Review by NWalterstorf
"Revenge of the Spoony Bard. Yet again. And you know what? We still love 'em."
Wow. This is impressive. Another remake of the Final Fantasy IV. In fact, by some people, this is considered the best of the Final Fantasy series; at least of the 2D versions. This is a great game, and it holds itself well for its old age. Sure times have changed, but this game remains ageless.
Comparison of FF4 for the PSone and FF4 Advance for the GBA;
Now there are two good ways of getting Final Fantasy 4, other than the Super Famicon. You can either 1) get it on the PSone version, or 2) get it on the GBA version. If you like handheld RPGs that you can take with you and not have to worry about memory cards, get the GBA version.
But if you're like I am, you'll actually prefer the PSone version, even if it means taking out an old memory card and having to clear up enough space for 1 or 2 blocks of memory to play through this fantastic game again. As you can see, you can go either way when it comes to this game. I prefer the PSone version, but then again, I'm a creature of habit. Nevertheless, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this GBA version. There are a little differences, but nothing drastic. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Graphics of the PSone and GBA ports;
The graphics are great. Sure, it's a remake, and there's no drastic improvements, but that's fine. After all, I think there would be more complaints if there were more drastic changes. For example, one person complained that you're looking at 12 pixels tall character sprites. So? What's the problem? This is FF4 we're talking about. If we wanted to put out a new graphics interface on FF4, we could.
SquareEnix could re-produce this game using humongous sprites that would look great. They could've used super-detailed backgrounds and animations. They could've put everything up to date of, let's just say, that of Metroid for the GBA. But they didn't. Why? Because that would take away some of the charm of FF4.
If FF4's graphics, sounds, battles, and music were changed beyond recognition, then that would eliminate the nostalgia of this port. They could very-well update the graphics, but they choose not to. And I'm proud of them.
However they have made some changes in the portraits of the character's faces. A good plus, because it cleared up what were once somewhat blurried graphics from the PSone game. Either way, this game is an improvement of the PSone port, and it does well without going to the extent of changing everything. It doesn't need to change, people. This is FF4, and any drastic change would be for the worst.
Sounds and Music;
There's something to be said when SquareEnix takes the music of the PSone version we loved so much and makes it better. Seriously, they do. They do not take a step back when it comes to music and sound effects. If anything, they take a leap forward. They make a big improvement on the music and sound effects, something well needed since the PSone port. The sounds in battle may seem a little awkward at first, but they do take some getting used to. I like the sounds of battle, and they're up to the SquareEnix GBA RPG code (you'll recognize the familiarity over time).
Excellent, by all standards. This is one of the best stories for a Final Fantasy game. Ever. And it has never changed, nor should it.
There's only one thing I don't care about this game, and it would be the lagging inside battles. It's not necessarily SquareEnix's fault for this, either. There's also the fact that this game took a very complex game and placed it onto a small handheld system (the GBA). There's bound to be some slowdown, but it's forgivable. I won't forgive it all the way simply because it can be a nuisance, at times; but you'll get over it. The battles are still fun.
There's also a few extra features for this game. There's a character swap system (switch the characters you want to use), something which was never used before. This is a great addition to the game, I really appreciate this. And then there's the extra dungeon which provides quite a bit of fun.
The downside of this port, however, would be that it's simply too easy. I used to struggle inside of the Dark Elves' Cave on the PSone version, and enjoy a great feeling of victory once I defeated the boss. On this port, though, it's simply too easy. I can get through the first few hours of the game with little or no problems, and the bosses are dead before you know it.
Also, the stats have been reduced. My guess is that they attempted to make this port half of the hard version and half of the easy. The stat reduction is like this: at one point of the game, you're supposed to receive a character back that you lost, and their max HP is supposed to read 1100 HP or something like that. In the GBA port, you get them back, at the same level, but with their Max HP at 500. And even when you get that person to level 30, they're only at about 700 Max HP. In fact, all of the characters have gone under a great stat reduction. When I was at the Elven Caves at a certain level on the PSone version, my character's stats were at about 2000 HP. In the GBA version, they haven't even broke the 1000 max HP mark. And they were at the same level. Now this is not really a bad thing, but I personally don't care for it.
This game is easy, they've made everything easier. They've also made it more parent friendly, removing some of the curse words from the PSone version (Tellah doesn't JUST say "You spoony bard!").
ADVANTAGE: GAMEPLAY: PSone
ADVANTAGE: FEATURES: GBA
It's such a great game. Before you start complaining about how "dated" it is, and how "old" it still appears to be, think about this. This is a video game which influence whatever new RPG that you're still playing. This video game was and still is a prodigy. Sure, it doesn't look as pretty as the newest GBA games, nor does it sound or play as nice, but then again, it wouldn't be Final Fantasy IV if it did.
OVERALL ADVANTAGE: GBA
To Rent or to Buy?
Definitely buy. It's not the newest game, but then again, it's the game which impacted how RPGs are made. Buy this game, and keep it. And while you've bought this GBA port, also go out and buy the PSone version which game with a duo-release with Chrono Trigger. Hey, 2 for 1? You can't go wrong.
And you also can't go wrong with the little extras GBA adds to the mix.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/09/06
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