Part 1: Take a Look, It's in a BookUpdate 1: Take a Look, It's In a Book
In This Update:
- We meet our intrepid protagonist.
- A name for a hero is written.
- The adventure begins!
We've a long, glorious summer vacation ahead of us. Let's get started, shall we?
In-game dialogue will be in normal text. Comments from me will be in italics.
It's a Final Fantasy game, so of course Square Enix is responsible.
Basiscape is the company founded by Hitoshi Sakimoto, composer for this game and other titles, including Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII.
The Ivalice Alliance is a group of related games, all set in the world of Ivalice. It's not really important, but I might talk about it in a later post.
Welcome to Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift!
The "A2" doesn't actually stand for anything. They couldn't call it "Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2" because it's not really a sequel to FFTA and it's not on the Game Boy Advance.
We're playing on Normal difficulty. Hard mode is very lazy, it adds nothing to the game besides buffing the enemies.
Let the adventure begin!
: I'm out the door as soon as the teacher stops talking. Summer homework: keep a journal. That's not too bad. Better write my name on my notebook before I forget.
Meet Luso Clemens, the hero of our story. We can change his first name, if we want. I'd prefer to stick with the default name, but I'm open to suggestions!
: Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy about homework. Just, it could be worse. And I can already guess what my first entry's going to be:
"Summer Vacation, Day 1: Aunt chewed me out. Grounded for a week."
: Maybe this journal thing's not such a great idea after all. Oh, we got another assignment, due today: "My Summer Vacation." We're supposed to write our goals for the summer. Well, here goes...
We take a little multiple-choice quiz. It unlocks something little later later down the road, but is otherwise pointless. These 3 answers give us the best result.
: (I promise not to let the dog eat my homework... Maybe I can find a cat.)
Heh, that all sounds pretty convincing. Summer vacation, here I come!
...Not that I have any idea what I'm doing this summer. But, I guess not having any expectations isn't all bad.
I mean, whatever ends up happening, it'll be a surprise!
: Have a good summer. Class dismissed!
There's an excited murmur in the air as the students leave class for the last time this year.
As an aside, I love how detailed the scenery is. This game's art is detailed and lively -- it's one of my favorite things about it.
Luso, well, he isn't the best student, and it sounds like his home life isn't too great either. He at least seems to have some friends, which is not common for school-aged JRPG protagonists.
: Sorry, but your vacation doesn't start quite yet. Your friends are going home, but you're going straight to the library, young man.
: Aw, c'mon, Mr. Blair! Why?
: Let's take a trip down memory lane... to this morning! When you were late to my class for the - how many times is it now?
: That would be... I don't know.
: Enough times that you've forgotten, apparently! Luso... You're not a bad student by any means. But, occasionally, you require a little... correction, shall we say.
Which is why, I have decided to put you in charge of cleaning up the library. Maybe a little straightening up there will straighten you out, too.
: Look, I see what you're trying to do here. But the last day of school? You gotta be kidding! I mean, it's summer vacation!
: Vacations are to be earned. And you've got a lot of earning to do, my boy. Mr. Randell's down in the library. Don't keep him waiting.
: And don't even think about loafing off or sneaking out. Not unless you want me to pay a visit to your house.
: ...Yes, Mr. Blair. Well, see ya!
Oh, and I hope you have a really, really great summer vacation.
Luso is 90% sarcasm. Seriously.
Despite his initial whining, Luso heads to the library.
Seriously, look at all the little details!
: Huh? I thought Mr. Randell was supposed to be here.
Luso, nosy parker that he is, pokes around the library before stopping at the table. He opens the music box, which plays a cheerful but slightly wistful tune.
: Check out that book! It looks older than Mr. Blair!
: Huh? That's funny. The book just stops halfway through. The pages are all blank! Let's see what the last page with writing on it says...
"One is fated to fill these barren pages. Know you his name?"
