Fantasy VI Advance is a mostly solid port (and it is a port, even if a lot of the coding was overhauled, it's still too close to the original for me to call it a "remake"), so it goes without saying that if you enjoyed the original incarnation, you'll have a great time. A few hiccups have appeared, but what was overhauled and fixed from the original MORE than makes up for it.
Compared to the other Final Fantasy Advance ports, this has had the least work. The sprites aren't recolored like FFIVA's, and the battle backgrounds aren't new, as was the case in FFIVA and FFVA.
However, the graphics were great to begin with, and translate well to the small screen. I played through on a DS Lite, and of course it looked sharp and bright. I haven't had a chance to play it on any older Gameboy Advances, but I'm afraid that this game is a bit darker, and the colors haven't been brightened to compensate for the darkness of the original GBA's screen. But really, this isn't a problem, because the kind of nerds who play Final Fantasy games are usually the kind of nerds that like to keep up on Nintendo's gadgets, and the darker colors look better for it.
The background graphics, however, look a little dull and washed out in some cases. They could have really used a little recoloring, as the juxtaposition of the sharp colorful sprites against the dull backgrounds isn't very pleasing.
Overall, the game has maintained it's beauty. The text is smaller, but this is an acceptable tradeoff for a more accurate translation.
Oh boy, here we go. Sort of a polarizing issue if you read the other reviews. Obviously, the sound quality takes a pretty big hit. If you turn on the game expecting the Gameboy Advance's little speakers and lame sound chip to pump out Super NES quality music, you deserve to be a little disappointed.
That's not to say that it's bad; on the contrary, once you've resigned yourself to the fact that the music quality is going to have degraded, you'll enjoy the music. In all honesty, it doesn't sound too bad. The compositions are solid, and you can tell that they really did all they could to make the music sound as good as it can. Some of the music is slightly remixed, but generally nothing too dramatic.
The sound FX are the same beeps and boops you've been hearing in Final Fantasy games since they first came out, so you know what to expect there. There's some wind and weapons clashing, and a silly dog bark, but for the most part, being an RPG, nothing mindblowing.
If you're a Final Fantasy III veteran, just know that the battles work just like they originally did. There is some negligible slowdown, but nothing on par with the buggy nightmare Final Fantasy IVA's battle system was. More importantly, the extensive bugs have been worked through. The most obvious is the Evade stat now working; in the original release it was meaningless, and physical evade was combined with the magic evade stat. But other than that, you know what to expect.
If you're new to the game, I'll give a brief overview. Battles are carried out with a four character party. Like Final Fantasy IV, each character in the cast has a unique class that dictates what their secondary move does. Some are familiar Final Fantasy classes, like a thief that can "steal" and a dancer that can "dance." Many are new, or overhauls of older classes. This helps add a bit of personality and during the earlier parts of the game helps you decide which character you'd prefer to use.
Later on, once espers become available, each character can start learning magic. This is when the balance of the game completely skews towards easy. Each esper teaches certain spells, and once that character has learned a spell, it is a permanent part of their repertoire, and you can move the esper to another character. So, in the end, your entire party, even your hard-hitting physical fighters, have access to Curaga(Cure3) and Reraise(Life3), as well as Ultima and Holy(Pearl). Espers also give stat bonuses upon level up, which prompts many players to avoid excessive levelling until espers become available to make the most of these levels. However, I dont' recommend it, as the game doesn't really need to be made any easier.
Final Fantasy VI starts out pretty difficult, but almost immediately character powers like Edgar's tools, Sabin's blitz, and Cyan's bushido(swdtech) make winning every battle easy. And by the time you are facing the final boss, you're additional characters are ridiculously overpowered, unless you have purposefully gone out of your way to avoid levelling or equipping espers. This is a shame because you can wipe out the final boss in a few turns, missing out on hearing, in my opinion, the most dramatic and well composed final boss music in the series.
Overall, the battle system is fun, but a step back from Final Fantasy V in terms of complexity and difficulty.
Outside of combat it's standard RPG fare. Walking around, talking to people, etc. The game runs smoothly, and retains the run feature added to the port in Anthology. If you hold down "B" you run about as fast as you did wearing spring shoes in the original, and if you wear sprint shoes and hold down "B" you careen about out of control. I recommend using the Relic slot for something else, and turning on auto-run in the config menu, because you move at a good pace, and you'll never need to move as fast as the sprint-shoes-plus-running combination. You might miss something!
This to me is one of the greatest things about this port. Rather than completely overhaul the text like in the last two games, they based the script on Woolsey's original localization. What's better, though, is that they added back all of the text that had to be edited out due to the memory limitations on the Super NES catridge. So the script maintains the original flavor, and adds in a ton of new stuff to flesh it out. They also changed the spell name to keep them in line with the other newer Final Fantasys. And more importantly, Pearl is Holy again, thanks to Nintendo no longer having the same ridiculously arbitrary policies as the SNES era.
There's a few diehards out there that hate the original translation, and have made the assumption that it is inaccurate based on the fact that a couple of character names were changed. This is completely wrong. While two names were changed outright (Tina->Terra and Mash-->Sabin), the rest of the dialogue is a well-crafted localization. And really, Mash is a ridiculous name, we got the long end of the stick on that one. One particularly over-zealous fan did a full re-translation and released a patch for the ROM, but if you've played it, you'll see more plainly than ever that the original translation was fine. They were saying much of the same thing, but Woolsey's was more professional and natural sounding.
In other words, it wasn't broke, so they didn't need to fix it. And that was the philosophy of the new localization team.
In conclusion, despite the battle system not being as deep as Final Fantasy V Advance's, the great story, characters, and music make up for it. The port is rock-solid, with some minor hiccups that can be easily overlooked unless you are pathologically anal-retentive. Many problems in the code have been fixed, and the game is much less buggy. Throw in some great new challenging monsters and a fantastic adaptation of the original script, and this is a game that no RPG fan should be without. So go buy it already!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/09/07
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