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Thread: Tactical RPGs

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Tactical RPGs

    Been playing a lot of Front Mission 3 lately. Tactical RPGs are a weird genre for me. I like them, but I definitely have very specific tastes and rules that apply when it comes to sorting out the ones I like from the ones I loath. So what are your thoughts on the genre? What are your favorite entries and why? Which ones do you dislike the most?

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    *permanent smite* Spuuky's Avatar
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    Love them. Some random non-comprehensive favorites, although nothing too obscure:

    Valkyria Chronicles
    XCOM
    Mutant Year Zero
    FFT of course
    Shadowrun: Hong Kong
    Divinity: OS
    King's Bounty

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    I'm pretty peculiar about tactical RPGs in general, there are definitely things one can do to completely put me off and also things that'll make me a lot more interested. I like it when they're fast-paced or give you the option to speed up/skip certain animations and actions. I'm also really not a fan of resource management/army building, while I really like mid-combat tactics. Sadly, a lot of tactical RPGs lean a lot on resource management because you can't grind in them and you just have to pick units to upgrade and hope you didn't just make things harder for you down the line.

    As example, Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, which was my first SRW game. I love it, but I played it in a very slow-and-steady way, upgrading and using the units that were very mobile to avoid most damage. Trouble is, those units generally also do less damage, and near the end of the game you start running into stages containing bosses with chunky amounts of health and a time limit, and I actually got stuck because I couldn't do enough damage in the time limit. I ignored my super robots, the heavy damage dealers, too much. This entry is also a bit of an outlier in that it has no real main character, which in the other games is always a safe choice to upgrade and stays good for the entire duration of the game.

    Then there's FFT, which I dislike because it just feels slow, clunky and tedious. The Advance games were a bit better in this regard but I still couldn't really get into them.

    Fire Emblem on the other hand, I generally like. It's pretty fast-paced and while in the older ones you can't repeat stages for levels, I was okay with that because it never seemed to harm my progress. I wasn't a fan of the 3DS ones for reasons I can't accurately pinpoint, but I liked Three Heroes again.

    Disgaea I also like, though mostly just because you can break the game so much, and again it's fairly speedy.

    Valkyria Chronicles is one I like a lot because it mostly comes down to mid-combat tactics, and it's pretty unique in how you manually move your characters and aim, rather than pointing them at someone or something and having the game do the rest.

    And lastly, Super Robot Wars as a whole I love, partially because of all the mecha, but also, again, it's pretty speedy, and you can skip animations if you feel like you've seen them too often already. Resource management also isn't much of an issue in the more recent entries, as they're tuned to be easier than the likes of Alpha Gaiden. It's also just easier these days to make some overpowered units, and it can feel pretty satisfying having your mech fly in the middle of a group of enemies and effortlessly evading and countering them all

  4. #4
    Feel the Bern Administrator Del Murder's Avatar
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    I love tactical RPGs, particularly the grid-based ones. But I feel like I need a good story to keep me going on these because these games do not tend to have a lot of variety.

    My favorite series are:

    FF Tactics - the game that got me into it. I wonder if I played it again now would I find the slowness annoying. I'm guessing nope.

    Fire Emblem - I actually liked the 3DS games more than Three Houses. Three Houses tried to put too much in it and I really don't like that it makes you play the game 3-4 times to get the full story. I guess the 3DS games did some of that too, but there was more differentiation in the sides. FE does tend to get repetitive, though, as the same tactics are viable in essentially all of them.

    Valkyria Chronicles - I appreciate VC trying to mix up the formula while still being a tactical game. Like all tactical games, there are clear ways to do it right and once you figure that out, the battles mostly play out the same way. Some of the later stage maps do take a little more time to figure out. I thought VC3 was the best, as it evolved the gameplay from the more basic VC1 and the story was better than the mess of VC2, though I had to download a patched version in English. I'm playing VC4 currently.

    Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together - The PSP remake of this game was fantastic. They threw in a branching storyline element with nodes you can travel back to in addition to being basically the precursor to FFT. The political storyline was great as well was seeing how all the branches played out (without having to start the game from scratch, I'm looking at you FE series!).

    I also liked the Tactics Advance series though the more lighthearted storyline was a letdown from the very series and well written original FFT. I also played Front Mission 3 and it was very fun even if the story didn't always make sense to me. I could not get into Disgaea as it did not really hook me right way. I never tried XCOM but came close once!

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    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Iíve played several, but only the FFTs have ever fully scratched that itch, mostly just due to how well the job system works with a gameplay style like this

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    FFT was definitely the best of them. I also have very little patience for tactical RPGs these days anyway. I've played some that seem pretty good, but it's been ages since I've actually completed a tactical RPG.

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    *permanent smite* Spuuky's Avatar
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    Try Mutant Year Zero if you want to finish one from my Approved List, it's like 10-15 hours long.

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    fft is great obv

    I played kartia but the translation is painful and honestly the gameplay mechanics aren't that fun (it's fire emblem but with paid summon monsters) but I love the art

    one day I'll get into tactics ogre luct

    front mission 1 is one of my favorite games

    I also want to try hoshigami

    I enjoyed valkyria chron 1 but couldn't stomach 2

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    I've learned I'm very particular with the genre after taking a serious hiatus from it. I like unit customization, so I tend to prefer games where I have a lot of options to tailor make a team but I do get a bit miffed when said options feel a bit arbitrary or under powered. I have also decided that the optimal player load out of units is about five. Any higher than that and you can start tacking on an extra ten minutes per unit in every battle since the game will likely add two for each one you have. It's a large part why I struggled to get through Tactics Ogre, Arc the Lad, and Valkyria Chronicles.

