I don’t think I need to jaw about the quality of Final Fantasy VI‘s soundtrack. By now, you know the story even if you haven’t played the game: It’s sublime. Easily the opus of the SNES’s venerable sound chip, though Chrono Trigger definitely gets a mention. I love Zeal Palace too, too much.

So when news came out about Final Fantasy VI hitting the Game Boy Advance, fans looked at each other and said “Uh oh.”

I’ve already featured a number of Game Boy Advance tracks at Let’s Listen, but even though there are definitely pieces out there listening to, it doesn’t change the fact the GBA’s sound chip is dinky. Re-visiting old SNES favourites on the Game Boy Advance can be like attending a reunion that  puts you in the company of old friends, but features background music provided by the Wacky Land Rubber Band.

And as the world at large expected, Final Fantasy VI Advance’s stripped-down soundtrack is kind of bad. But it tries really hard and does a good job considering the resources at hand, so I refuse to hate on it.

In fact, a friend of mine is playing through the game (so is Jeremy Parish, by the way), so I thought I’d highlight one of the better musical transitions from the SNES to the GBA: Shadow’s Theme.

Shadow’s theme is a winner to begin with thanks to its spaghetti western-inspired whistling and twanging. It’s beautifully simple, which is probably why it transfers over to the GBA version of the game without suffering much loss.

When you think about it, western music is an odd choice for a ninja, but I suppose Shadow’s identity goes a bit beyond “dude wrapped up in black” and edges into Eastwood territory. He’s a loner, he’s got a troubled past, he probably still has a price on his head – and he has to work alongside his daughter, Relm, without letting her in on their relationship. He probably could tell her who he is, but then he’d have a lot of explaining to do.

And Shadow isn’t interested in long explanations. Didn’t you listen to his music? He just wants to collect his pay and get the hell out of Dodge.

Speaking of Shadow’s over-eagerness to peace out, Final Fantasy VI’s empty party bug just kills me any time I even think about it.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find my favourite video evidence of the bug, which occurs during a fight. Shadow says “I’ve earned my fee” to absolutely no one and takes off, leaving the battle music to play forever like a dumb asshole.

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  • TheGameroomBlitz

    I don’t think the Game Boy Advance sound chip is as lousy as everyone makes it out to be. The GBC channels aren’t exactly high fidelity, but there are two digitized sample channels that make up for it. I cobbled together a GBA version of GORF years ago, with tons of sound clips and even MP3s, and it all came together pretty nicely. Didn’t even need to *touch* the GBC sound channels.

    I’m kind of wishing I would have gone the Game Boy Advance route when buying Final Fantasy VI. I’ve got the Super NES game thousands of miles away, but I wanted a portable version, and thought a cheap copy on PSN would do the job. (It doesn’t.)

    • Nadia Oxford

      The iOS version’s graphics are awful, but the soundtrack is SNES-quality, and the translation is from the GBA version of the game.

  • http://discord-inc.tumblr.com/ James Fletcher

    The GBA sound chip could make some good noises, but man did it come at a price. I remember playing through Circle of the Moon and thinking how good it sounded even though it had a two frame run animation.

    For this game in particular, I do kinda like it’s version of the opera a bit better. They use some better quality speech samples, and while it still sounds really fakey, it’s not as bad as going back to the SNES one.