A Gaiden Game in the unfathomably popularFinal Fantasy series, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was released for the Game Boy Advance in the fall of 2003. While it inherited its RPG-flavoredTurn-Based Strategy engine from its predecessor, the original Final Fantasy Tactics, its setting and plot are entirely new. With its good graphics, excellent soundtrack, and staggering depth of gameplay, the game is one of the standouts of the GBA's impressive library.The game is the first (and only) game in the series to use the Recursive Canon conceit. It begins when four outcast kids discover a mysterious grimoire that whisks them away from their boring town and into the fantastic world of Ivalice: a strange Medieval European Fantasy world populated by creatures from the Final Fantasy franchise of which the children are huge fans.Furthermore, each of the children has been changed in a way to reflect their inner desires: outcast Marche is now a strong and respected member of a mercenary clan, tomboy Ritz no longer has to dye her hair to avoid the cruel jokes of her schoolmates, Marche's crippled brother Doned can now walk again, and Butt Monkey Mewt is the prince of Ivalice itself.However, despite enjoying Ivalice at first, Marche soon becomes homesick and looks for a way to return. He discovers that "Ivalice" is actually a dreamworld, the result of the grimoire imposing the childrens' own desires and imaginations upon his new home town and trapping everyone and everything within the illusion. Deciding that this is selfish of them, Marche resolves to shatter the fantasy and return everything to normal... a goal that brings him into conflict with his friends (who prefer life in Ivalice) and the ruling monarchy of Ivalice itself, whose members do not take kindly to the idea of a Dream Apocalypse.On the gameplay side, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance returns the class system of the previous game, but adds a new twist: races. Unlike in the first game, where characters could theoretically learn almost any skill, given enough time and the right gender, certain abilities and classes are available only to certain species: The brutish, lizardlike Bangaa; the magical, mild-mannered Nu Mou; the lithe, all-female Viera; Final Fantasy series staple Moogles; and, of course, (all-male) Humans (guess what theyare). Additionally, skills are learned by having certain weapons and armour equipped, instead of the Tactics's JP system.Combat is strictly turn-based, with characters doing what you tell them to when you tell them to, no waiting for spellcasting or anything of that nature. Another new feature is "Laws", restrictions placed on combat by the Judges of Ivalice. Breaking the Law results in soccer-style penalties, with the result that a repeat offender may be hauled off to jail.Character Development and atmosphere are only side aspects and not quite as deep and immersive as in the first game, but the number of potential missions is simply staggering, and don't underestimate the addictiveness of putting a game of this type on a portable. There's more than 200 hours of gameplay here, if you seek it.Final Fantasy Tactics Advance swung as far to the easy side of the gameplay difficulty scale as the original Final Fantasy Tactics swung to the hard side. There's very little challenge, but the game is still solid and fans of Turn-Based Strategy games may wish to try it out. Although the Lighter and Softer graphics style caught some considerable flak from fans of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, the game's style is actually lifted wholesale from an earlier Yasumi Matsuno title, Tactics Ogre - which Final Fantasy Tactics was the Darker and EdgierSpiritual Successor to.This game was also built an Audio Adaptation, named Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition. It's exclusively in Japan, and since they're probably rare now, try watching this to fullify your satisfication.A sequel (Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift) is out, and while it too is a bit of a Non-Linear Sequel, there are quite a few continuity nods that suggest that the protagonist, Luso Clemens, is from the same world as the characters in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, even if the world he finds himself spirited to is quite different from the one in this game. Its ending proves that Marche did not destroy the Ivalice from this game when he left, and that Mewt, at least, turned out just fine. However, Word of God contradicts this (see YMMV).The Character Sheet can be found here.NOTE: This is for logging tropes, not lecturing on the common Alternate Character Interpretation. Canon is canon.
This game provides examples of:
Action Bomb: Explode is known by most bombs and can be learned by Blue Mages. Bangaa Defenders have a variant, called 'Meltdown,' that does damage equal to their remaining health.
Bonus Feature Failure: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a two-in-one combo. It has several unlockable characters; Some of these are unique characters that cannot change classes or learn new abilities, while others are merely normal units with special sprites.
