Hey everyone, and welcome to another edition of Inside the Guide. In this column, I discuss games that I’ve written GameFAQs guides for. This month, I’m going to talk about my most popular guide ever: the Shop Guide I wrote for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Also this month, I’m going to use the old “have big pictures on the page so it looks like I wrote a lot” trick. Fun!
Now, when I say that this is my most popular guide ever, I mean that, according to GameFAQs’ counter, it’s gotten 99,866 hits. That’s more hits than any of my other guides, and even more hits than a steroids-enhanced Barry Bonds!
But getting back to the guide, the story behind it starts in 2003, when Final Fantasy Tactics Advance came out on the Game Boy Advance. All the Nintendo fans were going crazy over this, because it was the first Final Fantasy game to come out on a Nintendo system in decades. Just like this Web site’s editor Paul Franzen, I had never actually played any Final Fantasy games before then*, but I was assured by PlayStation owners that they are both “really good” and “If you don’t play those games immediately, I will use my Ultima spell to destroy you.” I didn’t want to get hurt, so I decided to buy the game when it came out.
Also at that time, I renewed my subscription to Nintendo Power. If you’ve ever subscribed to Nintendo Power, you know they have cool subscription gifts, like t-shirts and strategy guides. I decided to get the strategy guide for the Final Fantasy game, seeing as I planned to get it, and the guide came in the mail six-to-eight weeks later:
The strategy guide was not much help in beating the game because it’s a strategy game, not an RPG, but I didn’t care too much because the guide was free. And around that time, I noticed that the most popular game on GameFAQs was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
I wanted to get myself a part of the action, so I figured I’d do something involving Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Writing a guide for the entire game was out of the question, but I knew I could do a mini-guide, like a boss guide, or an items guide.
Unfortunately, all the available mini-guides seemed to be written already, until I looked in my strategy guide and found a section on shops. No one wrote a mini-guide on shops yet! So all I had to do was take the information in my strategy guide…
…and then make a master list of all the stuff you can buy in shops. Instant guide! To cover up the fact that I did basically no work on this guide, I put in some fancy extras, like a brief explanation of economics, and a second version of the list, in which the items are sorted by type, not by name.
Anyway, that’s how I created my most popular guide ever. Thank you for joining me inside the guide.
*Actually, I played the original NES Final Fantasy game, but that doesn’t count, because I tried to forget it as soon as possible. You know what? I don’t understand how that game ever became popular. That game SUCKED. It took forever to beat, you need a guide to figure out what you’re supposed to do, the fighting system was lame, buying items was impossible to figure out, the story was “What? There’s a story? Since when?”, I couldn’t figure out the magic system at all, and saving was generally impossible. The GBA version fixed the fighting system and the saving system, but none of the other problems.