Today is finally the day that Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is to be released, and it’s been a long wait. Its been a couple months short of five years, actually, since Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was released for the Gameboy Advance.
In celebration of this event, and to kill time before I can slip out of work and pick up my copy from EB Games, I thought it might be fitting to revisit the original Tactics game. No, I am not talking about Tactics Advance, but rather about the reigning champion of strategy RPGs, Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation.
Final Fantasy Tactics is without a doubt in my top five of all time favorite video games, and for a while I was obsessed with it. I still have my 170 hour file to prove it, backed up about 5 times across three different memory cards. 170 hours is, incase you don’t have your calculators handy, 5.83 days of straight video game enchantment. I think it’s safe to say that I destroyed and dominated every aspect of that game. I exploited every trick, maxed out every hidden character, stole every uncommon item- and then recorded and complied it, along with every other guide and trick sheet I found in what would become my most epic accomplishment to date: what I refer to as the “Tactics Bible”.
Now when I say that the Tactics Bible has everything in it, I mean everything. The stealing guide, the Cloud guide, the entire battle mechanics guide, walkthrough, Rafa/Malak guide, the level-down guide, everything. All crammed into a 4″ binder, arranged and organized by section.
Final Fantasy Tactics was released in January of 1998, only three months after Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy Tactics was overshadowed by the massive success of Final Fantasy VII and never really gained as much of a following as it should have. Final Fantasy Tactics was the brain child of Yasumi Matsuno, mastermind behind the Ogre games to which FFT owes many of its gameplay mechanics. Matsuno left Ogre developer Quest in 1995 to join Square and his first task was creating the land of Ivalice and developing the epic world of Final Fantasy Tactics.
The world that Matsuno created with Final Fantasy Tactics, Ivalice, has become somewhat of a staple in the Final Fantasy universe. Two of Matsuno’s subsequent games, Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance both had their stories unfold in the world of Ivalice, as well as the Yasumi Matsuno’s final Square-Enix masterwork, Final Fantasy XII. Unfortunately, Yasumi Matsuno left SquareEnix in August 2007 due to health reasons, so FInal Fantasy Tactics A2 serves as the first in the series, as well as the first adventure set in Ivalice that was created without his involvement.
I only hope that FFTA2 can live up to the sheer depth and customization of the original Tactics. I was kind of let down with Tactics Advance, mainly because it seemed to be too ‘kid friendly’. Gone was the murder, betrayal, and misplaced loyalties of the original and in it’s place were snowball fights and battles governed by judges with laws. Seriously, the playable character body count and betrayal count was through the roof in Final Fantasy Tactics, probably higher than every other Final Fantasy game combined. It had a mature plot full of tension and intrigue, with deep religious and political undertones. On top of that, it had one of the saddest, unexpected, and satisfying endings in the entire Final Fantasy series, number titles included.
I will find out soon enough, because when I am done typing this section I am going to slip out the back door and head over the Northgate Mall to grab my copy. We’ll see if Matsuno’s legacy is strengthened or destroyed.