Help me find easy tactical RPGs!
May 27, 2009 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me learn to appreciate and have fun with tactical RPGs!

I love RPGs. Can't get get enough of 'em...JRPGs, western RPGs, action RPGs, all great stuff. But for the life of me, I just can't get into a tactical or strategy RPG. I've tried Final Fantasy Tactics and a few others, but I always find myself so overwhelmed by the complexity of the whole thing and the snail's pace that I never make it past the first battle or two.

I want to learn to like them, though, since it seems like most new console RPGS are tactical, and they're all getting freaky good where is a good place to start? Are there any "My First TRPGs" out there? Something with dumbed down rules and faster paced battles, with a low frustration threshold...Where's a good place to start before I graduate to the big leagues of FFT and the like?

I have a PS2, DSi (so no GBA, unfortunately. Stupid purchase on my part), and a 360.

posted by MostHolyPorcine to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Try Disgaea 2 for PS2.

I love FFT also, but battles are way too slow. Disgaea cuts the crap and plays fast. The story is random and hilarious. It can get pretty complex however.

Tactics Ogre is another good series, a bit simpler, but still fun.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:41 PM on May 27, 2009

It's not an RPG, but something like Advance Wars (I recommend Days of Ruin over Dual Strike) may show you the joy in winning fights with careful positioning of your guys.

If you have a PC (or Mac), the original Fallout is a fantastic RPG that happens to have fairly intuitive tactical combat that's not as busy as FF Tactics or Disgaea.
posted by ignignokt at 2:58 PM on May 27, 2009

I would strongly recommend not going with any Disgaea game - they are designed to appeal to hardcore fans, and so feature very long playing times and lots of level grinding.

Two tactical RPGs I would recommend are Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3 and Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars for the GBA (although it looks like you don't own either of those platforms unfortunately). Both are easy to grasp and are fairly forgiving difficulty wise.
posted by fearthehat at 3:00 PM on May 27, 2009

My first tactical RPG was Shining Force on Sega. It was very basic. A very straight forward story line with very few opportunities to stray and completely set characters. I can't stand all the customizable options and story-less extra characters that come with the newer tactical RPG games.

Unfortunately the Sega isn't on your list... but, if you have a PC it's not too hard to find an emulator to give Shining Force a try.

If you decide to give FFT another try or other more complex games, I'd suggest going down the path of less customizing. Once you fill up all the slots on your team just keep using the same people over and over. Don't attempt side quests. Once you decide on a profession for your characters just stick with it, don't switch it up. Go for the most basic you can go for and hopefully the game will be more enjoyable.
posted by simplethings at 3:09 PM on May 27, 2009

Fire Emblem was just released for the DS. It strips out a lot of the unnecessary level grinding / job selection of FFT-type games. There's only two "systems" to know.

I had the previous two GBA versions, and they do very well in reducing the RPG clutter.
posted by meowzilla at 3:52 PM on May 27, 2009

I'm not sure how feel about playing flash games, but Sonny and Sonny 2 are simple fun.
posted by schyler523 at 8:32 PM on May 27, 2009

Be aware that in Fire Emblem games, if a character dies, they are dead. Forever. No reviving. That can be very frustrating even for an experienced SRPG player. I really think Advance Wars is a good place to cut your teeth, and there are two available for the DS(Dual Strike and Days of Ruin). I've only played Dual Strike, but it did a good job of keeping the learning curve manageable and explaining the game elements so that even though it is somewhat complex, it's not overwhelming.
posted by owtytrof at 7:30 AM on May 28, 2009

I love Tactical RPG's too, and I couldn't come up with any easy ones. This is a genre full of difficult games. I thought the original Final Fantasy Tactics was especially hard. I played it when it came out, and I played it again last year, still pretty hard.

Possible recommendations:
Front Mission 4. I really liked this one, and I don't think it was too hard. It's mechs instead of fantasy, which is a nice change of pace. Looks like the original is out for the DS now.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was fantastic, but only on the GBA. The sequel was made for the DS, and is almost certainly worth your time.
Also, La Pucelle: Tactics was supposed to be good, but I never played it. It's made by the same people as Disgaea.
posted by Who_Am_I at 7:57 AM on May 28, 2009

Suikoden 2 is a JRPG for PS1 with a tactics sub-game. It's 90% standard RPG (correction: awesome standard RPG!), 10% tactics, and not overwhelmingly hard.

Fair warning, though: you'll probably have to emulate it, given its scarcity.
posted by spamguy at 8:37 AM on May 28, 2009

It's already been mentioned, but I would very highly recommend Disgaea (the original to start, as there are now three in the Disgaea series). Play the PS2 version if possible - though it's been ported to DS, the controls are a bit clumsier there. It's a great overall game, and although it's true that you CAN get very complex if you choose, you can also just go through and complete the game without really delving into it particularly deeply. If you check out Disgaea and like it, Nippon Ichi has a whole slew of RPGs on PS2 that are worth checking out. Some are more traditional (Atelier Iris, Mana Khemia) than strategy (all three Disgaea games, La Pucelle, Makai Kingdom), but all have a great sense of humor and a decent storyline.

On DS, I would recommend checking out Final Fantasy Tactics A2, though I will say that the battles tend to be on the slow side. Luminous Arc is fun as well, and though I haven't played them extensively, Rondo of Swords and Summon Night: Twin Age may be closer to some 'starter' games in the genre.

There's a massive list of tactical RPGs, in chronological order, here.

posted by Kattiara17 at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2009

On the DS I'd highly recommend Advance Wars and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Both are very simple sRPGs, but fun to play, even if you suck at them (at least, they were for me). Final Fantasy Tactics A2 was a very easy but enjoyable game. Much easier than FFT, which I've never finished.
posted by graventy at 7:45 PM on June 18, 2009

I really think the best experience in the genre is FFT. The complexity of the character-building is actually one of the most important themes of TRPGs generally (probably because FFT was so successful). If you don't find it compelling, TRPGs may just not be for you. Disgaea and NIS's 7-8 other takes on the genre are good but they are essentially hard-core takes on FFT.
posted by grobstein at 8:47 PM on June 18, 2009

(Looking back, my first TRPG was Shining Force 2 on Genesis, which is easy to emulate. I loved it. It has some features that might make it a good choice: simple class system, few battle commands, etc.)
posted by grobstein at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2009

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