I have a confession to make: I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game. When I was younger, I didn’t care for turn based battle systems, and when I was older and in college, the anime styling was just not appealing. I’ve come around on both accounts, and was able to dig in a bit on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia).
For those who don’t know, FFTA is a strategy RPG – you command a group of characters in turn based battles who then gain experience points and levels. I didn’t get far enough to see exactly, but it seems that there is also an element of loot with different equipment available to the various characters. This is a full on RPG no doubt, but with a more strategic combat phase. It’s a nice mix, but I will say that the various mechanics are a bit overwhelming to a newcomer like me – job and law systems, the different character classes and their attacks and roles in combat, and a map that allows you to place points of interest. Incredibly deep and complex. I could see spending the first dozen or so hours with this game to just learn and get a feel for it, then start over.
The game is played from an overhead isometric perspective and the visuals are top notch. Sprite work is detailed and beautiful and the battlefield is readable at a glance – no small feat on the small screen and limited resolution of the GBA. I am still in love with the look of this game, it may be the best looking GBA title in my collection.
Music is overall great – but I can see it getting a bit stale after dozens of hours… not a fault of the game, but a limitation of cartridge sizes at the time. Sound effects crisp, clear, and perfect in every instance I saw. Overall, this is a great sounding game and it compliments the visuals quite nicely.
Overall I enjoyed my time with FFTA, but I think I need to read a beginners guide before I get too much further. The amount of time I dedicate to each title for this site is usually sufficient to judge – but in this case it wasn’t even close. I played close to double what I normally do and I was still a bit lost when it came to some of the mechanics. Thankfully, FFTA is compelling enough for me to keep up interest and follow through – I’m looking forward to playing all the way through in the future.
Verdict: Play again! This is fun and really deep – I can see sinking a ton of hours into it over lunch breaks.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb