What is TRPG? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Coming up with strategies to outplay your opponent is ingrained in our human development and we can see that quite frequently in our everyday lives. Whether it be in a tough game of Chess or everyone’s favorite board game Monopoly, there’s always some element of high level tactical thinking that must be implemented in order to secure a win. With gaming now becoming the main platform for all things entertainment, developers are now creating video games with those tactical properties in mind and that brings us to TRPG. TRPG stands for tactical role playing game, which are a genre that places high emphasis on tactical thinking in order to secure victory whether it be on the battlefield or even in space. TRPG comes with two meanings, the other one meaning tabletop role playing game, but for the sake of this article and to avoid confusion we’ll be focusing on the tactical aspects. So with that being said, let us dive even further into things and provide some great examples as we explain in greater detail.

High Level Tactics

In Japan, TRPG is abbreviated as SRPG which means simulation role playing game, but both share the same premise in that, high level tactics are the main course of the games and so all of your attention is needed. Similar to the conventional RPG that promotes a very free roaming style of play, which encourages players to venture out and battle various enemies in real time, tactical role playing games differ in terms of placing more importance on tactical movement and are usually fought on an isometric grid. In most situations you encounter, a majority of your time will be used in order to determine the best method of approach so that you’ll always end up on the victorious side. While this may sound quite easy to do on paper, being bombarded by unforgiving enemies and having very little in terms of assets to sustain a consistent flow in your favor is no walk in the park. There’s one great example of this high level tactical thinking paired with an incredibly challenging difficulty and that’s Nintendo’s Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Gamecube.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

  • System/Platform: Gamecube
  • Publisher: Nintendo:
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems | Nintendo SPD:
  • Release Date: April 20, 2005:

Nintendo’s Fire Emblem franchise has fascinated a lot of fans in the west, with its vast array of characters all of whom have a distinctive personality that shines. Perhaps what’s most striking about the franchise is that while it may be full of incredible narratives and engaging action, the series is often overshadowed by other heavy hitters in the industry and so the game never truly gets the attention it deserves. However one game did get a lot of attention even more so today, and that’s none other than Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Anyone looking for an incredibly challenging experience look no further, as Path of Radiance offers up some of the most difficult gameplay in gaming history, with battles that often take hours to beat and a lot of dying ensues. The reason why so many who’ve played the game complain about its difficulty is because, when members of your team die on the battlefield, they do not return for the entire game, which means that every decision you make is highly imperative.

While the narrative is spectacular and graphics solid for its time, more people were so fixated on trying not to die than admiring everything else about the game. Path of Radiance introduced full motion movies which was exemplary, and provided very rewarding outcomes for those who managed to stick through to the end. Mind you getting there is no feat and so, an enormous amount of patience is required in order for you to really take advantage of the game. You have to play this game as if you were truly engaged in a battle for territory, and any rash attempt to power your way through enemy lines would result in imminent death. Path of Radiance is honestly worth every penny especially if you’re a fan of the series, but also if you truly enjoy a deep and invigorating challenge all the way through.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - E3 2005 Trailer

Nowhere to Run

Unlike in most modern open world RPGs where you could easily just avoid a battle if it doesn’t favor you, tactical role playing games enforce a strict policy in that you must face what’s in front of you in order to progress. While that may sound very taxing and unfair, you have to realize that in a tactical environment your strategic prowess is what will get you through objectives fairly quickly. Impatience is truly the number one killer in these types of games, so taking your time and thinking through every turn is usually what will generate more wins in the end. There’s nowhere to run in a TRPG as you have to face your demons head on and honestly that’s where all the fun is to be had, figuring out to conquer these enemies and stand atop the mountain as king. On that note, let us take a look at another classic title that boasts a lot of difficulty but is an exceptionally fun game all at the same time, we’re talking about Final Fantasy Tactics from Square Enix.

