TGS 2002: Hands-onFinal Fantasy Tactics Advance

We take a close look at Square's all-new Final Fantasy Tactics game coming for the GBA.

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At the ongoing TGS, Square has been showing off a playable build of its highly anticipated Game Boy Advance game Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The game will be the developer's first game for the GBA. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance will be an all-new game and will have an approach that is different from that of the original Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation. The game will focus on Marche Radiuju, a boy who moves to his mother's hometown of St. Ivalice with the rest of his family. Marche has trouble fitting into small town life and making friends with the locals. He eventually makes two friends, Mewt Randell, a quiet boy with unusual hair, and Ritz Malheur, a pink-haired girl who is as outspoken as she is smart. Apparently, the three friends manage to get along well enough but stop from sharing too much of themselves and becoming the best of friends. All that quickly changes, however. The trio finds an old book called Final Fantasy and accidentally activates the book's hidden power, which sucks the town of St. Ivalice into an alternate universe based on the Final Fantasy video game series. The game's story will unfold through the eyes of the three characters as they struggle to find a place in the new world while dealing with their inner conflicts.

As far as gameplay goes, the core of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's gameplay is obviously based on the classic Final Fantasy Tactics gameplay, but there appears to be a bit more to it. In addition to interacting with characters and building up your own stable of fighters by finding them jobs, it appears that you'll have total control over Ivalice in the game. It seems that the world has been shattered into fragments that you'll be able to collect in the game. But you'll be able to do more than just reassemble Ivalice into its old shape--the game will apparently let you shuffle and combine the pieces of Ivalice into something completely different on the fly. As far as the actual combat goes, if you know your turn-based strategy action gaming, then Final Fantasy Tactics Advance shouldn't pose any problems. The game stays true to the PlayStation classic's gameplay and is easy to get a handle on.

Graphically, the game is a stunner of a GBA game. If you're familiar with Square's excellent graphical work on the Super Nintendo, then it should come as no surprise to hear that game looks great. The portion of the game we tried was completely sprite-based and featured detailed environments and characters. The characters were large enough to be easy on the eyes and make out facial animation, which was a nice touch. The closest thing we've seen on the GBA is probably Ogre Battle.

Judging from our brief taste of the game, we have to say we're absolutely ready for more. The game's combat captures the feel of Final Fantasy Tactics, and the ability to restructure Ivalice is certainly an intriguing gameplay element. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is slated to ship this winter in Japan. Look for more on the game soon.

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