Return of the little people

Ever one to do things backwards, now that I’ve reviewed Final Fantasy Tactics A2 I’ve decided that this is as good a time as any to go back and finally finish its GBA predecessor. I’d played about 9 hours before losing interest back when it was released, but when I booted up my save file this week I had no idea what was going on in the story, or how I had intended to develop my party. So, back to square one.

Seven hours later, I’m surprised to discover that I like the GBA iteration quite a bit more than the DS version. Not that A2 is bad or anything, but I’m finding quite a bit of underlying substance to the first game that I didn’t pick up on when I played it in 2003. There is a good reason for this: Much of what I’m noticing now are elements that connect it to Final Fantasy XII, which of course no one had played five years ago. It’s a certain undercurrent of subtleties that I’m having trouble pinning down precisely (as well as obvious elements, like pieces of music that showed up again in FFXII), but it’s definitely there. Despite the insubstantial story — well, initially insubstantial, I should say — Final Fantasy Tactics Advance feels like it belongs to Matsuno’s universe, while FFTA2 feels more in keeping with Revenant Wings. Which is fine and all, but… I know which I prefer.

On a random amusing note, Nich left a save file on this cart which I’m keeping for sentimental reasons. Well, sentimental reason: He named his clan “Gamentia,” which is one of the terrible, awful, ridiculous names we considered for the website we were helping to plan at the time before deciding that our first instinct was correct and that we should go ahead and call it Goofy, huh? But Gamentia still beats some of the other suggestions a think tank came up with for us. My favorite is still “Varnishing” — apparently because if you look hard, it has the word “game” in there! Yeah. Money well spent.

13 thoughts on “Return of the little people

  1. At first I read that as “Vanishing America” and thought it might be meant as out of place or maybe even ironic name signifying that video games are robbing America of its youth/strength/whatever. Then I realized it’s actually ‘varnishing’.

  2. Like FFTA better than FFTA2? I think any excitement I had for FFTA2 just died.

  3. Gamentia is actually a pretty good name! At least nobody would’ve been able to accuse of ripping off Raina Lee, eh?

  4. I don’t think anyone ever made that accusation, and Raina did freelance work for ZD well after 1UP’s launch, so clearly there were no hard feelings….

  5. I got alllll the way to the last-battle marathon in FFTA, then got soundly smacked down and never went back to beat it. That was like four years ago; I really should finish it off someday.

  6. Ahh, I’m so glad. I’ve always really liked FFTA, and your taste in games, Jeremy, and I found it bugged me a surprising amount when you would diss FFTA, as I usually don’t let those kind of disagreements in taste bother me. On a less positive note, even casual comparisons to the substance free revenant wings are absolutely terrifying! Previously my most anticipated DS title, now it’s fingers crossed that I’ll still enjoy it!

  7. Weird. I’m playing through FFTA for the first time at the moment, and I’m having the same experience. After playing FFXII (and absolutely loving it), the Ivalice touches in this game make it much more enjoyable.

    Still, I find the game can’t hold a candle to War of the Lions.

  8. Gamentia? Ha! What a ridiculously terrible name.
    Glad ye went with 1up.

  9. I played FFTA to the very end and found it compelling from the get-go to the last battle. I was exhausted by the time I finished it (over 90-some odd hours) but I don’t regret it. And for some reason the introductory fights/lessons in the school get so much hate but I found them incredibly refreshing and endearing. if FFTA2 has any shred of the flavor of the previous, I’m gonna be satisfied.

  10. Same as Sarcasm; all the way to last set of bosses, got beat, wasn’t interested in levelling (or unable to? I seem to remember it really locks you in somehow) and being unable to skip cutscenes really killed any desire I had to retry the battles.

    Really enjoyed it up to that point, though. If for no other reason than I got to decide where to place lands a la Legend of Mana and I am a sucker for that.

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