Of course, it was Nippon Ichi that spoiled everything. Before Disgaea, La Pucelle Tactics. Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom and the electric promise of all their sequels, the Strategy RPG was a straightforward affair. You had old-fashioned basics like a start, a middle and an end, quaint little boundaries to hold everything together like a chronological script and a game plan, charming little inclusions like some named characters to take care of and enemies for them to take care of. But then Nippon Upstart stole the rulebook, gulped down the pages and let them rearrange themselves through a winding, convoluted digestive tract before using the resultant faecal statement as nurturing manure on their brave new world. [How very colourful. Have an extra 50p. - Ed]
All games function within a genre: it's impossible to entirely break free of a frame of reference whether it's a piece of music, literature, gameplay or cross-stitch pattern. But the best games - the games that change things and widen the boundaries of gaming, influencing everyone else making and playing them - are those that screw with the genre. They invert and subvert and spit out and suck up and rebuild brick by tiny brick into a wholly different shape and structure: at once disorientatingly different and comfortingly recognisable.
That's what Nippon Ichi has done, and that, in every meaningful sense, is what Konami has chosen to shy away from with Suikoden Tactics. There is space for the conservative Strategy RPG - that which mirrors and tributes and celebrates those definitive titles of the genre's formative years: the Shining Forces, the Ogre Battles and the Final Fantasy Tactics. But, oh my gosh, if you choose to take that path, choose to ignore what the competition has done to broaden the form's horizons and warmly welcome in rafts of players that would never before have darkened a crusty grid-framed door-stop, frankly you better do so pretty darn amazingly.