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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16 responses to “Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Final Fantasy Tactics”

  1. kade Avatar

    Who cares if Tactics Ogre was better? Probably twice as many people love FFT than those who have even played a Tactics Ogre game. Who made a game isn’t as important as how good the game was or how many people enjoyed playing it for its deep job system, strategic combat, and stellar storyline. You voted in Shining Force 2 (the original is my favorite game ever) even though its storyline is paper thin. I guess you guys prefer uninventive storylines to complicated ones.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Kade – those people love FFT simply because they HAVEN’T played Ogre Tactics and they didn’t know it existed. That’s a “ignorance is bliss” attitude. As well, the three things you named about FFT are things that are universally considered BETTER in the original Ogre Tactics that spawned it so, you kind of kill your own attempt at making a point here. Especially with the “Who cares if game X is better?” This is the Hall of Fame – not the Hall of Better than Average or Hall of Pretty Darn Good.

  2. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Who cares if Tactics Ogre was better?


  3. Aaron Sirois Avatar
    Aaron Sirois

    “those people love FFT simply because they HAVEN’T played Ogre Tactics and they didn’t know it existed.”

    That’s a load of crap. You’re telling me that you can’t enjoy something if it has a technically superior predecessor? I prefer Friday the 13th to Halloween. Does that make me ignorant? No. It’s a preference.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Aaron – That’s not a load of crap at all. Saying you like one title over another because you’ve tried one and not the other actually IS ignorance in the purest sense of the word. Once you’ve played the game THEN you can say you have a preference. Until then, it’s more a bias or uniformed opinion. Now that doesn’t mean your opinion is any more or less valid than someone else’s, it just means it’s less informed than someone who has played both. Note that when I say YOU I mean anyone in general not YOU you.

      Besides, my comment was towards Kade and his utterly inane statement that FFT deserves entry because “Probably twice as many people love FFT than those who have even played a Tactics Ogre game.” Which is saying that FFT must be better because more people have played it, which is a completely invalid argumentative on multiple levels. Wheras mine which points out a lot of that love for FFT is by people who haven’t played other Quest developed ones while those that have played both almost universally prefer the OT titles. That doesn’t mean you can still love both FFT and either OT (I do!). It just means that you can’t say FFT > OT because more people have played it.

      It’s definitely fine to like Game A over Game B as long as one has played them both. But to say “Game A is better than Game B” when only game has has been played is indeed talking from ignorance. That doesn’t mean you can’t like Game A, but if a bunch of people say “Game B is better,” you can neither agree nor disagree if you haven’t played Game B. Instead all you can do is decide whether or not to try Game B and then decide for yourself afterwards.

  4. Aaron Sirois Avatar

    See, but I don’t even think he was implying that FFT was a better game per se, but rather that it deserved a spot in the hall regardless of the fact that it wasn’t the best in its genre. (I think he did a piss poor job of explaining this however.)

    I think one of the issues with any hall of fame/shame, especially when it comes to video games, is that everyone is going to have different criteria as to what should and shouldn’t get in. One thing I should have mentioned in this piece is that FFT was a gateway game for a lot of people. I was mostly platformers and fighters when I was a kid. This was the game that opened my eyes in a lot of ways.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      I think it depends on the age group for gateway SRPG. 16 bit gen gamers it was no doubt Shining Force or Ogre Tactics. 32 bit was probably FFT. I’m sure if you were born five-ten years earlier, you’d be in the OT camp yourself. Part of it really is what gaming gen you were born with.

  5. kade Avatar

    Whether or not tactics ogre was better or not should have no effect on FFT getting into the HOF. The number of people that actually experienced the game should be a factor. Since that would be part of the impact that a game has on the industry.
    “well, the three things you named about FFT are things that are universally considered BETTER in the original Ogre Tactics that spawned it”
    Have you ever played Final Fantasy 5? You know, the game that the job system came from.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Kade – the amount of people that have played a game is irrelevant. Seriously. That’s just dangerous from a historical perspective. The amount of people playing a game has nothing to do with whether a game is good or not. Case in Point: Wii Play is a pretty crappy game, yet it’s one of the best selling games of all time because it came with a free remote. Sales only matter in a monentary matter. As time goes by it matters less and less and only a historical value remains. Now if we’re talking influence and legacy, then yes, by all means the amount of people to play something is very important, but only if the game actually had anything going in either of the two aformentioned categories. Now, FFT really didn’t have a lot of influence on the SRPG genre and it in itself was “heavily influenced” by Ogre Tactics. FFT’s legacy is that a lot of people consider it the best FF game of all time (myself included) and that is definitely something that warrants debate over whether FFT is HoF worthy not. Hell, the fact it’s Aaron’s favorite game of all time is impetus alone for that. However, it didn’t get in and the reasons were varied but legit.

      From a historical perspective, even though FFT is the best FF game ever, it exists only because Square wanted their own Ogre Tactics game and then instead of doing it themselves, they hired Quest to make the game. It’s purposely a rip-off of another video game series (or homage if you prefer), so it’s impossible to talk FFT with any merit or legitimate commentary unless you bring up the history and lineage of the title, along with, as Bebito said, the shitty treatment Quest got after they made the game and how even to this day, you don’t seen Quest advertised as the developers by Square. Finally, FFT sold well, but nowhere as well as the Shining Series did back in the 16-bit era, or even the Disgaea games, so it’s not even a top tier game in that category.

      Second, in terms of quality it’s nowhere near the level of the previous Quest games or other SRPGs like the Shining Series, Fire Emblem and the like. it’s a good game for sure, but why enshirne a good game into the hall when we still have great ones that aren’t in yet? Again, this isn’t the hall of Pretty Good Games. A Hall of Fame is for the best games. Ones that have historical value, quality, and are a lot of fun. FFT is more infamous than famous in the first category for gaming historians and it did nothing of note save for the Square-Quest debacle. It’s got the second down, and it’s definitely a fun game, but there are many games that are higher quality in both categories.

      Like I said, I voted no simply because OT isn’t in yet. My vote was not a “no, but a not yet.” If OT gets in, I’ll probably change my vote if the game ever comes up again. If not, it stays no. After all, FFT wouldn’t exist without OT and Ogre Tactics is a superior game, so if we don’t let the game with the actual historical value and the higher quality in, why would we let in a knock off, you see? It’d be like putting a silver medalist in instead of a gold one just because the silver one had a more recognizable name. It’d be enshiring Nancy Kerrigan or Tanya Harding over Oksana Baiul for a very dated but all too comparible reference.

      What’s important to take away here is that no one is saying FFT is a bad game. In fact, we all really enjoy it. It’s just it wasn’t found to be HoF worthy. A game can still be good, an even someone’s favorite, even if it doesn’t get in.

      Also, the job system has been around far longer than 1992 and FFV. A lot of PC games used it before FFV. Even FFII used something that could be considered a precursor to it. Like FFT, Square basically did a snowjob over a lot of gamers convincing their fans they were doing something original and innovative, when it had actually been around for years. That’s pretty shady and unethical to me.

  6. kade Avatar

    Sorry for doubling up.

    “This is the Hall of Fame – not the Hall of Better than Average or Hall of Pretty Darn Good.”
    Haha exactly, FAME, meaning the state of being widely honored and acclaimed. So in order for something to achieve fame it must reach a wide audience not just be a good game. Final Fantasy Tactics was/did both.

  7. David Olvera Avatar
    David Olvera

    Kade, you obviously do not know about the basis for this Hall of Fame, which is the baseball Hall of Fame. The baseball Hall of Fame is notoriously difficult to get admitted into because, for the most part, getting the amount of votes is very difficult.

    The Hall of Fame is here to saulte games based on historical importance, regardless of their popularity. I would vote for Advanced Wars, Langrisser (especially Langrisser), Dragon Force and Fire Emblem before Final Fantasy Tactics.

    Each of those series did something important, whether it be broadening the base for tactical battle games by some simplification (Advanced Wars) or difficulty level (Langrisser). The things Final Fantasy Tactics did were done better and earlier by other series.

    Actually, now that I think about it, someone better nominate Langrisser!

  8. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    I’d nominate Warsong if I thought

    1.) we could get the minimum number of votes needed in the first place and
    2.) it had a snowball’s chance in hell of making it in,

    but as the odds of this thing are fairly low in both cases I’m loathe to do so. You’re welcome to do so if you want.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Mark – it’d have you, me and Dave.

      1. Christopher Bowen Avatar

        Alex, I’d vote too, though I’m unsure which direction I’d go. I’d probably go no, though; everything that Langrisser does, for the most part, was done before by Fire Emblem.

  9. David Olvera Avatar
    David Olvera

    Eh, I feel the overall contained story of Langrisser, it’s amazing artwork by Satoshi Urushihara, total troops rather than just generals mattering make up for any perceived style biting (which I honestly don’t think it did nearly as much as FFT). Plus, Langrisser can just be punishing, something I liked.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Well, with Bowen we at least have four people that could vote on Langrisser. Maybe more depending on Joel, DJ, Aileen and the new guys.

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