Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

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Mewt: It'd be cool if this really were a magic book. Haven't you ever read a book and thought "What if the world in this book was the real world?"
Ritz: I dunno. Most books are sooo boring. They're all way too predictable.
Marche: Well, what do you like, Ritz? Comic books?
Ritz: Games! You know, fighting monsters and all that.
Marche: OK, if you could make any game real, which would it be?
Ritz: Hmm, that's a good question!
Mewt: I'd pick "Final Fantasy." That's my favorite.

A Gaiden Game in the unfathomably popular Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was released for the Game Boy Advance in the fall of 2003. While it inherited its RPG-flavored Turn-Based Strategy engine from its predecessor, the original Final Fantasy Tactics, its setting and plot are entirely new. With its good graphics, excellent soundtrack, and staggering depth of gameplay, the game is one of the standouts of the GBA's impressive library.

The game is the first (and only) game in the series to use the Recursive Canon conceit. It begins in the tiny town of St. Ivalice, where new kid in town, Marche, meets fellow outcasts Ritz and Mewt during his first day at his new school. Together with Marche's younger brother Doned, the three of them read a mysterious book Mewt had purchased earlier and dream of adventure far away from their boring town and tedious lives.

The next day, Marche awakens to find himself in Ivalice - a strange Medieval European Fantasy world populated by creatures from the Final Fantasy series of video games of which the children are big fans. Separated from his friends, Marche catches on with a mercenary clan and takes on odd jobs while searching for a way to return home.

Marche eventually encounters his real-world friends elsewhere in Ivalice, and makes a startling discovery: Ivalice, it seems, is a fictional construct, a dreamworld derived partly from the real world, partly the children's imaginations, and largely from the Final Fantasy games. Particularly, the constructed world turns out to be based on an Ivalice that existed long before the original Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story take place. (Final Fantasy XII turns out to be the exact era that the dreamed Ivalice of FFTA is based on - as well as being the era of guns and airships that was referenced in FFT - and features one "real" version of a "fictional" character from FFTA, the moogle Montblanc.)

The children find themselves changed as well: tomboy Ritz no longer has to dye her hair to shield herself from the taunting of her friends. Marche's brother Doned, crippled and wracked with illness in the real world, has regained the ability to walk. And sensitive Emo Teen Mewt is now the prince of all Ivalice, a far cry from his Butt Monkey existence in the real world. Each of them finds life in Ivalice preferable to their real ones at first blush, and none of them are down with Marche's "return to the real world and pretend this never happened" plan - until he beats them.

Marche goes on to find himself on the wrong side of the government of Ivalice, as his attempts to return home are interpreted by the queen and her enforcer Judges as a plot to destroy Ivalice itself. Facing down persecution from the state and the very totemic beings that might be considered the gods of Ivalice on the other, Marche has to convince his friends to return home while surviving in the sometimes vicious world.

On the gameplay side, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance returns the class system of the previous game, but adds a new twist: races. Unlike in the first game, where characters could theoretically learn almost any skill, given enough time and the right gender, certain abilities and classes are available only to certain species: The brutish, lizardlike Bangaa; the magical, mild-mannered Nu Mou; the lithe, all-female Viera; Final Fantasy series staple Moogles; and, of course, (all-male) Humans (guess what they are). Additionally, skills are learned by having certain weapons and armour equipped, instead of the Tactics's JP system.

Combat is strictly turn-based, with characters doing what you tell them to when you tell them to, no waiting for spellcasting or anything of that nature. Another new feature is "Laws", restrictions placed on combat by the Judges of Ivalice. Breaking the Law results in soccer-style penalties, with the result that a repeat offender may be hauled off to jail.

