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Ogre Battle is a series of games created by Yasumi Matsuno. The first game, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, came out in Japan for the Super Famicom, and was later brought to the United States by Enix to the Super Nintendo. Later was re-released and touched up a slight bit for the Play Station by Atlus, in a "Limited Edition" package, which was ironically more numerous than the earlier SNES version.
What made this game different from other Strategy RPGs of the time, such as Front Mission and Fire Emblem, was a Real Time Strategy presentation, as well as its open endedness. One started out as a leader of a rebellion against an evil empire, who with the help of a seer named Warren tries to save, or conquer Xenobia. Depending on how one plays the game, one's reputation can have him be seen as evil - and he can create a kingdom far worse than the empire he toppled. On the opposite spectrum, he can also be seen as an example of pure good, and even go as far as to give up the throne to its rightful heir.
The series's next installment, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (Episode VII), was the final game made by Matsuno before he left for other pastures. Tactics Ogre differed widely from Ogre Battle: it was far less open-ended, it did not take place on Xenobia, it was a Turn-Based Strategy and focused on a much smaller group of people. Tactics Ogre's story followed Denam, his sister Catiua, and his friend Vyce as they joined a rebellion against a totalitarian regime run by Cardinal Balbatos. They soon were caught in the web of political intrigue, and forced to make unimaginable sacrifices for the freedom of their kinsmen. The storyline has multiple branches, and the choices Denam makes effect the state of the world around him, and the fates of him and his friends. It touches on the themes of class warfare, democratic reform, et cetera, and continues in the direction throughout, unlike its many counterparts which swerve into the direction of Magic Stones.
This game was very popular in Japan, for its story, and well-executed, if different, gameplay. Its reception in the West was a little poorer, though; it was released on the Play Station in the wake of Matsuno's next game, the rather-successful Final Fantasy Tactics, and was perceived to be a shallow copy of a game which was, in actuality, its own Spiritual Successor. A remake for PSP was announced in July 2010, re-subtitled Wheel of Fate in Japan but keeping 'Let Us Cling Together' in English. Its original release achieved cult status at best in America, but the re-release is thus far getting great reviews, with some even preferring it to Final Fantasy Tactics.
The third game in the series was Ogre Battle 64 for (you guessed it) Nintendo 64, also known as Ogre Battle: Person of Lordly Caliber, Episode VI. Going back to the roots of the series, OB64 featured a similar form of gameplay as Ogre Battle. The hero of the game is a platoon leader named Magnus who at first works for a puppet government until eventually joining a rebellion to stop expansion of the Lodis empire, present in Tactics Ogre and mentioned in Ogre Battle. Along the way he meets (and possibly clashes) with the protagonist of the first Ogre Battle game (Now called Destin). The game ends with a very large Cliff Hanger; stating that the villain from the first game is about to come Back From the Dead.
A side game of the series was released on the GBA. Tactics Ogre the Knight of Lodis tells the story of a young squire named Alphonse. Alphonse is a knight in his best friend Rictor Lasanti's military unit, the Order of the Sacred Flame, and he is sent to Ovis. Ovis is divided by conflict thanks to an agressive push of Lord Batraal, living on the north of the island. Alphonse is separated from the rest of his units, and begins to uncover a sordid plot opposing the pope and the empire of Lodis over the fabled spear of destiny and the possible resurrection of a fallen angel.
These games provide examples of the following tropes:
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Warren Report
- Annoying Arrows: Very averted, especially in Let Us Cling Together. Archers are widely considered ridiculously overpowered, and for good reason.
- Ars Goetia: Many of the characters in Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle 64 are named for Goetic demons. Barbatos, Martym, Andoras, Haborym, Aloser, Forcas, Balzepho (originally Baalzephon), and Vapula, among others.
- Then many of these names were changed for the PSP rerelease.
- Artificial Stupidity: Guest characters are very stupid. Even worse, they refuse to come into the training sessions with you, meaning that they remain low-leveled while the enemy becomes just as strong as you... not that this will stop them from charging right into them while you are trying to maneuver your army in a different direction entirely.
- Ascended Extra: Some generic enemy leaders are given Warren Report entries in the PSP remake, most prominently Mordova (previously a witch, now a Necromancer), and Hektorr (originally named Didario, this was his first name, and he's now linked further with Nybeth's story).
- The Atoner: The Dragoon Jeunan in Tactics Ogre.
- Black Knight: The class 'Evil One' is also translated as 'Black Knight'.
- Carth from Ogre Battle 64.
- Blood Knight: Eurynome Rhade from 64 is this a bit.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Gildas and the Berserker Xapan in Tactics Ogre, more so in the Lawful route (for Xapan).
