If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics, then this is probably the closest you’ll get to a true successor. It might not be developed by Square Enix but you can immediately feel the heritage when booting up the game. Everything from the graphics to the gameplay offers an immediate comparison to the popular JRPG, which could be seen by some as a rip-off. To say that this feels like a Square Enix game should be the ultimate compliment.
The primary mercenaries’ mode is fairly big, offering 32 missions and roughly 20 hours of gameplay for most people. The storyline is typical zany fantasy and centres around the poisoning of a prince, who the main character must save by embarking on a quest to find the antidote. There’s no obligation to follow the story and text can be freely skipped at any point, though I urge you to follow it through or you’ll be missing out. Without an overworld or any type of map, the story arc is the only thing that stops the game from being a series of random battles with no connection.
Each battle takes place in an arena made up of grid-like squares. In a similar vain to Final Fantasy Tactics, players must carefully negotiate their characters around the battlefield in a turn-based fashion to kill the enemy. You’ll be using various types of weapons and spells to dispose of them, each with a particular set of traits. Terrain and positioning both play key factors within each battle, with the winner gaining money, experience and skill points for a successful victory. Each battle takes around 30 minutes to complete, with the very little animations to slow down the action. While I’d never call a turn-based RPG fast and frantic, it definitely feels fluent.
Points can then be spent in between battles, with an emphasis on upgrading stats and buying new weapons and armour. Each character will initially be locked into a specific class, which limits them to a particular set of skills. Once you reach level 20, the shackles are off and you can freely swap classes between battles. It’s a neat little progressive element that stops earlier levels being too easy but still gives you the tactical freedom in later, harder levels.
While the graphics don’t dazzle, they have a nostalgic feel that is very similar to classic 2D RPGs. The only disappointing factor is the lack of touch-screen support. As the primary feature on the 3DS, you would’ve expected them to make more use of it than just a second screen for tracking stats. Still, at only £3.99 in the Nintendo eShop I think it’s unfair to get picky with such a great title. If you’re after a Final Fantasy Tactics fix and can’t wait for Square Enix to produce another, this is definitely a worthwhile substitute.
- Publisher: CIRCLE Ent.
- Developer: Rideon Inc.
- Where to Buy: Nintendo eShop
- Price: £3.99
- Platform: Nintendo 3DS