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Developer:
Square-Enix
Publisher: Square-Enix
Platform: GBA
Release Date: December 12, 2005

by Aaron Slater





Final Fantasy IV is arguably the greatest Final Fantasy game of all time, being the first to have engaging characters, an epic plot, and many of the other features that gamers relate to the Final Fantasy series. Originally released for the Super Nintendo over a decade ago, Final Fantasy IV was ported over to the Game Boy Advance with some new features that only help to enhance this classic role-playing experience that has withstood the test of time.


Final Fantasy IV tells the story of the dark knight, Cecil, as he fights against his homeland in hopes to bring about justice. When he is ordered to gather the crystals at any means necessary, including at the expense of human life, he questions the King and his motivations to collect the crystals. His dissent leads to the acquisition of a special job, to deliver a package to a nearby village of summoners. With his companion, Kain, at his side, he bids farewell to his love, Rosa, and heads off on the simple delivery mission that soon escalates into something much greater. Without ruining much of the story, Final Fantasy IV manages to create a somewhat original tale of romance, betrayal, friendship, and forgiveness. The story certainly is not as engrossing as later entries in the series, but given the age of the game it is truly remarkable how well the storyline holds up, and how engaging and moving the storyline can be.


A Final Fantasy game would be nothing without a cast of interesting characters, and Final Fantasy IV's characters are truly outstanding. Each character is well developed and has a distinct personality, which help to give them life. The dark knight Cecilís growth throughout the course of the game is engaging to behold, as is the faithfulness of his love, Rosa. Even characters with less of a focus on the storyline, like the airship craftsman, and Final Fantasy staple, Cid, or the forlorn Prince Edward, experience growth and have stories that are fleshed out to an extent that makes them come to life. Watching the characters get caught up in the events that unfold is easily the strongest part of the storyline, as each character is distinct and intricately linked to the events that unfold.


As far as game play is concerned, Final Fantasy IV is built upon the solid Attack-Time Battle System. Those familiar with any of the PlayStation or Super Nintendo entries should feel right at home. When a character takes action is dictated by a little bar that slowly fills over time. Depending on the characterís speed, the bar will fill at different rates, and once it is full the character can then be chosen to attack, use an item, defend, or use one of the specialty attacks unique to each character, such as summon. The ATB system works generally well, aside from a few instances where one character will get to act twice in a row without having the bar fill up in between. This isnít that big of a hindrance, but it can be annoying when youíre expecting to have Rosa attack next, but find you have another attack with Cecil. All in all, the battle system can be glitchy, but it rarely affects the game itself.


Character progression, and progression throughout the story, is generally linear. Fortunately, to help liven up the experience, there are many side quests throughout the game (most of which open up towards the end), which help to flesh out the experience. There are also some new quests added exclusively to the Game Boy Advance version of the game, including the ability to choose which characters to bring with you to the last dungeon, acquiring legendary weapons for some of the secondary characters, and a whole new dungeon that unlocks at the end of the game that is full of new challenges and difficult boss battles. The game experience itself is full enough to warrant about twenty hours of play, but the additional content really helps to bring the play time up, as well as adding some new challenges and rewards for those who played the game in its previous incarnations.


Graphically and aurally, this game is a close replica of the original Super Nintendo version. The graphics are not exactly the same as the Super Nintendo version, as they were taken from the Wonderswan Color version of the game released exclusively in Japan, but the general feel is still there that was present in the original. The sound of the game has also survived the transition very well, with pieces that accurately fit the storyline. Although they may not sound as great coming from the Game Boy as they would from a television, they survived well and still conjure up the same feelings as they did in the original.


Final Fantasy IV is not without its flaws, however. Aside from the aforementioned character getting two turns in battle, there are some other faults that should be noted. At times there can be slowdown in battle, or while flying around the world map on the airship. Although the slowdown is rare, it does rear its head on occasion. Also, in battle, sometimes the cursor will not be as responsive as it should be, which can create some challenges during boss fights. All in all, none of these glitches detract greatly from the game, and should not be a reason to stay away from this port, but they do exist and should be noted.


Final Fantasy IV Advance is a strong port of Final Fantasy IV to the Game Boy Advance. While Final Fantasy IV may be an old game, the story and characters have aged well, and the new content helps to flesh out the experience even further. Final Fantasy IV is a great game, and the Game Boy Advance port is a solid title that should please new fans as well as players of the original.


Final Grade: 85%




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