Alas, Poor Scrappy: Algus/Argath comes back from the dead as Death Knight in a special battle in The War of the Lions. While he definitely deserves to be killed at least more than twice in one game, his last words are pitiable, crying for his mother as he goes to oblivion, the only person he ever cared for.
Anti-Climax Boss: Altima's final form has only one spell that causes a plethora of negative statuses. However, riding a Chocobo negates everything and all she can do is try and punch you with her mediocre attack rating.
Amusingly enough, Altima actually had some attacks programmed in that weren't really used by her default AI. Of course, given that by then, you likely have the game smashed into huge pieces on your living room floor, she won't have more of a chance to use them.
The Zodiac Stone bringing Marach back to life. It's the first time the stones do anything but turn a willing host into a monstrous demon, and there's no foreshadowing that it could or would do that.
Ultima "spitting" out Alma for the final battle. Again, none of the Lucavi have ever done anything like this before. Granted, they all were willing hosts, but given how big a deal it was for Ultima needing Alma's body, it just comes out of nowhere.
Broken Base: Charge times on spells. A lot of fans think it adds depth and complexity and think their removal in the sequels is dumbing down the games. Others think it's a Scrappy Mechanic that only serves to artificially pump the difficulty and limit classes.
Common Knowledge: Barrington forced himself on an underage Rapha, right? The original game only had dialogue that could be interpreted that way, nothing is confirmed. Ironically, the retranslation in War of the Lions amps up the rape imagery in that speech, but at the same time essentially confirms that he had not forced himself upon her (though he outright states he would eventually).
Hashmal(um) is second only to Ultima/Altima in the Lucavi and is the demon possessing Folmarv Tengille. The mastermind of nearly every misfortune in the game, Hashmal manipulates the massive war that claims countless lives so he can manipulate the resurrection of Altima. Upon confronting Ramza, who had learned that the Ultimate Church was corrupt, Hashmal massacred all present, including his host's own son. Tricking others into being possessed by the Lucavi and broadening the monstrous conflict, Hashmal kidnaps Ramza's sister Alma to use her as the host of Altima, only caring about creating more death and destruction to revive Altima and unleash her upon the unsuspecting world.
Dycedarg Beoulve is a ruthless schemer obsessed with achieving more power for himself. The elder brother of the hero Ramza, Dycedarg slowly poisons their own father over the course of years to kill him and take control of the noble family. To gather even more power, Dycedarg helps plunge Ivalice into a brutal civil war against Duke Goltanna. Dycedarg proceeds to backstab and murder his partner before allying with the demonic Lucavi, even murdering his brother Zalbaag. Unlike most of the Lucavi, Dycedarg seems to be a willing host to his demon, and while he may claim to have good intentions, he is merely a hypocrite willing to resort to any means to obtain the power he craves.
Tiamats, who can pelt you with repeated dosages of fire or lightning.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Wiegraf and Zalbaag are both rather popular with fans, who would've loved for either one (or even better, both) to join the player party permanently.
Agrias Oaks for the main party. Helped by being one of the more developed characters who joins the party.
Despite having no personalities or even individual portraits to speak of, Lavian and Alicia - Agrias's two knights - often get developed roles in fanfiction. It's especially telling since Rad - who is in a similar position - rarely gets this much acknowledgement, as when he does he's usually just Gafgarion's lackey who gets unceremoniously killed in the first fight against Gafgarion.
Fridge Brilliance: It's little wonder, when you think about it, why Rapha charges right at Elmdore, Celia, and Lettie at the start of That One Battle on the roof of Riovanes Castle. She just watched her brother get shot for trying to protect her, by the man who spent much of her upbringing brainwashing and raping her, who in turn was just tossed off the roof to his death by Elmdore's assassins thereby robbing her of any chance for revenge, so she decides to end it all running head-long at the trio and it's up to you to stop her before they gladly take her up on it.
Good Bad Bug: There is a way to cheat the Job Point system in the PS1 version. Going to buy a skill, get to the point where it asks you if you want to buy this skill. Then hold down the square button and press the up or down arrow to switch placement of skills. This may cause you to buy a skill you already own or you couldn't possibly afford. After backing out you will find that this has caused the game to glitch and you either have 9999JP, 0000JP which acts as an infinite, or that it has stolen away all your JP or given you a marginal amount more. The exact effects have been mapped out on other websites. Not all jobs can be glitched in this way, but you may be happy to note that most of the more expensive and time-consuming jobs can. Have fun smiting people with Bahamutthe minute you gain the Summoner class.
Also, the PSX version has an item duplication bug. You know that awesome Infinity -1 Sword Cid carries? Try giving one to your entire party!
In one level of the Deep Dungeon, one of the random encounters includes a generic Male Time Mage. This would be unimportant except that, when killed, the Time Mage lets out the female death scream. If recruited (through the Mediator's "Invite"), the character has female stat growths and access to the Dancer Job, but all of their sprites are male.
Using the Jump ability on a target with the Blade Grasp reaction ability causes the jumper to end up in the skybox, which the game treats as being at infinite height. Equip a gun on this "skywalker" and you've got a guy who's untouchable but can still rain death on basically anyone he wants to.
Harsher in Hindsight: The guy who founded the corrupt church of Glabados, Ajora Glabados, who was also implied to be the Anti Christ or at least under Demonic Possession of the Lucavi Ultima was born on September 11. His actions in the game alone are bad enough as it is. It gets worse approximately three to four years later, with the 9/11 Terrorist attacks.
Moral Event Horizon: Algus/Argath's killing of Delita's sister at Fort Ziekden - even though it rather brutally resolved the kidnapping standoff. The fact that he shows little remorse is the clincher.
Speaking of Hashmal, he might have crossed it when he murdered his son Isilud and massacred an entire castle, but if not then, he most definitely did when he raised Zalbaag as a zombie and forced him to fight his younger brother Ramza.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The game constantly throws anvil-sized sledgehammers onto you about how very wrong it is to treat people differently just because of your birthright, and that it's your actions that determine the kind of person you are. But with all the racism and classism that still goes around the Real World even to this very day, such anvils need to be dropped with all the unsubtlety that can be managed.
It's been compared to Berserk's "Golden Age" arc, with similar themes of rising up to nobility, a mundane setting getting rather biblical with monstrous religious-themed demons, and even similar scenes of characters bonding by making whistles from leaves/grass. Of particular note is the Lucavi and the way they merge with humans via the Zodiac Stones and a Deal with the Devil, which is almost exactly the way that the Beherits and Apostles work in the aforementioned series.
Of particular note is Rapha mourning Marach's death. The guy may have been a Jerk Ass up to that point, but you really feel for his sister.
Rapha: Look, Marach! A new dawn is risen. Can... can you see it? So often we sat together talking, waiting for the coming of first light. We'd talk of the journeys we wanted to make together, wouldn't we? How when the war ended, we would go back and visit our old village. You remember, Marach, don't you? Don't you? Tell me you do! Tell... tell me you'll still go!
This then leads to one of the few times a Zodiac Stone does something genuinely good in the game.
On a more gameplay related example, dismissing people from your party often has this effect, as the game makes you feel really terribly about dismissing them: almost all of the humans ask you to reconsider, but the monster friends' reactions are even worse. The worst part is that, if you have ONE monster, it'll start to spawn eggs, meaning that you'll have to give the hatchlings the pink slip if you want to have room in your party. Whoever wrote the dismissal dialogue is kind of an asshole:
"It seems excited. It might think you were going to give it a treat."
"It's confused about you telling it to go home, mostly because it doesn't have a home to go to."
"It's looking at you with sad eyes."
That One Attack: Blood Suck is a rare but extremely nasty status effect. It turns the target into an undead vampire who goes crazy and starts sucking the life out of nearby targets—friends or enemies. And friends get turned to vampires too if they get Blood Sucked. If your whole party is vampirized it's game over! Status effects usually don't spread, let alone game-ending ones.
That One Boss: Wiegraf Folles, in the 4-part raid of Riovanes Castle, may be the most infamous example in FFT. The first part is actually pretty standard but if you save afterwards, you cannot back out and Level Grind to toughen up Ramza. This may render your game Unwinnable. Not to mention that Wiegraf, in the second part, knows several long-range sword techniques, while the battlefield itself is a small, closed arena with difficult terrain. You must fight him alone.
Not to mention that after you defeat Wiegraf, you must fight Belias - who also has long-range attacks - on the same map. The good news is that the remaining party members will arrive to back you up. The bad news is that he summons two demons to even the odds. But if you do defeat him, congratulations, the worst is over. Now you simply have to pray you canprotect Rafa!
The Golgorand Execution Site. You have five people, no guests. That's the Arbitrary Headcount Limit. The enemy doesn't abide by this rule...and throws eight units on you. Included among them is Gafgarion, who by himself is basically a One-Man Army. The level's layout also favors the computer, with two powerful mages relatively safe atop the gate and the player's party divided into two groups. The difficulty does make sense In-Universe, given it was a trap sprung by Gafgarion.
