Oh boy, here we go.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is one of my favorite video games of all time.
Many claim that the original FFT on the Playstation is the best one. Having not played it, I can't say for myself how good it is. Others flock towards the sequel to this game, citing a number of gameplay improvements that I have experienced, and like some of. However, I feel that the thoroughly bland story was too much of a waste (though the side plots could easily have been their own games.
It was a day like any other...
A group of children is playing and talking at a school in the snow. At the blow of a whistle, the 8 kids disperse into two loose, even groups of four.
Boy: Aww, man! Why do I get stuck on the weak team? We're just gonna lose. Where's the fun in that?
This boy, and two friends on the other side of the area, start teasing one of the others, a frizzy-haired guy named Mewt Randell. A blonde boy with Idiot Hair steps closer to the scene.
Boy: What's your problem, new kid?
Sounds like our hero.
Boy in Hat: Leave him alone. He's not going to say anything anyway.
Sounds like our hero.
Boy in Hat: He's like a little girl!
Sounds like our he - no, wait, that's not right.
Girl with Pink Hair: Hey! That's gender discrimination! And I know some "little girls" who can kick your butt!
Sounds and looks like important. This girl's name is Ritz Malheur, as the original boy is quick to mention, and also call out. Ritz proposes that she and the boy (Lyle) switch teams. She advises the blonde Idiot Hair kid to speak up, starting with his name.
At this point, it is the player's job to choose it. The default is Marche, which is a region in Italy, a different region in France, and shorthand for a town in Belgium. I only know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I only did that because I thought it was French. I turned out to be right. (You can't change his last name, which is always Radiuju, although this is never mentioned.)
I give him the name Amiah, which I (almost) got off a random name generator (the one I got there had a Greek ending instead). For some reason I have terrible indecisiveness whenever I get to this part of the game.
Amiah: You don't have to apologize, Mewt. You haven't done anything wrong.
Wait, what happened to our Heroic Mime?
Ritz calls out to a teacher, who apparently is in charge of organized snowball fighting.
Read that sentence again.
Why couldn't my school have had anything like that? It's not like it doesn't snow where I live.
Cue music change and the beginning of mock combat.
Ritz and the teacher explain the controls and what you can do on your turn.
- Move: This lets your character move around on the field up to the number of squares of their Move statistic, which is usually 3 or 4. If uneven terrain is involved, then the Jump stat may come into play and limit your options. Moves can be undone as many times as you like.
- Action: Everything else. The default attack command is "Fight", but for this tutorial battle, all characters have only the ability "Snowball", which deals 1 damage to a target up to 4 squares away.
- Wait: End the character's turn early, which will make the next one come around sooner.
Ritz throws a snowball at Lyle, which misses (hey, we're still in a cutscene here!)
At the end of your turn, you choose what character your direction is facing, which affects how easy attacks against him or her will land.
Ritz moves back to where she was.
One of the other things they pointed out was that Speed determines the move order. Of all units on the field now, the one with the best Speed is Ritz, allowing her to go first.
The AI for enemies in this battle always goes after Mewt.
When Marche's turn comes up, the teacher advises him to try to throw from the side or behind an enemy.
- All units have an Evade statistic. The default seems to be 50.
- Attacks on a unit from the front have a percent chance to hit equal to 100-the target's Evade.
- Attacks on a unit from the side have a percent chance to hit equal to 100-half the target's Evade.
- Attacks on a unit from behind have a percent chance to hit equal to 100-one quarter of the target' Evade.
A few status effects (namely, Blind, Stop, Sleep, and Petrify) can affect the accuracy of an attack, but those are for later.
After Ritz goes twice, more cutscene.
Trivia: Mewt has only 8 HP in this "battle" - it is thoroughly possible for him to die, but only if everyone else attacks him and hits. And if he does, nothing will happen.
The other team keeps pelting Mewt with snowballs. One of them has a rock hidden in it, which causes him to start bleeding. To make matters worse, it was a headshot. Then the other guys continue teasing.
Lyle: He's an easy target, and we've gotta get points, right?
Ritz: So the end justifies the means? You guys are horrible!
I love Ritz.
The bullies then draw up that she dyes her hair. Apparently its natural color is white. She takes offense and is probably about to punch someone.
...but then the teacher calls everything off. He ends school early, and wants to see the bullies after class, which is a quick transition to the same map away.
Ritz, Mewt, and Amiah talk about stuff, including Amiah's hospitalized younger brother Doned - they just have to take him there sometimes. I'm not sure what vague incurable disease does that to a person but whatev.
Mewt goes off to buy a fantasy book, with arrangements made to meet up at Amiah's later.
Only a little bit later, in the streets...
Scruffy Man: Gosh, I'm really sorry.
Mewt: Uh oh...
The scruffy man who is not Bang Shishigami is addressed as Mr. Randell and is, of course, Mewt's dad. There was some sort of work-related incident. Mewt reveals this is because his mom is dead and now dad doesn't care anymore. And then Ritz says (only after Amiah has left, of course) that she heard Amiah "doesn't have a dad", leading to an obvious potential Pair the Spares (even if Amiah's mom is never shown on screen).
Later, at Amiah's house...
The four kids meet up and open up Mewt's fancy-looking book, which turns out to be full of unreadable glyphs, dead languages, and at least one magic circle.
Obviously, magic is afoot. They talk a little bit about "if X were real, what would you want X to be" and then Ritz and Mewt head home.
I've always assumed Amiah's room to be upstairs for some reason. This makes a self-inflicted Fridge Logic moment when Doned heads for the door for his medicine at the end of the scene... how does he get down?
There are a few vignettes of the town at night, followed by a couple scenes of it being replaced by various other landscapes.
To be continued.