The tactical RPG

When Final Fantasy Tactics was first released, about nine years ago in North America, I ignored it for a few reasons. The first was because I didn’t have a PlayStation; I didn’t receive one until the last few months of its life.

The other reason, and the primary one, was because I felt the game was riding its success based purely on its pedigree. I assumed all Final Fantasy games had to be turn-based menu combat. Then along came Tactics had nothing in common with other games in the series, other than a few cameos from FF VII characters. I also assumed that a strategy RPG would have a weak plot.

I never played it, so I don’t know if my assumptions were correct or not. I mention all of this because I’m getting my first real experience with a game in the genre by means of Jeanne D’Arc for the Sony PSP. From developer Level 5 (Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy, Dragon Quest VIII), it’s based on the story of Joan of Arc, but with some fantasy elements thrown in.

I previously played strategy/tactical games in the forms of Dark Wizard for the Sega CD and Military Madness for the Turbo Grafx-16. Neither really had a compelling story, if I remember correctly. I think that tainted my impression of the genre and led me to believe no other game of that type could prove otherwise.

Now, in 2007, my view has changed, despite others telling me I was wrong in the past. D’Arc has pulled me into its throngs, and I’m only an hour or two into it. I think it may have something to do with Level 5’s involvement, as I was not disappointed with my first game of theirs, Rogue Galaxy.

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