Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Surreal Time Strategy.

Using the word Revenant to title this, the first spin-off videogame to Final Fantasy XII's bright universe, seems something of a misnomer. With full-page advertisements in Viz this month proclaiming the original PlayStation 2 game's arrival to Europe, the world of Ivalice has hardly been gone long enough to warrant a vainglorious comeback.

Nevertheless, players who recently uncovered all of Final Fantasy XII's grand mysteries, but were left wanting more, will have no qualms with Revenant Wings so closely following on the heels of its illustrious parent.

But while the characters, locations and soundtrack will all be instantly familiar (the game opens in the Glabados Ruins before whisking you back to Rabanastre's cosy slums) the core RPG engine has been stripped out and improbably replaced with some Real Time Strategy cogs and rubber bands.

This is surprising for various reasons, not least of which is the fact that RTS games are terminally unpopular in Japan, where the game has just launched. Prior to sitting down with a demo of the game, Eurogamer asked the its director, Motomu Toriyama, what on earth the team was thinking.

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"There's a lot of excitement regarding RTS games within Square-Enix at the moment," he explained. "With Revenant Wings we're really looking to warm the Japanese up to the genre by making an accessible game based in a universe which they love. I believe there's an ease of play to our take on the RTS genre here. It works really well on the DS but it's certainly been a big challenge making it work elegantly with the stylus."

Of course, coming from this developer, Revenant Wings is hardly an RTS in the orthodox western, Command and Conquer understanding of the term. The game incorporates RPG style levelling for both the core characters and the various summon creatures which aid them in their quest.

Likewise, central mechanics from the PS2 game, such as the license board, mist abilities and gambits all make a return - albeit in modified form.

"We've worked hard to make Revenant Wings sit comfortably alongside Final Fantasy XII," said Toriyama. "But while that game is focussed on the large-scale historical events of Ivalice, this title is an examination of the key characters as they go about their daily lives.

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As a result we decided to really focus on Vaan and Penelo, for the story here. They really played secondary, spectators roles within Final Fantasy XII's storyline and this was the perfect opportunity to explore and develop their relationship and story."

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