Brigandine is a unique game that best fits into the Strategy RPG genre, but (even then) it's quite different from usual Strategy RPG fare.Its most-praised qualities tend to be its music, gameplay, and replay value. Its graphics were considered good when when it came out in '97, but (needless to say) pale in comparison to modern games' graphics. Its main drawback is its minimal amount of story, which has resulted in many fans of story-heavy Strategy RPG s like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre being disappointed with Brigandine's minimal amount of story. So, in short, it's a game.With that being said, Brigandine's story revolves around the mystical land of Forsena and its six countries' attempts to unite/conquer it:
Esgares: Regardless of which country you play as, the story starts with Esgares' ruler, Zemeckis, throwing a coup. Zemeckis first appears like a Take Over the World type of villain, but it later becomes clear that he actually does all this out of fear. Specifically, he fears a Blood Knight like him will become obsolete in a world without war. The player can play as Esgares by entering a simple cheat code - enter the Country Select Screen, press and hold R1 (keep holding it), press and hold L2 (keep holding it), then press start. However, it lacks story cutscenes. In Brigandine: Grand Edition (an expansion pack that was never brought to the U.S.), Esgares is a playable country with a story of its own (and the player can choose Esgares without having to enter in a code).
New Almekia: Prince Lance manages to escape Zemeckis's coup, flees to the western country of Padstow, and asks the wise King Coel to help him avenge his father. King Coel quickly shows his wisdom by giving the teenage Lance control of his entire country for the best of reasons: Lance's eyes are special. King Coel also changes his country's name from Padstow to New Almekia.
Caerleon: Cearleon's "Silent Wise King" Cai realizes his own land is at stake thanks to the three ambitious warlords (Zemeckis, Dryst, and Vaynard) plaguing the land. He quickly forms an alliance with the bordering New Almekia and prepares for battle. His team primarily consists of mages.
Iscalio: Mad Monarch Dryst sees the chaos stirred up by Zemeckis as an excuse to attack other countries, and no matter how much the sensible Bishop Ulster tries to reason with him, Dryst never listens. The rest of Dryst's crew (besides Ulster) is made up of fools who count as Bunny-Ears Lawyer s. The only other character of special note in Iscalio is Dryst's personal aide Iria, an Emotionless Girl with a mysterious past who has earned the nickname 'Killer Doll' through her success in battle. The people suffer in this land thanks to Dryst's greed. The Knights, on the other hand, thinks Dryst is Crazy Awesome enough that they are still loyal to him, thinking that with people like Dryst around, it'll never get boring in Iscalio.
Leonia: Leonia, a religious country led by a peasant-turned-Queen (named Lyonesse), is comprised of Technical Pacifist s. However, when the two bordering countries led by warlords (Dryst and Vaynard) attack, Leonia strikes back. Most of the characters who fight for Leonia are priests, clerics, and the like. This is the hardest country with which to win the game, despite the game's manual saying otherwise.
Norgard: Norgard is a snowy land in the north occupied by some of the game's strongest knights. It's led by the appropriately nicknamed "White Wolf" Lord Vaynard. Like Dryst, he sees the chaos as a chance to conquer more land. He also wishes to get revenge for Zemeckis's slaying of Norgard's Former King Dormeditt. Despite the game never outright stating that the people suffer in Norgard, Lord Vaynard's warlord mentality plus his never once mentioning anything having to do with economics (a.k.a. the well-being of his people) implies he's a badguy. On the other hand, he clearly has soft spots for certain members of his army (such as Noie). His most notable companions are the RebelliousTsundere Princess Brangien and his ever-loyal right-hand man Guinglain. Almost all of his dudes and dudettes are named after characters from the Arthurian Legend .
Brainwashed and Crazy (Cador and (exclusively in Grand Edition) two Esgares minor characters Eniede and MelTorefas eventually get killed and then Bulnoil resurrects them as Death Knight-like characters.)
Chewing the Scenery (Vaynard is usually cold and aloof, but there is a reason why Zemeckis calls him "A man who loves his own voice very much." This is best shown upon beating Vaynard for the first time: he goes on a long rant about how he'll win the next battle against you. His confidence withers thereafter though, as evidenced by the less-than-enthused speeches he gives when you beat him again.)
Crutch Character: (Halley looks like a lifesaver for New Almekia, but you shouldn't use her much since she leaves New Almekia after a year. Cador of Esgares kind of qualifies too since he'll leave if Esgares gets down to only two bases (so you can easily keep him the entire game... but you can lose him). The Grand Edition is more blatant on Cador: He leaves not if Esgares is down to only two bases, but when you have captured a certain number of bases.)
This also applies to some high-level Rune Knights. They may serve as good babysitters for weak monsters and low-level Rune Knights, but if they have low Rune Power, they'll likely become benchwarmers once your low-level Rune Knights with high Rune Power reach a decent level.
Face-Heel Turn (Morholt, despite being Almekian, joins Norgard instead of New Almekia because "Lance isn't greedy enough" to conquer the continent. Of course, Zemeckis's coup at the beginning qualifies too.)
In Grand Edition Multiplayer, if you choose the second and third scenario, Carlota is implied to pull one: rather than following Lance to Caerleon, she joins Norgard.
Heel-Face Turn (Cador at the VERY END. He bites it shortly after, though)
Gameplay and Story Segregation (Noie is inflicted with a fatal illness, but she won't die until you finished the game as Norgard (or being in the 3rd scenario for Multiplayer, where she's be nonexistant from get-go). Also if you defeat Norgard, she will also vanish, implying that she died.)
Loads and Loads of Characters (Five countries, each of which have about fifteen unique characters. In addition, there are Rune Knights gained via "Quests" available to every country (except Esgares). There are also some recruited in specific ways like Shutleis and Aldis.)
Magikarp Power (Lance starts as a wimpy Level 1 Prince, but when he becomes a Level 30 King, he's one of the most powerful units in the game. This can also apply to low-level Rune Knights with high Rune Power (200+). Also, Ghouls start off lousy but become powerful Vampire Lords after a lot of leveling-up.)
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism (It varies based on which country you play as... In "Brigandine: Grand Edition," it depends on which country you play as in Story Mode, but the extended endings suggest New Almekia (Idealism) to be the eventual victor. In Multiplayer Mode, however, it primarily leans toward Cynicism, as evidenced by how, in the second scenario, both New Almekia (Idealism) and Leonia (Idealism) start out defeated by Esgares (Cynicism) and Norgard (Cynicism), respectively. This leaves Caerleon as the only remaining country of good guys. However, Idealism stood a better chance because in a further latter scenario, Caerleon still stands while Norgard defeated Esgares.)
Also in the Multiplayer Scenario 1, Halley no longer joins New Almekia by default. She'll join whichever country is currently the strongest, which makes her a Punch Clock Hero.