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 Entertainment System. Later was re-released and touched up a slight bit for the PlayStation 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 affect the state of the world around him, his fate and that of his friends. The game touches on the themes of class warfare, democratic reform, and ethnic conflict, and continues in this direction throughout its narrative, 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; the original SNES version was skipped and was instead released on the PlayStation 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 Creator-Driven 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 got great reviews, with some even preferring it to Final Fantasy Tactics. A multi-platform remaster has been announced with added voice acting, entitled Tactic Ogre Reborn.
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 the 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 Cliffhanger; stating that the villain from the first game is about to come Back from the Dead.
A pair of side games were also released: Ogre Battle: Legend of The Zenobia Prince for the Neo Geo Pocket (in Japan only) and Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis for the Game Boy Advance.
These games provide examples of the following tropes:
- Annoying Arrows: Very averted, especially in Let Us Cling Together. Archers are widely considered ridiculously overpowered, and for good reason.
- 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.
- Black Knight:
- The class "Evil One" is also translated as "Black Knight."
- Carth from Ogre Battle 64.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Gildas and the Berserker Xapan in Tactics Ogre, more so in the Lawful route (for Xapan).
- Bonus Dungeon: Hell Gate (Palace of the Dead in the PSP remake), 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.
- Catchphrase: For the series overall. "FIGHT IT OUT!"
- 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. In Tactics Ogre, its less so, with the choice that puts you on the Chaos route being choosing to not participate in a False Flag Operation that involves slaughtering a village of your countrymen who are refusing to fight their oppressors. That is not to say that the Law option, going through with it, is evil. More morally ambiguous.
- Didn't Think This Through: Duke Ronway underestimates Denim, Kachua, Vice and Leonard. Seriously, if you know that someone is willing to either massacre a whole town or go it alone and survive, you do not piss him off.
- 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.
- Four Is Death: The Four Devas (Debonair, Figaro, Previa and Luvalon) play 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 Ogre Battle games, each gender has it's own set of classes, with no overlap. In the Tactic Ogre games, there is some overlap.
- Gratuitous English: The scrolling text that explains the backstory of the game was already in English supplied with Japanese subtitles.
- 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.
- Karma Meter: Three kinds: a meter that sums up your army's overall reputation with the people, and the "alignment" and "charisma" stats for individual units. Alignment goes up (tending towards the just and holy) when a character defeats a lower-aligned enemy (tending towards the brutal and wicked), and vice versa. Charisma, meanwhile, goes up by killing higher-leveled foes - who doesn't love an underdog? This does make the high-CHA, low-ALI classes difficult to qualify for: most "evil" units will breeze through battles by slaughtering fairies and clerics, quickly outleveling the enemy armies and making themselves look like bullies in the process.
- 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.
- Manual Leader, A.I. Party: You could control your leader, but not the rest of the group directly.
- 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.
- Morton's Fork: In Tactics Ogre, 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.
- 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.
- 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: They tend to be the strongest mages in the game, but have extreme vulnerability to light magic, sometimes their only weakness.
- 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?
- Palette Swap: To differentiate NPCs from other units of their class. Some advanced classes are also palate swaps of earlier ones.
- Pumpkin Person: Pumpkinheads are monsters created by the experiments of Deneb the witch.
- Rage Against the Heavens: The fallen angel Shaher's agenda in The Knight of Lodis.
- 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, whose special variation of the witch class is referred to in Knight Of Lodis as a "Witch♥". The PSP remake of Let Us Cling Together changes it to "Wicce."
- Schrödinger's Gun: Vyce will become your opposite no matter what you choose to become.
- 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 (it's the subtitle of "Teo Toriatte").
- 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!!Catiua: I overheard him talking once. Search your feelings, Denam. You know it to be true...
- 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 The Lord of the Rings. When the ogre Rimmon, dies, he regains his "human heart" and says "my precious".
- Another LOTR reference, albeit bafflingly inappropriate, was Lost in Translation: a plot-pivotal organization in Tactics Ogre are the Dark Knights Loslorien; little known fact, the Japanese language uses the same character for the sounds 's' and 'th'.
- Schrödinger'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...
- Straight for the Commander: The series makes this a way to shorten the battles via creating a Decapitated Army. Useful for ending annoying scenarios but losing items you could get via annihilating units (but doing said thing deals with the Chaos Frame, or Karma Meter if you want to see it that way.)
- Story Branching:
- Tactics Ogre, Ogre Battle, and Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis all have branching stories that terminate a single ending, though Ogre Battle gave you an additional ending based on your alignment and actions.
- When Tactics Ogre was remade for the PSP, the "Wheel Of Fate" was added, allowing the player to see the shape of the story so far, and upon completing the game, allows them to go back and remake key decisions to see how it would have effected the story.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Deneb, who became less evil with every game. In Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen she was an absolutely evil witch, known for kidnapping and torturing people For Science! and so utterly horrible that not killing her in cold blood was considered an act of evil. In Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together she was just a servant of Nybeth, probably a bad guy but not given nearly as much emphasis on it. By Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis she was an eccentric but non-evil and even quite charming witch (oh, excuse us, "Witch♥") who ran a traveling magic shop, a role she reprised for the PSP remake of Let Us Cling Together. Interesting to note that Knight of Lodis took place decades before Ogre Battle.
- 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.