ALL of Riovanes Castle. ALL OF IT. First there's the duel between Ramza and Weigraf, where Weigraf uses Holy Sword attacks. Then there's the fight against Belias and several Archaic Demons. Belias is tough, the Demons are no pushovers, and Ramza is likely pretty weak after the Weigraf duel. And then there's the infamous battle on the roof against Elmdore, Celia and Lettie...
Many of the levels involving Wiegraf, Elmdore and/or Elmdore's two Bodyguard Babe assassins, Celia and Lettie, who have 100%-accurate Instant Death skills, reducing any fight against them to a Luck-Based Mission. The other problem is their very rarely-used charm spells, which can temporarily turn one of your strongest fighters against you. Once finally killed, they transform into demon spawn from hell: compared to their human forms, said demons are a joke.
The Dorter Slums, the fourth battle in the game. Between Archers on the rooftops peppering you with arrows and Black Mages pelting you with rain-boosted Bolt spells, you can end up with a good chunk of your party incapacitated or dead before they even get near. And if your party members try to get near them, the Knight guarding them can easily dispatch them. This battle is basically the game's way of telling you it won't be pulling any punches, and that you'd better shape up if you want to survive.
There's also the random encounter with the eleventy billionnote just eleven, really monks on Grog Hill. The Monk class not only comes with a resurrection spell, but with a strong, long-range hits-everyone-on-a-line Earth-elemental attack. They're all wearing armor that absorbs Earth-elemental damage. There are Bonus Bosses in some games that are easier than this.
Bervenia, when players meet Meliadoul. She has a strong team of Summoners and Archers, begin at much higher elevation, and are fairly high level. But the kicker is Meliadoul herself. Her unique moveset is based around powerful ranged attacks that are guaranteed to break players' equipment (and as a bonus, probably kill them in the process). She also has an automatic Reraise, but mercifully the fight ends when she is defeated the first time.
Any level involving Gafgarion, the old man who does nothing but stay JUST out of range and spam Night Sword, giving him all the damage he deals back as health. Your choices involve ignoring him while you take out his allies, or focus fire him down, letting his allies beat you up. Or Steal/Break his sword.
The Level Grind ball-kick that is Finath River. Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, except in this case it's the Chocobos playing the part of the Wizards. Fortunately they combine the best vulnerabilities of Glass Cannon and Fragile Speedster. Unfortunately, they have the strengths as well, and there is no set team of enemies for this fight, meaning you could end up with a massive army of Chocobos waiting to kick your ass. Fortunately, you can keep resetting until you get an enemy team of the weaker Chocobos, monsters you have been slaughtering in random battles since the game began.
Balius Tor (or Bariaus Hill as it was called in the original English translation) is one of the most dangerous maps in the game. The storyline battle you fight there is already tough, as it's the first time the game sics Summoners on you, but even after that point, it hosts some of the deadliest random encounterss. It's possible to face an entire flock of Chocobos, or even a massive battle of up to a dozen enemies that includes every single Demonic Spider the game can throw at you at once (including Dragons, Red Chocobos, Behemoths, and Hydras). You pretty much need to save the game before crossing this node.
Nelveska Temple. The stage is stacked against the players. For one, two Hydras begin the stage pillars next to the party, out of reach of most units but in excellent position to attack on their turn. Construct 7, the boss begins at the entrance of the temple meaning he can only be attacked from the front (and may choose to go further into the temple, making him even harder to hit) and can attack from across the stage. But the worst are the three Cockatrices. They can fly so the terrain means nothing to them, and have the ability Beak, which has a very high chance of Petrify. All this combines to make an exceptionally difficult map. And on top of that, the map is home to the Infinity Plus One Spear and Shield; getting them means you'll have to delay the battle, and they'll both be Permanently Missable if you miss them.
Finath River is one of these. Chances are you're relatively high level when you get here, and you get a level dependent spawn of Chocobos. Including Blacks which fly and thus are all but impossible to outrun. And Reds, with Choco Meteor, which cannot miss. Worse still, monsters are much stronger than humanoids, since they can't wear equipment and thus get much larger growth.
