Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Final Fantasy Tactics

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Final Fantasy Tactics
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
Release Date: 01/28/1998
System Released On: Sony PSX, Sony PSP
Genre: Tactical RPG

Who Nominated The Game: I, Aaron Sirois, nominated the game. It should come as no surprise, I don’t hesitate to name it my favorite game of all time. I’ve put hundreds of hours into the game and I still don’t get bored with it. Heck, if I get a break from games I have to review, I think I just may play it again this winter.

Why Was It Nominated:

Final Fantasy Tactics is a great game in just about every regard.

Firstly, the job system is deep and rewarding. You start off with a couple of basic jobs such as Squire and Chemist. Leveling in those classes unlock new classes such as Knight, Black Mage, Archer, etc. Continuing in those jobs nets you even more classes such as Ninja, Lancer, Samurai, Summoner, Bard and a host of others. Instead of limiting to your selected class, you could mix abilities from any job, provided you put the points toward it. If you want your Black Mage to use the sword techniques of a Samurai, you could do it (And it is highly recommended.). If you want to augment your healing magic with the ability to use items, you could do that as well. Add in movement and counter abilities, and you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Once you throw in equipment and creating team strategies, the depth is increased exponentially.

The combat is another masterpiece. Battles take place on a grid and each character gets turns based on their speed. Each turn you can move, attack, cast spells, use special abilities, use items, etc. Variables such as terrain, height, and direction play a part in how much damage various attacks and spells do, as well as how far you can move. With dozens of enemy types, you need to account for special properties in order to win. The enemies known as bombs will explode after they’ve taken critical damage, Cuars will use poison attacks, and Skeletons will rise to fight again if you take to long to finish the fight. Battles are also challenging, as enemies will gang up on you, take advantage of bad troop placement, and are more than happy to pummel you with spells you haven’t learned yet. Ask anyone who’s played the game to tell you about the Wiegraf battle at Riovanes castle. Yeah. That’s a fun one.

On top of all that, the story is incredibly memorable. You play as Ramza, a young noble looking to find his place in the world after a war that lasted fifty years has ended. The kingdom is in turmoil due to questions over the proper heir, starvation is becoming a realistic scare for the peasantry, and various factions are trying to steal power for themselves. The game provides pages and pages of optional story material that fleshes out backstories, gives a history of Ivalice, and fills in whatever holes there are in the story. The translation may not have been perfect, but the story is affecting and one that I never get bored of.

Finally, you have the game’s legacy. It is widely considered to be one of the best tactical RPGs to ever have been made as well as one of the best games available for the original Playstation. A remake for the PSP subtitled The War of the Lions is also considered to be one of the best games on that system as well. This was also the first game to take place in the fictional realm of Ivalice, which would also play setting to several games including Vagrant Story, two FFT sequels, and even Final Fantasy XII, an official member of the FF cannon. Yes, there were other games made by the developer such as Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre that came before it, but few could argue that Final Fantasy Tactics has had a larger impact on the gaming world. Personally, it introduced me to a whole new world of gaming. I hadn’t played a single RPG before I played Tactics, and to this day, it is the measuring stick to which I compare any RPG I play.

That’s why I nominated the game. Let’s see what my fellow staffers have to say.

All in Favor:

Aaron Sirois: I don’t know what else I can say about this game. It had great combat, it was extremely customizable, the story was great, the music is fantastic, etc. There’s a reason I named it my BEST. GAME. EVER.

Anyways, the only reason you have to keep reading me praising the game is because my name comes first alphabetically. Let’s get some others opinions, shall we?
 