    FFTactics - Easily one of my favorites. I feel it offers some of the best customization and battle mechanics of the genre while not over staying it's welcome. I feel the two biggest issues against it is the plot kind of derailing partway through and that the game has issues balancing difficulty and flow. It's just too easy to try to grind in this game to get to the skills you need and throw the whole balance of the game off for your efforts.

    FF Tactics Advance -A streamlined variant of it's console brother. I find the plot is a bit more hard hitting than the cutesy cast and visuals give off. Sadly, I find the game a wee bit streamlined for my taste. The races are a neat idea, but the classes themselves leave much to be desired and I find the FFIX approach to gaining skills makes the difficulty a bit more lopsided than I would care for.

    FFTA2 - Better visuals and more content than it's GBA brother. Still has the simple class and bothersome upgrade system issues from the original, but it's honestly the main narrative that bugs me the most about this game. It can be addictive as usual for the genre, but difficult to remember anything else about it. I could not remember the full plot to save my life.

    Front Mission 3 - This games hits that nice balance of great customization and party building I love with a smooth gameplay that sets itself apart from other entries. While I can agree that the non-battle interfaces leave much to desire the core game is still pretty strong in my opinion. The fact the game has two campaigns and a minor NG+ mode gives it a lot of longevity, though Honestly if you're only going to play it once, I recommend doing Emma's route since it's meatier, has more options, a better plot, and Emma is infinitely more likable than Alisa. My goal for the year is to finally finish SM4 and go through the first two entries as well. I will say that of what I have played of FM4, the gameplay is more focused and far more nuanced with additional unit types and skills being more straightforward to learn. The EC storyline is interesting, but the USN one has the more likable characters.

    Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together - Not a bad game, but I prefer the original over the remake for the core gameplay. I love the better quality and replay value options in the remake, but the gameplay borrows too much other games I don't care for and the skill/job systems are garbage if you ask me. The plot is a strong point and the game has three scenarios to go through, so you have lots of replay value.

    Vanguard Bandits - This was a weird game, and I really want to get back to it someday as I never finished it. The game feels like Panzer World Galient turned into a Tactical RPG in both looks and feel. The gameplay is a bit too basic for me since it featured very little in terms of customization and is bigger on just leveling your heroes. The game becomes a bit of a nightmare once the cheap ass enemy units that have a move that targets your pilots directly start becoming common enemies. I'm also sure I made the wrong choices and wound up in the bad ending scenario because the final boss felt impossible.

    Arc the Lad Trilogy - Underrated series that is Sony's answer to Sega's Shining Force. The first game is a bit tedious but also gracefully short. The next two games are a bit on the long side for my taste, but the gameplay is vastly improved with better customization options, more interesting characters, and AtL2 easily has the best plot of the three games. I never got around to finishing the third entry, but it streamlined a lot of ideas from the second game and has a cool cast, just a weaker plot after the soul crushing ending to the second entry.

    Disgaea - This series broke me, and soured the genre from me for a long time. Don't get me wrong, the cast and stories are pretty fun and great, but the gameplay is just too much of a grind and while the customization options got better as the series went on, it has never been able to scratch the itch I really need. Of anything, I find the game's to be a painfully straight parody of the ridiculousness of power gaming in these types of games and burnout is just so easy for me.

    Valkyria Chronicles - I could never finish this entry. The plot and cast reeked a bit too much of anime tropes for me to stomach and while I appreciate the unique crossover of TRPG and third person shooter mechanics, the game hit my two pet peeves of gameplay by having too many units on the field and weak customization.I still hope to try and push through this game to see if I can like it because I really want to. I just can't for some reason.

    Suikoden Tactics -This one is a mixed bag, but compared to the two entries above, I like it a bit more. The mechanics of the Suikoden series work really well in a TRPG, and the new mechanics like the Buddy system and and elemental field effects add a lot of tactical options for battles. The core gameplay is pretty fun. the issues are mainly the plot pulling an FFTactics/FM3 issue of the more interesting political plot constantly being dropped into the background for the less interesting and often more fantastical chase the dangerous artifact mission. On the gameplay front, I'm annoyed the game has all the non-story character have perma-death capability, which largely undercuts their value. As well as removing the main series mage knight option for customization, which seriously hurts a lot of these optional characters you can recruit.

    SMT: Devil Survivor - Great gameplay, intriguing if underutilized plot, and an awful cast of characters. Like Suikoden Tactics, the SMT press turn mechanics transition beautifully into the genre and I love the customization options for the human party members even if it lacks any flexibility. The lack of a Compendium is really annoying, but this is one of the few entries where the ''choose the skills your demons inherent'' mechanic is actually worthwhile. It has a lot of story paths and characters to recruit but the plot never quite achieves the potential it has, mainly because the cast is pretty unlikable by all accounts. One of the only entries in the franchise where I purposely let characters die when the option became available, and the only SMT entry where I didn't go the Neutral route just because it was the only way to get Yuzu out of my party.

  10. #10
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Jesus Christ, Devil Survivor. I hate that game so much mostly because of the godawful characters, though it was also pretty Grindr. Why this is so adored by the fan base Iíll never understand. Oh yeah and the art is super crappy

  11. #11
    Feel the Bern Administrator Del Murder's Avatar
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    I never tried Arc the Lad or Suikoden Tactics. I meant to try them at some point. I agree with you about Disgaea WK!

    I may also try MYZ from Romeo's list. I also looked into XCOM once, but something about it turned me off. I can't remember what that was anymore.

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  12. #12
    *permanent smite* Spuuky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Del Murder View Post
    I never tried Arc the Lad or Suikoden Tactics. I meant to try them at some point. I agree with you about Disgaea WK!

    I may also try MYZ from Romeo's list. I also looked into XCOM once, but something about it turned me off. I can't remember what that was anymore.
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