Final Fantasy is one of those video game series that has many titles some hail as masterpieces, among them being Final Fantasy VI, which originally saw its North American release as Final Fantasy III, given the absence of the second, third, and fifth titles from America at the time. The game later saw its release with its true number as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology on the Sony PlayStation, and later as Final Fantasy VI Advance on the Gameboy Advance, giving newer generations of gamers a chance to experience the classic.
FF6 uses the franchise's active time battle system, with up to four characters squaring off against randomly encountered enemies. Each character has a unique ability, such as Locke's Steal command, in addition to the ability to normally attack, use an item, change front/back row position, defend, or hold down the L and R buttons to attempt to flee the battle. A few hours into the game, each character will be able to learn magic spells from Espers from AP acquired alongside money and experience after battle, in addition to being able to summon equipped Espers once per battle.
Overall, the battle system works as well as it did in prior versions, with a general quick pace, and plenty of ways to ravage the enemy, and the only minor hiccup being that the action of battle doesn't pause while targeting monsters with the attack command, regardless of whether players choose Active or Wait in the game menus.
FF6's control scheme is decent, with easy menus and shopping, although, especially in the latter half of the game, there's sometimes vague direction on how to advance, and a character must be in the player's party for the player to manage their equipment. Other than that, interaction is solid.
The story is still a high point in the game, with a memorable cast of characters that have some sort of story behind them, as well as a menacing villain in the form of Kefka, and a reasonably lengthy ending that gives closure to all the characters. Granted, some parts of the story are a tad derivative, such as the evil empire. The translation, however, is virtually flawless, preserving the best parts of Ted Woolsey's original work, and ultimately, the plot helps the game far more than hurts.
Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack remains solid, with its quality suffering not at the hands of the Gameboy Advance's typically weaker audio, with each character having their own theme, and in some cases remixes of said themes being present, although the battle music can get a tad repetitive.
The graphics are still solid as well, in spite of complaints about the brighter scenery, with the chibi character sprites showing a wide range of emotions, alongside reasonably flash animations in battle, although foes, in spite of looking nice, remain inanimate, and there is some minor graphical slowdown.
Finally, playing time ranges from fifteen to thirty hours, with plenty of sidequests, especially late in the game, to extend time spent with the game, not to mention grinding for every character to acquire every magic spell. Ultimately, Final Fantasy VI Advance is a faithful port of the game, retaining all that made the original version solid, including its gameplay, story, graphics, and music. Those who missed prior versions would do themselves well to experience the Gameboy Advance port.
+Solid ATB and Esper systems.
-Not much replay value.
-Some graphical slowdown.
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Playing Time: 15-30 Hours