Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)
You Are: Marche, unremarkable kid, whose world is turned upside down when a magical book turns it into a fantasy world.
Your Goal Is: To get your world back the way it was, at all costs.
General System: FFTA is a dumbed-down version of the original FF Tactics (some of that is necessary to squeeze it into a smaller screen). You can have a total of 16 people in your party, each of which is one of five species; each species has job classes specific to it, which affects what equipment they can use and what abilities (action, reaction, command, and the rarely used combo abilities) they can learn. Speaking of abilities, that system works similar to FF9 in that equipment comes with abilities; you can use the ability immediately while the item is equipped, but you have to gain AP to keep the ability around after you take it off. You gain AP after finishing missions (which may or may not involve battles, and also include sending out single characters for a certain number of days). Your "clan level" improves as you complete missions, allowing you to sign up for more advanced ones.
Battle System: You've got up to six people on your team per battle. Per turn, each team member gets to move a certain number of squares in the 3D battlefield and do one action. There are several differences from FFT, though. One biggie is that nobody ever dies for good here (for the most part); you can always revive your characters. The second big difference is the addition of laws and judges. Every battle is subject to specific laws, such as not using certain abilities, elementals, or items, not coyping a previous action, not equipping swords, etc. The good news is that your enemies are also subject to the same laws. The bad news is that laws have two levels - yellow and red - and while you getting a yellow card results in a hefty penalty, enemies don't have to worry about them. (Using a red card sends your character straight to jail, where he has to cool his heels for several battles.) If Marche gets sent to jail, it's game over. Later in the game, you can also use special Law Cards to add or take away laws at your discretion, though it's not so easy to collect the cards you really want.
Graphics: Well, the characters have noses now. Bright and clear, and quite nice for a GBA game.
Music: Above average. It's a slightly more cheery soundtrack than FFT's, but still manages to capture the same feel.
Story: A big letdown. There are very few story missions, and while the characters aren't awful, they're not all that interesting. You'll spend most of your time fighting the optional missions, which do get repetitive.
Challenge: Very Easy
Length: Between 20 and 50 hours, depending on what you want to finish
My Thoughts: If you're expecting FF Tactics... don't. FFTA is a much lighter and easier version of the PlayStation classic. It's mainly meant to be picked up, played for an hour, and put down. It's not meant to offer up much challenge or depth of thought, but it's a very good time-waster. (And it really is a time-waster... there's little reward for completing the constant missions, so just have fun bashing enemies in a variety of ways.) There are over 40 jobs, so I doubt you'll get really bored unless you try playing it constantly. I do have to say that the menu system is terrible compared to FFT's... not only are there twice as many items and half the screen space, it's much less usable in terms of functionality. There's not much else to say... if you don't expect much, FFTA can be fairly enjoyable.
Overall Rating: 6/10