You Sir, Are No Final Fantasy Tactics
On a warm June night in 1969, at the now legendary Monterey Pop Festival, seminal rock and roll guitarist Jimi Hendrix smashed his black Fender Stratocaster. Kneeling in front of its shattered form, he doused it with lighter fluid and set it on fire. He gestured over the flames like a shaman embroiled in a ritual. Some complained that Hendrix had stolen the move from his contemporary, the Who’s Pete Townshend. Townshend smashed his guitar on the same stage about an hour earlier. What’s more he’d made destroying guitars a signature element of his act.
Most people, however, recognized that Hendrix had transformed Townshend’s stage antic into something a notch more dramatic. A healthy portion of this camp would no doubt agree that if you were to pick apart any work of art or entertainment you’d find that they are derivative—that in the long run almost everything human beings create is derived from something else human beings have created. It’s just a matter of the degree to which a given work is copied.
A Unique Clone
I bring this up because imitation is an ever-present issue in the world of Android gaming. This week alone I worked on three reviews which were derived from other games. SRPG Legna Tactica is one of those tiles. This won’t come as a surprise to those familiar with its developer, Kemco. Since Hardcore Droid opened its doors Kemco’s released an Android RPG every couple of months.
We’ve reviewed a bunch of them. Every single one offered up a rather derivative experience, usually of Final Fantasy I through VII. In terms of quality, Kemco’s library of Android RPGs spans the gamut between fair and decent. Reviewers either criticize or praise them for being largely derivative. Derived mainly from Final Fantasy Tactics, a masterwork of an RPG, Legna Tactica falls into another category. It’s also a type of RPG that, unlike the standard mobile JRPG, has yet to become oversaturated in the Android gaming space.
While its story is insipid and puerile in the worst way, Legna nevertheless remains one of the more interesting Kemco titles. Though its RPG and combat system are mostly borrowed from Final Fantasy Tactics, both facets of Legna are well-crafted, if a bit simplistic when compared to Final Fantasy Tactics’ brilliant job system. The only real downer when it comes to gameplay is that the battles are overly easy for this kind of game. Although to be fair, players can counter this by deploying fewer than the optimum number of characters into battle.
A Wonderful Tale of Bedwetters
Regrettably, there’s no work around for Legna’s story, which you will likely find more of an annoyance than anything else. As someone who cut his teeth playing PC games, it always amazes me how frequently console titles force players to sit through boring dialogue. Worse still, it often seems that the degree to which players are forced to sit through them is inversely proportional to a game-story’s quality.
Legna Tactica adheres to this paradigm, imposing long tracts of demented, going-nowhere dialogue. Via these mind-numbing convos a moronic story unfolds, revolving around two friends who wish to bring about world peace. One of them is a circumspect cool guy, who plans to acquire worldly power and use it to end war for good. The other is a childish and kind-hearted youth, who hopes to bring about world-peace by protecting the downtrodden. Unfortunately, the player character is Leck, said pure-of-heart character, who is not only a walking JRPG trope, but also about as boring and insipid a character as you will find in any JRPG.
Dialogue to Die Over
It’s too bad the developers didn’t embrace the inherent hypocrisy of their main character’s predicament. A bed-wetting (I’m not making this up) and peace-loving innocent, Leck hopes to bring about world peace by killing thousands of living things. Then they might have changed the title to something like Growing Up Stalin. Instead, the player is stuck with a tired retread of a JRPG story. One that is unfortunately thick with every JRPG trope imaginable. There’s a dark and brooding best friend, a mysterious royal heir, a childhood friend who eventually becomes a love interest and a goofy older sage-like character who provides comic relief by—get this—constantly mispronouncing our protagonist’s first name.
“What’s that, you say there, Peck?” asks, the older sage-like guy.
“Hey! My name is Leck!” Leck replies.
Madcap interactions like this, as well as a host of similarly rich storytelling gems are there for the plucking. Characters discuss other characters and the minutia of their day-to-day lives. They incessantly compliment one other for God knows what. The whole package will no doubt have most junior high school graduates furiously clicking through the endless streams of inept dialogue. Chanting, with eyes glazed: “Please shut up. Please shut up. Please shut up!”
But a Final Fantasy Tactics Clone is a Good Thing, No?
And yet, while playing Legna Tactica with a review in mind, my general opinion of it was constantly vacillating. As you might imagine, it eventually began leaning towards a non-recommendation. Then a few things happened. My party of adventurers ran into a mysterious and beautiful white-haired woman. Said mystery lady didn’t understand fundamental aspects of my other characters’ world-view. She spoke in a strange syntax. For a few minutes I became genuinely interested in the game’s plot.
Shortly after that, my team became engaged in an unwinnable battle. A few minutes in, after losing a couple of our heroes, we seemed to be winning. In short, the game got interesting for a time. And I found myself afterwards reading through the various playable characters’ skill trees and generally appreciating the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into the composition of Legna’s playable characters. Unfortunately, not too long after these incidents my party found themselves in a throne room listening to an endless diatribe from the local king centered on only God only knows what, and I somehow found myself playing Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions, and being summarily blown away by the brilliance of Legna’s legendary precursor.
With all this flip-flopping, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether Legna is worth the price of admission. That depends on you: If you are looking for a hardcore tactical strategy game for your Android, you’d be better served by downloading Xcom, the Banner Saga or Legna’s seminal inspiration. And yet there’s no getting away from the fact that SRPG Legna Tactic’s role-playing system and turn-based combat are well-crafted and engaging.
For many players it no doubt comes down to whether you are looking for trail-blazing artistry or the comfort of the familiar. To that end, SRPG Legna Tactica is no Hendrix at Monterrey. It’s more like your cousin Eugene’s band at the Dew Drop Inn. You will never find yourself dazzled by innovation but if you’re into covers, it’s probably worth the $4 cover charge.
Is it Hardcore?
Maybe. Sometimes. Depends.
A well-made SRPG marred by poor writing and overly easy combat.