Final Fantasy Tactics A2 Hands-On

The popular strategy series is making its debut on the Nintendo DS, and we've got a first look at the game.

MAKUHARI, Japan--The original Final Fantasy Tactics on the PlayStation has proven to be more popular than perhaps anyone could have predicted. Though it's been almost 10 years since the original game was released in North America, the Tactics series is picking up more steam than ever. The sequel of sorts to the original, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, was released in 2003 in North America; a remake of the original game for the PSP was just released this week in Japan; and now, with Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the series is making its debut on the Nintendo DS. We had a chance to try the game out at the 2007 Square Enix Party in a stage setup that was utterly unique. Instead of a line of kiosks, the demo for A2 took place in a room constructed to look like a small schoolroom, complete with brick walls, a library of books on the back wall, and school desks and chairs.

Tactics A2 is the sequel to the Game Boy Advance's FF Tactics Advance, and though the game plays similarly to the original, the setting isn't exactly the same. In Tactics Advance, the characters began in the town of St. Ivalice, only to be transported to the magical realm of Ivalice (setting of other FF games such as Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings) after discovering a magical book. By contrast, A2 seems to start out immediately in Ivalice, where a small party is exploring a forest, only to run into a monstrous-looking Chocobo.

Luckily, the party of adventurers is being led by a guide (whose name you might recognize: Cid), who goes through the basics of combat to defeat the huge Chocobo and his buddies. This stage is mostly a tutorial, and if you've played the original Tactics Advance, you'll be right at home here. As in the older Tactics games, you move your character around the battle map, which is organized into a grid. Your characters can only move so many grid places during their turns, and the range of each character is illuminated on the grid, giving you an idea of how far each can go.

When it comes to action, it all depends on the character and his or her job. The party we started out with consisted of a black mage, a soldier, a summoner, and a white mage (as well as Cid, who wasn't playable in the tutorial). As you may expect, these different jobs mean different abilities for each character. At the start of the battle, we sent our soldier and summoner into the fray and positioned the black mage behind a rock where he could fire magic in relative safety. The soldier was good up close against the enemies, as was Cid, a warrior who really dealt damage at close range.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before our summoner got into some trouble and became surrounded by two smaller enemies. After retreating the summoner, we sent the white mage over for support. She had three spells available: heal, cure (for status ailments), and revive, and as with the black mage's spells, each had a mana cost to them. With a well-timed heal spell, we had our summoner back in tip-top shape, and it was now time to see what he could do. In a word, it was impressive. After choosing a particular demon to summon, the map zoomed out dramatically to show the summoned creature, a huge beast that took up both screens of the DS. The demon's attack--a nasty-looking punch that set the entire battle map briefly off-kilter--proved to be very effective against the collected enemies.

After the battle was complete, we were taken to a new set of screens. The upper screen showed a tantalizing menu, including a "clan skill" option as well as a diamond-shaped structure with four color-coded points that could refer to your character's elemental strengths or attributes. Because of the Japanese text, we couldn't make heads or tails of these menu options--but we hope to find out specific details on these options in the near future. On the lower screen, there was a minimap that showed where our main character could travel to--the only available option was to a nearby town.

Unfortunately, as soon as we traveled to the new area, our demo time with Tactics A2 ran out. Like we suspect you do, we've got tons more questions about how this game works and how it ties into the story of the original Tactics Advanced. Perhaps the game's subtitle--The Sealed Grimoire--is a clue that the mysterious book that opened up the world to Ivalice in Tactics Advance will return in the follow-up. The game is due for release in Japan in just a few months, and we'll be keeping our eye out for more information on the North American version.

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131 comments
Tom_Uppercut
Tom_Uppercut

I loved the original tactics for the PS1. The FFT advance I also beat but HATED every moment of it. What was the deal with the laws? You cant use magic, or the fight command, or some other insane stipulation. Yes you had law cards, and if you walked back and forth long enough you could scroll the law list up but why tie my hands in the first place? If the laws return in the sequal... Square is going to have a very angry player bust in thier offices and smacking the director of the sequal.

The_Consequence
The_Consequence

Awesome! My DS will finally have some new non-gba stuff for me to play. I haven't played the first one, so I may get a PSP for the remake.

