990th played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: SNES/Saturn/Playstation 1
Year of Release: 1995
Developer: Quest
Publisher: Quest/Riverhillsoft/Atlus

As I’m going through I’m reaching all of these minor milestones. It’s been a while since I played my last western RPG – arguably Shadowrun or Dungeon Master if you’re looking at something more traditional. They are the genre I’ve build a lot of my gaming identity around at some point and even now I’d call Planescape: Torment my favourite game. Today we close off another subgenre though, as Tactics Ogre is the tactical RPG we’re playing. Disgaea 2 was another recent one in the genre that feels like it was defined by Final Fantasy Tactics, even as it’s not necessarily the first.

Beyond that, though, I don’t know much more about the game than its basic genre and the fact that it’s sub title is, to be frank, a bit ridiculous. What we’ll see later is where this will end up.

Our Thoughts

While we’ve seen a lot of tactics games where you can create or use near-copycat units of the same class, all warrior deriving from teh same base, it feels like Tactics Ogre pushes it a bit further by introducing its version of a job system. The XP gains you get don’t go to a character, but go to a class instead, so if you want it’s easier to sub characters in and out. Need an extra healer for this mission? Another one is ready to go without as much difficulty. It means that you can have a consistent set of characters that continues through the story while you can change what you’re playing. It’s a neat system that supports the narrative need, such as they are, quite well.

The other place where the game changes how it works is the MP system. Where in other games, you start with a set amount that ticks down, here it starts off at nothing in the first round and starts charging through them. While it means your casters are useless for the first turn or two, the fact that you’ll be able to cast again without having to worry whether you need it later is a relief that makes it easier to jump in and use them.

There are some nice touches with a split storyline at some point, where there are three possible routes to take, but that wasn’t something I saw too much of, as the game gets quite grindy – or just hard – quite quickly if you don’t stay on top of everything you need to do.

Final Thoughts

If not for the time consuming, grindy nature of parts of the game, I would have seen more of this, but as it stands even as a handheld game I ran into some time problems playing through it. The game’s systems are interesting and the changes it makes to the tactical RPG formula are welcome in improving how it plays. I’ll have my PSP out to play more of it later.

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