 
 

Aileen Coe: From the first time I first fired this up on my PSX, I was hooked. The game throws a lot of options at you, with so many different ways to set up your team and so many classes to play with (it took Final Fantasy V‘s job system and ran with it), given that you could learn abilities from one job and carry it over to another. Some can seem subpar on the surface but be borderline broken if you use them right (i.e. calculators/arithmeticians) You could go through the game with pretty much any combination of classes and abilities. The storyline was complex and rife with political intrigue, with alliances being made and broken throughout, as well as lots of background within the menus that helps flesh out characters and events. Even the antagonists weren’t pure evil, but had shades of grey and noble reasons for what they do, even if the outcome is more ignoble. Despite the fact that there’s only one way for the story to end, I count this among games I could play over and over without getting tired of it. The PSP rerelease made me fall in love with the game all over again, with a new translation, some new classes and characters, and voiced cutscenes (which I wish there was more of) added, along with the added bonus of portability. The sequels pale in comparison to the original, but that just makes this stand out even more.

Christopher Bowen: I have to get this out of the way first: in terms of my personal preferences, Final Fantasy Tactics – or more specifically, the style of tactics it and Tactics Ogre employ – is not my favourite tactics game of all time. It’s actually third, behind Fire Emblem and Shining Force.

But this isn’t about personal favourites. It’s about the quality of a game, and it’s lasting influence on the industry.

On the latter front, Final Fantasy Tactics actually falls a bit short. The two later FFT games weren’t very good – in fact, they sucked – but I’m not about to punish Final Fantasy Tactics because Squeenix sucks more than Squaresoft did. On the first front, Final Fantasy Tactics was a great game. It was a very balanced tactics game with one of the best stories of its era. I can already see some calling it “pretentious” and “tripe” or what have you, but there were a lot of layers to this story, and it kept you anchored if you were paying attention. Add in some great backstory via menus, and a remake that addressed the few issues the original had (like the poor translation) and added some other brilliant additions (some of the best storytelling cutscenes ever seen), and you have a game that is as strong in 2010 as it was in 1998.

Sean Madson: If Shining Force was my gateway drug, then this game was my full blown heroin. Like any fan of the FF franchise, I was more than a little nervous when they made the transition into the realm of SRPG’s. They were out of their element and I didn’t think it would turn out well. However, when I finally got around to trying it though, I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t get enough of it.

If you missed out on the original PS1 release, the PSP remake cleans up some of the translation a bit which makes sorting through the convoluted plot a little bit easier. Which is good, because even with the original release I fell in love with the story. It was very political in nature, with a lot of hidden motivations and backstabbing throughout on par with most novels.

As if the captivating tale wasn’t enough, there was that little thing in video games that we like to call awesome gameplay that drives it forward. It was classic turn based Final Fantasy at heart, but with the added facet of movement that gave it its Tactics name. Plus, there were a ton of customization options and sidequests to keep one busy for hours.

There have been a lot of SRPG’s released as of late, but if there’s one in particular that deserves to stand on the same pedestal as Shining Force and Disgaea, it’s this one.

All Opposed:

Alex Lucard: Look, I enjoy the game. A lot. It’s a well made tactics game and one of the best Final Fantasy titles ever. However I can’t vote it in for a simple reason. it’s made by Quest and out of all the Quest games ever made, this one is by far the worst. Of course that’s like saying this is the ugliest diamond in the mine, but it still holds true.

When I play the original Ogre Tactics and especially Knight of Lodis, I feel things I never did with FFT. The plot, the characterization, the branching storylines, the character classes and everything else are superior in both games. I get that more people have played FFT over either OT because of the brand attached to it, but it really is the inferior game of the three. Then if you factor in OB, OB64, OBNGPC and the like you notice that as good as FFT is, it’s the worst game Quest made in about every category you can think of.

So this isn’t so much a Nay on FFT as a Nay on “right now.” Once other, better, Quest games get a vote on them, I’d be willing to revisit FFT and see if it deserves a nod then.


Bebito Jackson: Final Fantasy Tactics. Ugh.

Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.

Look, things are not what they seem with this title. It’s not a bad game. It’s actually pretty good, but…. Well, I am reminded of many moons ago in high school when I was talking to one of my friends after the game first came out. The conversation went sorta like….