: "Know you his name"...? What's with all the backwards words? Well, I never pass up a chance to write in a library book! I'll tell you his name! "His name is... Luso Clemens!"
View this in motion!
Suddenly, everything freezes for a second, and the book starts to glow.
He is suddenly yanked out of the library by the glowing book, and falls a long, long way.
Luso will learn many useful lessons during his summer vacation.
The first: Never write in a library book.
Elsewhere, a forest. Three figures walk into a clearing.
For those of you unfamiliar with this series, going from left to right, we see a Viera White Mage, a Nu Mou Black Mage and a Plot-Relevant Character With a Unique Sprite.
: Oi, oi. What have we here?
The giant bird caws at the strangers.
: Why is it always the vicious ones that pay the worst? 250 gil is barely enough to pay for our time sweeping up the feathers when we're done.
Rendered immobile by its overwhelming girth, the feathered monstrosity caws at the strangers again.
: What, you hungry? Sorry, but I've got higher aspirations than becoming chicken feed. Hop to it then!
The three fighters ready themselves for battle--
View this in motion!
Luso's appearance stuns the beast and the three strangers.
: M-Mr. Randell!?
: You there!
: Ack! Who are you!? You're n-not even human!
: Calm yourself, stranger. We'll protect you, if you'll let us. Join our clan now if you care to live. I hardly need to spell out the alternative.
: Join your what!?
: Our clan. You may be injured, but if you are in our clan, you will not die.
: Why should I trust you?
The bird is starting to recover and screeches loudly.
: Because I can guarantee you'll get no such offer from him!
Got to hand it to Luso: he manages to mostly keep his head despite the situation. First the magical book, then the giant chicken, and now a guy with a mullet and horns is inviting him to join a clan. That's a lot to handle at once.
Though now that I think about it, "Come with me if you want to live" is usually pretty effective, isn't it.
: Swear your oath to the Judge. Say you'll join the clan!
The other two strangers step back, and Blondie McMullet pulls out a card.
View this in motion!
FFTA2 kept the sprite art of FFTA, but it adds a lot of neat visuals and particle effects. I'll show them off where I can.
: That's... a judge?
: Quickly, before the beast has time to act!
: Hey, um, Judge! I swear the oath! Let me in the clan!
Eloquent as always, kiddo.
The Judge raises their sword, and both it and Luso are engulfed in blinding columns of light.
After a moment, the light fades. The Judge is gone, but Luso remains.
Now that is a JRPG makeover!
The ambulatory chicken dinner is no longer stunned, and two side dishes enter the battlefield.
: You're going to fight them?
: Once you stand back as I've told you, yes.
: Hey, let me take a swing at them! I swore my oath. That means I can't die, right?
: Harrumph! Spoken like a true greenhorn! No, you will not die, but get a beak in your eye and you might wish you had.
: Well, I didn't mean I'd go in first or anything. And I'm no fan of getting beaked... But I won't just stand here while you do all the hard work. C'mon, let me fight!
: Hrm... I did not intend to make you fight when I invited you to join us, however... You promise to do exactly as I say?
: Then you may fight. I am Cid. And you are?
: Very well, Luso. We begin!
The tutorial fight finally begins. Klesta, the giant round chicken thing, is our target.
Laws make a return from FFTA, but they're somewhat different. For one, they're based on the quest, not on the day of the month. This one is impossible to break, thankfully.
There's some lore about the laws and Judges, but we'll get into that later. Practically speaking, following the law gets us three benefits:
1. At the end of the battle, we are given 1 - 3 rewards, like equipment or loot.
2. We're allowed to revive any teammates who are KO'd.
3. We are empowered by a Clan Privilege, minor passive buffs that last the whole battle. There isn't one active for this fight, but we'll see them soon.
Break the law, and these benefits are gone. You will get no extra loot, and you lose your clan privilege and can't revive allies for the rest of the battle. The law is well worth following.
And we're off!
