In fact, you don’t really need to trouble yourself with the actual mechanics of battle, thanks to the Gambit system - also taken from FFXII. Gambits enable you to assign dynamic roles to your characters. As you gain experience and learn the best strategies for defeating particular types of enemy, you’ll be able to fine-tune your strategies to such an extent that the game will almost play itself.
By setting up different types of behavior for each character, you wind up, eventually, with a balanced party that knows when to heal wounded members, when to use magic techniques, when to focus attacks on one particular enemy, and so on. Mind you, if it’s anything like it was on PS2 then creating properly effective gambits will be beyond the reach of most of the game’s novice audience, and perhaps a little easy for hardcore Final Fantasists. Luckily there’s always the option to play in classic FF style and micro-manage your party, or simply tap away with the stylus and let the DS select the most appropriate moves.
In the default “novice” mode, you touch the character you want to command, followed by the enemy you want to attack. The other party members go about their battle business automatically, while you switch between preset gambits, change focus or select a magic attack using the lead character. To bombard a large number of enemies with a powerful ranged attack, you simply sketch a box around the area you want to target. Highlighted enemies are marked on the screen, and their health displayed by little bars, like in strategy games, rather than the usual numbers.
Another strategy-game feature is the ability to split your party and flank the enemies. Presumably there are dedicated gambits that take care of this sort of thing, as it might otherwise prove a little fiddly on the touch screen. Stuff we haven’t heard details on yet includes any sort of multiplayer mode, although the screens and videos we’ve seen suggest that it’s a natural for some kind of Crystal Chronicles team battles.
Being an action-tinted side-story to the main Final Fantasy XII game, there’s also no indication as to how much meaty gameplay we can expect. It could be that the game is more about recruiting new races to your party than it is about proper questing. Whatever, it’s likely to be a bit special.