It's a true testament to the game that 15 years after release, the original Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is still rated as one of the best titles in its genre. In fact it was such a triumph it's featured in Famitsu's Top 20 Games list for 14 years running.
The premise is simple – you are a humble boy on a quest to bring freedom to the nation of Valeria. To achieve this, you control a group of up to 12 warriors and wage battles on 3D isometric playing fields.
Once you've individually manoeuvred your fighters into place you can attack, defend, cast spells or healing buffs... Whatever your soldier is trained to do. It's these intelligent turn-based battles, combined with razor-sharp AI and an emotive plotline, which have helped the game to stand the test of time.
It's easy to forget that Tactics Ogre actually precedes Square Enix's other strategic super title, Final Fantasy Tactics, especially since it was never released outside of Japan. So it's a pleasure to see Square Enix prepare a new PSP version for a worldwide release.
But rather than simply redevelop this nostalgic gem, Square has gone one step further and reunited the entire original dev team – a process that's taken four years to complete. They've even bagged director Yasumi Matsuno, who was last seen working on Platinum Games' MadWorld.
"We originally thought about re-developing Tactics Ogre after Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions was out on PSP," says new director Hiroshi Minagawa. "It took quite a lot of time because everyone was spread out in different companies. I talked to everyone and finally we came together."
According to Minagawa, choosing the right approach to take when it came to updating the game was not an easy task. "In the beginning we focused on what original fans are going to think about," he says.
"But in the middle of the project we started re-thinking things, because if you think about the original themes too much you can't think about what will attract new fans. So we decided to change it and make something everyone will enjoy
"Towards the end, we added more features that'll attract new players. We added the Chariot System and the camera angle on the map. In the original version, you can't change the angle. But now you can, so you can see everything."
Did the team learn anything from when they worked on Tactics Ogre all those years ago? "The original version is so old. Even we ourselves forgot what we actually did," laughs Minagawa.
"Obviously we researched a lot before we started on the remake, checking with all the communities and fansites. A lot of people were talking about what they wanted and what they hoped for the new game – so we took quite a lot of feedback from that."
Of course there have been plenty more contributions to the tactical RPG since 1995, including formidable titles such as Koei's madcap Disgaea series and SEGA's Valkyria Chronicles. Has Minagawa taken any inspiration from these fresh instalments?
"I've played both series and I really like them," he says. "But for Tactics Ogre... Only my team can create this game and the more I played different games, the more confidence I had in thinking, 'This is what I want, and this is the best thing we can do.' So I haven't really taken much from other games, as I want Ogre to be unique."
Make no mistake – Tactics Ogre has not lost its hardcore edge, judging by the abundance of strategic factors you need to consider before making a single move. Factors such as the terrain indicator, which'll determine both melee and ranged accuracy. For instance, if you're trying to fire an arrow at an enemy's head, the success of it landing depends on where your archer is positioned, if it's raining, which way the wind's blowing....
On which note, is an archer the best class to have in your team? What about a magic-casting, sword-wielding Rune Fencer? Or a punchy Beserker? With over 60 character classes to choose from, half of the fun comes from assembling a crack troop that can take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Our favourite is the Necroprentice, who can summon undead nasties to do thy bidding.