Many familiar elements make Tactics Advance one of the more enjoyable games in the alternate Final Fantasy World.

User Rating: 8.5 | Final Fantasy Tactics Advance GBA
Back in 1997, Final Fantasy Tactics appeared on the PlayStation to the awe and amazement of Fantasy fans everywhere and it featured gameplay that wasn't quite new but definitely different from the usual Final Fantasy genre. Now, on the Game Boy Advance, Tactics Advance appears with a spinoff game that is enjoyable in its own respect and despite some contrived ideas, the many familiar elements make Tactics Advance one of the more enjoyable games in the alternate Final Fantasy World.

The game begins rather slowly with a tutorial of the turn-based battle system, the game's introduction, obligatory naming of characters, and the basic plot. The most eye-catching plot event is the revelation that Final Fantasy is actually a game within the universe in Tactics Advance, which essentially makes the entire game non-canon. However, all that aside, the look and feel of the game at the beginning is the same as other Final Fantasy games.

As the game begins to pick up pace, more elements are introduced, such as magic, battles, and new elements such as Laws (which are rules in battle that, if broken, can and will result in a fine, a penalty, and perhaps the banishment of a teammate) and the replacement of Job Points (the scoring system in Tactics on PlayStation) called Judge Points. Judge Points are awarded by the Lawkeepers of Ivalice (the Universe of Tactics Advance) who are known as, obviously, "Judges" and can be given away for a multitude of things, including, but not limited to, following suggestions for law-workarounds, defeating a foe, and special teamwork skills. These points may be used to create devestating combination attacks on enemies that are inevitable too powerful to be defeated by a single blow. In addition to that, Summons make their return, though in a very limited sense; each race of people in Ivalice (Humans, Moogles, Bangaa, Viera, and Nu Mou) are alloted a single entity to summon at the cost of 10 Judge Points (JP) and each one does something different, though all of it is beneficial to you and detrimental to your foe.

A new system introduced in the game is the AP system, which is the replacement for the Skill Board in Tactics Playstation, and allows your characters to gain new techniques through experiece; that is to say, equiping a weapon and using it in battle will earn you AP at the end of a battle and once a designated amount has been reached, a technique can be mastered. Though it sounds good, the idea is rather contrived and is a step down from the Skill Board, which essentially "sold" you skills at the cost of Job Points. You'll need those skills as you progress though, as casual gamers will have a bit of a harder time with the game: missions become harder at a fairly quick pace and if many missions aren't taken, then future missions will inevitably become harder and harder to complete. Though not a truly devestating cut-off to the game's momentum, the somewhat awkward staggering of AI is definitely a negative to the game's wonderful battle feature.

And during all of the scenes in the game, you'll find yourself immersed in the wonderful sense of drama and entertainment unfolding, all thanks to the music. The music is enchanting, especially for the Game Boy Advance and makes minimal cuts in quality. It accurately portrays the mood and ambiance of every location available in the game, though as the plot progresses, you will notice the same tracks being played for more than one location. The graphics are beautiful to look at, and though they may not be the most gorgeous graphics on the GBA, they are top contenders. Despite this, the framerate of the game is incredibly steady and never stutters or glitches in spite of the detailed 2D graphics. Therefore, a more enjoyable experience throughout the entire game can be had by those who choose to play the game through.

The plot itself is intriguing and lovable and you will feel yourself being drawn in by the characters, perhaps even rooting for some of the antagonists. Truly unique to the Final Fantasy plots, this story is captivating and enthralling and is sure to make you second guess every decision you've made along the way. Every turn has a twist and every twist has a pit and in order to fully appreciate the game, every task at hand must be completed, a truly tantalizing task, as there are 300 or so missions to take part in over the course of the story, each of which offers rich rewards, new gossip (the game's version of an in-game help system that keeps tabs on what has happened), and amazing items, which can be used for a plethora of things, such as engaging in previously inaccessible missions, earning new techniques, becoming stronger, etc.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a game for the truly patient and truly loving fans of Final Fantasy, but if one can look past the somewhat strange AI staggering and the limited skill system, then that person will be in for one of the most enjoyable games on the platform and a true throwback to the old Final Fantasy Alternate Worlds.