Character Development and atmosphere are only side aspects and not quite as deep and immersive as in the first game, but the number of potential missions is simply staggering, and don't underestimate the addictiveness of putting a game of this type on a portable. There's more than 200 hours of gameplay here, if you seek it.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance swung as far to the easy side of the gameplay difficulty scale and the original Final Fantasy Tactics swung to the hard side. There's very little challenge, but the game is still solid and fans of Turn-Based Strategy games may wish to try it out. Although the Lighter and Softer graphics style caught some considerable flak from fans of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, the game's style is actually lifted wholesale from an earlier Yasumi Matsuno title, Tactics Ogre - which Final Fantasy Tactics was the Darker and Edgier Spiritual Successor to.

This game was also built an Audio Adaptation, named Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition. It's exclusively in Japan, and since they're probably rare now, try watching this to fullify your satisfication.

A sequel (Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift) is out, and while it too is a bit of a Non-Linear Sequel, there are quite a few continuity nods that suggest that the protagonist, Luso Clemens, is from the same world as the characters in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, even if the world he finds himself spirited to is quite different from the one in this game. Its ending proves that Marche did not destroy the Ivalice from this game when he left, and that Mewt, at least, turned out just fine. However, Word of God contradicts this (see YMMV).

The Character Sheet can be found here.

NOTE: This is for logging tropes, not lecturing on the common Alternate Character Interpretation. Canon is canon, no matter how little sense it makes.

Tropes used in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance include:
  • Action Bomb: Explode is known by most bombs and can be learned by Blue Mages. Bangaa Defenders have a variant, called 'Meltdown,' that does damage equal to their remaining health.
  • Action Girl: Ritz and Shara. Most Viera, in fact.
  • All Just a Dream
  • Ambiguous Gender: Except for the viera, all generic allies and enemies qualify. They're randomly assigned male or female names.
  • An Aesop: It's not good to run from your problems instead of dealing with them.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You are never allowed more than about 6-8 characters (out of a potential 24) on the field at any one time. Often you're limited to as few as four for "small scale" missions.
  • Back That Light Up: Several settings designed to compensate for the lighting quirks of various hardware.
  • Battle Butler: Babus
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Viera Assassins are portrayed as having these in the concept art.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a two-in-one combo. It has several unlockable characters; Some of these are unique characters that cannot change classes or learn new abilities, while others are merely normal units with special sprites.
    • Ezel Gets the worst of this trope. He has high magic power but only has two abilities and neither of them inflict damage. He can't switch jobs either.
  • Boss Rush: Part of the climax; Copies of Famfrit and Adrammelech attack in the first phase, while two copies of Mateus attack in the second.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: After completing all 300 missions, you are allowed to recruit the Judgemaster Cid, who is a decent character, but nothing special. Not after you've reached 100% completion, anyway.
    • Completing all 300 missions isn't 100% completion, though - there's a Bonus Quest of another ten missions after that... he still isn't that great compared to instant kill assassins.
    • Although the first time you cast Stop on the judge overseeing the match, it's hard not to squee or be in utter shock at the power you now have.
  • Combat Referee: The Judges.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Certain bosses can change the Law at will. The enemy characters also seem to have better evasion than their statistics would indicate -- attacking from the front is pretty much a guaranteed miss, no matter what the hit percentage is, unless you've got Concentrate. In addition, bosses can rack up an infinite number of penalties from breaking the Law without being sent to prison.
