What would a “Fantasy” game be without monsters and magic? Those elements are strong and ever-present in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. It’s everything you could want in an adventure game. Fighting monsters, using magic and of course, saving the world!
I was impressed by the graphic quality of this game. To be for the Gameboy Advance, I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. But when I turned it on, the landscapes were well-detailed and colorful, as were the sprites of the characters. What made it even better was that the sprites had actions, something I had seldom seen. They would nod in agreement or shake their head in protest; they had an action to display for almost every dialogue they spoke. The attack scenes were very impressive, whether swinging a sword or calling a lightening attack. Plus, the character designs, which appeared in the dialogue boxes or on their profiles, were beautifully done.
The sound quality was typical of a Gameboy game, repetitive beeps that form a kind of music. The music on this game can get annoying, but it sounds decent to be for a game of this age. I personally always play my games with the sound on, so after a while the songs get kind of irritating. As for the sounds of the characters, I enjoyed the sounds the monsters make, as well as the sounds of the attacks. My favorite is the squeaking sound the moogles make.
The gameplay is enjoyable. Throughout the game, you must fight other clans, which are groups of characters that work together, through “missions” you take up at the Pub. The mission may be a rescue, an escort, or something totally different such as picking flowers or searching for a lost ring. Even if the mission description doesn’t sound as if it would consist of a fight, it normally does. There are also “dispatch” missions you can take up, where you send one member of your clan out to complete for you. They return in a certain number of days with news of how the mission went. Throughout completing these missions, your clan gains popularity and you will get offers for characters to join your clan. The race, job and stats of these newcomers are totally random; there is no way to tell when or where someone will approach to join your clan!
Another enjoyable factor in gameplay is you have the enjoyment of choosing what you want your characters to be, there is a vast range of jobs, everything from a sword-swinging soldier to a magic-casting mage. In order to unlock advanced jobs, such as expert mages such as the Red or Blue mage, you must teach the character abilities. These can be taught by paying attention to what kind of weapons and armor you equip your character with. Certain weapons teach certain abilities, whether it is an attacking ability like “Air Render”, a healing ability such as “Cure” or even one that causes status ailments like poisoning or sleep. Even clothes have abilities such as “Turbo MP” which increases the power of magical attacks or “Counter” that strikes back at a character that has attacked yours.
There are a vast number of abilities to learn and try, this element is my favorite aspect of the game. I look forward to every mission or battle I complete, in hopes that my members have gained enough experience to master another ability. In order to master the ability, they must have the object equipped for a period of time and engage in missions to gain experience points toward that ability. Learning abilities are half the fun of the game!
There are two story arcs in the game. The first and prominent one is the Judge story arc, where the main character, Marche, and his friends Ritz and Mewt get transported to the world of Ivalice after opening a strange old book. The world turns out to be Mewt’s dream world, and Marche decides to turn it back to normal by attempting to destroy all five crystals-pure magic in solid form- that hold the fictional world in place. There is one crystal that represents each race- Moogle, Nu Mou, Bangaa, Viera and Human; in that order. Each crystal is protected by a Totema. These characters are the boss characters in this game. It is kind of hard to describe the Totema any better, normally they take the shape of a dragon-like monster, with a few exceptions, that guard the crystal to keep the world in balance. By defeating them, you advance further into the game, and get the “Totema” command for the race it represented added to your clan members. “Totema” commands either do a massive amount of HP or MP damage when used, depending on the race. The second story arc is a bonus that occurs after the original game has ended. This arc is pretty much an alternate ending to the game.
Since it is for Gameboy Advance, and back then there was the link cable system, it utilizes the ability to link by offering the ability to battle with your friends, and even trade clan members. Also, the shop in a town called Baguba Port can sometimes get new exclusive items only available through linking with your friends!
This is a game that is very long and drawn out. There are 300 missions to complete. I was surprised by the length of the game, as it is for Gameboy Advance. But as are all Final Fantasy games, the length was to be expected. I truly love this game, and play it over again and again. Each time is a little different from the last; I get new clan members, can teach new abilities and try out new styles of fighting. This is something not present in many games, most replays follow nearly exactly the same as the first play through. I am not a big fan of action/adventure games, but this one has kept me hooked from the start. If you like turn-based combat games complete with monsters, magic and mayhem, I certainly recommend Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for you.