One of a small number of black sheep lurking in the herd that is the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance) is nevertheless an enjoyable, quirky strategy RPG that dedicated fans of Final Fantasy and strategy RPGs can sink over a hundred hours into.

With its strange meta plot, questionable protagonist motives, and certain strange gameplay elements that turn many players off, FFTA is a lighter counterpart to the grim, gritty Final Fantasy Tactics, featuring a much simpler, less confusing storyline than the previous Tactics game.

And while Advance is not the first game to feature the world of Ivalice, it has by far the greatest influence in shaping the Ivalice seen in Final Fantasy XII.

The game's basic plot centers around a group of elementary school kids who live in a small, snowy town. One day, they read an ancient book while discussing their favorite video games. They imagine what it would be like if the world of their favorite game, Final Fantasy, were real. That night, St. Ivalice disappears around them, replaced by the land of Ivalice. Alone among the displaced children, Marche Radiuju is determined to find a way to return to the real world, but he faces stiff opposition--not only from his friends and from the Royal Palace, but from his own heart.

The main star of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is of course its gameplay. If you are unfamiliar with strategy RPGs, they are a type of RPG which involves moving a party of characters (or "units") on an isometric battle map, where they engage in turn-based combat with a party of enemy units. Members of your party not only earn experience and level up through battle, but also change "job classes" to master a wide array of abilities. The job system expands gameplay and adds challenges and a depth of play as players choose jobs for their units, choose what skills to assign to those units, and choose which units to send into any given battle. A wide variety of physical and magical skills await players as they battle their way across Ivalice, uncovering the secrets behind the fantasy land and its connection to reality.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is the intellectual property of Square-Enix.