Except this is the tutorial battle, so we get a ton of info dumped on us. Our clanmates explain the basic mechanics:
1. Characters' speed determines the move order.
2. Take into consideration the terrain of the battlefield.
3. You can move and perform an action on your turn.
4. Not moving and/or not taking an action makes your next turn come sooner.
5. The race and job of a character both influence speed. (More on that later!)
6. You can choose which direction your character faces at the end of their turn. This is called their "facing", and influences the damage and accuracy of attacks made against them.
Our white mage moves up the hill, near the black mage. White Mages are primarily healers, and there's nothing for her to do since the battle just started.
Actions are things characters can do besides move, such as attacking with a weapon or using an ability. Black mages can use black magick, like the "Fire" spell. Some abilities, like all spells, require Magick Points (MP). You have 0 at the start of the fight, and you gain 10 per turn.
This is a huge nerf from FFTA and makes magick users a bit harder to use. Some fun and easy ways to get around this will open up to us later in the game.
Our black mage moves closer to Klesta and casts Fire on it.
: Think of me as a "guest" in your midst. I might not take orders, but we're on the same side. Try not to forget that in the heat of battle!
Cid is a Guest, an ally that we can't control. We'll be seeing a lot of them throughout the game, and a few of them will actually be useful!
Cid also hints that friendly fire is a thing. You can target and attack your allies, though you probably shouldn't.
We also get introduced to large enemies, like Klesta. They take up a 3x3 square and don't move. It's a neat feature that works great for some monster bosses, but it has some serious limitations.
Cid body slams Klesta, because he's badass like that.
Body Slam is a strong attack, but it deals damage back to the user.
We can also go into "selection mode" before moving, allowing us to inspect the battlefield and look at every unit. Here's the information page for Luso.
On the top screen is the unit's name, number and job. Below that are stats -- Luso is level 1, of course. I'll go into detail about stats later. On the right side we can see Luso's equipment and abilities. "Arts of War" is the Soldier's ability set, and Luso's second A-Ability (Action ability) lets him use items. His R-Ability (Reaction) and P-ability (Passive) slots are empty.
On the bottom screen, we see the summary card on the bottom left, a description of his job in the middle, and a menu for checking more detailed information on the right. "Status" lists all the buffs and debuffs on the character.
We can also use this screen to look at enemies' abilities and equipment. I usually don't bother, because why strategize when I can just attack?
Luso moves up next to Cid and attacks Klesta. We're ignoring the two little butterballs, since they really aren't dangerous.
Klesta, despite being immobile, is dangerous. Its attacks have a huge range and a 2x2 AoE with heavy damage. All of the large enemies have attacks like this, which makes them feel very similar to each other; big piles of HP with large area attacks get boring quickly.
It literally stomps on your head. Painful.
And it hurts. That's over half our health!
But no worries, it's Soo's turn again! Cure is the basic heal spell in the game, as is Final Fantasy tradition. It won't undo all of the damage from Klesta, but it helps.
Also, we probably can't die during this section. FFTA2 is nice like that sometimes.
The battle continues. Klesta stomps on a few more heads, the little chickens peck at us, and we keep focusing Klesta. 33 damage is pretty good at this point in the game -- this is the black magick "Blizzard" spell.
It doesn't take too long to force Klesta to flee. Smell ya later!
: Yeah! That wasn't so bad!
We don't have to kill the little ones, the battle ends after Klesta leaves.
The XP reward screen. Most fights give 60 XP, plus a bonus depending on how well the individual character did. XP scales with your level -- easy fights will give only meager experience.
And the law bonus! We get a Longbow, useful for Archers. The reward is not related to the law, as far as I know, but this first battle is pre-determined.
: Um, Cid? Do you think you could, erm...
: Do not worry. I didn't invite you to join our clan just to abandon you in the wild.