Ezel Gets the worst of this trope. He has high magic power but only has two abilities and neither of them inflict damage. He can't switch jobs either.
Boss Rush: Part of the climax; Copies of Famfrit and Adrammelech attack in the first phase, while two copies of Mateus attack in the second.
Bragging Rights Reward: After completing all 300 missions, you are allowed to recruit the Judgemaster Cid, who is a decent character, but nothing special. At this point, the only thing left in the game to do is a bonus quest of another ten missions after that.
Changing Gameplay Priorities: Incredibly so. In the early game, conventional statistics like strength and defense are very useful. Late in the game, speed is the absolute only thing that matters, because you're going to be killing everything in one shot one way or another.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Certain bosses can change the Law at will. The enemy characters also seem to have better evasion than their statistics would indicate — attacking from the front is pretty much a guaranteed miss, no matter what the hit percentage is, unless you've got Concentrate. In addition, bosses can rack up an infinite number of penalties from breaking the Law without being sent to prison. One of the pub rumors handwaves the latter by implying that the bosses are an "elite" class of people who are immune to the law.
In the sequel, on the other hand, it's explained that the real reason some bosses get away with lawbreaking is because they bribe the judges.
Continuity Nod: Lots of 'em, but most notably the Totema (tribal gods) — they're based off final bosses from the games in the main series.
Crapsaccharine World: The Japanese version makes it pretty clear that most of the people in Ivalice are suffering under a combination of Mewt's tyranny and the clans' complete indifference to whether innocents get hurt in their turf wars. Most of this is dropped in the official English translation, but see Fridge Horror.
Dream Apocalypse: Once Marche decides to set out to destroy the crystals and return to the real world, part of the conflict is the question of what happens to the characters who aren't from the real world and what would happen to them.
Duel Boss: Babus and Llednar Twem. The latter is also a Hopeless Boss Fight. Subverted in the former case, as the target is not the Duel Boss himself but instead the nonmoving NPC fruits strewn around the stage.
Both prime targets to steal all of the equipment off.
Dub Text: Characterization was mostly lost rather than gained in the English translation, but the removal of Cid's alcohol problem changed him from cheerily drunk to "crying in the gutters," in addition to adding a bit of self-hatred.
Everything Fades: Averted. Part of the duties of the Judges is to teleport corpses around so they don't get in the way.
This also happens to Ezel, the pubmaster, and some other Ivalice natives at the ending of the main story.
In theory the judges teleport corpses out of the way. In reality they teleport them completely at random, most often moving a corpse that wasn't in anyone's way to a location that's also not in anyone's way and occasionally putting one in the way.
Foregone Victory: One of the Totema bosses becomes this if you defeat Babus first—the destruction of the other Crystals has left it too weakened to defend itself, so when the boss goes down you've won—but the battle doesn't end until you've smashed every single crystal one at a time. Alternatively, if you equip an item that lets you absorb Fire, he can't harm you.
Fragile Speedster: Some of the Viera classes focus on speed and evasion in exchange for low defense. Thieves and Ninjas also fall into the same category.
Gadgeteer Genius: When you bring the "lugaborg" to the palace, Montblanc refers to his younger brother Nono, saying that he is good with his hands.
Glass Cannon: The Viera race are this by having high speed and attack power, but their defenses and HP are very poor. The Ninja class used by humans also falls into the trope.
Grey and Gray Morality: Marche's friends point out that he may not have thought his plan through, and that his actions are stripping them of things they desperately want. Marche points out that countless OTHER people didn't get it so good, and that they are essentially using Ivalice as an emotional crutch to avoid dealing with their issues in a healthy way.
Hopeless Boss Fight: In all of Llednar Twem's appearances except his last, he's protected by a special Law which nullifies all damage to him.
Impossible Thief: You can steal just about anything in this game. Weapons while they're holding them, clothes while they're wearing them, experience, abilities... and that's not even half of it. You can't steal boots, though.
Jack-of-All-Trades: The generic human recruits have the most job classes out of all the playable races in the game, making them quite flexible in any team.
Justified Tutorial: Marche's first day at his new school; the other characters teach him how to have a snowball fight, which mirrors the combat system in the rest of the game.
