It’s been quite awhile since Square-Enix announced that they’d be porting the SNES Final Fantasy titles to the GBA. Even though the platform is essentially dead, they’ve finally wrapped up Final Fantasy 6, the last of the SNES trilogy and widely regarded as one of the best RPGs ever made.
Unlike the GBA ports of FF4 and FF5, which boasted redrawn terrain, FF6 looks practically identical to the SNES version. This isn’t really a bad thing, since FF6 looks pretty good to begin with. But somehow, the extras added to the GBA version are somewhat underwhelming. FF4 allowed you to change characters for the final dungeon. FF5 introduced a few new job classes. Both had an extra dungeon. As for FF6, the only new additions are four new espers, a handful of new spells and equipment, and yet another bonus dungeon. These are nice but not anything major. There were rumors circulating about resurrecting General Leo, long speculated since the SNES version, although these are most likely false. Both characters can be hacked into the game through the use of codes.
The new espers include Gilgamesh, Sabotender (known in the English version as Cactuar), Diabolos, and Leviathan. The new spells include Flood, Gravida (the most powerful the Gravity/Demi series of spells) and Brave, which increases attack power. Some of the new weapons include swords from other FF games including Save the Queen (FF9), God Hand (FF7) and the Excalipur (FF5). Much like the other GBA ports, the B button will make your character run faster, and they’ll zoom around even faster with the Sprint Shoes equipped. Since the GBA has less buttons than the SNES controller, some of Sabin’s blitz motions have been changed as well.
The port itself is pretty competent. There’s a bit of slowdown during some special attacks and magic animations, but it’s not remotely as bad as the shameful Playstation port, and will probably only be noticeable to those weaned on the SNES version. Naturally, the music had to be downgraded a bit, and some of the instrument samples have been changed, such as the flute on the overworld. The battle themes seemed to have suffered the most, especially the boss theme. But like the other two GBA ports, they’re still several steps above most other games on the systems, and will generally sound decent to those who aren’t superfluously picky. Character portraits have also been added for the major characters. Although all player characters already had graphics on the status screens, there are a couple of brand new portraits for other NPCs like Kefka, Gestal and Cid, who has quite the bushy mustache.
The US release is approximately two months away, due in early February 2007. It’s currently unknown if the English version will use Ted Woolsey’s translation for the SNES game, or if they’ll retranslate the whole game. Unlike the scripts for the earlier games, the original Final Fantasy 3 translation is pretty decent, although it could use some touching up, as small bits were censored due to Nintendo’s strict censorship policies. If they do retranslate it, here’s hoping they keep some of the classic lines.
Past the break there are more videos of Final Fantasy VI Advance with hacked characters Leo, Kefka, Biggs and Wedge in a party, the Giant Sabotender fight and the Opera Scene.
Giant Cactuar Fight
Celes’ Opera Scene
This video has Kefka, Leo and the two soldiers from the beginning of the game Biggs and Wedge in a party. This video clearly has hacked characters so don’t expect all of these characters to be playable.