- Bonus Dungeon: Hell Gate, an epic 100 level battle with no saves, no heals, and hordes of monsters. Good thing you get gamebreaking stuff in there.
- Brick Joke / Chekhov's Gunman: The mercenary Xapan shows up in chapter two of every version. In the lawful chapter two, he's on your side and offers to join. If you refuse, you then go separate ways...and then in chapter four, he comes back being hired to fight against you.
- The dragoon Jeunan had a Dark and Troubled Past. Well it seems to have been behind us now...and in chapter four, it then comes right back to haunt him.
- Catch Phrase: For the series overall. "FIGHT IT OUT!"
- Catch-22: Denam really can't win if he becomes ruler of Valeria. Chaos frame too low? Someone assassinates him. Chaos frame high? Then Lodis invades and takes over Valeria.
- Character Alignment: Usually, the Lawful-Chaotic axis is present in most games. In the first game, it's more Good-Evil, and measured on a Karma Meter both for your individual units and for your revolution as a whole.
- Elemental Powers: Plays a rather good chunk of role in the latter games. In the original Three Dragoons (Slust, Fenril and Fogel) are based on this, as well as the Four Sisters (Cistina, Cerya, Sherri and Olivya). The usual ones are 1. Fire, 2. Wind and Lightning combined together, 3. Water and Ice combined together, 4. Earth, 5. Dark/Bane and 6. Light/Virtue
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Ogre Battle 64 added the Earth element to oppose thunder, and renamed the evil element "Bane".
- Fake Ultimate Mook: The Golem units in most of the games. They have inherently high strength (and, in the front row, deliver three crushing punches) and can easily withstand most physical damage. However, they have pitiful HP, and are easily slain by one or two Fire-elemental spells.
- They make nice platforms to get your troops to higher ground in the Tactics games.
- False-Flag Operation: In Tactics Ogre, whether or not Denam takes part in this determines his path through the rest of the game. Somewhat surprisingly, choosing to slaughter the town is the lawful choice.
- It's lawful because you're upholding the rules of your government. Therefore, the choice here is between Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Good.
- However, in Ogre Battle 64, the numeric alignment is replaced with a visual scale representation of "lawful" and "chaotic", and in the game's context, "Lawful" doubles as "good".
- It's lawful because you're upholding the rules of your government. Therefore, the choice here is between Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Good.
- Four Is Death: The Four Devas (Debonair, Figaro, Previa and Luvalon) plays this straight. Subverted in the Four Sisters because they're not bad guys per se, except that Sherri starts out as an enemy.
- Fragile Speedster: Ninja units get three attacks per battle earlier than most other classes, and deal quite a bit of damage, but don't have the defenses of other units in the front line. They do have a fairly decent agility stat, though.
- Gender Restricted Ability In most Ogrebattle games, each gender has it's own set of classes, with no overlap. In the Tactic Ogre games, there is some overlap.
- Half-Human Hybrid: More like... Half-demigod hybrid. Fogel is a dragon-like humanoid, who slays dragons.
- Handicapped Badass: Hobyrim is blind, yes. And he still kicks your ass.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, either Cybil, Eleanor, or Alphonse does this to defeat the Big Bad.
- Hot-Blooded: Dio
- Karma Meter: Two kinds: a meter that gives your army's overall reputation, and the "alignment" stat for individual units.
- The "Charisma" stat also qualifies - it moves in the same way that the "Alignment" stat does, except much slower - but advanced classes all require high charisma, meaning that the advanced evil classes are some of the hardest to get in the game (being high CHA, low-to-mid ALI)
- Kick the Dog: Rhade from Person of Lordly Calibur shows how much of a Jerkass he is by brutally kicking a captured rebel right after he had previously killed an unarmed one while the man was fleeing.
- Literary Allusion Title: Almost every installment's title has something to do with Queen, as does the overall series title.
- Magic Is Mental
- Meaningful Name: Sirius.
- Mighty Glacier: Many of the larger beast characters, like Giants and Dragons. Octopi are stellar examples as well (that is, if deployed in the water). You would think that would include Golems; however, see Fake Ultimate Mook above.
- Multiple Endings : A staple of the series. Ogre Battle 64 seems to indicate that the real ending of the first game is the 100% good one, with your character giving the throne to the rightful heir.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Many, many examples. From the original game, Hikash and Figaro come to mind.
- The Obi-Wan: The protagonist of the first game towards Magnus, depending on how you play it.
- No Arc in Archery: You'll love that they averted this whenever you start on the top of a map, and hate them for it whenever you're at the bottom.
- Our Liches Are Different
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The Werewolves transform every night instead of following any sort of lunar cycle. They can also talk and don't go berserk.
