Final Fantasy VI Advance
Ryan Morgan lets his fanboy show (just a little bit) in this FFVI overview...
(Warning: This preview may contain roman numerals... lots of them)
I know that some of you (heck, most of you) are up to speed on the Final Fantasy numbering system, but let's be nice to those who are still in the dark.
Of the Japanese games Final Fantasy I through VI, only three made it to the United States. FFII in the United States was actually the Japanese IV, hence the corrected numbering on FFIV advance. The recently released V for GBA and upcoming III for DS never made it over to our shores in their original forms, leaving FFVI to be localized as Final Fantasy III for the SNES.
So, now we're all on the same page, but here's the funny thing about writing a preview for Final Fantasy VI (that which was III). Usually, for a preview one assumes that the majority of the people reading have not played the game... sometimes even the writer hasn't had the opportunity to test things out. In this case, FFVI is a best-selling, critically acclaimed game who is ranked by many as the best of the series (yes, that means they like it better than VII). Thus, I'm not going to just lay out what you need to know about the upcoming GBA remake. I am also going to tell you exactly what makes this such an exciting way to celebrate the golden years of the game boy (don't forget, the DS is not a game boy :) ).
VI's story marks a very big change from the earlier games in the series. Moving away from the standards of swords, sorcery, and medieval knights, VI heads into steampunk territory, a world where machines and magic are at odds. In fact, magic is all but extinct, only appearing in the bastardized form of Magitek armor. It is a squad of these Magitek Knights you guide through the early part of the game, blasting through the beginning enemies with abandon using magic with no mana cost and limitless casts.
I won't give anything else away for the few of you who haven't played it yet, because the uncovering of this story is one of the richest experiences you can have in a role-playing game. Why should you be excited? Well, with a huge cast of playable characters, truly evil villains, and an open-ended upgrade system that resembles an early version of the materia system in FFVII, there is very little to dislike here. There are very scant details about the actual remake currently available, I really don't know anything at this point that you couldn't discover through a little time spent on google, but here's the overall gist:
-New dungeon (featuring multi-party play)
-New Espers (Leviathan, Gilgamesh and Cactuar confirmed)
-Small graphical upgrades here and there
-New playable characters rumored
-Little translation fixes (but probably not a completely new translation)
-Lots of other fun new content along the lines of the upgrades in IV and V Advance
As I said, details are limited, but I think we have nothing to fear here. While IV Advance suffered from some glitches (especially menu selection problems), V seems to be a perfect port, if not the best version of that game currently available. With that track record, I think it is very reasonable to assume that VI for GBA may not only be the best way to take it with you, but the best way to experience this story. Period.
So what makes this exciting?
Well, what follows here is pure speculation, but as of this winter, Square will have made every Final Fantasy from I-VI available in portable form. Their next game could be something completely new, it may be an import of a game we didn't expect to see localized, we may even see an attempt at bringing VII to a portable (which I would love, because I still haven't played it... yes, I know I suck).
If, however, they listen to anything the fans say, there is a logical next step that they should be taking. It is my hope, my dream, that we may yet get to see a portable version of... dare I say it?
*pauses for effect*