Today I’ll be looking at one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, specifically its first boss. Unlike the other Final Fantasy games, this one works differently in that you can have as many as eight party members in battle, and battles take place in a large map where you have to move about to attack your enemies. This adds quite a different dynamic to battles, certainly, as well as the fact that your characters can all have whatever moveset you like thanks to the various jobs in the game that they can switch between. No two playthroughs of the game will be quite the same, and your characters can end up very different. All of this makes for very interesting strategies to be used.
        As for the story, it starts with a kid named Marche who has moved into the town of Ivalice, where he quickly makes friends with Mewt, who was being picked on by bullies, and Ritz, who was trying to protect Mewt as well. This is during a snowball fight, which is used to explain the controls of the game- all techniques have a certain range, and become more or less accurate depending on what direction the enemy is facing.(healing spells and the like, unless you’re targeting an undead, always work.) If an enemy is facing you directly, you generally have a 50% chance, while from the sides and especially from the back are better chances.
        As the practice fight goes on, you see the bullies deliberately ignore all other targets and constantly attack Mewt- the cutscene after the match is over shows this off especially, forcing Ritz and Marche to intervene to stop them- though not before one of the others tosses a snowball with a rock in it, making him bleed. They then go on to insult Ritz when she tries to defend the boy, revealing that her red hair is actually white, simply dyed red. A teacher intervenes before she can deck the guy for saying it, though I certainly wish he hadn’t.
        Afterwards, Mewt talks to the two and says that he’s going to the library to pick up a book on ‘magic and monsters’ and Marche asks him to bring it to his house afterward to show them all, but in particular his brother Doned, who likes that sort of thing. They run into Mewt’s dad afterward, who, while nice, doesn’t seem very capable at whatever job he does, having lost his will to do much of anything after Mewt’s mother passed away.
        Later, we see Marche at home with his brother in a wheelchair, before his friends arrive with the book. It is so old they cannot make out the title, much less understand the writing, possibly Latin, but nevertheless it does seem interesting- it has magic circles and so forth, leading them to ponder if it’s actually a book of spells. Mewt muses about the existence of magic, and asks if the others ever wanted for a story or world in a book to be real.
        Ritz says she wouldn’t, but video games are a different story, and in particular Final Fantasy would be Mewt’s choice. After saying that, they stopped reading to go their separate ways, but as they slept through the night, the book seemed to have heard their words, Mewt’s in particular, and unleashed a vast spell to change the world into that of Final Fantasy, splitting them all up in the process.
        Marche quickly runs into trouble by freaking out on seeing a Bangaa for the first time, calling him a lizard. He didn’t take too kindly to the slur and challenges Marche to a fight, or “engagement”. Marche of course has no idea what to do, but he is quickly saved by the mage Montblanc, who explains how engagements work.
        While the snowball fight before told you about basic combat, the actual engagements are a tad more complicated- A Judge oversees them, and enforces certain rules. For this particular fight, the law says that items cannot be used, for instance. If the law is broken, you are penalized after the battle, and if you break them too often, the offending character will be sent to jail, forcing you to go to said jail to bail them out, or wait until they can be released.
        Judges also move around periodically, though less often than anyone else, cannot be attacked, and cause the bodies of defeated characters to change positions, sometimes out of the way, sometimes in your path. They award Judge Points with every enemy a character beats, as well as fulfilling a certain condition to do with the current laws. For instance, that first battle outlaws items, but any dark element abilities would earn you immediate Judge Points, not that you have any.
        Judge Points can be used to activate Combos abilities, assuredly hitting the enemy they’re used on and, if you have other able members of your party nearby, they’ll join in to do even more damage.
        Engagement rules aside, Marche makes it through the battle thanks to his new friend, who then takes him to see his clan- basically a group of people who work together to accomplish missions for money. Marche joins the clan, and soon they start taking on missions.
        Anyway, now that these rules and story are known, we can move on. Eventually you get the mission “Twisted Flow”, where a Time Mage noticed a strange distortion along the Ulei River, seeing the river bend and twist unnaturally, but no one else seems to notice. So, Marche’s clan is paid to investigate.
        When they arrive at the river, things seem normal at first… but then a distortion in space appears, a sort of bubble of inverted color that vanishes as soon as it came- only for a bigger one to appear and suck Marche, and presumably his clan, along with him. He wakes up in a strange place, apparently inside the distortion itself. It appears to be some sort of grand chamber, like one may see in a temple’s ruins, with a massive glowing crystal in the back of it. Curious, Marche approaches, realizing that this crystal’s magic is behind the distortion, and that his getting close to that accidentally lead him inside to the crystal.
        He decides to find out what the crystal does, but only after wisely looking for a way out. As he starts to walk away, however, a voice speaks. “Speak your name, you who profane the light!” A massive creature emerges from the crystal, again demanding his name. Marche gives his name, then demands theirs. The creature identifies itself as the Totema Famfrit, the wielder of the power, the protector.
        Marche realizes from this that Famfrit assumes he is a threat to the crystal, and tries to explain he came here by accident, but Famfrit simply states he is ordered to expel all intruders, and creates another distortion with his power, summoning monsters to aid his battle against Marche. And so, the battle begins.
        You can have up to five extra people from your clan to help you here- the law is whatever law applied when you entered the mission, as always. Famfrit’s helpers are two Floateyes and two Ahrimans, stronger versions of Floateyes. They’re basically bat-like creatures with giant eyes, meaning they can fly anywhere they wish, giving them a lot more maneuverability than you in most cases, as they are unimpeded by terrain. Both variations are fast and maneuverable, but not very durable.