    • That last one is acknowledged in-universe--with a message in the rumors list complaining about the elite class of people immune to the law who can be spotted by the ribbon by their name.
    • Subtle and minor, but there. The judges will always leave dead bodies that are to the advantage of the enemy alone (such as using it to cover their back), but will move any you try to use to your advantage ASAP.
    • Justified, at least for part of the game. The Judges are under the control of the palace royals, until Judgemaster Cid announces their secession. And the palace, namely Mewt, is trying VERY hard to stop you...
  • Continuity Nod: Lots of 'em, but most notably the Totema (tribal gods) -- they're based off final bosses from the games in the main series.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Marche has to destroy these.
  • Court Mage: Babus Swain.
  • Crap Saccharine World: The Japanese version makes it pretty clear that most of the people in Ivalice are suffering under a combination of Mewt's tyranny and the clans' complete indifference to whether innocents get hurt in their turf wars. Most of this is dropped in the official English translation, but see Fridge Horror.
  • The Dragon: Llednar Twem
  • Duel Boss: Babus and Llednar Twem. The latter is also a Hopeless Boss Fight. Subverted in the former case, as the target is not the Duel Boss himself but instead the nonmoving NPC fruits strewn around the stage.
    • Both prime targets to steal all of the equipment off.
  • Dub Text: Characterization was mostly lost rather than gained in the English translation, but the removal of Cid's alcohol problem changed him from cheerily drunk to "crying in the gutters," in addition to adding a bit of self-hatred.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
  • Elite Tweak: Blue Magi, Morphers, etc.
  • Escort Mission: Several; if the NPC is KOed, you lose.
  • Enemy Without: Llednar Twem. As his Sdrawkcab Name indicates, he is in fact Mewt's anger and hatred given physical form.
  • Everything Fades: Averted. Part of the duties of the Judges is to teleport corpses around so they don't get in the way.
    • This also happens to Ezel, the pubmaster, and some other Ivalice natives at the ending of the main story.
    • In theory the judges teleport corpses out of the way. In reality they teleport them completely at random, most often moving a corpse that wasn't in anyone's way to a location that's also not in anyone's way and occasionally putting one in the way.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Arguably a Type I.
  • Expy: Marche's overworld/battle sprite looks a lot like Ramza.
  • Fetch Quest: And how!
  • Five-Man Band: Clan Nutsy
  • Five Races
    • Stout: Bangaa
    • Fairy: Nu Mou
    • Mundane: Hume and Viera
    • High Men: None of them, really.
    • Cute: Moogle
  • Foregone Victory: The Crystals you have to shatter to unlock the Ultima Totema if you go about it the right way. Their only attack is to Charm your Party Members, which makes them attack each other, but since they can't attack themselves, if you only bring Marche into the fight, then the fight becomes more annoying than anything. Even then, if you use a Gunner or an Archer, they can't touch you due to you having a better range. And even then, if you only have one Party Member left, then they still can't do much. Effectively, the only way to lose is to do so on purpose.
    • Another one of the Totema becomes this if you defeat Babus first--the destruction of the other Crystals has left it too weakened to defend itself, so when the boss goes down you've won--but the battle doesn't end until you've smashed every single crystal one at a time.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: When you bring the "lugaborg" to the palace, Montblanc refers to his younger brother Nono, saying that he is good with his hands.
  • Gaiden Game
  • Genre Relaunch: Receives co-credit with Disgaea for saving the SRPG genre.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: In all of Llednar Twem's appearances except his last, he's protected by a special Law which nullifies all damage to him.
  • Hypocrite: The "Scouring Time" mission.