: You mean you'll take me with you? Thanks! I got so caught up in the fight, I kind of forgot... But now that I think of it, I don't have any idea where I am.
Luso really hit the ground running. Doesn't even know where he is, but it only took him five minutes to pick up a weapon and start attacking the natives.
: And I have questions to ask of you. Beginning with how you managed to appear from the empty skies.
Forbidden: Vandalism. Recommended: Cleaning Libraries. Those red cards are powerful.
Luso's stomach growls.
: Ah... I kind of skipped lunch today...
: Ha ha ha! Very well. First order of business is to go home and eat. Then, we talk.
Thus ends Luso's first battle in Ivalice.
The quest reward screen. We get a quest reward (separate from the law bonus), in this case some money and basic loot (essentially crafting materials). Ability Points (AP) are used to learn Abilities. Clan Points (CP) are a currency with a few special uses. Negotiation, Aptitude, Teamwork and Adaptability are our clan's stats; some quests have clan stat requirements that you must meet before you can take them.
Here's the map. The top screen is a summary of our current clan, quests and stats. At the bottom is the date, the 20th of Goldsun. On the bottom screen, we see the weather (raining) and our location (Targ Wood) in the top left. The blue "!" bubble indicates there's a story event at the town, which is where we're headed next.
Inside the pub, Luso and Cid are sitting down to a post-battle meal.
: Hey, I was more surprised than you were. Finding myself in the middle of the woods with that chicken thing and you, Cid... I mean, you're not human! Or a "hume", was it?
Luso is a little rough around the edges but he learns quickly. Cid certainly isn't a hume -- the game treats him as a bangaa, though he obviously isn't a lizard. He's supposedly a Rev (or Revgaji), a race from FFXII.
: Here I thought I was off to clean a library.
: Ah, but you adapted quick... or perhaps it's just that you lack a healthy sense of danger. I've never seen someone eat so well after battle!
: Hey, what can I say? When you gotta eat, you gotta eat!
: Apparently so. But I've changed the subject. You... came here, to our world of Ivalice from somewhere not of Ivalice. Through that book of yours.
: Um, yeah, that's about the size of it... So... how do I get back? My aunt worries if I'm half an hour late home from school. I have to find a way back.
: I took you in, I'll help you find a way back. Back to your world.
: You will?
: I will, lad. I expected as much when we took you into the clan.
: Well, thanks, Cid! I guess I'll do what I can to help the clan out until we find a way back. You got to admit, I pulled my weight back there in the woods, huh?
If I'm stuck here for a while, I might as well enjoy it. I wouldn't mind seeing a bit of this Ivalice place.
: As I said, utterly heedless of danger.
: Heh. I try. So, all the people here are in the clan?
Luso gets up to introduce himself to the other clan members.
: Hey, I'm Luso. Thanks for letting me join you... Um, Cid... does this clan have a name? It must. C'mon, tell me!
Voting for a clan name is now open! Put your suggestions in bold. Nothing like "bonerfarts" or "dickbutt", please, and mind the 9 character limit.
: We're Clan Gully. Not that it's a name many know.
: Right, well... I'm Luso Clemens. A, uh, proud member of Clan Gully! Thanks for taking me. I hope I don't slow you down too much.
The clan gives Luso a warm welcome. The people of Ivalice are friendly! Also, he helped them attach a giant chicken, and I'm sure that endeared him to them.
: So, do clans do much else other than fight monsters?
: You'll find that most work falls along those lines... but there are other things. Available jobs, which we call "quests", are posted at the local pub. There'll be time enough to show you this later.
Translation: Almost every quest will, one way or another, come back to murder.
: You mean we're done for the day?
: That's right. There's your welcoming party to attend to, after all.
: Barman! Refreshments for all!
That's it for the first update! Thank you all for reading. The next update will be up next week.
Remember to vote for the clan name! And I'll also consider any good suggestions for Luso's name. Both can be 9 characters long. Voting will be open for a few days.