Review: Final Fantasy VI Advance

System: Gameboy Advance (DS-compatible)
Score: 5/5 5 (Excellent)

There's some debate over whether or not Final Fantasy VI is the best Final Fantasy ever created. Final Fantasy VI Advance does not disappoint. It's practically the same game previously released as Final Fantasy III in the United States, but with a more accurate translation. It's just as good as it ever was. If anything, this version is even better than the original.

Final Fantasy VI uses a slightly improved version of the Active Time Battle system previous Final Fantasy Advance titles use. Each character gets a single special ability from their inherent class. As in FFIV, a character's class cannot be changed.

Characters can equip magical beings called Espers, which they can summon once per battle. These Espers grant bonuses on level up, as well as allowing all characters to learn magic spells. This means that all characters can learn all the magic available - it's not limited to certain classes.

This is also the first Final Fantasy that offered multiple characters for the main party. Unlike Final Fantasy IV Advance where new parties could be formed after completing the game, you can create parties from the various different characters starting early in the game.

Unlike previous Final Fantasy Advance titles, this title offers essentially no graphical improvements. It doesn't need to. The original pushed the Super Nintendo to its limit and still looks great today. The one major graphical enhancement is the use of a thinner font, which allows previous abbreviations to be spelled out. (So "Fenix Down" is now "Phoenix Down," and the various "Drgn" enemies are now Dragons.) As with the previous Advance titles, the character portraits have been added to the speech boxes.

Unfortunately the sound suffers somewhat in this release. The Game Boy Advance seems to not all the sounds channels the game requests through the speaker. This problem doesn't occur when wearing headphones, though. There are other places where the sound doesn't quite match the Super Nintendo version, but it never detracts from the game.

Many of the bugs from the original release have been fixed. As far as I can tell, Evasion actually does something. I've yet to have Relm's Sketch ability crash the game. I haven't actually done detailed testing of the (long) list of glitches in the original version, but this version does appear to actually correct some of the original bugs.

Overall, Final Fantasy VI Advance is an improved version of the original, which many consider to be one of the best console RPGs ever created. It's a great game. Go get it.