It’s been over six months since Final Fantasy Tactics [$15.99] hit the iOS scene, and while the port largely survived the move to the iPhone we noted some issues that kept the game back from a universal recommendation. Even worse, the iPad version that we thought was on the horizon disappeared from the radar, leaving the small screen as the only avenue for playing the game for quite some time (iPad 2x mode notwithstanding). Now with Final Fantasy Tactics for iPad [$17.99] here, we can finally see if that half a year waiting period was worth it. While the port certainly improves in a variety of different areas (mainly due to the increased screen space), it’s still far from perfect.

For folks new to Final Fantasy Tactics, I recommend that you read our original review of the iPhone version (along with the recommendation to just check around the internet for the multitude of views on this classic). For everyone else, this is the same War of the Lions version found on the iPhone/iPod touch and Sony PSP (except for the multiplayer in the PSP version). It’s still the same, extremely deep strategy RPG that has kept its appeal even over a decade later.

One of our primary issues with the iPhone version of Final Fantasy Tactics dealt with an inherent limitation of the device. Specifically, the screen just felt too small for the amount of information displayed. Thankfully, the iPad version rectifies some of those concerns. The text is a lot less blurry (something that had been fixed in an update to the iPhone version since our original review), the added buttons and menus feel more spaced out, and the game just plays more comfortably in long gaming sessions. Unfortunately, the larger screen size also leads to a clearer view of just how pixelated most of the visuals are. However, I doubt most veterans of FFT are going to care about pixelated sprites.

Gameplay slowdown, another nagging issue that detracted from the iPhone experience (and has been somewhat addressed in recent updates) has improved in the iPad port. Strangely enough, not all abilities/spells seem to benefit from the additional quickness. For example, jump into the prologue and you’ll see that Agrias’ Holy Sword abilities (as well as Summoner spells later on) are greatly sped up. However, Squire Fundaments, as well as some black mage spells, still seem to suffer from noticeable slowdown. This inconsistency seems to exist across a variety of abilities, although the slowdown seems to affect far less abilities than previously. It’s important to note that despite the speed improvements, there’s still a disappointing lack of smoothness which continues to detract from the experience.

Gamers holding out hope that Final Fantasy Tactics for iPad features a revamping of controls are in for a disappointment. The touch controls, along with the general interface, continue to be a mixed-bag. The larger screen space of the iPad means things are generally easier to read and navigate, but there are still too many button presses, confirmation windows, and virtual buttons to be considered streamlined. Still, with enough playtime to get used to the controls I found the iPad version to be far preferable than the cramped iPhone/iPod touch screen.

Other elements, like sound quality and music, make the transition to the iPad with little change. MIDI effects still continue to occasionally sound odd, most likely due to the porting process. The music, meanwhile, is still one of the strongest suits of Final Fantasy Tactics, and remains one of my favorite gaming soundtracks to date.

When all is said and done, the iPad port of Final Fantasy Tactics can be summed up in two statements. First, this iPad port, while long overdue, is superior to the iPhone version (primarily due to larger screen) and should be considered the preferred iOS experience (assuming you have an iPad 2). Second, while the iPad version makes improvements, it still doesn’t match the feel of the original PSX version, which has yet to be duplicated on any platform.

For previous fans that haven’t checked Final Fantasy Tactics on iOS yet, your enjoyment will be based on how well you can check your nostalgia and overlook the nuances of porting. For everyone else, it’s safe to say that you should try this classic turn-based RPG any way you can, iOS or otherwise.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Kevin


  • Carbone Blog

    So... I've probably logged 40 hours playing the iPhone version 2x'ed on my iPad. Is it worth dropping $18 to get a few extra pixels? Is anything different about this version? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who just upscaled the iPhone one.

    This is a reasonably long, totally useless review.

    • mreford

      The review is mainly a comparison between playing FFT on the iPhone vice this version on the iPad.

      I think if you've sunk a significant amount of time on the iPhone version in 2X mode, then you obviously don't mind the UI/Visual hiccups. In which case I don't see a reason to upgrade.

      • Carbone Blog

        Thanks for your reply!

  • sdf

    I purchased the iPad version the other day. My device is an iPad 2. I also own a PSP 3000 and the disc version of the game for PSP. So this comment is for those who are wondering how a "touch" FFT compares to the PSP version. I wouldn't recommend the PSX version because then you don't get the extremely well done cutscenes that were added for the PSP version.

