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Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Game Boy Advance) Review

Review for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on Game Boy Advance - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Back when the Nintendo 64 was due to be released many were salivating at the 3D renders of Final Fantasy VII for the system, but were then devastatingly gutted by the news of Squaresoft 'defecting' to the Sony PlayStation and since that day we Nintendo fans have seen nothing from the RPG maestros, or Enix for that matter. But now, past grievances put to one side, the recently formed Square Enix brings Final Fantasy back home to its roots, on the perfect platform – the GBA, albeit it in a spin-off form. Read on to see just how FF Tactics Advance shapes up to its FF brethren…

Everything starts off with a group of children playing snowball fights in the local playground. However, things turn nasty with the introduction of newcomer Marche, especially when he takes the side of Mewt, the typical child that always gets picked on in games and Ritz, a girl who supposedly dies her white hair red. Once the teacher has broken up the feud and everyone has gone home, Marche heads off to visit his sick brother. Later, Mewt and Ritz come over and bring along a special new book that nobody knows the name of. Upon opening it a lovely cut-scene kicks in with some strange text and images shown from the book. They then all discuss which games would make interesting reality – Mewt chooses Final Fantasy, obviously. Unfortunately, though, they had repeated some of the strange words in the tome and before they realise what is happening, their town of St Ivalice has become the imaginary world. So begins the journey of trying to unravel the mystery of returning home…

You can tell something has been well crafted and looked after when it is the first title to ever be considerate of your gaming environment and settings. FFTA gives you the option from the start to choose a colour setting, whether you are using the old GBA, an SP or the GBPlayer on a TV. A welcome start…Then once past this stage you get the main introductory sequences. That is when your jaw will well and truly hit the ground. Square Enix has managed to transplant the sheer beauty and in-depth detail from the PSone Japanese/US-only smash hit pseudo-predecessor onto this iddy, biddy ickle GBA cartridge, right down to the variations in clothing for each character or species’ job type!

Rich colours as far as the eye can see; solid building designs all around you; vast locales that are filled to the brim with intricate detail, so much so that on first glance you seriously cannot take everything in at once; amazing variation within the character line-up, from the usual humans, to Bangaa (lizard-like folk) and even Moogles (the white fluffy things, if you do not know)! The game might be ageing a lot now in terms of shelf-date, but this remains in the Top 5 graphical masterpieces on the GBA. Square Enix came and in its first full attempt managed to blow everyone else out of the water, and many companies are still struggling to get anywhere near this standard! Spectacular...

Whilst Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto scored the original Sony version of Final Fantasy Tactics, it is the legendary Nobuo Uematsu that takes the reigns for this outing. Composed of mere midi work, you might be led to believe that the GBA soundtrack is weak. However, Uematsu, the self-taught musician, is a pure genius when it comes to be limited in the musical department. This is something echoed by RPG aficionados from the days of the SNES, where he created some of the most extravagant orchestral pieces you will ever hear in videogames. So what does he cook up here on the GBA? Yet another graceful, stirring, lively, yet gentle score that never grows tiresome. Many will bemoan the lack of tracks on the whole, but for the little handheld wonder this, just like the aesthetic side of the production, is of the very highest class...and so impressive that personally I was convinced to go and purchase two different CDs of the game's music reworked! Square Enix knows how to put others to shame...

...And nobody does it better than Uematsu-san, in my opinion. There are so many tunes that you seriously will just sit there in amazement wondering just how your GBA, oft derided for its musical capabilities, is managing to pump out such delicate, floaty-light music, then quickly changing to rousing battle-heavy themes, with the odd dark, melancholy piece slotted in for good measure. And this is from playing the game on a simple SP. Try slipping your cartridge into the stereo Nintendo DS or even your GB Player on your GameCube, hooked up to a meaty set of speakers and words cannot describe the feeling you get inside (especially if you are a nostalgia maniac such as myself, and great lover of the SNES). Simply amazing!

One look at the genre 'Strategy Role Playing Game' and it is enough to send shivers down the spines of many a man (and woman, of course...!). One criticism aimed at Squaresoft's original Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSone was that it was so complicated that anyone caring to dip their toe in would likely have it munched off within seconds. The answer? Square Enix has made FFT Advance perfect for the little handheld it has been made for. Yes, complications are still abound, but you need not worry your little heads about it, since all is easily explained and any points of contention are generally ironed out very quickly due to the early repetition of key points to ensure they are driven home and understood completely.

