Review by FlowingMindspin
A true classic gets updated yet again, but do the updates warrant yet another purchase?
Final Fantasy IV Advance is yet another remake of the classic RPG Final Fantasy II, which was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Remakes are all well and good as long as the new features are worth writing home about (or in this case, worth buying a game for). As far as remakes go, however, Final Fantasy IV Advance comes off as mediocre.
If not for the endearing (yet simple) story and characters, this game would be a complete and utter flop. The main quest has been mostly untampered with, and the classic dialogue and story events have been left intact (yes, even the infamous "You spoony bard!"). The bonus features are all I'm really concerned with; like most people who will purchase this game, I've been through it all before. Sadly, the bonus features just aren't up to snuff. That's not to say that they're horrible, but they just don't give me enough bang for my buck.
Let's start with the audiovisual enhancements. The graphics are for the most part unchanged, though the character portraits have been revamped a bit and a few animations are broken (like Rydia's whipping animation during battle). Also, the scrolling when flying in one of the game's many aircrafts is somewhat choppy, which can be a pain. It all evens out in the end, but there are some seemingly minuscule oversights that can leave one scratching their head. The music sounds pretty clean and I can't complain about it; some tunes sound a little better, some sound a little worse, and the sound effects are still as obnoxious as they were over a decade ago.
What seems to have changed the most is the battle system. Though it uses the ATB system, this is the first time the ATB bars have ever been visible for this particular game. There are some weird bugs that occur seemingly as a result of the bars being present. Characters will inexplicably get two turns in a row, Kain will take quite a while to actually jump after using his Jump command, and will take even longer to come back down. Some commands, like Rosa's Pray or Porom and Palom's Twin, are practically useless most of the time because they take forever and a day to execute. Not only that, but there is often massive slowdown during battles that can make simple tasks such as selecting a spell or target maddeningly difficult. It seems idiotic to me that the GBA hardware can't handle the game's battle engine when the SNES had very few problems with it in its heyday.
The bonus content has its ups and downs. The best feature is definitely the music player, which lets you play any of the tunes in the game. The bestiary would be nice if it didn't have so much erroneous information. The two bonus dungeons could have been done much better. The Cave of Trials was simply too easy, and the Lunar Ruins take way too much time to fully unlock. The boss battles within both are great challenges, but getting to those challenges is tedious and headache-inducing. The random nature of the Lunar Ruins is also a double-edged sword-- the experience can be totally different each time you enter, but it can make beating each character's quest way too time consuming for the average player.
Even though the extra features are lackluster, the core game play and story still drive the game well enough on their own. This game is definitely not bad for those who have never played an incarnation of this title before, and old vets will probably find things to love and hate about it. However, there just isn't enough substance to make this game great. As it stands, this is a mediocre remake of a stellar RPG.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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