Final Fantasy VI, previously released as Final Fantasy III on the SNES, is one of the, if not the best game I have ever played. The story, the characters, the battle, the magic system, and graphical polish were all top-notch when this game was released back in the SNES days. Now being reworked to fit on the GBA, is this port better or worse than the original?
In today’s world, Final Fantasy VI holds up better than any other Final Fantasy game. If players went back and played FFVII on a PSOne, they will cringe at the graphics. If FFVIII was played now, fans might be a little agitated at the combat system. If gamers played FFIX… well, there is no need to go down that path. And if FFX was played through again, players will realize how much of a whinny bitch Titus is. Either way, my point is, FFVI holds up extremely well even in today’s gaming world.
If you never played FFVI, you need to. It is that important. While most gamers hopped onboard the RPG wagon a few years later when FFVII was released, it was FFVI that set the bar as high as it should be. Instead of focusing on one main character (Cloud – FFVII, Squall – FFVIII, etc), FFVI displays a cast of tons of characters, each with significant roles in the plot line and fight techniques.
The story is nothing short of amazing. Twists, turns, and good verses evil have never been more prevalent. Gamers can argue that FFVII’s Sephiroth was the worst of the FF villains because he killed Aerith. However, when compared to Kefka, Sephiroth is baby. Because the villain is so evil, the player feels that it is his personal duty to stop him by using the characters on screen. Kefka should go on record with having the most evil laugh in all of gaming as well. Once heard, no one can forget that taunt.
Working hand in hand with the story, the combat system is a well structured gameplay element. The Active Time Battle system works very well, but unfortunately, there is some slowdown in the GBA version. When clicking through the menu system, there is often a hiccup in the speed which could actually hinder gameplay. Many times after selecting a magic spell, I wanted to choose which enemy to attack only to choose the wrong one because of the delay. While this slight glitch was not present in the original SNES version, other modifications have been made to this GBA version.
The biggest change to this GBA port is the localization. Most of the text in the game has been changed from its original translation. To hardcore fans, this will not please them as it is messing with the original formula (like remastering Stars Wars Episode IV with Jabba or Greedo shoots first), but new comers will not notice a difference. For example, in the original SNES version, Shadow was first introduced by something along the lines of “That’s Shadow. He’ll slit his mama’s throat for a nickel.” But now, the translation reads, “Shadow will kill his own best friend if the price is right.” While both get the point across that Shadow is a ruthless killer, the translation change might upset fans. What if “Spoony Bard” was removed from FFIV? Get the point?
Conversations are not the only thing that has changed. Weapons, armor, espers, and even battle techniques have also been changed. As an example, Cyan’s Dispatch is now called Fang. Again, changes like these have the potential to upset raving fans, but FFVI newbies will not notice a thing.
New weapons, espers, and dungeons have been added to this original adventure. Unfotunately, these additions do not really make a significant upgrade to this port. It seems that out of all the FF remakes, FFVI probably got the biggest shaft in the category of new content. Again, the biggest upgrade to this title is the translation. But FFI and FFII in Dawn of Souls were both remade for the GBA. And the DS’s FFIII was completely overhauled with 3D visuals. This port would have perhaps brought a little more attention to itself if a new playable character was introduced. However, something of this magnitude could have completely changed the story line, which could have been quite unwelcomed. The fact that it is now possible to play FFVI wherever you go on your GBA is the biggest selling point.
Not only does this game take the crown as being one of the best games ever made, it also contains some of the best music that has even been released within a video game. The sound track is so superb, Square even bundled in a soundtrack CD when this game was released on PSOne. Unfortunately, due to the GBA’s lack of audio power, the sound quality is probably the worst part of the porting process. At times, the music will seem muffled with a hint of static. While this sound deprecation is reduced when headphones are used, it is still present. But again, perhaps newcomers will not notice this minor flaw. The quality of the GBA speaker is most present in this game at the Opera scene, just one of many unforgettable parts of FFVI.
The graphics, like the gameplay, hold up extremely well. Yes, the game is 2D sprite based with Mode 7 techniques, but it was the best looking game back in the day. A tiled world has never been more detailed and character sprites despite being small display all types of emotions and animations.
Should you play FFVI Advance? Yes. Hell Yes. Everything about this game screams top notch, especially considering this game was on the Super Nintendo. This game excels in every category in which you can rate a game, but not only that, this title is accessible to everyone. You do not need to be a hard core RPG fan to like this game. I guarantee, if you have basic reading skills, you will fall in love with this game no matter what age, race, educational, professional, or gaming background you have.
The fact is the GBA is definitely on its way out, with only another handful of games set to be released in the future. With the DS (with GBA backwards capability) taking over, the future of Nintendo’s handheld games will lie within that touch screen. But I cannot think of a better way to go out than with a port of FFVI. This game alone should extend the life of the system for a while longer.
I would like to also point out that it is now possible to play every pixel based, 2D Final Fantasy game on Nintendo’s handheld consoles. Final Fantasy I & II were released on one compilation cartridge. FFIII was remade on the DS with all new 3D visual and text translation. And IV, V, and VI have all been ported over to the GBA. If you never played these games, now is the perfect time.