Lawful Stupid: A major theme in the game. The Judges enforce Ivalice's completely arbitrary and pointless laws with extreme strictness no matter what the situation. Furthermore, actual crimes such as murder, theft, arson, etc... are not considered as important as these laws. For example—a clan goes out to capture a group of criminals. If the clan breaks one of Ivalice's laws during the capture, the Judges will arrest the clan and take them to prison... while doing absolutely nothing about the actual criminals. The same applies to most other good works—break a law while trying to stop a fire, and you will be arrested... while the fire is allowed to burn the city to the ground.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of the missions in the corrupt judges subplot has the poster complaining about a law that requires people to not be at full HP.
Gadgeteers are units that have a 50% chance of inflicting a boost or status ailment to either team. Their unreliability makes them near-useless... unless you equip the right status protection, removing the risk of receiving bad ailments yourself while sustaining your chances of inflicting them. Or, if you use an emulator, you can just reload if you're on the receiving end...
A more traditional example is the Morpher: a Nu Mou job that requires you to capture a monster with a Hunter, in order to gain a "soul" and be able to "turn" into that monster (which just looks like the Morpher is high). They are hard to get, take a turn to set up, and useless without lots of grinding. The catch is, the Morpher gets the exact stats of the captured monster... which can be raised by feeding the monster items. This means that, with enough money (which comes aplenty), you can have a Nu Mou with 999 in EVERY stat.
Lighter and Softer: The game is a heavy contrast compared to its ancestor, Final Fantasy Tactics, by having brighter colors and a softer storyline. The game does dip back into the dark and grim territory at times with the side stories and the battles in the Jagds are reminiscent of how most battlefields in the first game looked like.
Lost Forever: By the boatload. Two monsters only appear in certain unrepeatable storyline missions, which means that Blue Mages need to learn the abilities from them and Hunters then need to capture them for the Morphers to use. Most of the Ultima skill teaching weapons are only stealable from certain enemies in some USMs - and only if you've got a certain skill to find it on them. And then there's the items uniquely available through the Treasure Hunt map layout thing. Yet further are the optional party members, many of which can only be gotten in certain unrepeatable missions and may not ask to join you.
Even more annoying are the quest items. There are certain missions that require quest items to complete. Add in the fact that you can only carry 20 of those items, which means you might accidentally delete a necessary one, which makes a mission uncompletable.
Lotus-Eater Machine: In short, the crux of the plot revolves around the idea that Marche's friends are using Ivalice as a form of escapism to avoid having to deal with their real-life problems. Furthermore, the citizens of St. Ivalice are dragged into this as well, living alternate lives to fulfill the desires of the children.
Mad Scientist: Ezel. Several Nu Mou side characters are Mad Mages.
Mighty Glacier: The Bangaa race are this in most of their job classes, having lots of HP, strength, and defense while having poor evasion and speed.
Queen Remedi is also this during her first form in the final battle. She has no abilities, is quite slow, and has low evasion, but when she hits you, it hurts.
Mineral MacGuffin: The Totema and the 'worldthreads' they protect are housed in these.
Missing Mom: Mewt's mother died, so he recreates her in Ivalice. None of the other main characters seems to have kept their parents in the transfer.
Money for Nothing: Money is critically important in the beginning, but around a third of the way through the game you'll have bought everything you need that can be bought, at which point it just starts to pile up.
My Master, Right or Wrong: Babus is loyal to Mewt no matter how irrational he seems, but eventually questions whether Mewt is better off staying.
Of course, there's the fact that this probably wasn't even intended to be a sequel.
One-Gender Race: The Viera are explicitly all-female... sort of. All depicted Viera are explicitly female, just as every member of every other race looks identical, leading to the impression that Bangaa are all male. Ritz, the only human female in the game, has Viera classes rather than Human ones.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Speed determines how fast you act, and more importantly how often you act. Low-speed characters like Paladins and Defenders will usually act once for every three actions taken by a Ninja or Assassin. Needless to say, lack of speed kills.
Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Ritz and Marche; the former is a tomboy who stands up to bullies while the latter starts out unable to introduce himself without prompting. The distinction is less apparent after Marche takes levels in badass, and Ritz notes how much he has changed after he defeats her and her clan.
