Title: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Developer: SquareEnix
Publisher: SquareEnix
Date Published: September 8, 2003
Platforms: Game Boy Advance

Now you can take your Tactics with you where ever you go! Although it has moved to a smaller console, the gameplay remains much the same, except for a few small changes.

Gameplay first, because that's what everyone remembers.

As I've already stated, much of the gameplay is the same. There are a few little touch-ups that add to the strategy of the game, as well. However, one thing that really irks me about the battle system is (unlike in its predecessor) there's no way to rotate or otherwise move the camera, so you can have a better view. Square seems to be one step ahead of me when they designed the battlegrounds; all of the high terrain is in the "back", farthest away from the camera. Thus you can have a (mostly) good view at all times. (I find myself reaching for the L and R buttons out of habit anyway.)

Instead of confirming each individual action, as was the standard in Tactics, now whole turns are confirmed. This means that instead of moving next to an enemy, confirming, and then attacking only to find out that it wasn't the best thing you can do. Now, at the end of each turn there's the confirmation window: "Do it" or "Cancel". A character can actually move several times before deciding where the best place to move is.

In the land of Ivalice (yup, same place, see story section), a rumor goes about that the queen of the land is trying to impress her prince by developing a vast set of laws that changes daily. These laws can be anything from "no fight command" to "no poisoning" to "no missiles". The queen has even gone so far to place a neutral judge on each battlefield, to enforce the current law(s). There's varying degrees of infractures, and it depends on how steep the penalty for the law in question is. An R1 penalty gives the character in question a Yellow Card (which steepens the penalty for later mischief), up to an R5, which is grounds for imprisonment. If a character is imprisoned, the player has to go all the way back to the prison and spring the inmate, with a hefty sum of Gil. Don't think that the laws are totally focused on the player; the enemies break them all the time.

JP still exists, although they're not Job Points, but Judge Points. One point is given as a reward for either killing an enemy, or using the recommended function of the current law. For example, the recommended function of "no fighting" is "color magic". These JP can be used with other teammates who have learned various combo abilities, and multiple people can hammer on one poor soul at once. (There's also a "no ganging up" law which counters this.)

Rather than a preset world map, the map presented in Tactics Advance is entirely devoid of everything at the start, except that you can move everywhere. As the game progresses, you can plant cities and locations into spots in the world map. Arrange them correctly and there's treasure to be found!

The Story: Clean and Simple

It's wintertime in the town of St. Ivalice, and Marche (main character) engages in a snowball fight with a few of the locals, Mewt, Ritz, and some randomly generated foes. After the fight, Mewt says he needs to go home to get a book. Later that day, Marche and his brother, and Ritz meet up at Marche's house. This book can apparently change that world into whatever the user wants. Naturally, "Final Fantasy" is suggested...

Playing the game