Time is an interesting element used in video games. As of last March, two games came out hoping to stand out among this crowd. One is Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together for the PSP and the other is Radiant Historia for the DS. Both games are Japanese Role-Playing Games, or JRPGs. This article aims at Tactics Ogre to see how it approaches its use time and how the industry can learn from it.
Tactics Ogre is a remake of the original Super Nintendo game with a few enhancements for the PSP. For those unfamiliar with the game, TO is a strategy JRPG. Think of it like a chess game mixed with Dungeons and Dragons. The game itself is about a young man, Povel, on a quest with his comrades to take back their land from a set of warring clans. The story is a little hard to follow at first, but the plot’s political intrigue and rich character development is interesting enough to stick to it. It also gets easier to grasp later on.
One of the new tweaks added to the battle system was the Chariot Wheel. The CW is a menu allowing players to reverse turns of up to 40 actions including enemy’s. Let’s say someone went through a series of 10 actions where at the end of that set one of his allies dies. The player can retread back anywhere within those 10 moves to play out a different action to hopefully prevent that ally’s death from happening. Doing this creates a split path of actions allowing the player to go back to the original action if he so chooses. It may sound complicated, but it gets easier after a few hours of play. Players can also use a form of the Chariot Wheel outside of combat. Upon completing the game, the CW can take players back to pivotal moments in time where the player was previously forced to make a decision that greatly alters the game’s narrative path.
The Chariot Wheel in combat doesn’t make the game easier or harder and it is not necessary to use at any point in the game. It’s there more as useful tool to help plan strategies. Outside battles, the CW’s time traveling mechanic makes it easier for players to access important plot points without having to replay the entire game all over again just to see a certain outcome. These two things aren’t flashy acts. They’re small implements that add to the original game’s content without altering it too much. Developers should learn from this that flash doesn’t always equal cash.
Special Notes: This article was originally posted on August 15, 2011 via Examiner.