- Out of Focus: This tends to happen for a lot of named characters. They don't want the plot hinging on someone who could have died a little while ago before they became really important. So the dev team for Tactics Ogre uses the "Put them in the background; put in some other events if they show up/alter other events if certain characters are present in the player party". If the really crucial characters die, then you often get a game over or a major changing event. (ie, should Catiua die, the game continues on as if she committed suicide in a cutscene) However, in the ending, any named characters who joined you will get a closure scene. So if you recruited as many optional characters as you could, and kept everybody alive in Tactics Ogre, be prepared to sit through a much longer ending! And consider how many characters were part of a group, too - there are so many variations on the ending, too!
- The Four Sisters barring Olivya do not have one as they're optional and depends on the route you take (unless you go for the bad end at Chaos/Neutral for an extra scene with Cistina and Cerya). Also, there's only ONE variation that will be shown in the ending (IE: Law route, Jeunan-Oxyones closure takes more priority than Xapan closure, so you need to either get Jeunan/Oxyones killed/removed if you want Xapan closure. Also although Folcust and Bayin are present in Neutral route, they get no closure because they need Arycelle to have that (and she only stays in Chaos route)). The remake rectified that with the possibility of Arycelle on the Neutral route, but then you need to skip out or kill off Oelias and Dievold (they take priority).
- Knight of Lodis is a little better about keeping the named characters in focus due to its much smaller cast in general as well as how there are fewer variations on the story. (ie, it's either Path A or Path B - in Tactics Ogre, you had two chapter twos and three chapter threes) However; there are still a bit of variations on the two endings if certain pairs of characters survived or not. You get a special scene if Rictor and Ivanna survive - I bet you didn't know that, did you?
- Justifiable with Shiven, see Fridge Brilliance above.
- Order Versus Chaos
- Palette Swap: To differentiate NPCs from other units of their class. Some advanced classes are also palate swaps of earlier ones.
- Rage Against the Heavens: The fallen angel Shaher's agenda in The Knight of Lodis
- Revive Kills Zombie: Undead units (skeletons and ghosts) are dusted with one hit from a holy attack, usually delivered by cleric classes.
- Changed in Ogre Battle 64, although still used: Anything can kill an undead, but they'll revive at the end of the battle unless the actual final blow was a holy attack... or the undead's entire unit was wiped out. Basically done so that units without a holy attacker would no longer be completely helpless against the undead.
- Rival Turned Evil:
- In Person of Lordly Calibur: Dio if you lose him from your team, though you must be a complete bastard to do so, making him more of a rival turned good. Yumil no matter what.
- In Knight of Lodis: Rictor is turned evil supernaturally.
- Say It with Hearts: Deneb.
- Schrodinger's Gun: Vyce will become your opposite no matter what you choose to become.
- Shout-Out: Yasumi Matsuno loves the band Queen. Both "Ogre Battle" and "March of the Black Queen" are the name of Queen songs, and the stage "The Rhyan Sea" is a reference of the Queen song "Seven Seas of Rhye". The subtitle of Tactics Ogre, "Let Us Cling Together", is another Queen song.
- The Hawkman class and the character Canopus Wolph, of the special Vartan class, are inspired by the Hawkmen and their leader Vultan from Flash Gordon. Although, the true inspiration may still be Queen, who did the soundtrack for the 1980 Flash Gordon film. One of the tracks was titled "Vultan's Theme (Attack of the Hawk Men)." Hawkman is also based on Flash Gordon.
- Also, in Let Us Cling Together, when Catiua reveals that Prancet isn't her and Denam's father...
Denam: That's not true! That's impossible!!
- While we're talking about Star Wars references... The ending song from the original Ogre Battle sounds a LOT like the Ewok Celebration song from the original version of Return of the Jedi (before it was changed in the Special Edition)
- In the remake of Tactics Ogre for PSP, an obscure Palace of the Dead class is described as, "Death eater: A dark mage, said to practice cannibalism. They serve one who must not be named." Where did that one come from...
- Knight of Lodis features one to Lord of the Rings. When the ogre Rimmon, dies, he regains his "human heart" and says "my precious".
- Schrodinger's Question: Numerous games ask the player questions at the start which determine initial units and stats.
- Squishy Wizard: Wizard units deal excessive amounts of damage, but tend to die easily.
- Depending on the game, in Knight of Lodis, they aren't entirely that good. Sirens, on the other hand...
- Those Two Guys: Mirdyn and Gildas in Tactics Ogre
- Three Amigos: The Three Dragoons.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Magnus, Dio, and Leia in Person of Lordly Calibur
- White Mage: Cleric, Priest, and High Priest. The Witch class is also a purely supportive spell-caster, although she does not have healing magic.