Malik (4/20/04)

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance


This review originally was presented on lazy.GEEKS (9/19/03)

I don't know how long this will be up...but until it goes down, check this commercial out.  Now that the really bad is out of the way, let's get going.

About 5 years ago, Square Soft released one of the last good games (in my opinion, anyways) that they would ever release; Final Fantasy Tactics. It was a blend of the job system found in FF5 and the strategy systems found in games like Shining Force. It also revolved around a tight and intense story, great graphics, a nicely composed sound track, and a great game play system. Then we fast forward about 5 years to the present day; Square is now SquareEnix, old Square series are crap-tacular, and Square is finally releasing games for Nintendo consoles again. We are also granted the privilege of FFTAdvance... 

...on a side note, I hate how titles for some systems always end up over using a certain word. For example, more games for the SNES had Super in their title than any other word, even if Super was not in anyway a good choice for the title. In that same theme, it seems that all GBA games have to have "Advance" in their title. Even if the game is inferior to another version of it, just because of it being on the GBA. 

Anyways, enough of my rant; this is a review, not one of my rants. This game's main town reminds me of a certain TV show, so you may see a few references...So let's get things started; 


I feel it is best, when dealing with a sequel or a prequel, to evaluate the game with some comparisons to the original. Well, FFT (PSX) had a great story that never stopped focusing on the deep serious effects that come about when war devastates the countryside. There were great examples shown of how the innocent suffer, the greedy take advantage of others, and those most to blame for the tragedy usually are the furthest from the path of devastation. It also showed how war can corrupt even the most innocent aspects of life, such as friendship (I know, that sounds sappy, but that's what FFT did in it's story). 

So, FFTA will keep up this trend in it's plot, right? Sadly, horribly, pathetically, crap-tacularly NO! Instead, the story is pretty damned lame. You play the new kid in town, Marsche. You moved to Ivalice (a snowy hick town...I like to think of it as South Park...a "quiet mountain town" - Stan) with your family since the town is in the country and your brother is sick...your family thinks being in the country might help your brother's condition. One day at school, a snowball fight is declared (this is one uptight town...the snowball fight even has rules and such...not like anything I grew up with) and the teams are picked. You end up on the team of a random girl (I think it's a girl...some of the boys in this game look like girls) of no importance, the most mature kid in the class (who is made fun of constantly since he's quiet and carries a teddy-bear..."Will someone put this retard out of his misery?" - Cartman), and the tomboy of the class. Well, the Snowball Fight serves as a retarded chance to learn the controls of the game, so I'll just pretend it didn't happen ("Is that how it happened?" - Cartman). The mature kid (I won't use his name, let's call him the retard out of the South Park theme, or the tomboy's since they have little important in the first half of the game...and even then...) and the tomboy want to hang out with you after school. The retard says that he will buy a book and bring it over to your place after school so you can all read it (sounds exciting!). 

Fast forward to an hour or so later. The retard and the tomboy show up and the three of you, along with your crippled brother (in a wheelchair and doesn't say much, so I'll call him Timmy) start to read the book. Too bad it's in another language and you four begin to think it's magic and act like a bunch of children (good thing you are children, or this would have, right there, ended the game experience for me) and talk about how cool it would be to make a book's world come to life. Then one of you (I was starting to get bored senseless about now, so I forget who) says that he/she doesn't read books and instead plays video games (WTF!?! They are reading a book together after school when they have video games they can be playing!?! "Don't care, don't care, don't care...Where's our Osaka-Gamesphere?" - Stan). This kid then says he/she really likes Final Fantasy games (not making this crap up...I can't make my brain that retarded to think of this shit). Well, you all then go home, go to bed, and go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you're in the world of Ivalice (as opposed to the town), it's not snowy, and everything is FF. You join a clan (a group of fighters, mages, etc.) with your new best friend Monteblanc, a moogle. Your goal seems to be trying to get home to the real world, but that is not mentioned too much as you actually play the game. 

So, long story short; the story is horrible. It takes everything FFT had, spits on it, urinates on it, and then flushes it down the crapper and uses whatever was not in FFT to make the plot of FFTA. 


About the same as FFT, but a little toned down since the portable screens have a little bit harder of a time using too sharp of detail. For those new to FFT games...the graphics are good. They are not outstanding, or as high of quality as you'd find on the Osaka-Gamesphere, but it does the job required and then some. 

One nice extra feature is that the game takes into consideration the three ways you may play it. It has special video modes to give the best picture possible depending on if you're using a GBA, GBA-SP, or the GBA player (for the GCN). This shows some extra effort went into the game. 


I think it's good. The one problem is that I refuse to shell out the cash for my headphone adapter for the GBA-SP, and therefore I have to use the really weak built in speaker. However, from what I can tell, the sound effects match the actions, the music has a good classical feel, and...well, that's about it. 

