Way back during the days of the Playstation One, there was an off-shoot of the main Final Fantasy games, called Final Fantasy Tactics, where Square decided to branch out into the realm of Strategy RPGs. That game was very well received, and a follow up on the Gameboy Advance came out…
As with all its other Final Fantasy games, Square-Enix likes to put the fantasy into overdrive in its games. At the beginning of the game you are a child with a disabled brother and school problem (and very dodgy hair. This doesn’t improve) At school is the typical outcast girl, strong willed and brave, and secondly is a teddy bear hugging boy that is liked by only a few.
Next, after some training events at school, one of your friends finds an old book at a bookstore, brings it to a gathering of the girl, you and your brother, and , of course, you open it. The text is too strange for you to understand, and you put it up.
Later in the evening after everyone is in bed, the book opens up and sucks the world up in a big flash. Everything is transformed into a wonderland of strange being and exotic locales. Everybody is transformed into creatures, except you. As you wake up in this strange new land, a Moogle greets you and offers to invite you to join his clan. Thus, the adventure begins…
This category can either make a game or break and in this case although it doesn’t necessarily make the game, but it does the job well enough. There are a couple of catchy tunes in this game, and I adore the Totema theme. You might find yourself getting a bit bored of the main battle music, but every now and then it does get changed for different fights, which keeps it fresh.
The graphics are bright and cheerful, I will give them that much. Sadly every Human Soldier looks the same, just as every Moogle Time Mage looks the same. The only dissimilarity in this is the main character, and they are stuck with one look as well regardless of their job. Now onto a more positive note; the spell effects, especially the more powerful ones like Thundaga and Blizzaga, are a joy to watch and to hear. And the Totema summons are brilliant. There is one small complaint, the summon spells used by summoners are disappointing in my opinion, especially as I was expecting bigger and better things from these summons from other FF games. I don’t know, I find it kinda insulting what they’ve done to the likes of Ifrit and Shiva…
Multi Player Options
I haven’t really played around with the multiplayer on this game, apart from a few times against myself using another cartridge and Gameboy.
However, the missions you do get to play through multiplayer are quite good fun, even if it’s more directed towards co-operative play rather than competitive. I think the main issue nowadays is that you’d be hard pressed to find somebody with a copy of this game and a Gameboy Advance to link with.
As far as challenge goes, the first ten hours are pretty easy, but as it serves as the introduction to the game, I’ll let that slide.
The challenge picks up a bit as laws are introduced, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly challenging for anybody who is acquainted with the tactical RPG genre.
Another aspect to the challenge would have to be deciding what you want to do. Random type battles are here so you’re not limited to how many opportunities you have to try out things. You can have a total of 23 members in your clan, and it can get overwhelming. Typically, and usually very quickly so, you’ll learn not to overextend yourself in too many directions.
However, you can challenge yourself (I dare you to do a no-ability run and see what happens when ‘Fight’ is outlawed!) which does make up for some of the lack of challenge. I’d say this is a nice game for breaking in new gamers to this genre.
This is the most important part of a tactical RPG, in my opinion. As far as gameplay goes, it is fairly simple to pick up and easy to control in battle. In battle, things are fairly simple once you’ve got a grasp on them. You have access to certain attacks based upon what abilities you have mastered from weapons and what weapons you currently have equipped. Alongside what abilities you have from your main ‘job’, you can also have the abilities of a secondary job, as long as you’ve learnt them. So you want a magic casting soldier? Go ahead. You want a Dragoon with the abilities of a Templar? Do it.
As well as the standard top-down isometric grid turned-based gameplay which seems the standard for many handheld SRPGs, this game likes to change it up a bit by adding in ‘laws’ for each battle. With the law system, you get penalised for breaking the law (either sent to jail if you KO an opponent whilst breaking the law, or given a yellow card, two yellow cards and it’s do not pass go, do not collect £200, go directly to jail) and rewarded if you do the recommended action. For example, there might be a law against fire in play – you get penalised for casting fire magic, but rewarded for casting ice magic. The games starts off with only one law being in play but goes up to three during the course of the game, making battles that slightly bit more interesting. Of course, you also get the ability to manipulate the laws as part of the story…
The main menu interface is a bit confusing to find your way around at first, but it’s easy enough once you’ve played around with it and gotten used to it. You can equip items, make units leave your clan, modify their abilities and equipment. Heck, I can spend hours in the main menu tinkering with my individual units and switching up equipment and abilities. You can also tap the R-button whilst in the menu and this will give you various bits of background information. The select button does the same in certain situations.
Overall, very well done and deserves and good 10/10.
I’m in two minds over replay value. I’d say a regular run through of this game will take around 50 hours to complete. For a more thorough play through, something like 100+ hours. I’ve currently got a game running which has just hit the 450 hour mark, and I’m nowhere near done yet. As for replay value, I’d say yes, this is a game you can replay – you can try things like solo character runs, Mage-only runs, Bangaa-only runs, runs where you deliberately try and set the laws against you, etc. You’d probably be more inclined to replay it a while after the first play though. But yeah, this game definitely has replay value.
Story ——— 7/10
Sound ——- 7/10
Graphics —- 6/10
MultiPlayer – 7/10
Challenge — 6/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Replay Value – 8/10
Overall ——- 7/10
Written by Karen