Final Fantasy IV Advance

Square's Final Fantasy IV has seen many ports and enhanced rereleases, beginning with the Super Famicom version back in 1991 and including the Sony PlayStation version, WonderSwan Color port, and a Gameboy Advance version entitled Final Fantasy IV Advance, which is a worthy port.

Final Fantasy IV was the first in the series to feature the Active Time battle system, and is to date the only installment of the franchise to have up to five controllable characters in battle. While in the original version, characters came and went in the player's party, the Gameboy Advance version party allows players to pick from most of these characters for the last dungeon if they so desire. Also new to this version are two extra dungeons, one accessible after beating the game. Overall, the gameplay is as solid as it was in prior versions of the game, though the ATB is sometimes buggy.

The controls are decent, with an easy menu system and improvements such as being able to see how equipment affects characters' stats before buying it, not to mention the ability to dash, which shaves off a few hours of playing time, though the spacing of save points is still a tad poor at times. Moreover, those who haven't played previous versions might have trouble figuring out how to advance the main storyline, but control is still solid overall.

The story still holds up even today, with an endearing cast of characters and a translation improved from previous versions, with classic lines such as "You spoony bard!" remaining intact. The soundtrack is also as solid as it was in prior versions, with decent quality for the Gameboy Advance, although some tracks like the battle theme can become repetitive. The graphics are also a minor improvement over prior versions, with better battle scenery, though enemies in battle remain inanimate. Still, the port has solid presentation values.

Finally, thanks to the dash feature, the game takes much less time to complete than it did before, a little less than twenty hours depending upon endgame grinding performed, although the two extra dungeons can extend playing time beyond this range. Ultimately, Final Fantasy IV Advance is a solid port of the classic, with its gameplay and presentation values largely being solid, in spite of a few flaws. If not for the Nintendo DS version, it would be the definitive version of the game.

The Good:
+Active Time battle system is still enjoyable.
+Great story.
+Excellent soundtrack.

The Bad:
-ATB is a bit buggy at times.
-Limited inventory space.
-Sometimes poor spacing of save points.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 7/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10
Localization: 10/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: Less than 20 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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