Corkscrw
Corkscrw

I gave the first 100+ hours of gameplay and loved every single minute. I hope this one has even more to offer and a little more in depth explaining. I might get a DS just for this game. :)

Icegoten200
Icegoten200

I can't wait for this game and I really hope it has Wifi.

WhoAmIAgain
WhoAmIAgain

jeeze ppl, stop fighting about which handheld is better, so they both are going to have FFT, woopitty-f*ckin-doo i love the FFT concept, story and of course the tactics part! why else would anyone be talking here about how awsome FFT is, accept archangel2284 he/she is a douche that should comment on things he/shes interested in not things he/she has no interest in. its common courtisy not to rile fans up jeeze. and having a fight over which port is better, this isnt where you should be arguing about. Its in the forum rules thing, you should read it. now after my rant... OMGOMGOMGOMG!!! I CANT WAIT!!! OMGOMGOMG!!!

da_wonkalator
da_wonkalator

this game is goin to be the BEST BLOODY GAME OF ALL TIME!!!! to all the people that dont like it, just go away.

-Sparkz-
-Sparkz-

Can't wait to here more about this one....

Beawolf
Beawolf

Woot i know have the reason i was looking for to buy a DS. ^_^

isha727
isha727

really excited about this game. hope that it has an interesting story and characters. really can't wait for this game to be released!

hehhahtsoria
hehhahtsoria

there was only one thing i didnt like about the first advance, and that was the law cards and as for the one for the playstation, i loved it i almost want to buy a psp just to play the remake of it and about archangel2284 not liking tactic games and telling us they suck, he's not going to buy one.. or she (lets not assume) maybe ill buy two haha..probably not anyways im excited

RipVanWinkle_
RipVanWinkle_

ArchAngel2284 said: ff tactics sucks, i'm glad i'm not gonna fork over money to square on this one. havent you read the article? the general gaming public likes the games. stfu, retard

alexman405
alexman405

lol this should be fun but if its anything like the frist advance version i hope they burn in the fires of hell

Sam_Fisher_932
Sam_Fisher_932

ArchAngel2284, FF Tactics is a great game. It's only your opinion that it sucks, most people love it. You obviously don't have a very good taste in games.

ArchAngel2284
ArchAngel2284

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Disclaim3r
Disclaim3r

I agree with Drkr_Zen, the original and FFT:A we're both enjoyable in their own ways. I'll be looking forward to this one.

ArmoredAshes
ArmoredAshes

well hopefully it will be as fun as the original. i mean advance was ok but it wasnt the best.

wyldcard6
wyldcard6

Does this one have any of the anti-Christian hate speech the first one did? Also why doesn't Shining Force get its props since Tactics is just a Shining Force clone, and not a good one at that.

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

I'm glad to see this series making its way to handhelds again. I, one of the few, thoroughly enjoyed FFTA just as much as the original.. although I was disappointed at the absence of monster partners. At any rate, anything that's appeared on the GBA first and makes its way to the DS usually turns out great.. evidence points to Pokemon D/P, Lunar Knights, Castlevania and Mega Man.

sacatash
sacatash

Dunno about this...Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSOne is a classic game. I still have the game and it is the best value for the money in terms of gameplay. Disgea 1 and Disgea 2 are the runner up to that great game and hopefully those games will come to the PSP later this year so I can take them during those long cross atlantic air trips.

weltall1028
weltall1028

I didn't like the laws in FFTA, hopefully they do not bring that part back. It'll be nice if the story is a little more mature, like the PS1 game.

mikeesco
mikeesco

Dont get me wrong I love my DS (Mario Kart, Clubhouse Games, New Mario Bros.) and Tactics for the GBA was good but too damn childish, but the way the PSP is gonna blow the DS out of the water ( I will sell my DS for a PSP for this reason) with TACTICS series is the FF: Tactics that will come on PSP is the original from the PS and with redone cutscenes, better graphics, TWO new Jobs (onion knight, Dark Knight), same story with more added, also you can play other people wireless. Every fan of FF: Tactics knows how hard it is to find the original for the PS, but this will litterally ruin the DS as far as FF. The only reason I would keep my DS is for FF: VI *check out the review for Final Fantasy: War of the Lions for PSP*