Game Play 

, with graphics and sound not mattering in a RPG, and a crappy story, why do I keep playing? Two reasons; Firstly, I need something to do when I'm on my lunch break (I am still trying to read Journey to the West, but it gets really repetitious); secondly, the game play. FFTA has a great game play that makes up for the plot a few times over. 

The game plays, in fights and towns, almost the same as FFT. For the uninitiated, in town you select the shop, the pub, or a few special places (like the prison in FFTA) that change per town. You can buy stuff, accept jobs, hear rumors, etc. Pretty standard, but also pretty easy to manage...meaning the game moves smoothly. 

In battle, you control each unit (you can only use 6 people in a fight) like you would in FFT or Shining Force. You have a standard grid of movement and attacking (unlike the wonderfully crafted Arc the Lad: TotS for PS2), but it works, so I can't complain. You also select jobs for each character that will affect their stats, and their basic abilities. As you beat battles, you gain AP that is used to learn new skills. As you learn a new skill, you will be able to use that class-specific ability while acting as a different class. Unfortunately, you learn skills in a method found on FF9. Your skills you are currently learning are obtained through your equipment, so if you're short on cash, you're also short on what skills you can use ("Dude! Weak!" - Kyle). That sucks, but it is not too distracting from the actual game. 

Also, like in FFT, as you master classes (this time it's decided by how many skills you've learned not by your job points) you will unlock specialized classes. For example, you have to gain some understanding of being a soldier to be a paladin, or gain some ability in thief to become a ninja. On a similar note, you have 5 different races (Human, moogle, lizard-man, cat-woman, and sloth-man) which each have a separate list of available classes. Some classes overlap (like black mages are found in several races), but some are race-exclusive (a pally is only for humans). This means you won't have that overwhelmed feeling that was obtained from FFT (in which there were a couple dozen jobs that anyone could eventually learn). All in all, you will have access to about 40 jobs, and of those, humans get about 12 (being the most for any race). 

This information, in itself, is all that was needed to win me over. Unfortunately, it is about the limit of the good parts of the game play. The other new feature is the judges. Prior to a battle, a set of laws (both recommended and restricted) is decided. If a restricted law is called "Attack", then you cannot use the attack command (now that one sucks...I got stuck in one of those battles), etc. If you break a law, you will either get a yellow or a red card (depending on the seriousness of the law in question). If you pick up two yellow cards, you're out of the fight and sent to prison (in effect, it's like a dude dying and you can't raise them). If you do something really bad, you get a red card, which is an automatic dismissal from the fight. Also, if you're hauled off to jail, you will either have to pay the bail after the fight to release them or send someone else in in their place, pay some money, and wait some time for that second person to be released. At least this crap is manageable, since you can see before a fight what the laws for the day will be. Also, for the recommended laws, it means that if you do said action (like if it says color magic and you cast an elemental or healing spell, you in effect cast color magic) you get a JP.

"A JP?", you ask? JP are now Judge Points and you use them to perform combo attacks. A combo uses all of your JP and then you, along with all other surrounding characters with combo abilities, will gang up on the enemy for an automatic hit. This one helps out when you can't use the attack I learned.

Well, believe it or not, that just about covers all of the game play, with one exception. Advancing the story. To advance the story or to get some money, you will take on jobs. Jobs range from fighting, to sending off an ally, to using some thinking, to solve a problem in the world. This will sometimes unlock new plot elements and some new places to explore (the same way new places are unlocked in Legend of get a place and you put it on the map). It sounds simple, because it is simple.

There are some serious flaws with the game play, but the good features more than make up for it and keep the game entertaining. So, long story short, the game play is still a few notches above most other strategy RPGs.


Well, FFT was one of my favorite strategy RPGs of all time. The game was fluid and smooth with an intriguing plot and a new look in terms of graphics (for that time, anyways). Yet, sadly FFTA falls short in almost all aspects. As a strategy RPG, FFTA is a great game, but it seriously should not have been called FFTA...for FFT stood for so much more than FFTA can ever hope to become. So, taking all of this into consideration, as a stand-along game, I give FFTA a 8.25/10; as a sequel (in name) of FFT, I give FFTA a 6.5/10...if it had a good plot, the score could have been boosted about 1.5 points, and if not for that lame law system, it would have gotten the final missing 0.25 points. Still a good game considering it's a strategy RPG on a handheld.

Malik out.

Update 10/13/03

After trying to play this game for a long time, I have come to the realization that this game sucks.  The reason falls upon one simple problem with the design of the game.  While many would have you believe the key fault in FFTA is the controls (which are a bitch at first...), but in reality, there is no story.  This makes the game pointless to actually play for much more than a dozen hours.  I mean, no offense to you SqaureEnix worshippers who are nothing short of brainless simpletons, but why the hell would I play an RPG for 30 hours (let alone the over 300 hours some people claim to have put into this "masterpiece").  So, in retrospect, I must say the actual score I give this game is a sad and lame 2.5/10.