    The control continues to be vastly inferior to the PSP version. Because of the way the touch controls are implemented, it's really easy, for example, to mis-click a movement square or face your fighters the wrong way. In my opinion Real Buttons always beat Touch Controls, especially in cases like FFT that require a LOT of clicking/touching. Getting through a fight seems to take longer on an iPad than it did on the PSP, and when fights are already pretty extended affairs, that's a problem. I suppose these problems could have been ameliorated by better touch controls, but I doubt they could have been completely eliminated.Also, the code porting process has not been handled properly. There are issues. Some examples include:A) the music in this game is noticeably lower quality on the iPad than it was in the PSP version (it is noticeable both when using speakers and when using headphones).B) When the fighters jump, they don't bend and leap (with sound effect) like they used to on the PSP. They just sort of float to the new square (with no sound effect). It looks really stupid.C) As mentioned in the review, only SOME of the fighter actions and abilities are smooth. I prefer the consistent reliable pace of the PSP over this new erractic semi-random slow/fast behavior of the new iPad version. Some of the actions are sped up so much it can be difficult to correctly observe what happened (who hit who for how much, etc). But then again, even simple things like panning around the battlefield at the beginning of the battle can sometimes be jerky, which was not the case on the PSP.Verdict: I wish I had not bought this new iPad version. The only good portable implementation of the game is on the PSP. If you're really serious about this game, just go get the PSP version. I'm not trying to hate on the iPad.  There are good games for the iPad, I'm just saying that sadly this isn't one of them, at least not at this point. And since the RUMOR is that only one developer is assigned to this project, I wouldn't hold my breath on the situation changing for the better anytime soon.

    • wushuwannabe

      Thank you very much for this opinion. I have iPhone, iPad, PSP, and Vita - and was wavering on which platform has the best implementation. Your comments helped make my decision - I am going to get the PSP version and play it on my Vita for the larger OLED screen.

    • Michael Matzat

      Still you´ll not get the extras that are promised for the iOS version on your psp.

  • araczynski

    so a typical square release these days then... overpriced and mediocre.

  • Dave

    I've been playing the iPhone version for a while now, and I'm finding it to be better than I expected, based on what people were saying about it. Slowdown is minimal, graphics look great (except that certain level backgrounds are weirdly dark), and controls are okay (navigating multiple-page menus is annoying, but selecting movement squares is not too bad).

    Overall, it's a decent port of one of my favorite games ever, and I'm thrilled to have it with me wherever I go.

  • Relytgninroht

    Love it. This costs almost twice as much as the superior PSP version on a platform typically known for being cheap (games of course, the hardware is where they get'cha).

    • mclifford82

      You've got to be kidding me.  Superior PSP version?  The one on which you can count the frames as they go by during ability animations?

      That version was horrible.  The best thing it had going for it was the improved localization, and that certainly wasn't enough to offset the slowdown during abilities.

      • sdf

        Having purchased a copy of both, I can say that the problems posed by the ability "slowdown" in the PSP version have been vastly overblown and overstated. I like the PSP version just fine, and certainly I like the PSP version better than the current iPad version, for the reasons I stated above.

  • Pike71

    Overpriced for a 15-year old game. This should cost $4.99 at the most to be worth picking. I have the PSX and PSP versions, so I'll stick to them.

    • Michael A. Robson

      "Overpriced for a 15-year old game"

      That's not how business works. Ever heard of nostaligia? Did you happen to notice that Nintendo has been tapping 'Nostaligia' for about 25 years now? Irrelevant. You price it according previous sales records ( Final Fantasy games on iPhone/iPad) they know what they're doing.

  • Arachnarchy

    I've never played any version of FFT, will I even notice these issues much? I'm having a hard time finding "naive" opinions on the iPad version. Is it worth shelling out the money? I like these sorts of games, but have no nostalgia for FFT.

  • Inaba-kun

    Given the price it really wouldn't have been too much to expect some higher res fonts and textures. 
    It's also worth pointing out for those that may not have played this game - this is a brutally, savagely, mercilessly difficult game. You will die, A LOT, and you'll spend hours and hours levelling up.  It's very, very, very old school.

  • Michael Matzat

    I love how everybody is like "these cave games are great ports of classic games you never heared of, you should pay a high price for them!" and when we end up talking a big classic everbody is like "zOMG tis needs to be cheaper"... this issent star wars, and if anybody is the big evil empire it´s Apple. 😉

    It´s an all time classic, if you play it you will end up spending double, maybe even triple digit hours on it.  If thats not worth your 18$ go play your 99 cent puzzel games and be happy.

FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS for iPad Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5