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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Square
Genre: RPG
Rated: E10 (Everyone 10 and up)
Release Date: December 12, 2005
Written by: Alex Sohani

One of the most magical RPG experiences a player can get has been sneaking its way onto the Game Boy Advance the past year. The most recent GBA installment, Final Fantasy IV Advance, (known as Final Fantasy II to SNES players) is bringing itself back from the dead. Fast paced action, memorable characters, and one of the greatest stories of its time makes this game a must play for any gamers. With the port, old and new gamers can experience this title once again, which really caught the popularity in the series.

The plot begins by introducing the main character Cecil, leader of Baron’s powerful airship army, and Dark Knight for his kingdom. Returning home from a mission, he is thinking back to the countless people he killed in Mysidia, a close kingdom. The King of Baron, requesting that the Air Force steal the Water Crystal of the town commanded them to kill anyone in the way and return home with the gem.

As soon as he arrives home, Cecil rushes up to the throne room where he wishes to speak to his royal majesty. Speaking against the king our hero is demoted and sent on a trip to deliver a city a ring. From nowhere a figure barges in; Kain, Cecil’s longtime friend speaks up for his friend, and is sent along with him. Readying for a dangerous mission, both warriors prepare for an excursion leading them to some dangerous creatures!

Why is the king acting so strangely? What is the purpose of the crystals? Our heroes may never know…

Final Fantasy IV has one of the most intense plots seen in the RPG world, and a very heavily involved one. A new event happens every couple of minutes keeping the game nice and interesting with many plot twists and suspenseful elements. As well as this, many characters, each with a unique personality, add fun to the game in every scene. While it isn’t odd to see memorable faces in the series, this was the game that made this kick off.

An interesting addition to this remake is the fact that the script was changed so the game was more plot involved, and make more sense. The original script had some errors, and the translation from the Japanese text wouldn’t always match up with our grammar. Through this being rewritten, gamers will be able to become more involved with the story, and have a feel for what the characters are referring to.

Throughout the game, characters are constantly evolving, and while it may seem like a lot to swallow, it is pretty simple to grasp the gameplay elements of Final Fantasy IV within minutes of playing. In fact, it should be as easy as picking up a newer Role-Playing Game, because this game is what began RPGs that gamers have today. The learning curve is about 30 minutes with a unique battle system, and shifting through the many menus.

As in many RPGs, Final Fantasy IV has an extensive world map that Cecil and his companions must travel across. On the map there will be a number of locations to go into that will lead to a smaller environment. For instance, a group of houses leads into a town where players can buy items, or a hole in the side of a mountain may be a cave to travel through. These lead to smaller more interactive environments where a majority of the game will be played.

Mobility in the game is a drag at first, as everything has to be done on foot. After a while though, there are many options for a player to choose from. Chocobo, Hovercraft, and even Airship become options to travel with later, and will become useful to reach certain areas of the map. Although these are neat additions they can only be used on the World Map, and are limited sometimes on where they can go. Also, players can’t save while in these vehicles, or use any items, so they must get out first.

There are many things that can be done from the main menu in the game. Different equipment can be given to up to 5 characters, and various spells can be cast. Also, each person’s status can be checked on for important information regarding to the levels, experience, and statistics of a player’s party. As well as this, the only other major use is to change various options in the battle screen.

Equipping a member of the group is unique in this game. In the game, each character is either right handed, left handed, or ambidextrous, and items are equipped according to that. Each character has an item slot for their right hand, left hand, head, body, and arms. Items each have their own pros and cons, and some even are combined with special elements to inflict special magic damage. It is important to keep a balance between each character and to not keep one low in any specific stat.

Status effects can be a very frustrating addition to the game, but add a bit of a challenge as well. There are many different status effects, and different things happen with each one. For instance, if one played has had Frog cast upon them, they will become a weak frog that will inflict one damage with each strike. It is important to be prepared for each effect and have a handy magic user to cure certain status effects.

On the battle screen, there is a lot of action happening all at once. Up to five characters can be on a player’s team, and it is good to keep a balanced team. Each fighter has a bar on the bottom right showing how much longer until each can attack. Once the bar fills up, various options will appear on the screen, some being special attacks and others being a physical attack. Depending upon which unit a player uses, each option will be used at some point, and strategy and timing is used with this battle system.

Each character is a different type of class. There are 2 different categories, one being involved with magic, and another using weapons and physical means to inflict damage. Normal attackers each use a unique type of weapon, some being spears, swords, and claws, while magic users can choose between bows, whips, and the typical magic staff. As well as this, these magicians can do various types of attacks depending on what they specialize in. The three categories are being a Summoner, a White Mage, or a Black Mage.