        Floateyes, like all monsters, have specific skills, though not all of their kind will have all their abilities at once. In this case, one Floateye, at level 5, will have the ability Devil Gaze, which inflicts the Silence and Darkness status effects in an area two spaces ahead of it. Silence stops the afflicted from using magic, and darkness reduces their accuracy, making them less likely to hit at all. This can be crippling if it gets a lot of shots off with that trick.
        That particular Floateye also has a support ability, Weapon Defense+, which simply means hits from weapons won’t be as effective. Still, this does nothing for longer ranged magic, and he has the lowest level of the bunch, so he shouldn’t be hard to remove before he causes too much trouble.
        The second Floateye is at level 6, as are the two Ahrimans. This one has the ability Stare, which confuses everything it faces. Confusion makes the affected unit attack and use abilities at random on random targets, as well as reducing their ability to dodge by 10. If this happens, you’d best fix it and fast. Its support ability is Counter, which as the name implies lets it counter a physical attack with one of its own. Still, it isn’t known for its physical ability, so that really is the least of the Floateye’s dangers.
        The first Ahriman has the ability Circle. This lowers the target’s attack power, both physical and magical. Further, it has the support ability Weapon Attack+, so it will hit harder in general itself. The second Ahriman is more of a danger, having not only Circle, also Roulette. This deadly ability simple starts a roulette, which will eventually land on someone, and cast the Death spell on them, killing them instantly. This obviously cannot be allowed. Granted, given your numbers and theirs, there is a chance that half the time it would hit its own forces rather than yours, or even itself, but it is best not to take that chance. Complicating things is that this particular Ahriman will try to get as far away as it can before casting it, meaning you won’t reach it quickly, and it has the ability Block Arrows, meaning exactly that- arrows don’t work on it. The only real way to take this one down quickly is with magic.
        Now that the minions are out of the way, lets look at Famfrit himself. This guy is three levels ahead of the rest, and his stats are tremendous. In particular, his health, defense, and magic defense are all incredible, meaning he will last a very long time no matter how you attack him. His attack and magic attack are also very high, though the former is better than the latter. His only real issues are that his MP and speed are average, meaning he will probably be moving after all his minions. He also cannot fly like them, limiting his mobility down to your own levels.
        As for his capabilities, he firstly has three unique powers of his own- Breath of God, an area spell that hits everything around his target, basically the same as the White Monk ability Far Fist. Presence damages the target and knocks them back a step. Finally he has Lightspeed, which essentially punches the enemy so quickly they cannot react, making such skills like Counter useless.
        He then has two abilities take from the Time Mage job- Demi and Slow. Demi, if it connects, halves the target’s health. Slow does exactly as the name suggests and slows them down, meaning their turn to move will come much later than usual. Lastly, he has Weapon Attack+ and Counter as well.
        So now that we know all that, let’s put it in perspective; we have a boss that can take quite a few hits, but doesn’t move especially fast. His minions can fly just about anywhere and quickly, in contrast. They can weaken you in various ways, but one in particular can cast a random Death spell, a very dangerous if untargeted threat. Famfrit himself can slow down a target, hit multiple people at once if they are close enough together, counter physical attacks, ignore your own counters, half your health, and in general hit really hit in every way.
        So how do we deal with this? Well, the usual strategy is to take out the minions first- fast though they are, they are also rather weak, and it is of course possible for you to be faster. In particular that one Ahriman with Roulette should be a target. Once their treat is done with, you can all deal with Famfrit, who will almost certainly be slower than most of you. At that point as long as you remain somewhat spread out and strike from a distance, he wouldn’t be much of an issue. If you feel your physical battler, assuming you have one, can go up against him, do so by all means- it will also likely distract him from the others, and if he chooses to pester them, then he is leaving himself open in turn.
        Alternatively, the mission does end when Famfrit is beaten. You don’t have to deal with the minions at all if you choose to ignore them. Given their various abilities, however, you had best do so quickly, which due to Famfrit’s strengths is not likely. Level of course is also a factor- while it isn’t likely for you to be very far ahead of the enemies at this point, there is nothing stopping you from putting off the mission as long as you wish, meaning you could very well end up far enough ahead as to make this battle trivial. But of course, one can never assume it will be.
        In any case, that about covers Famfrit. Once you defeat the Totema, you will find out a little more about him and the crystal- Marche demands to know what it is and why he is protecting it. Famfrit says it is the ‘thread that binds our world. The world I was born to protect!’ He says that he was born with ‘the white ones’ and that they are the source of his power. Marche deduces he means the Moogle race. Famfrit adds that if they wish it, he will grant Marche his power. With that, he vanishes, and his crystal shatters.
        Marche is warped back to the river, but not before seeing what looked like Mewt shake his head sadly. Putting all of this together, he reaches the conclusion that the crystals are holding this world, what became of his home, together. If he destroys the crystals, therefore, he could change the world back to normal! …or at least, he hopes so. Perhaps it would leave there being no world at all, who can say?
        What is more certain is that Famfrit did not mean given Marche his power, but rather then Moogle race. After beating a Totema, their respective race gains the power to summon them with ten Judge Points, the maximum amount. In this case it makes Famfrit appear, launching a barrage of lasers from some sort of cannon on his back, damaging all enemies for you. A nice reward for beating a tough boss, eh? In any case, that’s all for now. See you next time, dear readers.


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