Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the best games Square Enix ever produced, and it’s not available anywhere on modern consoles or PC. A remaster is an obvious way to fix that problem, and it seemed like all signs were pointing to one getting announced any day now. So it’s an especially cruel twist of fate that the original game’s director, Yasumi Matsuno, keeps toying with fans’ emotions about whether a remaster is actually happening or not.
“Currently, there are no plans for remastering,” Matsuno tweeted to a fan on November 29, as first reported by IGN. Also, you have to convey your request to [Square Enix], not me.” The fan was crestfallen. Then a day later, Matsuno responded to a separate Final Fantasy Tactics fan. “Even if you have information, you can’t say anything unless there is an official announcement,” he wrote on November 30. Some fans immediately took this new comment to be confirming a remaster is happening after all. As a fellow player of the original Final Fantasy Tactics, I understand why they want to believe.
The 1998 PlayStation strategy RPG remains a benchmark for the genre, especially after a 2007 PSP port fixed serious localization issues with the script. Final Fantasy Tactics combined a riveting political drama punctuated by tragedy, betrayal, and radical acts of love and self-sacrifice with a deep, Final Fantasy-style job system that let players tweak their medieval band of outlaws to their hearts’ content. It combined emotive pixel-art sprites and 3D dioramas to stage unforgettable scenes and battles, all set to a one-of-a-kind soundtrack by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata. It’s Shakespeare by way of chess and Dungeons & Dragons stat sheets, and my god why haven’t they brought it back again?
Fans have been set on a Final Fantasy Tactics resurrection since September 2021’s Nvidia leak, the holy grail of unannounced games, included a reference to a remaster. Initially it seemed far fetched. Then nearly every other game in the leak ended up being real, including the unexpected Kingdom Hearts 4 sequel. It’s always possible that a Final Fantasy Tactics remaster was in development at some point and later abandoned, but it’s hard to imagine why Square Enix would pull the plug when so many other less popular games from its back catalog received fancy ports. Even Actraiser has made a comeback, and Square Enix has said it isn’t done yet.
It’s in this context that fans keep seeing comments from Matsuno and others that sound like potential teases. Square Enix devs told French site Finaland earlier this year that Theatrhythm Final Bar Line didn’t have Final Fantasy Tactics characters because, “The Tactics team is…heavily involved in another project at the moment so we just don’t have time to talk to them.”
A few months later, Matsuno tweeted at a fan, “If we remaster it, what do you think about whether it is better to weaken ‘The Thunder God Cid,’ who was accused of destroying the balance?” Was it just a fun thought experiment? Why bait players into possibly misreading it as potential evidence for the thing they’ve been waiting years for? And why wait another five months to correct the record, only to then keep tweeting things that could be misinterpreted as proof a secret remaster is in the works?
A Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together remaster was also mentioned in the old Nvidia leak, and Square Enix ended up releasing it just last year, complete with excellent new voice acting and some rebalanced combat. A spiritual precursor to Final Fantasy Tactics, Matsuno wrote and directed that game as well. Both were updated for the PSP in the 2000s and later ported to smartphones. It’s hard to believe that Tactics Ogre, as amazing as it is, would be preserved while its even better-selling and more critically acclaimed cousin languished in obscurity.
In addition to Matsuno unintentionally teasing rebalancing of some of Final Fantasy Tactics’ more broken job classes and characters, Matsuno has also previously alluded to more detailed storylines following Delita, the RPG’s central frenemy, that had to be cut from the original game. It’s nice to dream of that being potential fodder for additional material in a remaster, though even just tweaking the base game, adding voice acting and bringing it into HD-2D in the vein of Triangle Strategy would make fans freak out. It’s the least a top-10 OG PlayStation game and all-time classic deserves.