To start with, there is no physical control over your characters and teammates. So, whether you want to or not, you will not be a-wandering round this Final Fantasy world as normal. Instead the action takes place on an overhead map, with your 'engagements' (what the game call battle encounters) occurring once you have visited the local town pub to gain the latest gossip and agree to join various missions that are available to your and your ever-growing clan of fighters, black mages, archers, monks and healers (amongst many other skilled folk). Then, once one of these engagements is complete, you receive a nice little monetary and material reward, plus get the chance to place the next location anywhere on the map you should so desire (

Laws and jobs? Ah yes...First each battle is dictated by a Judge, as edicts were set in place many years ago whereby certain battles must have specific things you can and cannot do (such as cannot use swords, but may gain extra bonuses for using rods


The reason for a slight knock in the mark is purely because novice gamers may have trouble getting to grips, despite the simple interface and intuitive game mechanics. Everything else is the epitome of RPG-greatness, and in the same breath what made Squaresoft so popular in the past.


You will not believe that your GBA can handle such gorgeous graphics in such a large amount. This really does put not only the majority of other GBA games to shame, but many PSone titles as well!


If you can, hook this up to a Game Boy Player and then get your GameCube attached to a powerful set of speakers, preferably with a sub-woofer to do justice to the rich bass beats and magical musical accompaniments. Beautiful, simply beautiful!


If you even consider the fact that this is yet another five-to-ten hour GBA adventure, then go sit in the corner with your 'D' hat rght now. FFTA can easily stretch to the sixty hour mark if given the correct attention. Sound daunting? Do not worry, as the time will fly by. Trust me...

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

If there is one game to get on the Game Boy Advance, then it has to be this. Squaresoft memories will come rushing over you as soon as you flick the power switch on your handheld

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's just one of those games I never got round to playing properly the first time round. But in the post-Christmas lull I've found that this is what's been keeping my attention the most - above FF: Dawn of Souls, Metroid Prime 2 and Paper Mario 2!

A simply breath-taking game that I implore you to give a whirl...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I played this game to death...I'm still playing it after more than 73 hours of gameplay^_^
it's awesome, if you still didn't give it a try, absolutely!!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It did amazingly well in Japan and the US, and even did surprisingly well over here in the UK, managing to crack the All Format Top 20. I'm very surprised there hasn't been another game in the series announced.

Could you imagine a version for the GameCube?

:eek: *faints*

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I loved this game! I played the original one on the Playstation and didn't like it as much as I liked this one. I've beaten around 187 missions (Some are repeats) and I have some powerful troops in my squad. I'm at the final boss and she keeps kicking my butt in her Final Form, but I enjoy it. I'll get her one day when I revisit the game again.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That's the same case with me - I could never quite get my teeth into FFT on the PSone, which was a shame as I spent a lot of money importing it! But this is amazing, and as you say Glenjamin, one of those games that you can keep coming back to, no problem!

I wonder if there are many on C3 that have played it...?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Heh, I bought this game as a chrissy gift for one of my brothers... maybe I can pinch some time off him...

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Which Christmas? Hopefully he's had it long enough to complete/grow tired of it, so you can take advantage! It's a piece of gaming art...Squaresoft and Enix seem to flourish when given restrictions like on the SNES and GBA!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It does get a little tiresome towards the end where the story stops and you are just levelling up your character but in total I think I notched up about 130+ hours on this game. Now considering most console RPGs last me no more than 80 hours (creating that perfect Chocobo in FF7 was to addictive) this is superb value for money.

Matthew Evans < Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread > As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That seems to be a regular Final Fantasy trait, unfortunately - but for a GBA game I never imagined such length.

Gastrian, have you tried Tactics Ogre? It's another high class SRPG, along with Shining Force and Fire Emblem.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

One comment: I have the shortest attention span of anyone somewhat sane I know. This game can hold my interest. The battles are fun, the cut scenes are not long, and you don't have to spend too much time in menus.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That's very true - everything is easily navigable, you can pick your options with ease. The only gripe I have is how long it takes some enemies to make their moves.

But that could be the GBA being pushed to its limits more than anything...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hey Raz! Did you see my DS boxart on the forums? What do you think? Smilie

Image for
TrUeShAdOwLiNk :link:

Their money... their fun... their PSP...

Woah, when I do my Final Fantasy gaming run, this will definitely be included. Going to be a busy time after my GCSEs It hink!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sharpshot, you're going to be busy for the rest of your waking life from the sound of things!! :eek:

Hehe Smilie

And TrUeShAdOwLiNk, you'll have to point me in the right direction for that - I'm not much of a forum dweller nowadays... :Smilie So you think S-Ex should make FFT DS? Definitely would look scrumptious...Ogre Battle 64: Person of a Lordly Calibre was a gorgeous game, and addictive as hell to boot. But folks, remember that Squaresoft bought the Ogre Battle rights when it joined with Enix - so it should be about time we see the fruits of said purchase!

Egg Monster Hero is a sign that SRPGs will work on the DS perfectly well - and with Magical Vacation 2 coming as well (another SRPG, but slightly different in that you wander round like a normal RPG, it's just the battling that's different) and Advance Wars, the DS already has a nice line-up in that genre!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Reading this just made me want Final Fantasy XII even more!

Must.. resist... buying... P..S...2....

I wonder if this will get cheaper when the DS is released?

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