A medieval world of knights and wizards, lies and betrayals, immense power struggles and feuding families, a corrupt church ... all this and more is at the heart of Final Fantasy Tactics. Unlike the mainstream Final Fantasy series for which Square is famous, FFT is a strategy game, which calls upon the job classes familiar from FFV, as well as an involving story, fantastic music, an insane translation, and "off course", the trademark chocobo!

Zirekile Falls
Yaaoouch! Seafood soup!

   The star of our story, Ramza "is he really a guy?" Beoulve, is the youngest boy of a family aligned with Lord Larg. Since the death of the king, Lords Larg and Goltana have been fighting over who will be the successor. Ramza and his best friend, Delita "I'm too cool for you" Hyral, both in training to be knights, get caught up in what comes to be known as the "Lion War." Both boys have younger sisters, Alma and Teta, respectively, who serve well in the role of "pathetic female who must be rescued by brave hero". In addition, Ovelia "I'm a whiny princess" Atkascha becomes a centerpoint for this struggle, and shows little more character depth than the other names that flash by to confuse the gamer. The story of FFT is involving and befuddling, always with new villains and new plot twists, as Ramza slowly begins to unravel the mystery connecting his family to the war and the Zodiac Stones.

Each job has unique abilities

   In between the twisted story, FFT is like most any other strategy RPG. Some battles are mandatory, while others are simply random, and both employ basic strategic movement of a party of up to five characters (plus occasional useless guests.) FFT runs on a job system ("Select the Job command that bundles up Action Ability by the Job in the unit's sub-command"), in that while the characters gain regular experience and levels, they also gain "JP" and levels in jobs which can be used toward earning certain abilities and skills. After all, "Ability is a skill that you can learn with Job training." Characters start at the basic levels of squire and chemist, and depending on what jobs they earn levels in, new jobs open up, such as knight, wizard, priest, and samurai. Some jobs, such as bard and dancer, are harder to attain than others because they require mastering earlier jobs, and earning several levels in newer jobs. The trick to the job system is finding what abilities work best when combined, so that a character can learn a new job class while still practicing skills from an older one. Some abilities, such as Move+3, Jump+3, and Auto Potion can become invaluable.

This tutorial are sick.

   Besides regular and random battles, FFT also offers job propositions, which are funny mistranslated adventures you can send your characters on. This is perhaps where the translation of FFT started to gain its fame. The jobs are "a gift from God", where the character will discover a treasure chest, "open it with faith", and have "a good feeling". Cult icon Professor Daravon tends to confuse and amuse more than instruct in this game, turning a very serious story into a mockery by asking you to "defeat Dycedarg's elder brother." (when in fact Dycedarg IS the eldest brother) The tutorial creates more hysteria with classic lines like "Items being used are Items consumed during the battle" and "Move Ability increases the skill to move." Despite the nature of confusing that is Daravonese, the game's plot and dialogue are actually one of the most memorable and entertaining aspects of the entire game, truly a work of art in itself.

  Too bad you'd better save it for yourself!
Rofel gives Ramza a ticket to HELL as a PRESENT

   The graphics are standard 2D sprites (with no noses) on 3D backgrounds, a completely different style than FFVII, and almost a throw back to older RPGs. The opening of the game, on the other hand, is full FMV, with a toe tapping percussive tune and a twinkling melody introducing the saga of the Lion War. The music is another absolutely phenomenal piece of the game, from the soft and lyrical pieces that play during the sad moments, to heart thumping random battle themes such as Antipyretic. Though the titles of many pieces are strange and unusual, most of the music sounds very orchestrated. The music of FFT has the uncanny ability to create an image of the battles inside your head when it plays, even if you're nowhere near the game.

Delita's infamous last line

   Of course, no game could be complete without ridiculous villains and super human heroes, and Velius and Thunder God Cid fill these rolls with such panache that it might as well be a cheesy low-budget movie. T.G. Cid can wallop in any battle, and has the appeal of using a Game Shark without the $50 price. The paltry final angel (again?!) boss and ambiguous ending throw the cap on this Square classic with a good feeling, leaving gamers wondering "Ramza, what did you get...?"

   Final Fantasy Tactics, for all its oddities, is a surprisingly engrossing game, drawing you back until you've mastered every job, every skill, every battle...even if you never quite understand the story surrounding it. Fans have long clamored for a sequel, complete with more Daravon translation, but at the moment it appears the good feeling that is FFT is not to be soon repeated.

Retrospective by Tamzen Marie Baker, GIA.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Developer Square
Publisher SCEA
Genre Strategy RPG
Medium CD (1)
Platform Sony PlayStation
Release Date 06.97
FAQ / Zodiac Brave Story / Manual transcription / Script
49 FMV shots / 83 in-game shots / 26 tutorial shots
Character / monster art
Box & guide covers