Tactics

Haven’t we all wondered what Final Fantasy Tactics job class we would be? I suppose I’d have to say thief, for myself (though my charm would suck). Thieves are rather weak, which is a shame, but then I can’t bench press anything larger than a medium-sized root vegetable, either. 
Shall we think up some thiefy outfits? Yes, let’s.

I think this might be my favourite game ever, if I had to choose one. Playing it at the age of fifteen was almost unfair, because it gave me a mesmeric flash of what videogames might be capable of, if handled by people with good taste, who weren’t putting the profit line above the work itself, and nearly nothing since then has lived up to that early hopeful projection (not that I won’t play it and love it, whatever it is, anyway [and obviously this is all just my own nostalgia-slanted opinion]). I used to spend so many hours at this game, that my mum would come and stand in my doorway, and make a sort of continuous worry noise. Didn’t I have homework to do? I almost never did my homework, but there wasn’t any need for her to know that. And anyway, most of those hours were spent painstakingly levelling my “calculator”, which, you have to admit, at least sounds like homework.

The upside of this game being so good, of course, is that it holds its worth. Not just the gameplay, but the design as well. I look at the character illustrations, and they’re still fresh. I still find things that I want to hijack for myself. Even from a clothing/style point of view. A brave man or woman could very nearly walk the streets in a lot of this get-up, and not even look that peculiar (well, I suppose it would depend on what streets. Maybe not small-town Saskatchewan).

The first place I encountered the FFT art was in a Gamefan Magazine preview. Look, I’ll even scan it and put it up. I left off drawing noses right then and there, and it was a long time before I returned to them.

Actually, I could go on at length about Gamefan, too. Other teenage girls might have been starting to go on dates with (real) people (roughly their own age). Me, all of my crushes were on the editors of this magazine. I still view Takuhi (or Casey Loe, as it took me several months’ process of elimination to discover) as the love of my life. I mean, um, ahem, after Brandon, that is.
See that weird shadowy guy on the left? Yes, that would be him. And oh my god, I just realized that he bears a suspicious resemblance to the title character of my book, Beast. Well. How about that.

Nowadays, not having a television, I play FFT on the handy portable devices (and actually, I have no idea where my ancient original disk is, though I suppose I should be preserving it as a collector’s item or whatever). Handheld machines, by the way, are the coziest thing in the world. Nice hot cup of tea, and some Yoshi’s Island, while I recline at my ease on the chesterfield? Well then. Don’t mind if I do.

29 Comments

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29 responses to “Tactics

  1. Zhaobowen

    A calculator with black magic is a deadly combo. Careful, tho…

    Also, a master knight with geomancy, and dual swords.

    • Marian

      Though if you’re impatient, like me, you’ll just as often go ninja with equip swords, and when they’re one-hit killed by some wretched superpowered enemy then you hope your calculator can find a good Raise 2 combination (which thankfully it usually can).

      • Zhaobowen

        To be honest, I never risk my guys on Raise spells. I just carry Phoenix Downs. I’ve been burned before by the failure rate of “Raise”.

  2. I recently bought a PSP just so that I could finally play this game. This thing just takes over your life. Now, my comic is about ninjas. Oh well!

    • Marian

      I bought a PSP just for this game, too.
      It really can take over your life! It has that completely addictive “just one more fight and I can afford such-and-such ability” element to it.

  3. Angie

    The Calculators/Arithmeticians with Black Magic are so overpowered it’s crazy. They almost ruin the fun of the game, except I got such a thrill out of destroying half the map before anyone else could move.

    I bet if you sent those designs down the runway relatively unchanged nobody would even bat an eyelid. I love those archer’s boots, and the middle outfit in your redesign.

  4. I don’t even think I own this game, which is quite a shame. I am outcasted from the Final Fantasy party, because my real rpg and tactical love belongs to Suikoden. Yet, Suikoden Tactics taught me I am piss poor at tactical games, even though my Suikoden job class would totally be Mapmaker/Strategist.

    I really need a PSP.

    • Marian

      I loved Suikoden, though I only played the first one (such a good soundtrack). Though I don’t even know if it was possible to be adept at that game, tactically. At least, I seem to remember it being a pretty simple do-you-deploy-your-archers-or-not kind of system, which I never got the better of.

      • T.G. Wier

        It was actually Casey Loe’s original preview for Genso Suikoden that sold me on the Playstation. That man was/is a genius of gaming prose!

  5. Victor

    You’ve just officially become the love of MY life! :p

  6. Man…those designs STILL give me the chills!

    I always wanted them to just keep adding bonus characters, like Cloud…
    Maybe Hellboy?
    http://www.joelcarroll.com/art2/ffhb.jpg

    • Marian

      My dream bonus character was always Celes from FFVI. I’m not sure what it would be nowadays, though.

      • Dave Shevlin

        Any 6 character resurrected for Tactics would be the most amazing thing ever. My head would explode. Besides my Darkstalkers and Street Fighter(which i need with me always) this game was also the only reason i needed a PSP.

  7. I never had a playstation when FFT came out, but I remember jealously watching my friend play it every now and then.

    It is too bad that Akihiko Yoshida stopped using that charming style in his games.

