Final Fantasy V Advance
Game Boy Advance
Reviewed: 12/15/2006

A little over a year ago, Square Enix announced that it was bringing the SNES Final Fantasy trilogy, that is, Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI, to Game Boy Advance, and soon released IV to the world. Now, it’s V’s turn.

With most any updated port should come updated graphics, and V Advance delivers. The world map and dungeons look the same as ever, which isn’t bad, but combat visuals have been significantly enhanced. The character sprites are now rounded and shaded, curbing off the sharp-edged pixels and making characters appear far less “blocky.” Also, no longer do battles happen in sparse, open areas with 3 or 4 colors; no, now each area contains beautiful scenery, such as multicolored crystals in cavern walls or brilliant blue skies breaking over far off mountain peaks. These really shine over the original, and help the world feel more alive, while taking advantage of the power the GBA has over the SNES.

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Exploring the lost pyramids…today on Final Fantasy Geographic!

The soundtrack has also been adjusted to fit the GBA, and this is a help and hindrance, depending on the song. Some songs have been remixed with fantastic results, helping to breathe new life into a piece that may have gotten stale over the years. However, some songs also suffer from a few digitized instruments that weren’t found in the original game, and have a higher pitched, slightly grating sound to them, which distracts and detracts a bit. The actual compositions however, remain as joyous as always, illustrating Uematsu’s compositional prowess with what is arguably one of his better soundtracks of the many he has done. Essentially, some of the remixed music is for the better, some is for the worse, but all the tracks are still wonderful, and should be enjoyed by all.

The plot has been updated also with a fresh translation, which, while not changing the plot in the slightest, makes the journey through it far more enjoyable. Plenty of new in-jokes abound, which are sure to generate at least a chuckle, although a few of these unfortunately feel awkward and out of character when they come up, but most fit in with the dialogue fine. Also, while no new scenes have been added, thanks to the translation, some characters feel a bit more fleshed out, and the days of creatures like “Y-Burn” are now gone forever. The only problem some might have with the story is that, compared to other Final Fantasy titles, the story and characters aren’t as developed, with a rather clichéd overall plot, and smaller amounts of character development, but it still does it’s role just fine. And in fact, with it now being portable, this actually works for FFV Advance’s advantage, since it has more of a “pick up and play” mentality to it.

Final Fantasy V’s battle system is one of the best in the series, if not the best. V took the job class system introduced in III and improved it dramatically, to the point where V inspired the Final Fantasy Tactics job system. The system takes 26 jobs and slowly doles them out throughout the game. Jobs are assigned to characters, and after battle, they gain ABP. After enough ABP is acquired, the character gains a level in that job, which then permanently transfers those powers to the character, such as the ability to wield weapons with two hands, or jump like a dragoon. The key to success is to learn to match abilities together to create specific builds, such as a dancer that can cast summoning spells, to a black mage that can wear the heaviest armors of a knight, to a ninja that can cast white magic to heal in emergencies. Also, specifically for this version, four all new jobs were added, complete with their own new abilities to use to create new and devastating combos.

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The battles easily look 1000x better than they did on SNES.

Also, Square Enix wanted to add more replay value and new content, but unfortunately, this feels a bit underutilized and tacked on. Four new jobs were added, but three of them can only be accessed right before the final dungeon, and the fourth can only be obtained after completing the game and the bonus dungeon. Another gripe to that end would be that these four jobs all seem to have some sort of balancing problem: two are rather overpowered, and definitely lower the difficulty, and the other two have inspired powers that are almost useful, except by the time you get them, they’re outclassed and rather weak. That’s disappointing, to say the least.

Then there’s the bonus dungeon, which is rather the same as the hidden dungeon in Final Fantasy IV Advance: long, much higher difficulty, but with new even more powerful equipment not found anywhere previously, an ultimate final boss that once again manages to perfectly fit within the game’s mythos, plus one other feature that has been found in other games before, but never in a Final Fantasy title. All this, plus the 22 previous job classes makes for a game with quite a decent amount of replay value, it’s just disheartening that a good amount of the new content doesn’t reach higher than the average mark.

Final Fantasy V Advance is a quality update to great title. The new content isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s not awful either, and the updated graphics and translation alone make this far better than the version released in Final Fantasy Anthology. Plus it’s now portable, so it can be played on the go. It’s the best version so far of the classic title.

-Joey Janowksi

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Legendary
Story Good
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Very Good
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: 7