It has become clear, in the wake of the disastrous Unsung Story, that we may never get a proper successor to Final Fantasy Tactics. Fortunately, the original game is as good today as it was in 1998. This past weekend, the game studio Playdek broke months of silence to announce that they'd put Unsung Story on ice for the indefinite future. This news came two years after they raised $US660,000 from unwitting backers — myself included — for the promise of a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics, designed by legendary director Yasumi Matsuno himself. After months of extended silence, directional shifts and broken promises, it's become clear that Playdek is not going to deliver on that pledge. (Playdek has not responded to several requests for comment.)
I sympathise with anyone who pledged to this Kickstarter, especially those who spent significant amounts of money. Here's some comfort, though: Final Fantasy Tactics is just as good as it ever was.
In the wake of the Unsung Story news, I spent some time this weekend revisiting Matsuno's classic, which I've bought three times now (on PS1, PSP and iPhone). It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the game's still great. The music is still stirring, the story is still twisted, the characters are still as fascinating and multifaceted as they were back in the day. Ramza's still into milk. Building an army of characters and watching their job trees expand is still satisfying as hell.
The iOS version of Final Fantasy Tactics is particularly solid, bringing over the enhanced script of the PSP remake without any of the framerate issues. They haven't optimised the game for bigger versions of the iPhone, so you'll still see those black bars on the sides of your screen, but the touch controls are surprisingly easy to use, once you've adjusted a bit.
So if you're bummed out about the Unsung Story mess — or you just want to play one of the best video games ever made — go play Final Fantasy Tactics. If you're like me and you've beaten it dozens of times already, try one of the many challenges that fans have devised over the years, like the Single Class Challenge, which tasks you with beating the entire game as, say, a party of archers. Or you could go with a themed party based around Chrono Trigger or Lord of the Rings. Just don't use Orlando, because that's cheating.