The game's story centers on four children; Marche, Mewt, Ritz, and Doned, who live in a small town named St. Ivalice. The children are transported to a realm of the same name as their town, "Ivalice", after discovering an ancient magical book. The story then focuses on the exploits of Marche as he attempts to return to the real world while facing opposition from those around him.
Tactics Advance is one of the initial products from the cooperation of Square and Nintendo made for the Game Boy Advance console; it was developed by the team brought over from the game company Quest Corporation. Following its release, Tactics Advance-themed merchandise was introduced. The game was positively received. It has a sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 for the Nintendo DS.
In Tactics Advance, turn-based tactical battles take place on a three-dimensional isometric field. The player takes the role of Marche, a clan leader; he must organize the clan's members and advance their status through missions that are offered in pubs. The player competes against the computer's team in turn-based play, although unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, characters execute their actions instantly.
Missions are tasks undertaken by a clan. There are four types of missions: regular, encounter, dispatch, and area. In regular missions, Marche's entire party ventures to a particular location to do battle. Many of these missions are used to advance the story. In encounter missions, Marche's group battles a rival mercenary clan by purchasing a mission or meeting them on the map. In dispatch missions, which do not involve battle, Marche temporarily sends away one member from his party. Area missions are usually a dispatch mission where Marche's clan can liberate certain regions to obtain bonuses and discounts at shops.
The world map is initially empty except for the starting location; it is customized as the player wins location "tokens" after certain missions. These tokens represent different terrains and settlements, such as plains, mountains, deserts, forests, and towns, that can be placed in slots on the world map. Items are rewarded to the player depending on the placement of the tokens. Ivalice also introduces areas called jagds, lawless slums that Judges avoid. Jagd is a German word which means the hunt. Jagds are the only places in the game in which a character can die; everywhere else, they are protected from death by the Judges and are simply knocked out.
Tactics Advance also offers multiplayer capability for two players. Players may cooperate or compete using a link-cable peripheral, and also trade items and party members. Additional missions and items are also offered when players link.
Units have a primary job which determines the stat boosts they receive when they level up and the attributes associated with that class. A unit may also have a secondary job, where they can use any abilities of the selected job, but with the stat profile of the primary job. For example, an Assassin with a Sniper secondary job could use abilities from both jobs, but has the stat profile and appearance of an Assassin, its primary job.
Tactics Advance also introduces five playable races: Humans, the small rodentlike Moogles, the strong lizardlike Bangaa, the agile rabbitlike Viera, and the magically-skilled Nu Mou. Certain jobs are only available to certain races. Along with the abilities obtained with experience, each race has a guardian beast called a "Totema" to represent them and which can be summoned to their aid when a member of that race has 10 Judge Points.
To offset the difficulty of having things forbidden for use, there are certain things that are recommended by the Judges, and therefore grant Judge Points. Judge Points (JP) are used to carry out combos with nearby allies or to summon a Totema. JP are also received upon killing an opponent. Later in the game, the player gains the ability to add new Laws and cast "Anti-Laws," which can nullify laws that are already in effect.
Within Ivalice, there are other characters that help advance the plot. Some characters befriended Marche, such as the moogles Montblanc and Nono; Ezel Berbier, a Nu Mou troublemaker and self-proclaimed genius; and Shara, a Viera archer who befriends Ritz. There are other characters who antagonize Marche, including Babus Swain, a Nu Mou Royal mage in Mewt's service; Llednar Twem, a mysterious enforcer who replaces the Judges when they become independent of the Palace; and Queen Remedi, who is the ruler of Ivalice and was in the Gran Grimoire itself in a form modeled after Mewt's deceased mother.
Ivalice is a world created by four ordinary children: Marche Radiuju, a new student and resident of St. Ivalice and its school; Mewt Randell, a shy boy still attached to the memory of his late mother; Ritz Malheur, a loud and outspoken classmate of Marche and Mewt; and Doned Radiuju, Marche's younger, handicapped brother and a big fan of fantasy novels and video games. Mewt comes across a dusty old tome in a local used bookstore and eagerly wishes to show it to his friends. Unaware that the book is the legendary Gran Grimoire, Mewt brings the book over to Marche's house along with Ritz. The old book is written in a language none of them have ever seen before, and a single inscription reads: "Alta oron, Sondus kameela". The next morning, Marche wakes up in the world of Ivalice. The fantasy Ivalice is supposedly a reincarnation of Mewt's memories from a Final Fantasy game.
Marche is separated from the others, and immediately begins a quest to return home. Even after realizing how much better his life is in the new Ivalice, he knows that none of it is real and is even more determined to return to his home. The other children, and Mewt's father Cid, slowly realize through Marche's efforts that the world has been shaped according to their wishes. Mewt is no longer being teased, is reunited with his deceased mother, and is now the Prince of Ivalice; Ritz no longer has her white albinic hair, instead having the silky red hair which she always wanted; Doned can now walk and is no longer sickly; Marche is suddenly athletic and powerful; Cid is the highest-ranking official in the nation; and all of them now live in Final Fantasy, the video game the children all love.
Eventually Marche succeeds in his quest to return Ivalice to normal, teaching the other children in the process that they cannot live in fantasy but must learn to live with their misfortunes in reality. The other children are wiser from the experience, as the ending reveals them all to have become happy with themselves.
In addition to the main plot, there are two side plots: the Redwing Arc and the Judge Arc. The Redwing Arc centers around the Redwings clan, a foreign crime ring, their subordinate clan Borzoi, and their smuggled foreign monsters. The other is the Judge Arc, unlockable after beating the main three hundred missions. This serves as an alternative ending where Marche stays in Ivalice, overthrows corrupt judges, and becomes next in line for Cid's judge sword.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance uses the gameplay of Final Fantasy Tactics, but introduced certain changes such as a customizable map for the world of Ivalice. While built for the Game Boy Advance, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's graphics are vibrantly colored and extensively detailed, and though environments and characters are wholly sprite-based, facial expressions are easily identifiable and many motion frames have been given to create a smooth animation. The game also introduced an option to switch between three display modes. Two of the modes are optimized for gameplay on Game Boy Advance and the new Game Boy Advance SP, and one mode may display the game into a television screen using certain peripherals.
In Japan, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's story was expanded and broadcast in Japanese radio stations. The radio drama entitled Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition was broadcast in four radio stations within Japan from early January 2003 to late March 2003.
|Marche Radiuju||Yuka Imai|
|Ritz Malheur||Yumi Kakazu|
|Mewt Randell||Asami Sanada|
|Ezel Berbier||Wataru Takagi|
|Babus Swain||Kumi Sakuma|
|Cid Randell||Yasuyuki Kase|
|Doned Radiuju||Hiromi Ishikawa|
|Llednar Twem||Hikaru Midorikawa|
|Queen Remedi||Yoshiko Sakakibara|
|Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud||Mitsuaki Madono|
|Ultima, the High Seraph||Kaho Kōda|
|Adrammelech, the Wroth||Toshiyuki Morikawa|
Reviewers were pleased with graphics and visuals of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance; GameSpot adding that the battles are "clear and colorful", and character jobs are easily identified, though gameplay becomes slow when too many character sprites are in one screen. The gameplay is also lauded for retaining the elements of Tactics Ogre yet offers freedom to players to develop characters as they wish. Criticism was thrown to the game's menu, which was cluttered with complicated options in organizing the clan members, and did not detail out statistics for characters and equipment. Some reviewers thought there are too many character jobs since some jobs overlap one another and certain abilities are redundant.