In Muscadet, a moogle is being arrested by a judge.
Moogle: What have I done, kupo!?
Judge: Don't play innocent with me, moogle!
Moogle: But isn't the one with the bounty on his head a human? I'm a moogle! You said it yourself, kupo!
Judge: We have witnesses that saw the human with a moogle.
Moogle: Kupo! That's no reason to send me to prison!
Judge: It's enough reason for me. Now come along quietly!
Marche (watching from the sidelines): That's horrible! That judge isn't even listening! He's no better than a schoolyard bully!
Montblanc: I guess they're beyond worrying about appearances...
Marche: That's it! I'm not standing for this anymore! (runs into the street)
Montblanc: Marche!
Marche: Here I am! It's me, Marche! I'm the one Prince Mewt is looking for! (the moogle runs off)
Judge: Eh? Is it really you? You're turning yourself in?
Marche: Yes! And I want you to release all the innocents!
Judge: Not going to happen. Not until we know you're really him!

  • I Am Not Weasel: Never, ever call a bangaa a lizard, kupo! Apparently also a Fantastic Slur.
  • Impossible Thief: You can steal just about anything in this game. Weapons while they're holding them, clothes while they're wearing them, experience, abilities...and that's not even half of it. You can't steal boots, though.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Musical instruments (Beastmasters and Animists) and souls (Morphers).
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Plus one, plus one, plus one...the Sequence sword increases in strength the more times the player wins a certain mission. Excalibur2 and Masamune100 are more pedestrian examples.
  • Instrument of Murder
  • Justified Tutorial: Marche's first day at his new school; the other characters teach him how to have a snowball fight, which mirrors the combat system in the rest of the game.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • Gadgeteers are units that have a 50% chance of inflicting a boost or status ailment to either team. Their unreliability makes them near-useless... unless you equip the right status protection, removing the risk of receiving bad ailments yourself while sustaining your chances of inflicting them. Or, if you use an emulator, you can just reload if you're on the receiving end...
    • A more traditional example is the Morpher: a Nu Mou job that requires you to capture a monster with a Hunter, in order to gain a "soul" and be able to "turn" into that monster (which just looks like the Morpher is high). They are hard to get, take a turn to set up, and useless without lots of grinding. The catch is, the Morpher gets the exact stats of the captured monster... which can be raised by feeding the monster items. This means that, with enough money (which comes aplenty), you can have a Nu Mou with 999 in EVERY stat.
  • Level Scaling: The enemy levels in Random Encounters are based on your clan members' average level.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Li-Grim, Llednar Twem.
  • Lost Forever: By the boatload. Two monsters only appear in certain unrepeatable storyline missions, which means that Blue Mages need to learn the abilities from them and Hunters then need to capture them for the Morphers to use. Most of the Ultima skill teaching weapons are only stealable from certain enemies in some USMs - and only if you've got a certain skill to find it on them. And then there's the items uniquely available through the Treasure Hunt map layout thing. Yet further are the optional party members, many of which can only be gotten in certain unrepeatable missions and may not ask to join you.
    • Even more annoying are the quest items. There are certain missions that require quest items to complete. Add in the fact that you can only carry 20 of those items, which means you might accidentally delete a necessary one, which makes a mission uncompletable.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: In short, the crux of the plot revolves around the idea that Marche's friends are using Ivalice as a form of escapism to avoid having to deal with their real-life problems. Furthermore, the citizens of St. Ivalice are dragged into this as well, living alternate lives to fulfill the desires of the children.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Some of the EscortMissions.
  • Mad Scientist: Ezel. Several Nu Mou side characters are Mad Mages.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Totema and the 'worldthreads' they protect are housed in these.
  • Missing Mom: Mewt's mother died, so he recreates her in Ivalice. None of the other main characters seems to have kept their parents in the transfer.
  • Money for Nothing: Money is critically important in the beginning, but around a third of the way through the game you'll have bought everything you need that can be bought, at which point it just starts to pile up.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Babus is loyal to Mewt no matter how irrational he seems, but eventually questions whether Mewt is better off staying.
  • New Transfer Student: Marche
  • Non-Lethal KO: The Judges keep anyone from dying in battle, except in...
    • Final Death: ...the "Jagds", where death is permanent for characters still dead at battle's end.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Montblanc, Shara, and Babus
  • Non-Linear Sequel
    • Of course, there's the fact that this probably wasn't even intended to be a sequel.
