FFIV Advance wasn’t particularly remarkable. The same cannot be said of FFV Advance. The best service it could have rendered its original was to put an emphasis on dialogue and character interaction, and that’s precisely what it did. The retranslation work is so good that I’ve developed a newfound liking for Galuf, whom I used to find just as bland as the rest, Faris excepted. Now he has a distinctive, goofball personality and is all the better for it. Bartz’s everyman cluelessness has also been emphasised, to the point that he has now become something like the resident comic relief. Not often you get that with the hero of an FF game (FFXII’s Vaan is the closest example I can think of, but I have such a hard time seeing him as the hero of that game…).
Graphically, not much has changed. If there’s been an upgrade, it’s minor at best, and mostly concerns the menus (font and colours). Character portraits have been added to dialogue boxes, just like in FFIV Advance, but a) they’re all based on the characters’ Amano art, so they don’t look anything like their sprites and b) Bartz, Galuf and Faris look somewhat odd. Many items, abilities, places and NPCs have seen their names updated, as is now customary. The mandatory bestiary and jukebox have also been added, although I haven’t noticed much difference in musical arrangements this time around. Or maybe I just find FFV’s music too bland to notice.
Apart from the dialogue brush-up, the other selling point of this remake is the additional material. The existing jobs and their abilities have been kept as-was, but a whopping four new jobs have been added, as well as a very large optional dungeon containing no less than three new superbosses. The vestibule of the dungeon unlocks when the Interdimensional Rift becomes accessible. Inside are three of the new jobs, but the rest of the dungeon and the last new job (obtained after defeating the last superboss) only become accessible after you clear the game.
The optional dungeon is called the Sealed Temple. It’s situated under the ocean floor and is pretty damn huge. It contains lots of goodies, as well as the aforementioned superbosses. Except that two of them…are Omega Mk.II and Neo Shinryu, and they simply look like palette swaps of their predecessors. So much for originality. Omega Mk.II does come with a surprise, though: in order to get to it, the party has to fight through a roomful of regular Omegas. That’s right, the exact same ones as the original superboss. Now, this may sound scary, but trust me when I say that your party’s levels will skyrocket as soon as they enter the Sealed Temple, especially with Exp Up on. You’ll be surprised by how much easier those regular Omegas will have become once you get to them.
Omega Mk.II should be feasible at around level 60. Neo Shinryu, on the other hand, lives up to its forebear’s reputation of being a mean killing machine, so level 70 is more realistic for taking it on. The third optional boss is none other than Enuo, the one who created the Void contained within the Interdimensional Rift, but, compared to the other two, he doesn’t present much of a challenge.
Once Enuo is defeated, a door in the first room of the Sealed Temple opens, granting access to the Cloister of the Dead, which is essentially a boss gauntlet. There are six rooms in a row, and each room pits the party against five bosses from the main game in consecutive battles. Needless to say that, if you’ve fully cleared the Sealed Temple, this shouldn’t pose any problem whatsoever. The only drawback is that you can’t save once inside, although the party can rest and heal in between each room.
Overall, I can only recommend this remake. It capitalises on the game’s strengths (character interaction and the job system) and just generally gives you more bang for your buck. Definitely superior to the original.