Video Game Journal #3
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
System: Nintendo DS
Developer/Publisher: Square Enix
Released: June 24th, 2008
I bought this game at Movie Gallery because I loved the first Final Fantasy Tactics.
Ah, Movie Gallery. I got a lot of handheld games from them. But a few years later, they became a different business, and while they still offered hoew new games for rent, their selection of games for purchase became much poorer. It’s like they had the same stagnant selection of games all of the time. Wanna know what one of the few recent games they offered up was? The infamous Ride to Hell: Retribution. So yeah, Movie Gallery turned into quite the disappointment.
I started this journal to keep track of my Clan’s evolution.
Like Soul Nomad and the World Eaters, but unlike Silent Hill Origins, my journal for FFTA2: GotR was started after I started the game.
Journal Started: 9/28/2008
What Came Before
The day before summer vacation, spunky Luso was forced to clean up the school library. Once there, he found a crazy-old book. Inside, there was naught but empty pages except for one that said, “One is fated to fill these barren pages. Know you his name?”
And suddenly, without warning, Luso was taken into the world of the book.
He found himself smack-dab in the middle of Clan Gully’s battle with a giant cockatrice. After he helped them out, Luso joined the Clan.
Ever since, Clan Gully completed various quests posted at pub billboards. One mission led Luso into a vision of a strange realm, and so, Clan Gully decided to try to investigate it.
OK, so the story is not great. At least it’s translated well, unlike Final Fantasy Tactics.
At least in its original PlayStation release. It may be one of the lowest-quality translations in comparison to the quality of the rest of the game, ever. “I gotta good feeling!”
Luso (Hume), a nice, simple-minded kid. He lost his parents and is being raised by his aunt.
Cid, a robust Rengaji (a race rarely seen in the world of Ivalice) who is the leader of Clan Gully. He has mastered the Jobs of the Bangaa. A mysterious past sometimes resurfaces in the form of paid killers that can’t quite do their job.
Adelle (Hume), a greedy little bandit that is sometimes known as “The Cat”. She seems to have inherited some kind of power from her deceased parents. We only know this from when Luso became unconscious after a monster attack, and saw the mystery realm and into Adelle and Cid’s pasts.
Hurdy (Moogle), a darling little Bard. Little brother to Montblanc (a character from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance) and Nono. After Clan Gully made an instrument for him, he decided to tag along, feeling that their adventures could inspire some new material.
Vaan (Hume), a character from Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy: Revenant Wings. A young Sky Pirate, he is more of a Robin Hood kind of guy. His blue eyes could melt a glacier.
Penelo (Hume), a cheerful dancer and Vaan’s girlfriend.
We only met these two once during a quest where Vaan competed with us. Since he’s nice, even though we got the reward, he directed us toward a treasure in an undead-infested swamp.
The People of Ivalice
Hume: All humes can perform in areas of magickal and physical expertise. Only male humes can battle in A2, with the exception of Adelle, and maybe other women we have yet to encounter.
Viera, beautiful, lithe creatures with long ears. Since only female viera go into battle, we can presume that the viera’s is a matriarchal society.
Moogle: Unique, adorable critters. Long a Final Fantasy staple, the moogles in Tactics Advance take to the battlefield for the first time since Final Fantasy VI. And they rock.
Moogles are one of my favorite FF traditions. They never fail to delight.
Nu Mou, vaguely canine creatures with magickal expertise. Like moogles, they do not do well with water.
Bangaa, sturdy reptilian warriors.
Seeq, vaguely porcine creatures with a focus on physical combat.
Gria, cute females with draconic wings. The fact that the last two races have but eight classes between them gives the impression that they were less developed than the other races.
A classic guide in Tips & Tricks for the original Tactics judged the jobs from one to four stars. I shall do the same with the jobs I’ve used most extensively.
Soldiers (Hume) **
Fairly average job. It takes a while to learn new skills. A soldier is seriously annoying to fight against with their Rend skills.
Thief (Hume, Moogle) ***
Very useful, agile niche class. Stealing stuff from nemeses is super fun.
White Mage (Hume, Nu Mou, Viera) **
Straightforward magick class. Cure and Cure are surprisingly weak spells, making them scarcely more useful than a Hi-Potion.
This seems a bit unfair, because the White Mage is useful; it’s just not as exciting as some of the later jobs that you can unlock that let you do all that and a bag of chips.
Black Mage (Hume, Moogle, Nu Mou) ****
Very important class for gaining higher-level magickal jobs. Superior elemental damage-dealing prowress.
Archer (Hume, Viera) **
Superior range, but any Archer needs to use Focus to dish out any real damage.
Paladin (Hume) ***
Strong warrior class with caretaking ability.
Blue Mage (Hume) ***
By far the most masochistic class. Blue mages learn monster skills used on them. Best when teamed up with a Beastmaster. It can be frustrating to figure out what skills can and can’t be learned by your blue mage.
