Gaming Retro Corner Reviews

Retro Corner – Final Fantasy Tactics

  • Developed by: Squaresoft
  • Released in: 1997
  • PSX, PSP, IOS, Android
  • Version discussed: PSX

When you think of Final Fantasy three things probably come to mind; RPG, turn-based, and Cloud. However one game in the series stands above the rest in its uniqueness, and that game is Final Fantasy Tactics (FFT).

What makes FFT so different from all of the other great Final Fantasy games? Well. Everything to be honest. FFT is the only Final Fantasy game (aside from Tactics Advance) that implements tactical game play. Meaning that each level has a battlefield, and you can move your units across said battlefield to fight the enemy army.

Image result for Final Fantasy Tactics battle

I will go ahead and admit straight up that I am not always sold on turn-based game mechanics. It takes a very special game with other aspects pushing me along the way to get through it. Like Persona 5 or South Park: Stick of Truth for example.

  • YES, I realize that technically FFT & Fire Emblem are turn-based games. However they are way more strategic and are *cough cough TACTICAL. So stop harassing me about that fact fellow gaming humans. Okay. Hoping off the soapbox now.

I’ll level with you; while the story of FFT is a truly epic tale, it is also extremely elaborate and difficult to explain. So instead of turning you off from the game with a hard to understand story description, lets talk about some of the other aspects that make this game worth playing today.

Job Systems:

The FFT job system is beyond unique, and I mean that even by today’s standards. Every single character has the ability to switch between the 20 unique job classes at any point during the game. Each character can also have multiple abilities equipped. This means that overtime you can max out multiple jobs for each character, and combine their abilities.

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For example, at the beginning of the game I took the main character Ramza, and maxed out his job class as a knight. Then I made him a time mage, to unlock the teleport moving ability. This basically gave me a tank knight that could traverse the entire map on a whim.

Because of the may abilities each job class has, it provides a seemingly endless number of possibilities.

It is important to note while many of the classic Final Fantasy (FF) jobs make an appearance in this game, there are also a number of new ones. You have your classic black/white mages, obviously a summoner, but then you have jobs like the Calculator.

The Calculator (or Arithmetician if you prefer) uses math skill based attacks, “Calculations are done by choosing a level, then choosing a number, like 5. With those conditions, Arithmeticians will cast a selected spell targeting all units (allies and foes) whose level is a multiple of 5.”

Final Fantasy Wiki

The amount of variability in this game is crazy, if it weren’t for the graphics (which by the way still look great for pixilations) you would never know this game was a 1997 PSX launch.

Image result for Final Fantasy Tactics jobs
All Jobs.

Tactical Gameplay

There might be some Fire Emblem fans out there looking at FFT and scoffing. Although as a long time FE fan, and someone who poured over 200 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses (FE3H). I still like some of the aspects of FFT more, heck I just ran through the game again the other weekend.

Because of the job variability, battle has so much more potential than any FE game, and certainly more than any FF game.

There is also a lot more strategy needed, unlike FF3H where a literal five year-old could beat a casual play through. Tactics has a lot of aspects that make each battle challenging and suspenseful.

For starters unlike FE, you cannot view a battlefield or the enemy army before an encounter. This means that you are walking in blind, you have to set and choose your characters carefully, as there is no telling what you will be walking into. The character placement screen (prebattle) does not show you the map of the battlefield, so there is even a chance that you will randomly isolate a character on the other side of a structure.

Also remember this game has PERMADEATH. Just because the characters are way easier to let die than in FE. It is certainly not fun having your highest level mage get struck down.

Image result for Final Fantasy Tactics death

Final Mentions:

There are a few other mechanics worth mentioning before I end this article. First of all, the marching mechanic. During every battle your characters will march in place, this indicates that all is normal. However the way they march will change depending on how they are doing in battle.

If a character is struck with a curse they will march considerably slower than their comrades. If a character has taken a critical amount of damage they will keel over, and be almost motionless. It is an easy indicator of how your units are doing, and makes surveying the battlefield more convenient.

Finally, this game can be broken, but in a good way. It is not terribly difficult to make an OP squad in Tactics, sure it takes a lot of grinding, but its possible. If you wanted to you could create such a squad in the earlier levels, making the rest of the game an absolute breeze. The reason I count this as a good thing, is because it is the players choice. If they want a super overpowered squad they can, and if not thats fine too.

Final Thoughts:

The amount of possibilities in FFT are near endless, and makes the game a must to go back and play. While I may not have gone into detail, the story is compelling and well told. The tactical game play is unlike anything ever done before, and also… Cloud may or may not be in this game *cough COUGH.

Image result for Final Fantasy Tactics Cloud

I suggest playing the original PSX version of this game simply because, weirdly enough, it is the smoothest one. While the PSP, IOS, and Android versions have some new jobs, cut scenes, and updated graphics. The load times are atrocious, making the game quite slow. However if you are unwilling to purchase a PSX then by all means, play the new ones.

About the author


Charles Cleveland is a passionate freelance writer, and author. A retro game enthusiast who is unafraid to argue that the GameCube was the best system ever made. Playing video games for 17 of his 21 years of life, along with collecting just about every game system ever made. Charles aspires to write non biased content on both old and new video games.