A unique thing about the game is that magical spells can be cast on either one of the enemies, or a team member. There are many strategies that can be done with this, for instance, if a team member has “Reflect” cast on them, if another unit uses magic such as “Fire” on their teammate, it will reflect off and hit the opponent with more damage than just a normal attack. As well as this, timing is crucial with spells, and many chains can be pulled off with the correct choices.

Using a magic attack in the game requires magical energy, otherwise known as MP. As a characters level goes up, they will gain a higher MP amount, and learn more advanced spells to use for their benefit. The more powerful an attack is, or the more useful a skill will become, the more MP it requires, so it is always important to watch how often each magic user uses their special attacks.

For a physical attacker, they really can’t use magic in most cases. On rare occasions one character can use a few spells, but they are mainly limited to attacking, using items, and using a special variation of their attacks. For instance Cecil’s best friend Kain can use an ability where he jumps high in the air and a few rounds later will appear behind an enemy’s back and inflict a high amount of damage. Each of these will play a role later, and add an even larger strategy style to the game.

In order to gain experience, the team must partake in random battles that occur basically anywhere Cecil walks. Depending upon which area a person is in; different creatures will appear and have unique effects. A bestiary that can be viewed will show information on each monster with weaknesses, hit points, and more. Each monster requires a different strategy, and it’s always useful to check out each monsters stats.

The only disadvantage to the gameplay is the fact that the game takes a while to process some of the battle options when the battles involve a lot of attacking at once. It is a short lag, but this is due to the game calculating the order, attack power, and defense of each unit. All of this usually happens quickly, but in certain instances with 11 or so units on the screen, a short lag may occur.

The graphical style in the game is excellent for its time, especially with only 16 bit graphics. Each monster has great detail, even though there are no animations for them. As well as this, the character’s faces are shown often in the game, and it is obvious a lot of time was spent on the various drawings seen for everything in the title.

While each character barely takes up any space during battle sequences, each midget style unit can easily be distinguished, unlike in games like Fire Emblem where every character looks the same. Its even better when the view becomes closer during a battle and more detail can be seen in the outfits, summons, and more! Graphics were obviously a major focus with this remake as a lot has been changed from the original.

An issue with the battle system graphics is the fact that the enemies do not have their own animations. They solely flash when they attack, or use the same basic animations for spells that a normal unit would use. It was an early game, and while the art is excellent, seeing the monsters have unique attacks would add more excitement to each battle. It doesn’t take anything away from the game though, as the monsters look magnificent regardless.

With graphics adding magic to the game, the other great element is the score for the game. The music is constantly changing from area to area, and while it constantly repeats with its short tunes, it is quite addictive. Each song seems to have a way of squirming itself into a player’s head, and will have them humming along the entire time.

The score mainly consists of classical music, and depending upon what events are happening, the music will have different speeds and styles. If a suspenseful part in the game occurs, a more orchestral approach will be taken with long tones, while the battle theme is fast paced with an excited feel. Music is important throughout the game to set the mood, and FFIV does a perfect job with it.

Sound effects in the game aren’t necessarily the highest quality, but they get the job done. In the SNES era, they were top of the line with whooshes at ever sword strike, magical sounds during a spell, and a deep thud after every attack. While the little effects don’t exactly measure up to the score, it amazing to see that level of detail for a game this old.

Final Fantasy IV Advance is one of the hardest titles to put down. The replay value for new gamers, and older fans will keep you coming back for more and more, especially with the new content added from the original. Considering the fact that the game without any extras got players addicted to the series, the special additions, and all of the small secrets will give players at least 25 hours of gameplay to find a majority of the content.

A difficult, but rewarding task in the game is discovering all of the treasure and summons in the game. It is tough to conquer all of the side dungeons to discover powerful items and summons, but if these difficult tasks are conquered, the game may actually become easier with the extra experience and improved weapons/spells. As well as this, many more bosses and extra elements of the story can be discovered in these sidequests.

The most major addition, and time consuming portion is the Cave of Trials. A long dungeon unlocked after certain events in the game. Through this, ultimate weapons can be discovered for five characters, but through this, some of the toughest bosses must be fought, and some difficult creatures and trials will be put in the way. It is all worth it in the end for the legendary, one of a kind weapons.

Final Fantasy IV Advance is possibly one of the greatest RPGs ever released in the gaming world. It introduced many elements that became the springboard to many popular games known and loved today. Introducing one of the greatest and addictive storylines, players will be hooked through this game. As well as an amazing plot, this game has incredible gameplay, graphics, and sound for its 16 bit capabilities.


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