—–

Sony Fanboy: Bebs! Have you played Final Fantasy Tactics? It’s awesome.

Bebito: Yeah it is pretty good. I’m always a fan of games in the vein of Shining Force.

Sony Fanboy: What’s Shining Force?

Bebito: …..

Sony Fanboy: Is that one of your Saturn games?

Bebito: Nevermind. At least Square had enough sense to let the makers of Tactics Ogre do the heavy lifting.

Sony Fanboy: What’s Tactics Ogre?

Bebito: I’m going to go stand over there in the corner and punch myself in the face now. See you after 5th period.

Sony Fanboy: Stop making up games that don’t exist, Bebito.

——

And I seriously did punch myself in the face a few times. It was therapeutic.

You see, the makers of Tactics Ogre from Quest MADE Final Fantasy Tactics for Squaresoft. And therein lies my entire gripe. When Square braggingly proclaims the huge amounts of critical acclaim and sales and kudos for the title, they act as though they did it themselves…. Never making mention of the fact that they didn’t even develop it in-house. It keeps me awake at night that people credit it all to Square while completely ignoring the Tactics Ogre series that spawned it in first place. A franchise which in my opinion had already produced games superior to Final Fantasy Tactics in the first place.

Look, future games in the franchise I believe Square did in-house and for those they deserve credit for. Good for them. But because the makers of Tactics Ogre are rarely mentioned in the same breathe as this game… AND because Square did a great PR hype job of pushing this game to the forefront while Shining Force and even Tactics Ogre itself had superior stories, character classes, etc. etc….. Well that just adds up to one big, DENIED!!

Dave Olvera: Final Fantasy Tactics is the best FFT game released. The game is fun and opened up the world of SRPG to a broader audience, as FF games are wont to do. That being said, I have always found it to be a lesser version of Tactics Ogre, basically like most Final Fantasy games being lesser versions of other games. Even Vandal Hearts felt better than the original Final Fantasy Tactics. The game is solid and the story is fun, if a bit infuriating because of the main character.

The original version of FFT suffered from game breaking characters and typical Final Fantasy Chocobo and Moogle wank. I’ve replayed it multiple times and some of the classes are just lacking as well as the game itself looks much different after the other Final Fantasy Tactics games have come out and becoming about children who are annoying. You can find more innovative games (Shining Force or Tactics Ogre) and better ones from Square (Front Mission).

Even without the extra hate from me on based on the other FFT games, FFT just doesn’t doesn’t belong in a Hall of Fame.

William Kaye IV: While a very enjoyable game, featuring tons of customization and a very in-depth story, the problems I have with this game are those two features. Yes, there are tons of customization options for the majority of your characters, but fully exploring those options generally involves finding a random battle and then whacking your own team with low-level attacks ad nauseam in order to gain job points needed to utilize those character classes. At the same time, the story is too complicated. Note that I am not saying it is too complex; complex is fine. FFT is just a complicated mess of betrayals and hidden motivations and it’s too much. A turn-based strategy game like Shining Force II is one that I can go back to time and time again. FFT is a game I have played twice (once when it came out, and once a decade later) and that is plenty for me.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon: FFT is basically a crappier version of Tactics Ogre. There I said it.

I never liked how slow the game was either. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking towards an enemy very slowly and then swinging your sword slowly only to miss.

I probably shouted more expletives in that game than in any of the Ninja Gaidens. That’s saying something.
 
 
 

Result: 4 In Favor, 5 Opposed, 44% Approval = REJECTED

Conclusion: Well I kind of expected this, but that doesn’t stop the hurt much at all. Everyone but Mohamed seemed to like the game, but the prevailing attitude is that there are a number of other tactical RPGs that are more deserving. Until then, my favorite game of all time just can’t get the votes. I’ll go weep in a corner now.

Next Week: A Tim Schafer legend gets put on the spot and tries to make it in the Hall. Which Tim Schafer legend you ask? Come back next week to find out!

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