Review by Stroumbert

"Final Fantasy IV was already a good game by itself and the new features only made it even better!"

When Final Fantasy IV was originally released in Japan, in 1991, there were two difficulties for this game: "Easytype" (for inexperienced players) and "Hardtype" (for more advanced players). What North America got was the Easytype version, released as Final Fantasy II (IV), because back then, the original Final Fantasy II (not to confuse with this one) and Final Fantasy III (not to confuse with Final Fantasy VI for Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)) had never made it to the United States. There were many differences between those two versions. The most important changes were the removal of several monsters, items and abilities (such as "Regen" and "Pray"). Then, in 2001, Square Enix released Final Fantasy Chronicles for PlayStation, which, unlike its predecessor, Final Fantasy II (IV), was based on the "Hardtype" version of the game. Finally, Nintendo decided to release this game, Final Fantasy IV Advance, for Game Boy Advance (GBA), packed with new features and dungeons (such as being able to change the party and having access to the Cave of Trials).

I have decided to review Final Fantasy IV Advance based on six aspects: Gameplay, Graphics, Music, Replay Value, Story and Entertainment:

Gameplay: 8.4/10

Final Fantasy IV Advance is played like many other Role-Playing Games (RPG), such as Dragon Quest or Baiten Kaitos, excepted that in this game, you are in presence of a real time combat system, meaning that when a battle pops-up, or when you face a boss, you must wait for your Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge to fill up. Then, a menu will appear and you will be able to choose what you want your character(s) to do. The most common commands are: "Fight" (your character will attack a chosen target), "Item" (if you want to use a specific item or change what your character is wielding in his or her right and left hands), "Black Magic" (another menu will appear and you will be allowed to select an offensive spell in order to attack the enemies), "White Magic" (this is the same as "Black Magic", excepted that there are mostly healing or status spells in the menu), "Defend" (increases your character's defense until you select another action for him or her), "Row" (will make all of your characters switch rows) and you can also flee by holding down both the "L" and "R" buttons . Usually, the gameplay is pretty smooth, the only exception being when the battle is very active, which will cause the game to lag a bit (it's nothing really major, though, but it can still be annoying sometimes...).

Now, when you are outside a fight, you simply move your character around using the standard D-Pad and trigger actions by pushing the "A" button. Also, holding down the "B" button will allow your character to run instead of walking. However, if you don't want to have to hold down the "B" button all the time, you can simply choose to turn on the "B button dash" option.

Overall, the gameplay is pretty good and one of its only flaws, as I stated before, is the lag you can sometimes encounter when the battle is too active. I award Final Fantasy IV Advance a decent 8.4/10 for its gameplay.

Graphics: 8.2/10

This game definitely received some good retouching compared to its older versions. The sprites used outside battles were slightly modified and the face portraits of the characters were completely redone. Also, the monsters and battle animations were improved. I believe that all of those modifications are beneficial to this game, as it makes it look a bit more modern and refined. Considering the improvement from the previous versions, I gladly give this game an 8.2/10 for its graphics.

Music: 6.3/10

To me, music is a very important factor in RPGs, since it is what makes you feel the action. Sadly, I believe that Final Fantasy IV Advance's music is really not as good as it used to be in its older versions, and when you remake a game, you're supposed to actually improve its content, or at least, keep it at the same level as it was before. Unfortunately, the music feels like it's being "held into the game" (I don't know how to explain it better...) and even if you turn on the volume, it still seems botched. This was really a big disappointment to me and I feel like I can't really give Final Fantasy IV Advance any better than a 6.3/10 for its music...

Replay Value: 9.3/10

The replay value in Final Fantasy IV Advance is decent, since there are a lot of weapons and armors to collect and the added dungeons, as well as the new bestiary, definitely make this even better! Also, just the fact that you may want to level your characters up to level 99 already gives this game a lot of replay value. I proudly award Final Fantasy IV Advance a 9.3/10 for its great replay value!

Story: 7.8/10

When you first begin this game, you are put in control of Cecil, a dark knight, who is also the commander of the Red Wings, Baron's elite air force. You will then meet Kain, Cecil's best friend and rival. You will have as a duty to deliver a package to Mist, a village somewhat close to Baron. After some events, you'll meet a lot of friends and companions, who will help you in your quest. The story in Final Fantasy IV was great when it first came out in 1991 (compared to what we had back then) and it still is pretty good today. You will certainly find some parts of the story to be rather sad and others to be pretty funny and that's good. Final Fantasy IV Advance gets a 7.8/10 for its decent story.

Entertainment: 9.1/10

This category is pretty much a "melting pot" of the previous categories, because all of the above contribute to making this game as fun as possible. I really think that Final Fantasy IV Advance is a lot of fun, mostly because of all its new additions as well as its engaging combat system. As stated before, something that might cause a bit of frustration is the lag that you will sometimes encounter, but beyond that, it's an extremely enjoyable game. It gets a 9.1/10 for its great entertainment.

Rent or buy this game?:

Honestly, I highly believe that if you want to fully enjoy this game and its features, you need to buy it. Also, don't forget that Final Fantasy IV Advance doesn't use any memory card, therefore, you will lose your entire progress if you only rent it.

To conclude, I'd like to say, in all honesty, that despite it's few bad points, this is one of the games that I will probably play for a good amount of time and I advise you to do the same, as I doubt you will ever regret it.

Average score: 8.1/10
Final score: 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/02/06

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