Review by buruburu1

"A trip down memory lane, and a decent update besides"

Graphics (22/30): Though being ported from a SNES title, this entry is a little sparse, graphically, compared to both what the SNES and GBA were capable of, and particularly in this case, as late as the game was introduced in the GBA's lifespan. Occasional minor slowdowns during battles don't help the matter. What in its day was an innovative and probably jaw-dropping use of Mode 7 for overland flight sequences turns into something of an eye-sore these days. That said, the game is attractive enough, with nice spell effects, lots of enemies that unfortunately still aren't animated, and varied locales.

Sound:FX (5/10): By this time, the limited soundscape gives way almost entirely to the soundtrack. You get a few spell effect sounds and item-get jingles, but were it not for the soundtrack, there would be little here to write home about. There's certainly very little need to actually play with the sound up, as sound cues are practically nonexistent.

Sound: Music (8/10): A long and varied soundtrack, using a bit of recycled content from previous games, and introducing other tunes that become recycled in subsequent games. Overall, the music is a driving force behind the game, and very well composed. Really, in terms of production values, the music is one of the main forces in the game.

Length (15/15): A decently long game with some interesting post-game content, this one clocked in at about 25 hours before being abandoned after completion. As is the case with many FF game post-story scenarios, the level of difficulty paired with decreased motivation meant that while the areas that open up were explored, there wasn't a whole lot to get you wanting to continue—after all, if you get those elite item drops, what are you going to use them on? You've exhausted the content by then! Again, this is only a criticism of the final post-game content—the game itself is plenty long and enjoyable as to the main scenario. It's a shame that they don't make that stuff unlock right before you're able to access the final story area, since then you'd have a motivation to grind through it to get better equipment/levels to take on the final boss.

Story (3/5): Doled out in occasional conversations with main characters, the story here lends some motivation to continue through the game, with extended dialog/story sequences beginning the growth that eventually turned into the bloated story sequences of modern games. At this stage they are worthwhile and brief enough. Here, the story seems a bit more epic than typical early RPGs, and some of the characters actually start becoming memorable.

Gameplay (22/30): Slowly building on past titles, FFIV introduces the first new idea in early RPGs in awhile—the Active Time Battle, in which the battle takes place largely in real-time, and while you delay in choosing your character's action, enemies can continue attacking. It lends a much more urgent sense to the battles, which is a good thing since with so many random battles, you're likely to just resort to hitting A without thinking far too often.

Character multiplying begins in earnest with this title, as you are able to use a dozen or so different characters throughout the event. Each character ends up bringing with it some small story-based missions which help to flesh out the character's place in the events, but largely the characters come and go with little warning, often taking with them for extended periods of time items you'd have preferred stayed with you to give to other characters. Eventually you are able to choose freely among the characters, who will be of disparate level. This means you'll need to grind a few characters up here and there when they rejoin your group later, but it's not terrible, unless you truly plan on leveling up everyone for the sake of doing it. Certainly there were certain characters whom I didn't care too much for, and so tried to avoid using them as much as possible once they left the party for optional use later.

Final Thoughts: A decent RPG overall, even these days. Though presentation leaves a little to be desired, the gameplay is solid enough at this point to recommend the game as a contemporary competitor to other GBA RPGs.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/25/08

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

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