Final Fantasy Tactics

  • System/Platform: PlayStation
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment | Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Release Date: June 20, 1997

If there’s one game that’s truly responsible for the resurgence of TRPGs in North America, look no further than Final Fantasy Tactics for Sony’s PlayStation platform. While there have been a plethora of other remarkable TRPG classics that came before it such as Shining Force and Sakura Wars, both stemming from Sega’s lineup, Final Fantasy Tactics stole the hearts (and time) of many fans with its unique rendition of the Final Fantasy universe. This time Square decided to throw in a more tactical approach than the tried and true FF series, which was still very popular at the time as well. Tactics was developed by the team responsible for the classic Ogre Battle series, and it combined various aspects from both genres such as the FF themed universe paired with gameplay elements from Ogre Battle.

Much of the gameplay was played in isometric view but expanded upon to allow players to freely rotate the camera on the battlefield to allow for a more tactical approach pertaining to enemies. The narrative of Tactics when compared to its predecessor Ogre Battle, was toned down to allow for a more dramatic and deeper tone. What’s more is that in Tactics you could also apply jobs to characters allowing for more versatility in battle, and learning new abilities overtime which just made the game very feature rich. This added more depth to the already profound aspects of the series, while executing everything flawlessly without taking anything away from the player in terms of enjoyment. Final Fantasy Tactics is highly regarded as one of the best tactical role playing games of all time, and we encourage you to not only try the original but test your tactical prowess in its PSP sequel, The War of the Lions.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions Trailer

Time Consuming, Yet Rewarding

Tactical role playing games come with a high difficulty for a reason, and it’s because developers want to challenge players and create new experiences along the way. A lot of games nowadays typically draw players into this beautifully crafted world, only to be taken out of it just as quickly due to the overall length of the game being cut down. This isn’t the case in TRPGs as much of the narrative stays fully intact, while much of your time is consumed by delegating tasks to your allies to ensure consistent victory on the battlefield. Despite the narrative at times feeling very dry and linear, there’s an enormous amount of depth that can be found strictly in playing the game for hours on end. You’ll find yourself at times being stuck on one boss level and every action must be predetermined in your brain before proceeding. Proper planning with well executed attacks are a sure fire way to reap rewards, and really get your money’s worth out of the game.

Valkyria Chronicles

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: April 24, 2008

Sega has an extremely worthy track record when it comes to tactical role playing games, dating back all the way to the Sega Genesis days with Shining Force in 1992. Shortly after the success of Shining Force came the popular Sakura Wars which lasted for several generations even up until now, and then within the seventh generation of TRPGS we saw the release of Valkyria Chronicles. So Sega doesn’t mess around when it comes to their titles and you can clearly see that in Valkyria Chronicles, which many critics claim to be the missing link between Final Fantasy Tactics and Full Spectrum Warrior. By incorporating a more anime driven watercolor style pertaining to its design, while also throwing in a third person shooter element to the mix, Valkyria Chronicles was a uniquely designed game from its inception. Unlike other classic TRPGs which played out in an isometric view, Valkyria Chronicles gave players the freedom of controlling their selected character in a third person perspective.

This great mechanic allowed for manual precision pertaining to headshots, a more pronounced cover system, along with implementing real life hazards such as land mines and intercepting fire from enemies. All of these put together into one extraordinary package was a huge feat for Sega, and is still widely considered to be one of the greatest games they’ve ever made. You can see a lot of these elements implemented into Sega’s latest Valkyria series, Valkyria Revolution, but it’s more of an action rpg more than the tried and true tactical approach like its ancestor. Both are fantastic games in their own right, and we suggest that if you haven’t dabbled with Valkyria Chronicles now’s a good time to do so before hopping into the newer titles since Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is now available on PS4. Not only will you have a greater appreciation for the Valkyria series, but you’ll also be paying Sega high respects for their enormous contribution to the tactical role playing universe.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered Trailer

Final Thoughts

We mentioned quite a few notable titles within the article, but there’s still plenty more that we’d love to shout out. One of which is Nippon Ichi’s very popular Disgaea series, Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, Infinite Space by Platinum Games, Radiant Historia by Atlus, Metal Gear Acid by Konami and many many more. Which other tactical role playing games did you play growing up? Which ones are you most fond of? Let us know in the comments section below, and of course be sure to share your favorite articles on social media to help keep the Honey’s community growing! Until next time, we hope you found this what is series to be not only informative but exciting to read as well!

As always for all things sweet, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Valkyria-Chronicles-game-wallpaper-700x394 What is TRPG? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!

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