Final Fantasy Tactics Advance GBA Review

Final Fantasy makes a welcome return to a Nintendo console with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Your world has vanished and been replaced with a fantasy land of demons and monsters. What is this place, and how can you get back?

Graphics

Tactics has amazing graphics and really pushes the Game Boy Advance to the limits that it was designed for. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and look better than the SNES games or even the PS1 remakes. It is really clear and it looks great when you see a judge warping in at the start of a level.

A bright light fills the screen when you use magic and then focuses on the enemy being bathed in flame, ice, lightning or other magic attacks. Sadly though, every type of character (i.e. Mages, archers) look the same, apart from the main ones who are confined to the same look all through the game.

Gameplay

You play as Marche, a young boy who has just moved to St. Ivalice, a small country town where his mother was born. Marche’s friend, Mewt finds an old book in a used bookstore about a mystical land with monsters and magic. Ivalice changes forever, and the book comes alive; Ivalice is no longer just a town, but a whole country! When you wake, you are dazed and confused and soon meet with a young moogle called Montblanc who becomes your guide in the strange world of Ivalice. As the story unfolds, you find out that you are inside the game ‘Final Fantasy’ with strange people and beings.

Rather than having a normal Final Fantasy style of gameplay, Tactics has a mission based style where you join a clan while you find information about this strange world that you have come to. You find out about missions in the pubs of Ivalice, where you have to pay for the information. There are four different types of mission:

– Regular missions are normal, team missions, requested by the citizens of Ivalice.
– For Non-Battle missions, you send out a clan member to do it by themselves.
– Encounter missions are where you fight an opposing clan.
– And Free-Area missions help to make that area part of your clan’s influence.

The fighting in Ivalice is considered more of a kind of sport, with rules and penalties governed by laws. They can ban certain weapons and moves from battles, but they do change every day, so you have to keep checking. The laws, as in real life, are categorised into different levels of penalties, some requiring the wrongdoer to be sent to prison. The judges of the land make sure that none of the laws are broken and deal the penalties if they are.

At the start of the battle you have to pick which clan members you want to use in the battle. Then you start the fight. Your characters have several different options when they are in battle:

– Move: This is normally done first and just moves you closer to the enemies or into position for attack.
– Action: Opens the action menu so the person can fight, use magic or even do combos.
– Wait: The unit waits out the turn and their next go comes sooner.
– Status: Erm.. checks the status of the character.

Battles consist of turns, with the unit that has the highest speed going first, you then move your character around the field and fight the enemies to the death. The judge gives out JP, or Judge Points to units that kill others, these can then be used for combo attacks. After missions you acquire items that can be used in other missions and gold, to pay for your information and items. Some new people can ask to join your clan after certain battles and it’s up to you to accept or decline their offer.

You have to make the world of Ivalice yourself, by receiving town and place pieces to fill the map and create the world how you want it to look. You receive them when you complete certain missions, this causes more missions to become available and then you can continue the story.

If you find someone to play with, the multi-player option is definitely one to try. The battles consist of co-operative fights, not the basic versus battles in other games of this type. There are also competitive battles where you and your opponent fight to see who can kill the most enemies. You can also trade items and even clan members!

The main characters are:

– Marche Radiuju – He is the hero of the story and like all leading Final Fantasy characters, he has a wacky haircut.
– Mewt Randell – He’s the other hero which is kind of odd, as he is extremely shy and always carries a teddy bear.
– Montblanc – A young moogle who helps Marche to settle in to Ivalice.
– Ritz Malheur – She is very loud compared to her quiet friends. She doesn’t particularly want to return home.

Sound

I don’t tend to listen to music on handheld games, but Tactics has got some stunning music. Far from the tinny Pokémon music, it really adds atmosphere to the game. It starts off with a very good introduction song and the first stages of the game have very nice music in them. No matter how long you listen to it, the music will never get annoying. It is generally very soothing and calming, but does have parts where it picks up a bit.

Lifespan

The game can last anywhere from 75 hours for the casual gamer, but for the hardcore fan trying to get everything, it can take 150+ hours to complete. It has amazing replay value as you can go back to try and complete all 300 missions or just to make the most powerful team there is.

Overall

This is a great game for a long plane or car journey (as long as you aren’t driving), apart from the weird things in it (like a hideous wolf about to kill me called Colin) it will keep you quiet for hours and hours. If you own a Game Boy Advance and like Final Fantasy get this and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

8.9/10

by

Version tested: GBA