Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Updated Impressions
We have the finished English-translated version in hand and have spotted some interesting differences from the Japanese version.
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Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is less than two weeks away from release in the United States, and we were fortunate to get our hands on an advance copy and are already busily battling our way through the game's turn-based battles. In so doing, we've noticed at least one unusual difference between the domestic version and the original Japanese version, though for the most part, the game is identical to the Japanese version released earlier this year. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, though it shares its name with the 1997 PlayStation classic and offers similar gameplay, is actually a completely original adventure that should appeal to fans of similar games or those looking for another role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance.
The game's story revolves around three down-on-their-luck children living in a mundane modern world. One day, one of the kids obtains a magical tome, and after it's opened, everything changes. Suddenly Marche, the main character of the game, finds himself in an unusual fantasy world, and his friends are nowhere to be found. He is quickly befriended by a moogle named Montblanc, who recruits Marche into his clan--sort of an adventurer's club that earns riches and prestige by taking on various bounty-hunter-style assignments.
The gameplay revolves around these assignments, most of which will require Marche and his cohorts to duke it out against enemies in turn-based tactical battles. Characters can fight, use special abilities, and cast spells, but they must heed an ever-changing set of laws or risk being penalized. For example, in certain fights, it may not be permissible to use items, or fire magic. This law system should keep you on your toes and occasionally makes for some challenging encounters, such as ones where you cannot use your character's "fight" command and must deal damage exclusively with spells and special moves.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance features multiple character races and dozens of different character classes, as well as a job system similar to that of the original Final Fantasy Tactics. Characters may freely change jobs and gain experience in various professions to eventually become multitalented and extremely powerful.
The game also sports a multiplayer link mode, allowing players to exchange items, trade characters, and even take on team-based cooperative or competitive missions. This should help extend the game's replay value considerably, though the game should have plenty of content in its single-player storyline.
As mentioned, we've spotted at least one odd change in the game's translation from Japanese. In the original, the kids are returning home from a snowball fight (back in the mundane real world) when one of them, the sullen Mewt, encounters his father outside of a pub. His father is clearly intoxicated, and after exchanging some words with his son, he embarrassingly stumbles off. In the domestic version of the game, however, the father just seems down on his luck, and there's no evidence of a drinking habit. Seeing as the game is rated E for everyone by the ESRB, perhaps it's no surprise that this type of adjustment was made to the storyline. Generally speaking, the game has a much more lighthearted feel to it than the original Final Fantasy Tactics, and even though your characters will spend most of their time fighting with swords and spells, the proceedings seem to be more sportsmanlike than deadly.
We'll have a full review of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance soon. For more information on the game, check out our previous coverage.