I find blue mage and blue mage-type characters fun in RPGs. I learned years later when I finally got a computer with internet that some of the least popular FF party members in their respective games were blue mages, like Kimahri Ronso in Final Fantasy X and Quina Quen in Final Fantasy IX. Kimahri is criticized for not being as useful as the other characters because he is a jack of all trades where all of the other characters are specialized.
Bravely Default has its own equivalent to the blue mage job, except that it’s called Vampire, and it is awesome.
Hunter (Hume, Gria) ***
Niche abilities centered on monsters. Stronger from turn to turn than archers.
Fencer (Viera) **
Niche close-combat abilities. Surprisingly fragile.
Green Mage (Viera) ***
Niche magick class centered on giving buffs and debuffs to other units.
Red Mage (Viera) ***
Combines the green mage and fencer jobs, with the bonus of white and black magick capabilities.
Sniper (Viera) ***
Like the ranger with debuff and stalking capabilities.
Animist (Moogle) **
Grants buffs and debuffs with animal themes. Rarely loaded up in enemy forces, which should tell you something right there.
Moogle Knight (Moogle) ****
Like the soldiers, but with better and more unique capabilities.
Fusiliers (Moogle) ****
Look out when our fluffy friends pack heat – this is perhaps the most powerful ranged job in the game. Also carries debuff and elemental capabilities.
Cannons are fun. BOOM!
Tinker (Moogle) **
The unique ability of this class is completely random, granting buffs or debuffs on yours or the enemy’s squad.
Beastmaster (Nu Mou) ***
A deceptively useful class, and vital if you want to exploit the blue mage job to its fullest. Their movement range is also good – except when it comes to water.
Illusionist (Nu Mou) **
Unusual magickal class that automatically targets all nemeses. The hitch: their spells are expensive, and you will most likely be unable to pop one off at the start of a battle.
One feature of this game had all units start off with no MP. Some MP is restored each turn. That way, you can’t use your best magic right off the bat.
Alchemist (Nu Mou) **
Nichey, debuff-focused magick class. Worth it for the Item Lore skill alone.
Sage (Nu Mou) **
Focused on debuffs and elemental damage that isn’t fire, ice, or lightning.
Warrior (Bangaa) **
Essentially the same as the soldier class.
White Monk (Bangaa) **
An unusual warrior class held back by its weak armor choices.
Dragoon (Bangaa) **
A legendary class in FFT, the dragon-themed warriors seem nerfed for this title. They trade mobility for jumping ability. Their spears’ range can be a liability. Elemental damage capability.
Gladiator (Bangaa) **
An average job that shares some skills with the white monk. Elemental damage capability.
Bishop (Bangaa) *
Second-rate white mage.
Cannoneer (Bangaa) ***
Now we’re talkin’! All hand cannons are awesomely powerful, and any cannoneer brings some quirky skills to the table. It is the only ranged-combat class that can heal other units with its ammo!
Well… besides the Fusilier…
Berserker (Seeq) **
A slightly more powerful version of the white monk.
Ranger (Seeq) **
Unusual, annoying ranged-combat class. Their trapping skills are gimmicky.
Raptor (Gria) ***
Like the awesomest soldier/warrior that never was. Capable of debuffs with higher power.
Apparently, after you finish a certain number of quests, the game gives you special statues for the upper screen. After 50 quests, I got a Montblanc figure. I wonder who I will get after my hundredth?
Privileges grant bonuses to a clan throughout a battle. Here are Gully’s.
Power ^ 1, Agility ^ 1, Speed ^1, Luck 2: Default privileges
Libra: Reveals all traps on battlefield. Gained after turning game on with FFTA in the DS’ Game Boy Advance cartridge slot.
Empowered Humes/Bangaa/Nu Mou, Safe Keeping: Prevents items from being stolen or broken. Gained from Clan Trials.
This is yet another addictive aspect of A2.
Jobs, like in the other Tactics games, are unlocked depending on how much you’ve leveled up in other jobs. Once they’re leveled up enough, they can change to a new job. However, the Tactics Advance games added another wrinkle in terms of how you learn new skills. You have to seek out new equipment to teach your soldiers new spells/attacks. It’s pretty cool.
A Present-Day Digression: Ride to Hell: Retribution
How bad is RtH:R? This bad:
Also, this bad:
The story of the game’s development, touched upon in Angry Joe’s review, is a bit of a winding tale. It was originally announced as an open-world biker game. I recall seeing it when it was a cover story for the defunct play magazine. I forgot that I’d seen it then until I was reminded that the game was originally announced way back then. I actually first read about it in Game Informer and even watched their Test Chamber vid on it:
I thought this game was going to go down in history for its badness, and the internet hasn’t let me down in that regard. The game was eventually pulled from Steam altogether, its proposed spinoffs have vanished, and the developer, Eutechnyx, doesn’t list the game on their website.
A later Eutechnyx game (Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance) wound up on Angry Joe’s list of the 10 worst games of 2014, for what it’s worth…