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Active Time Battle

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The Active Time Battle gauges in Final Fantasy IX

The Active Time Battle (commonly abbreviated to ATB) is a battle system featured in several titles of the main Final Fantasy series. It was designed by Hiroyuki Ito, and was introduced in Final Fantasy IV. Its second appearance is in Final Fantasy V, which finalized the battle system by adding a time gauge for each party member. When a character's gauge is full, they are given a turn. Once the character performs an action, their gauge is emptied again and refills itself slowly. The order of each character's turn depends on which order their respective gauge is filled. The gauge is retained in all subsequent Final Fantasy games with an Active Time Battle system, except Final Fantasy X. Active Time Battles also appear in Chrono Trigger. Both Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII use heavily modified versions of the Active Time Battle system.


The gauge can be increased or decreased in several ways.

The gauge will speed up:

  • if the character(s) are affected by Haste
  • the lower the character's weight
  • the higher the subject's Speed, Agility, or equivalent stat

While the gauge will slow down:

  • the inverse of the latter two occurs
  • If the character(s) are affected by Slow

And the gauge will be stuck:

  • if the subject is affected by Stop

The gauge is also affected by abnormal battle conditions:

  • Preemptive Strike – the party's gauge is full from the start
  • Back attack – the enemy's gauge is full from the start, and thr party's gauges fill slower, with rows being reversed if the game has them
  • Side attack – the party starts with full gauges and attacks the enemy from two sides, dealing more damage if they attack an enemy facing away from them
  • Pincer attack – the inverse of the above

The Battle Speed setting makes everyone's gauges speed up or slow down at a uniform rate for both sides, and the stronger your attacks, the more of a "penalty rate" the gauge be in until it recovers.

Active and Wait[edit]

Games with the ATB system also have two modifiers; Wait, the default, where gauges don't fill while inside of a battle menu (i.e. choosing items or spells), and Active, where they won't, making it possible for a party member to be KO'd or the player to lose the battle and get a Game Over while choosing your items.


Game Year Original system(s)
Final Fantasy IV 1991 Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Final Fantasy V 1992 Super Famicom
Final Fantasy VI 1994 Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Final Fantasy VII 1997 PlayStation
Final Fantasy VIII 1999 PlayStation
Final Fantasy IX 2000 PlayStation
Final Fantasy X-2 2003 PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy XII 2006 PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy XIII 2009 PlayStation 3, Xbox 360