  • One-Gender Race: The Viera are explicitly all-female... sort of. All depicted Viera are explicitly female, just as every member of every other race looks identical, leading to the impression that Bangaa are all male. Ritz, the only human female in the game, has Viera classes rather than Human ones.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Speed determines how fast you act, and more importantly how often you act. Low-speed characters like Paladins and Defenders will usually act once for every three actions taken by a Ninja or Assassin. Needless to say, lack of speed kills.
  • Optional Party Member: Everyone to an extent, but especially the hidden characters.
  • Palette Swap: Opposition clans which include playable races get swapped, resulting in weird contradictions like Blue Mages in red outfits and Red Mages in blue...)
    • Nono's sprite is also the Palette Swap of the Gadgeteer sprite.
  • Petting Zoo People: Bangaa are reptilian, Viera are rabbit-like Kemonomimi, Nu Mou resemble dogs, and... and then there are Moogles.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Ritz and Marche; the former is a tomboy who stands up to bullies while the latter starts out unable to introduce himself without prompting. The distinction is less apparent after Marche takes levels in badass, and Ritz notes how much he has changed after he defeats her and her clan.
  • Portal Book
  • Prank Date: "Moogle Bride"
  • Randomly Drops: ...Don't ask.
  • Random Effect Spell: The Moogle Animist's "Friend" ability summons a random monster. It's rather useless, as animists tend to have a weak magic stat, and you can't predict whether it will be an attack summon or a healing/buff one.
  • The Red Mage: A duh.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: More so as usual as Zombies will revive 3 turns after they are killed unless prevented by a revive spell /Phoenix Down or one of several class skills that specifically counter this.
    • All There in the Manual / Guide Dang It: The Revive skill/Phoenix Down clause for preventing undead from coming back to life is never mentioned in the game; in fact, it's never mentioned at all until the sequel. The game apparently figures you'll figure it out on your own.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Llednar Twem.
  • Sidequest: Out of 300 missions, 24 are mandatory to complete the game.
    • The Clan Borzoi sidequests are especially noteworthy. It lasts for 20 missions (Almost as long as the main story itself!) and starts with you fighting a chicken thief and builds up continuously until the finale, where you fight the leader, Gukko/Gutskor, who's been (somehow) transformed into a Lucavi.
  • Snowball Fight
  • Shout-Out: One of the pubs in the game is called The Prancing Chocobo. Ring any bells?
  • Spoony Bard: Gadgeteers are completely useless, save for the rubbishy Black Ingot/Fortune Ring combo. Templars are only nice for their equipment and not for their abilities. Illusionists are only situationally useful at best. It can also be very difficult to build a Blue Mage into a viable character, and Time Mages aren't so hot, either. It's not all that uncommon to just let Montblanc fall behind because of that. The Soldier class is also usually changed as soon as possible.
    • Magikarp Power: Many classes get poor equipment choices early on, and as equipment teaches skills, end up nigh useless until more items are found; in turn, some of these classes can become quite overpowered.
  • Spy Speak: Ezel seems rather fond of Cryptic Conversation, even going so far as to mention himself to Marche without actually introducing himself as the Ezel, and will talk in code if you want the latest info on law card prices.
  • Standard Status Effects: Not worthless, though.
  • Status Buff
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: According to Marche; Ivalice is not real. According to Marche; there will be a different Ivalice that will continue to exist. If it's not real, why justify that there's a real one that will continue existing?
  • Trapped in Another World
  • Unbreakable Weapons
    • Unbreakable in normal combat, certainly, but the Sniper ability Aim:Weapon will happily destroy your only Zeus Mace if you're not careful.
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: The argument over the reality of Ivalice is integral to the plot; regardless of who is right.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Status ailments are actually quite useful in this game given that a lot of trash mobs don't have debuff immunity. So make your moogle a gunner and that's perhaps one of the best things you can do. You don't even need Ultima from a Mog Knight; you can just have them use stopshot to slow down your enemies or stopshot.
    • The Guide actually mentions that the Animist ability "Count Sheep" is one of the most useful abilities in the game. The guide actually didn't lie there - it's perhaps one of the most useful ways to shut down enemies, especially since it comes very early in the game compared to say, stopshot or charmshot.
    • Normally bosses are immune/highly resistant to status ailments; but you can actually inflict blind on the Li-Grim.
    • Buffs are also useful. One of the most useful is Auto Life.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You: If Marche is left in jail to work off penalties, the entire clan can't act until his sentence is up. If he's KO'd in a Jagd, or red-carded in a battle, it's game over.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Marche is frequently questioned on the virtue of his actions, often by people with a vested interest in keeping the current Ivalice intact.
  • Worthy Opponent: Cid

Its Audio Adaptation, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition, has the same Tropes as above (except for the tropes on gameplay) with these addition Tropes: