Final Fantasy Tactics was a SRPG (Strategy RPG) for the original Playstation. It modelled its gameplay and look from Tactics Ogre which was released a year earlier. It is one of the greatest SRPGs ever made and many people consider it to be the finest RPG in general. The reason for this was the addicting mix of fun, Tactics Ogre-style, combat, the traditional Final Fantasy job system, and the narrative. To say Final Fantasy Tactics had a good story would be an amazing understatement. Final Fantasy Tactic’s story would be instantly familiar to anyone who enjoys Game of Thrones. Deep political maneuvering, personal relationships with a fantasy backdrop. The story is strong, dark, and, occasionally, surprising. This is all despite its absolutely atrocious localization (Hint – Play the PSP version. They retranslated it). There have been rumours recently about a sequel to this game coming down the pipeline from Square Enix. The question is: should we want it? One may be tempted to just yell YES as loud as they can, but there are multiple factors to consider when looking at the question. It is more than a simple matter of wanting more of a classic game.
|Also the PSP version has WAY better box art.|
When addressing a sequel to a classic game the first question is “will the developers do it any justice”. Listen, I am a firm supporter of Square-Enix to this day. I do not subscribe to the crap theory that the company went downhill after they merged with Enix and I have enjoyed many of their recent outings. However, I don’t think they can do Tactics justice. The reason for this is that they have made two Tactics-esque games since in the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series. These took the core SRPG gameplay of Tactics Ogre and the job system of Final Fantasy, but wrapped a forgettable and childish story around it. They were both good games, but it was embarrassing that they included the words Tactics as if they simply thought that was enough to ingratiate them with the strongly entrenched Final Fantasy Tactics fanbase. The thing is, these games weren’t bad, nor were they simply cash-ins the way that games such as Chocobo’s Dungeon are. They were well made SRPGs, but they had absolutely none of the magic that made Tactics so great.
|At least they had pizza cutter swords|
I understand the problems in my argument. There is no reason to say that SE couldn’t come in with a talented team and make a Tactics game that makes us all proud, but then what kind of game do we actually want? Let’s face certain facts. When fanbases push heavily for a sequel to a classic game, they don’t actually want a sequel. What they want is the same game with maybe a couple of tweaks. So what should Tactics 2 even look like? Should SE embrace the retro gaming fever that developers have been getting and make a throwback, or should they endeavour to make something new and exciting? The problem with both approaches is that, inevitably, they both spit in the face of Final Fantasy Tactics fans. Too much change will alienate a fanbase as quickly as revealing that all character actually grew up together in an orphanage. On the other hand, Final Fantasy Tactics was extremely progressive in its storytelling and to stagnate, or simply imitate it would be an affront to its creators and the integrity of the game itself. To put it this way. If you like The Lord of the Rings, you may look down at contemporary fantasy as being derivative and predictable. In the same way, simply imitating the style and substance of the original isn’t enough and doesn’t do justice to the classic.
|Above: Not doing justice|
Then we get into serious issues with the genre. I have thought that many recent JRPGs have been very good, but let’s not kid ourselves, JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) are in real, serious trouble. JRPGs suffer from a lack of change and progression that puts the whole genre in danger of losing relevance in today’s market. SRPGs are in considerably more danger than JRPGs. To be fair SRPGs have never made it to the mainstream in the way the JRPGs did during the Playstation 1 era; however, SRPGs have been suffering from total stagnation for much, much longer. As much as I enjoy the genre, it hasn’t evolved at all since Tactics Ogre reinvented it. Even games like Disgaea, which is a spoof of the genre and industry conventions has stagnated to the point that new games do not bring any serious innovation to the table. Very few games have been able to pull themselves out of this, but it does happen. The most progressive SRPG I’ve seen in recent years has been Valkyria Chronicles, which was a game that didn’t use Tactics Ogre or Fire Emblem as a base. Due to this, it played very differently. Unfortunately, it also sold poorly and now we in the west may never see the third instalment.
|Did I mention how beautiful it is?|
Final Fantasy Tactics already ripped their gameplay off of Tactics Ogre, but that didn’t matter at the time. Tactics Ogre was still new and Final Fantasy Tactics refined the style nicely. However, that was fourteen years ago. It isn’t right that we should get the exact same crappy sprites on the same crappy grid. It was innovative at the time, but now it is old and it doesn’t stand up well. Once again, do you want such a monumental game to get a sequel after a decade and for it to be no different than the original? If they do innovate for the game, which I highly doubt they will, then fans will be angry that they changed their game so much. It is a lose, lose situation that SE is in and maybe it isn’ the best idea for them to play this game. Rereleasing it on the PSP with a brand new translation was the best justice they could do to the original.
|I’m sorry for wanting something more than this after fourteen years.|
So the fundamental question is “do we really want Final Fantasy Tactics 2”. The answer is of course, yes. However, we must not be blind to the problems that plague releasing sequels of classic games in the genre. If they create another Final Fantasy Tactics, we must be aware that it will almost definitely be derivative. I don’ think it can’t be. At the same time, it will likely show even more how desperately stagnant the genre is. I personally don’t think that anyone can do justice to this game fourteen years after the fact. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t jump at the chance to play it, and that does make me a hypocrite, but aren’t we all.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer