Review by Big Red Pyramid Head
Call it Final Fantasy VI: The definitive version, with new, coherent translation!
I won't even bother giving the major introduction because, let's face it, most people who buy this game are already familiar with it. Don't let me waste your time here. This review will focus more on the port and its changes and less on the game ported.
The port, quite simply, is fantastic. I had personally awaited this ever since Dawn of Souls and I was not disappointed. Rather, I was very thrilled, because not only was I given the excuse to play it again, but it would be slightly different thanks to the fantastic new translation (more on that later).
The gameplay has been, more or less, left intact. If you played it thirteen years ago, you'll have no trouble with it now. There are a few, very, very minor slowdown issues, mostly noticed when a large, graphically-complex spell is cast. There is also, allegedly, slowdown when using a chocobo or one of the two airships, but I honestly did not notice it at all. Those sequences seemed just as fluid to me as I remember.
The additions are mostly to this effect, that being the extra dungeons. One is an interesting concept, especially to the hardcore completist. The other is designed for the player who has done it all, seen it all, and has beaten Kefka so many times that the police no longer respond to his 911 calls. It's fairly challenging, thanks to some tricky tactics, and, at worst, it's icing on the cake, but it's nothing incredibly special. Still, I bet most fans of the game would have bought the port even without it.
Practically identical. The only changes are in the text appearance and menu fonts, which are all more streamlined. It also helps that the GBA screen is sharper than a television, and that helped the appearance some. Overall, if you liked it before, no reason not to now. The screen resolution is of course decreased but you probably wouldn't pay attention if I didn't tell you that.
Sound and Music 7.0
This is where the most complaining comes from, certainly the only justified complaining. Some of the songs just plain sound funny (Searching for Friends has this weird clicking beat) and some of the sound effects are odd, but not to any real extent. Overall, the quality dropped, though I don't weigh this very heavily because there was no avoiding it, and it could have been handled a lot worse.
THE EVIL TRANSLATION OF HORROR 419.7. Times fifty. To the eighth power.
Oh boy. I bet if you made it as far as this review, you'll have seen no shortage of mincing over the new translation. Well, allow me to editorialize for a moment:
Pity them, laugh at them, but don't take them seriously. Not for one second.
The original Ted Woolsey translation was, to be fair regarding his constraints, unimpressive, and the game screamed for someone to do a decent job. The dialogue now is much, much more coherent and in many cases fleshes the storyline a bit more. Better still, the new translation clarifies several plot points that were confusing and incoherent before. We now, for instance, know that a certain mother was not an idiot who hands over her baby willingly only to regret it five seconds later, but rather the victim of child-snatching, for starters. Can't say too much without ruining things, but you get the idea. In this area, the translation was vital and extremely welcome. The original is a joke in comparison.
Spell names, item names, Monster and Esper names and the like have all been updated either through the original translation or to be more consistent with the ongoing Final Fantasy saga. Some veterans will suffer some momentary confusion, but if you've played the game before, you'll know what the stuff is, and everything has a description to help. Newcomers, of course, won't have any such problems.
Overall, this was the major selling point for me, and I'm incredibly impressed with the results. If one appreciates quality and coherence over silly nostalgia, one too will be impressed.
This game has long been one of the games by which an entire franchise, to say nothing of an entire genre, has drawn comparison and with good reason. Anyone who appreciates a good RPG, especially a good RPG made much better, owes it to themselves to hook a copy of this game.
NINE OUT OF TEN
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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