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»Final Fantasy IV
  "Don't mess with success."

Graphics: 8

Gameplay: 9

Sound: 8

Replay
Value: 4
Take a group of plucky adventurers, add in an overpowering evil threatening to destroy the planet, throw in some romantic tension and internal conflict, add a dash of character development, let simmer for a little while at 350, and you have Squenix’s formula for an insanely popular RPG franchise. Final Fantasy, originally a last-ditch effort by Squaresoft to save itself from bankruptcy, has since become a household name as recognizable as Mario.

When it comes to Final Fantasy, Square Enix obviously adheres to the axioms: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and ‘Don’t mess with success.’ How many FFs have you played through where there is a hero who is at odds with himself or his employer, and struggles to right a misdeed? The fact that this formula has been repeated over a dozen times has yet to deter Square Enix from deviating from it. Despite playing through a great many of these titles, I find the characters are still loveable and interesting, if a little flat.

Final Fantasy 4 Advance is a port. There, I’ve said it. It is a port of the Super Nintendo menu-based RPG that was originally released as Final Fantasy II, because the Japanese juggernaut thought the break in sequence would confuse the general American public. I blame the schools. This outing tells the story of Cecil, a dark knight in the service of the kingdom of Baron, as he quests through inner turmoil and a chance at redemption.

As a port, there isn’t any real quantum leap in terms of gameplay. The majority of the controls remain tried and true to the SNES version of the game. Everything is controlled by the familiar menu we all know and love. Of the major differences between the newer and older versions, the most significant is the sporadically glitchy ATB system, (An acronym for ‘active time battle’). This gives your characters the illusion of initiative based on their agility. The glitch isn’t necessarily a bad one; the ATB gauge will occasionally ‘forget’ to empty, thus allowing the player to perform an additional action. I’ve managed to hit an enemy three times with Cid once, and he’s the slowest character in the game.

Characters in FF4A also have specific abilities only they can use. In addition to Kain’s Jump, Rosa’s Aim, and Rydia’s Summon, other characters have gained some newfound abilities as well: Rosa gains Prayer, a small party heal that works some of the time;the twins have Cry and Bluff, which lowers all enemies accuracy and raises intellect, respectively; Cid has a ‘Scan’ type ability. Each of these abilities adds a little bit of dimension to the respective characters. Most significantly, you now have a choice of who you wish to bring with you in the final dungeon/battle. This addition goes a long way to breaking up the monotony of having to use Edge, and is actually more important than you initially think.

Being a current-generation port, FF4A received a major graphical update. As soon as you hit start to enter the action menu, you will see new character portraits waiting to greet you. Landscape and sprites are a little sharper as well. A simple way to see how much things have progressed in the last fifteen years is to check out the cityscapes. Look at the bushes and the streets: they are far more detailed than they were in 1991. Take a gander at the battle screen as well. Landscapes here are updated as well (I particularly like the desert scenery). Graphically, everything is more or less up to Dawn of Souls caliber (with the exception of the overworld map, which appears to have been left alone). Enemies still aren’t animated, either. They flash and they hit you.

The musical score has been redone as well. Listening closely, you can still hear the hauntingly addictive tones of the original game, only now it has been retooled for use on the Game Boy Advance. The music’s moody when encountering a melodramatic moment, cheery when it wants to be, especially around the twins; and everything seems to fit together very well. Even now, over a month after I finished the game, I still find myself humming that confounded random battle tune. I still find it catchy. The sound effects have been retooled a little bit as well. Swords and lances still make their distinctive ‘sink-sink’ sound, and magic casters have their crescendoing ‘wa-wa-wa’. Many older, more reminiscent sounds are present that harken back to the days of yore…fifteen years ago.

FF4A actually does have a bit of replay value to it, although you generally won’t want to start over from the beginning. It accomplishes this through a very irregular means for a port: it deviates from the original in that you may actually choose any of the other characters previously in your party with which to do battle in the last dungeon, with the obvious exceptions of Tellah (he’s dead), and FuSoYa, who shows up for a brief ‘cinematic’ before the final boss. Before you decide to attack Zeromus with Edward, you should head on over to Mt. Ordeals to complete your first bonus dungeon. This nets your second-stringers the equivalent of the main party’s legendary weapons from the Moon’s final dungeon. Each person has one, and they definitely aid in the final confrontation, because if you want to access the other bonus dungeon in its entirety, you’re going to have to beat Zeromus with each and every character.

Kind of like Dawn of Souls, which added the Souls of Rebirth and Chaos dungeons, FF4A has additional content as well. Beating the game opens up the Lunar Ruins, a massive fifty-level dungeon that ultimately ends in a yet another final boss. Escape and teleport spells won’t work in here, but don’t worry; every fifth level houses a save point and an escape route back to the surface.

Also housed on every fifth level is a Lunar Trial, a room that can be bypassed, but experienced so that you can pick up a piece of equipment that is incredibly beneficial to your party. Many of these…

[SPOILERS]

Enhance the innate abilities of your party. Edward’s sing will now cast Protect and Shell on your party; Rosa’s Prayer will now heal several hundred HP and cast Esuna on the party about 30% of the time. Kain gets Double Jump. Yang gets Triple Punch. Rydia’s Mist Dragon summon does actual good damage and casts Blink on the party. It’s really insane.

[END SPOILERS]

As stated earlier, the replayability to this game is not in experiencing each and every scene again and again. It is having to go through Zeromus several times so that you can fight through the Lunar Ruins, effectively doubling this game in length. Even though fifteen years old, FF4A still holds the charm it possessed when I first encountered it. If you like RPGs, this is a definite must for those who enjoy the genre.

Article by:
getahl
Posted on: Feb. 14th, 2006

     Review Recap
 Gameplay
Standard fare. Battles are little glitchy, but to our benefit.

 Graphics
Good, reworked visuals. Great compliment to the GBA�s horsepower. Although, enemies don�t move�still.

 Sound
Faithful to the original. Seems catchier than when I was a kid.

 Replay Value
Necessary to beat the boss several times in order to access the last dungeon in its entirety. No reason to play through game again otherwise.

     Comments
  February 17, 2006

Viper20184

I agree with most of what your review says. FFIV was the RPG that really got me into console RPGs. I would play this game over and over just for the hell of it. Its a great game.

  March 1, 2006

CrazyJOE

I'm just glad you can get old party members back into your party once you get near the end of the game. Though, the Polom/Porom thing kind of made me angry.

  March 15, 2006

angel

i think palom and porom was a waste of space. they are the weakest and worst characters in all of final fantasy




Platform: Gameboy Advance
Genre: RPG
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 12/12/2005
Save Type: 1 Slot
Players: 1



ooh.. wicked

5 on 4 seems better

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