Random Effect Spell: The Moogle Animist's "Friend" ability summons a random monster. It's rather useless, as animists tend to have a weak magic stat, and you can't predict whether it will be an attack summon or a healing/buff one.
Revive Kills Zombie: More so as usual as Zombies will revive 3 turns after they are killed unless prevented by a revive spell /Phoenix Down or one of several class skills that specifically counter this.
All There in the Manual/Guide Dang It: The Revive skill/Phoenix Down clause for preventing undead from coming back to life is never mentioned in the game; in fact, it's never mentioned at all until the sequel. The game apparently figures you'll figure it out on your own.
Sidequest: Out of 300 missions, 24 are mandatory to complete the game.
The Clan Borzoi sidequests are especially noteworthy. It lasts for 20 missions (Almost as long as the main story itself!) and starts with you fighting a chicken thief and builds up continuously until the finale, where you fight the leader, Gukko/Gutskor, who's been (somehow) transformed into a Lucavi.
Spoony Bard: Gadgeteers are completely useless, save for the rubbishy Black Ingot/Fortune Ring combo. Templars are only nice for their equipment and not for their abilities. Illusionists are only situationally useful at best. It can also be very difficult to build a Blue Mage into a viable character, and Time Mages aren't so hot, either. It's not all that uncommon to just let Montblanc fall behind because of that. The Soldier class is also usually changed as soon as possible.
Magikarp Power: Many classes get poor equipment choices early on, and as equipment teaches skills, end up nigh useless until more items are found; in turn, some of these classes can become quite overpowered.
Spy Speak: Ezel seems rather fond of Cryptic Conversation, even going so far as to mention himself to Marche without actually introducing himself as the Ezel, and will talk in code if you want the latest info on law card prices.
Squishy Wizard: The Nu Mou race is this in all of their job classes except for a select few. Magic based job classes in general also fit into the trope.
Unbreakable in normal combat, certainly, but the Sniper ability Aim:Weapon will happily destroy your only Zeus Mace if you're not careful.
Up the Real Rabbit Hole: The argument over the reality of Ivalice is integral to the plot; regardless of who is right.
Useless Useful Spell: Status ailments are actually quite useful in this game given that a lot of trash mobs don't have debuff immunity. So make your moogle a gunner and that's perhaps one of the best things you can do. You don't even need Ultima from a Mog Knight; you can just have them use stopshot to slow down your enemies or stopshot.
The Guide actually mentions that the Animist ability "Count Sheep" is one of the most useful abilities in the game. The guide actually didn't lie there - it's perhaps one of the most useful ways to shut down enemies, especially since it comes very early in the game compared to say, stopshot or charmshot.
Normally bosses are immune/highly resistant to status ailments; but you can actually inflict blind on the Li-Grim.
Buffs are also useful. One of the most useful is Auto Life.
Videogame Cruelty Potential: If you decline a member from joining the clan, the game really makes you feel like an asshole "*insert name here* runs off crying"
We Cannot Go On Without You: If Marche is left in jail to work off penalties, the entire clan can't act until his sentence is up. If he's KO'd in a Jagd, or red-carded in a battle, it's game over.
What the Hell, Hero?: Marche is frequently questioned on the virtue of his actions, often by people with a vested interest in keeping the current Ivalice intact.
Adaptation Expansion: In its audio adaptation, they added Nono fixing his airship, new characters ("Moogle Knight" and "Madam Kiri"), the arrival of Ritz, Mewt, and Doned, and Montblanc's voice at the very ending of the Radio Drama as a The End... Or Is It?.
Anger Montage: Happens to Mewt starting from Vol. 2. Its result could also be seen in the game.
Or Was It a Dream?: After the supposed ending in the game ends, the music stops, and a voice from Montblanc says towards Marche that he wanted to meet again in the dream. May it be that the dream Ivalice is still there or that it was Montblanc's Final Speech is still a mystery.
What the Hell, Hero?: Mewt and Marche exchange this trope to one and other. Marche says it to Mewt whenever Mewt tried to stop him from bringing the world back to normal. While Mewt does it to Marche for trying to bring the world back to normal.