    I’ve been desperately searching for more of his work on Ogre-Battle. The cover for the game is almost all I have found with this style attached to it. http://firsthour.net/screenshots/ogre-battle-march-of-the-black-queen/ogre-battle-march-of-the-black-queen-art.jpg

    • Marian

      Yeah, I never saw more than the Ogre-Battle cover, either. I even remember studying magazine screenshots of the character portraits, as a kid, trying to get a hit of the style.

      I like his newer work as well, but not as much as the stuff from that era.

  8. Pingback: Straight for the art | Marian Churchland’s Final Fantasy costumes | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  9. The design elements of this game killed me in middle school. I think it meant more to me than FF7. Like you I put more time into it than any other game! That intro with the pseudo-Celtic music? Awesome. I remember poring over the character designs in the booklet. The first battle with the Thieves on the rooftops, where you discover that characters can be knocked down with arrows? Oh man I could go on forever. Thanks for posting this!

  10. cram_hammer

    my favorite little detail about those character designs is that they have no noses.

    and i still remember how effing hard that game could be. there was one fight in the middle of the game with Wiegraf that i literally could not finish. i had to start the game over so i could level up enough . . .

  11. I always liked the Knight so that I could be a turd and destroy my enemies equipment. HAH, no more sword techs now, eh? As far as I recall I liked to double it up with either Lancer techs (although Jump wasn’t that great an ability, I think?) or Samurai since it gave them some neat, though fairly worthless area spells. Then two swords, of course.

  12. It’s really fun to break down his work and decipher it, I was inspired recently to design my own job classes and I always come back to his designs, actually attempting to design something in similar territory has really helped me to appreciate his work even more.

    I too was really obsessed with this game- the gameplay, the art, it had such great synergy and is still easily my most favorite- it was incredibly satisfying.

    I’m playing FF3 for the DS with his work in it, which also has hints of the job class choices, it’s quite good.

  13. Wow, Gamefan, that brings me back. Thanks for the reminder of some golden age of my youth moments, hahaha. In FFT I always favored dual-wielding ninjas and samurai (mostly because I liked their swords) and would tend to have more than one dragoon for some reason. I think I always made choices based more on coolness of character designs than actual usefulness.

    I’ve been wanting to do some redesigns of videogame character outfits for a while. I can remember the first time I saw the FF Tactics booklet, Yoshida’s designs blew my mind. I even love the cutesy chibi style of the recent DS remakes. Have you seen his work on the upcoming FF gaiden “The 4 Heroes of Light”?

    http://mognetcentral.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/final-fantasy-gaiden.png
    http://www.square-enix.co.jp/hikarino4sensi/download/1920crown.jpg
    Goddamn, such good job/class designs!

  14. Horse

    Hello. *ahem* A fair lady and fine companion of mine by the name of Jenny Slay introduced me to your loverly site. I can say with utmost certainty that you are my soul mate, though I do not intend to act upon this knowledge (creepy!!). I thought it best I introduce myself since I’ll most likely be lurking about for some time. I do so enjoy your drawings and writings. And love of shinies. And sandwiches. Yes.
    ~Horse

    • Marian

      Ack! I’m glad I’m all narcissistic and read through my old posts, otherwise I never would have known I had a soul mate.
      Somebody should make a movie about us, and how we are soul mates and love all the same things (etc. etc.), but keep almost-but-not-quite meeting, and it’s charming and hilarious and the one movie you need to see this summer. (Why am I not a millionaire?)
      Very nice to meet you. I promise I’ll get back on the posting of shinies and sandwiches.

      • Horse

        Well, I DID sort of bury in the archives on purpose, so as not to seem too creepy…so yeah! Meh heh heh, I like the movie idea. Maybe there could be some dragons and caves with glittering stalactites thrown in as well? I’ve always wanted a scaly friend and a pile of treasure to hoard. And sandwiches with dried meats and butter! Mmm!

  15. Tabris Macbeth

    …Marian Churchland? The same Marian Churchland who made that comic “Silk” that got a couple pages shown in the reader art section of Volume 5 Issue 5 (May 1997) of Gamefan? Who apparently ISN’T a dude?

    GAWD, I’ve been obsessing over those two pages from Silk for over a decade now! Always wanted to know more about it! Don’t suppose you remember it, do you?

    -Tabris

    • Marian

      WOW.

      You know what? Nothing I’ve ever had published has been half as exciting as seeing my drawings in Gamefan, when I was a teenager.

      I might have to dig up those old Silk comics, and make a post about them at some point.

      Also, hey, thanks! You made my week for remembering that.

      • Tabris Macbeth

        And you made mine…when I read this. Which is just the other day. Sheesh, this is late.

        This is impossibly cool for me. By the most amazing luck in the world, I find the creator of this comic I’ve been fawning over and inspired by for years, and not only has she not disappeared into obscurity, but she’s this fancy-pants professional comic book artist and she’s talking to me. Words fail me as to how cool that is.

        Oh, by the way, as someone else who remembers the good ol’ days of gaming, I very much recommend Deadly Premonition if you got an Xbox 360 (which unless you got a TV now, I guess you wouldn’t). It’s a cheap-o game, but unlike most budget games on current generation systems, it’s actually goddamn cheap! It’s only the only current generation game I’ve pulled an all-nighter with to beat. 20+ hours of gameplay, loads of personality, and all sorts of neat little bits and bobs like buttons for turn signals when you’re in a car. There’s something about keymapping something as trivial as turn signals that fills me with childlike glee.

        -Tabris

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