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Strategy RPGs need loving too!

  • Jun 5, 2010
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This is just a list of what I thought was a great leap in the Strategy/Tactical RPG just for consoles. If the games ever showed up on a PC, it is mere coincidence.
Tactics Ogre
If you don't know your SRPG history, you don't know SRPGs and this is why this game will always be number one to me. The team that eventually worked on FFT worked on this game first. It was that relationship that eventually paved the way for Quest to be eaten whole by Sq-En. From its simple style to its deep story, this was a great game that no one remembered due to its short printing. They might think this game tried to rip off FFT but if this game didn't exist, you wouldn't have your FFT series today.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
If you have to ask why this is here at #2, you don't know SRPG's. While most of the games below it paved the way, this game took the genre by the horns and told it that it was its b*tch. Not only did it have great humor and wonderful characters, the amount of time that seemlessly flew by as you delved into the item world that one more time to get the Yoshitsuna sword will always be memorable. Besides, exploding Prinnies. It will ALWAYS be about the Prinnies.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Yep, this is #3. You may send me hate messages now. While this game was the one that made everyone sit up and really recognize the power and beauty of the Strategy RPG, it was not the best or the first for the console. The story never made any sense (talked to a few beta testers who worked with Square back in the day, you can thank FFVII for massacring the story) and while the job system was great and made its own impact, the game was flawed. Lovingly flawed, warm fuzzy memory flawed but flawed all the same. And it made Ivalice possible, that is a plague all unto itself.
Scratching your head on this one? I can understand. This was a part of KOEI's imagination series where you were controlling armies and trying to reunite Ishmeria. While this has flown under the radar of most everyone out there, it was the real testament to the SNES that even a simple strategy game like this could be done properly on the system. It certainly did herald brighter days for the future of this genre... Of course, it doesn't help I have three copies of every cartridge.
Valkyria Chronicles Boxart
Yep, I put this at 5, this is what the PS3 was supposed to be all about. A beautiful game on a system that purrs like a kitten. The cell shaded goodness along with the frustrating combat made this game great and memorable as well as made this player a little twitchy even to this day (which is saying a lot). The characters had some depth to them and you really did start to care about this war. When the developers of Skies of Arcadia made a game, they know what they are doing. Come on, Vyse was in this game, that has to be a selling point... right?
Buried in obscurity for a while (AKA, never released from Japan), this was the one that started getting the casual fans interested in this series. While the difficulty was epic in its toughness (cen't let anyone die, that will ruin the story), in the end it was the strategy of Rock Paper Scissors represented through the magic and weapon cycles that made it very interesting. Besides, how many times did YOU play a map when a companion died? That is what I thought!
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
In the last real opus for Epic, working with Atlus to bring this stateside, this was what a real Strategy RPG was all about. While it never got as much love as the others on this list due to it being on a dying system (N64 against the PSOne, next please), it was probably one of the few reasons to OWN an N64 without getting laughed at. If you know the Ogre Battle series, you should already have this.
See the full review, "An under the radar classic brought back to life via the Virtual Console".
Front Mission III
Sure, there were other members in this series but this was the lightning in a bottle moment, for sure. The blend of Mechs and Tactics worked so well that it certainly made an impression on me that it wasn't always about swords and magic, it could be about mechs and guns too. The follow up games can try to capture the magic but this was it, the top of the mountain.
Vandal Hearts
What can be said about this lost gem on the PSOne? Not many people remembered this Konami classic and it is a shame. It didn't have the depth of the others on the system but in the end, the characters that were a part of this game is what made this stand out from the rest. That and the one level where you had to race up the mountain while being attacked by archers...
This little gem was all about what the DS could do with a proper Strategy RPG and not something that was ported over. While it was mainly obscure by the fact that it was an Atlus title, it is still one of the better SRPGs for the DS, hands down. That is saying a lot too since this console is the home to a great variety of them, they just aren't as dynamic or as pretty.

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June 06, 2010
You've got some good love for the consoles, but there are some greats for PC - X-COM and Jagged Alliance 2 are amongst my all-time favorite video games.

On the console side, I thoroughly enjoyed both FFTA and FFTA2, even more so than the predecessor. And all the Shining Force games are fun, if simple.

I hadn't heard of Luminous Arc, I'll have to check it out.
June 06, 2010
I never got a chance to get into X-Com, especially now that it is nearly impossible to get without having to give up an arm or a leg. I would have put Shining Force in it as well but during the console wars I was a Nintendo flag boy so I never had a chance on those either. I really wanted to give FFTA series a chance but the random rules on the fields and the fact it was Ivalice made me ill. Then again, it is my personal opinion, I know a lot of people liked it.
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Leif Vignirsson ()
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