Top 10 Best Tactical RPGs of all time

Tactical RPGs are hard to come by--it's a relatively neglected genre. The few that exist, however, are almost legendary. Here are ten of the best tactical RPGs of all time that no strategy-loving armchair general can afford to miss.

by on 24th Dec, 2010

Often described as a hybrid between old-school table top RPGs and action RPG video games, the subgenre of tactical RPGs is one of the oldest and most popular types of RPG, even by today's standards. Tactical RPGs, while they do share many characteristics with their cousins in the broader RPG category, differ on several specific counts. First of all, rather than discovering or unlocking a world, most emphasis is put on battles and combat strategies. The building of characters often utilizes customizable classes in a similar fashion to other RPGs, but combat almost always takes place on a grid battlefield, as opposed to most real-time fighting scenes, which often do not have a specific battlefield at all.

Because tactical RPGs can be fairly time-intensive and tricky to beat, they tend to appeal to the most hardcore of gamers, gaining particular popularity with many of the titles released on the Playstation and PS2. Here are ten of our favorites! 

Front Mission: Alternative - Playstation, PSN 

front mission alternative

Many of the Front Mission games are excellent, and everyone has their favorite. However, Front Mission: Alternative is sometimes overlooked because it was initially released only in Japan, and did not become available to a larger on the Playstation Network until nearly a decade after its 1997 release.

      In the year 2030, Africa has become one united nation, which was initially beneficial to all the former nations involved, but soon devolved into disagreement and outright conflict. Peacemaker factions are sent in to help resolve the fighting, and the player assumes control of one such faction, the Independent Mobile Attack Company, using experimental weapons methodology, referred to as the "Wanderung Wagen".

      Led by Earl McCoy, the IMAC is dispatched to various locations in Africa to establish and maintain peace, in spite of many terrorist organizations that appear fragmented. After a while, I deeper connection between the splinter groups is discovered and must be brought to light in order to bring a sustainable peace. 

Shining Force - PC, Game Boy Advance, Sega Genesis 

shining force

In the land of Rune, Guardiana, Max is sent on a quest to protect the world from Darksol and his hordes of Runefaust, who is bent on opening the Shining Path and invoking the Dark Dragon. Max forms the Shining Force when joined by several allies, including the Princess Narsha. Unfortunately, Darksol has allies as well, in the form of King Ramladu, and the warrior Kane.

      Combat is turn-based, with the standard one-unit-per-square on the map. Turns are determined by each unit's agility, and there is one action per turn, though certain actions do not constitute a turn, such as equipping and dropping items.

      Shining Force is a good choice for any players who wish to experience a very traditional Japanese tactical RPG, and is similar in feel to some of the earlier Final Fantasy games. Also, it may be worth noting that though this title is part of a larger series, not all the games in the series adhere to the tactical RPG style. Several others are of the dungeon crawler variety, which can provide variety in gameplay, but keep to the same universe. 

Stella Deus - PS 2 

stella deus

      The world of Solum is gradually being devoured by a poisonous mist called "Miasma". Some, like the followers of the Church of Aeque, see this as the natural order of things, and assume that it is the will of the almighty for this to happen. Others, such as Dignus the warlord and Viser the alchemist are more interested in exploiting the situation for their own ends. The game's protagonist, Spero, is second in command to Dignus, and must attempt to navigate his way through a delicate and dangerous situation, while trying to save Solum.

      This title is bound to catch me some flak for its inclusion on this list, due some fairly terrible voice acting. Everyone knows that this can be a game-ruiner, even though there are many other titles with equally terrible voicework that manage to achieve popularity in spite of this. However, the visual style of Stella Deus makes it worthy of at least a second glance. Stella Deus is also a good choice for anyone who is new to tactical RPGs, as the gameplay is not as difficult as many of the other titles on this list. 


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