The Scrappy: Argath. He seems decent enough when you first rescue him, but goes on about just what he thinks of commoners. Eventually, there's a situation where Delita's sister is taken hostage and Argath resolves it by killing her. Ramza and Delita kill him, but this wasn't all that was wrong with him. In addition to all of that, he suffered greatly from Artificial Stupidity as a guest party member. If you had a strategy for dealing with enemies, it won't help you with him around because he rushes head first into danger, [[Hypocrite in spite of chastising Delita for making light of combat]] and you have to keep him alive or you get a game over. Argath's only redeeming trait is that you get to kill him.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Criticism has been leveled against Hitoshi Sakimoto's score for the game. It is not a Nobuo Uematsu score; it lacks his diversity of instrumentation and style (the entire FFT score is written for standard orchestra and in a Classical Music approach), and some disliked its Darker and Edgier approach while others felt it appropriate for a Darker and Edgier game. What should be noted is that most people like the score in and of itself; what they question is whether it (and the game's tone in general) was stylistically appropriate.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: There's a lot of evidence that at some point in the game's development, Valmafra/Balmafula was going to have a bigger role and even participate in battles. And yet she abruptly exits the story only to appear again in the epilogue. This lead fans to ask "Why?"
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Rafa/Rapha and Malak/Malak/Marach, whose abilities were all but ineffectual in combat, and all they were good for (aside from cannon fodder) was Rafa's ability to find treasure in the Deep Dungeon. Slightly improved in the PSP version, where Rapha's Skyseer skills are much more powerful and accurate, though her brother is even worse than before.
With proper planning both Rafa and Malak can actually become incredibly (Read: Cid-level) deadly, Malak more than Rafa though. However, the sheer amount of strategy involved to achieve this result is often far more trouble than it's worth.
Cloud becomes Awesome, but Impractical since by the time you get him, he's massively Overshadowed by Awesome and his abilities have a charge time. By then, you have a lot of characters who get instant-use abilities that really really break the game.
And Mustadio, sadly, can also suffer this in a number of circles, depending on whether a person likes the way gun-users work in this game. The introduction of Balthier into the PSP port hasn't helped matters. Making this sadder is that he's actually a rather popular character with a dedicated fanbase, but his low-level usefulness means he gets somewhat underappreciated.
Meliadoul becomes recruitable only after the point in the story where you can get Cid, who has her entire skillset as well as numerous other abilities that are more useful against nonhuman opponents. Her sole advantage is the ability to equip female-only equipment like the Ribbon and Chantage.
Tietra has shades of this, despite her nature. In her first scene, she's telling Delita she's settled into classes well and everybody's kind to her. Then Alma discreetly tells Ramza that Tietra's been putting on a brave face to reassure her brother, and the other girls have been remorselessly bullying her.
Jerkass Woobie: Delita. Malak/Marach is a more definite example as despite his attitude, he has been manipulated by Barrington to quite extensive effect and still shows love and concern for his sister.
Stoic Woobie: Zalbaag, given the difficult decisions he's had to make in his noble position and asking Ramza to kill him, after Hashmal brought him back as a zombie.
Reception to it was underwhelming initially, possibly because it was both a spin-off and everyone was still focused on Final Fantasy VII which had come out not too long beforehand. Over time the game has developed a small (compared to other FF's at least) but very devoted fanbase who praise its interesting political storyline, unique Darker and Edgier take on Final Fantasy, and its rich, layered battle and job system. Its remakes and re-releases helped spread its reputation, and it received a proxy Colbert Bump due to being based on Wars of the Roses, the same Real Life conflict that inspired A Song of Ice and Fire and its TV adaptation, and sharing a number of themes with those works. Finally, Tactics has become one of the only spinoffs (along with Type-0) to be featured just as prominently as the main series entries in modern crossover titles like Dissidia and Record Keeper.
In-Universe, Ramza's reputation has since turned around now that the Durai Reports have been released to the public
Woolseyism: The PSP re-localization. See below for details.
The script of the PSP version was rewritten to get rid of the cheesy script in the original, and to fit better with the rest of the Ivalice-verse. They even added a Spoony Bard bit that didn't appear in the original:
Ramza: My brothers do not want this fight! Set down your sword, Wiegraf, and my brothers will treat with you!
Wiegraf: Ha! No spoony bard could spin a sweeter tale! You say your brothers do not want this fight? Tears then, for the world you see is one beyond my weary sight.
(The original (mis)translated version remains highly popular, though.)
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Defeat Dycedarg's Elder Brother!note To explain why this is a "Blind Idiot" Translation, the game instructs you to kill Dycedarg's older brother, which most people assume to be Zalbaag... however, when showing the target, Dycedarg is highlighted, and Zalbaag is on your side. Not to mention that Dycedarg is Zalbaag's elder brother, as well as the eldest child. Given that both are brothers of Ramza, it's easy to suppose that the intended meaning was more like "Defeat Your Elder Brother Dycedarg".