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Preview: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
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Old 11 Mar 2003, 12:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Preview: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

February 13, 2003 - [NOTE: We'd say that this article is spoiler-free, as much of the story-related stuff written below is either told on the back of the box or encountered in the first five minutes of gameplay. If you want to avoid all exposure, though, skip down to paragraph number 5]
Are you a fan of those movies where little kids read a book and later find themselves in the book's world living out the adventure of their lives? Well then, you should take a liking to the story behind Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.

Your name is Marche Radiuju (or whatever you chose to call yourself). You live in the city of St. Everest with your mom and your handicapped sister. Since your sister is handicapped and can't go out in the snow with the other kids, she likes to stay at home and play videogames, her favorite being Final Fantasy. No kidding... it even says Final Fantasy right in the game.

One day, following a snowball fight (which is used to introduce you to the game's strategy battle system) Marche's friends come over to Marche's house with a mysterious book. They can't make head or tails of what the book says (in fact, not even the person who sold the book to them knows what the book is about), and they begin to ponder what it would be like to enter into the fantasy world of books. Eventually the kids part for the day and head off to bed. When Marche awakes, he finds himself in the fantasy Kingdom of St. Everest (yes, it's the same name as your city, only its a Kingdom in this world).

How's that for a game's storyline? The word "light-hearted comes to mind in relation to the story of FF Tactics. Not that we're complaining, as we just couldn't stop laughing while playing. Especially impressive was when Marche encounters a Mogul in the fantasy world and comments that he's seen the character before while playing Final Fantasy. How in the world can you stop playing the game then?

Don't take this to mean that FF Tactics is high on story and low on gameplay. Once you've arrived in the fantasy world, the focus becomes pure gameplay as you join a clan of warriors who agree to help you find your way back home. You take control of the gang as you go between sections of a world map. At each location on the map, you can enter a pub to take on quests and listen to rumors, go to a shop to purchase supplies, and even head out to jail house to free penalized comrades (see below).

The selection of quests seems to be at the heart of the game. By clearing quests, your clan grows in level (this is separate from the levels of individual characters). Quests come in a variety of forms, but the standard form sees you enter battle.

We've only been able to fight a few battles thus far, but have been able to take in some of the systems you've been hearing about since the game's announcement. When first going out to battle, you start off with Marche and a Mogul character in your party and add characters from there, placing them in whatever starting position you chose. From there, the battles proceed as they did in the original, taking turns, moving characters, selecting to attack or defend, and so forth.

This time around, a judge is present during battle and presides over the proceedings. The judge makes sure that the rules of the battles are followed and also award points to those who do good. Break the rules, which change depending on where the battle takes place and can include such things as items or certain weapons being prohibited, and you'll be penalized and may even go to jail. You can check the rules for a given area in advance and even have the ability to change the rules.

Square put some major talent behind this game, and it shows. Character designs are fresh and original (although they look very different from those of the original game). The music, as one might expect given the nature of the story, consists of numerous light-hearted themes. The composition is quite good for the GBA, making us want to keep on listening. Visually, we'd place the game in the middle of GBA titles as far as detail is concerned. But what it lacks in technical innovation, it more than makes up for in visual style. The Final Fantasy Tactics world is full of top class artwork.

As previously mentioned on IGNPocket, Square has provided three modes of image output depending on if you're playing on the regular GBA, the GBA SP or through the television, selectable from the title screen. We only had a chance to try out the game on the regular GBA so far (should've pre-ordered!), and when cycling through the modes the only difference we could notice was through very subtle color changes, and no changes in brightness. The game does look just fine through the regular GBA, although we're certain that once we've tried it out on a GBA SP there'll be no going back.

We'll be back with more on Final Fantasy Tactics soon.

-- Anoop Gantayat, Contributor

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Old 11 Mar 2003, 02:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 11 Mar 2003, 02:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I never liked Final Fantasy Tactics, so I probably won't be getting it.
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