Popcorn1223
Popcorn1223

Wi-Fi on this game is gonna be awesome!! And for the little Psp fanboy 1 comment under me. Your gay Psp is horrible it will only be good when the 2 one comes out in 2009 or 2010. Ds rules all handhelds.

kingpong11
kingpong11

omg what are you talking about, psp is one the worst handhelds ever eleased, th ds tactics is gonna own the psp one hard

ihma
ihma

"I can't wait. I've always wondered why so many FFT fans loathe the Advance version of the game so much. I happen to love both, and I'm sure that A2 will only improve upon the formula." easy the reason we hate it is because FFTA had one of the worst storys of all tactics game, it was to easy (just get excalibur 2 and holy blade to 1shot anything) only certain races could be certian classes, no genders (cant tell half the time if your guy is male or female), buy a psp ppl and just get FFT, much better investment

smurf_killer
smurf_killer

i hope there'll be some connection with the gba cartridge

Ariolander
Ariolander

Indeed unlike some of the FFT on PS1 fans I actually liked FFTA so of course I am looking forward to this...

villanX
villanX

This is gonna be awsome I've been starting to get bored of the the first FFTA. But what's up with that weird meter that pops up when you attack someone on this new one, does it show you exactly how much damage you did or something to that effect?

lahoor
lahoor

wow vary cool ........but this japan

tieed15
tieed15

I can't wait. I've always wondered why so many FFT fans loathe the Advance version of the game so much. I happen to love both, and I'm sure that A2 will only improve upon the formula.

sargentmrman
sargentmrman

yhis is gonna be a good year for the ds :)

lew_0911
lew_0911

Dear lord, it looks so gorgeous.

imaligertamer
imaligertamer

I love the one for the GBA. This is going to be great.

TheGuy2
TheGuy2

oh yessssssss!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS GONNA B SO AWSOME!!!!!!!......... i have the game boy advance version (though i havent beat it yet) and its cool........the one on the ds is gonna b better cause of the touch screen.......wonder if it picks up where it left off in the gba version????............CANT WAIT >=^ )

friscom99
friscom99

"Courtawulf4 s'pose this means I have to buy a DS now" You mean you haven't bought one yet??? You are missing out on a great portable game system! =)

Courtawulf4
Courtawulf4

s'pose this means I have to buy a DS now

Aquachild
Aquachild

I know I might've saw this coming, but wow this is awesome. I loved FFTA on the Game Boy Advance and I'll love it even more on the DS because of its touch control. Then there's the fact that this might be the only good Final Fantasy to come out in a long, long time. (Sorry Final Fantasy XII, but you dissapoint me.)

denaz
denaz

Yeah this will be great:D

mr_gouda
mr_gouda

As long as those dang Judges and their pesky law cards don't show their faces in this game, I'm all in!

ultimatlifeform
ultimatlifeform

Sounds awesome. Too bad I don't have a DS... I still prefer the original FFT more, but FFTA was quite fun, as well. The judge system annoys the hell out of me, though.

Flan_Man
Flan_Man

As long as they add in some training mode like in Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis or some meaningful ways to destroy your friends' guilds, this game could be fun. Hack the rule system and add in some more of that original FFT goodness and we'll be cooking with mustard.

sean_de_retro
sean_de_retro

Final Fantasy Tactics A2, great the sooner this game comes the better, this game is making go nuts.

Pumpkin-Head
Pumpkin-Head

The GBA version is actually great, The Rules are the only thing that i hate about it, i wish it gets removed..FOREVER!!! *_*

Tyralyon
Tyralyon

I remember once in TA where I got into a random battle with some monsters. The rule was that I could not attack monsters, and I had no card to counter it. What can you do other than reset? I agree with most people here, I want a game more like the original and less like the advance version. By the way, did anyone ever have the white hydra in the original? You could catch monsters and breed them, and I always thought one of my biggest accomplishments in FFT was the white hydra. It was extremely good as well, did tons dmg :)

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

My PS version drove me nuts with frustration so I threw it in the bin and have never regretted it. I may give this version a chance.