I Ran Out of Steam.
With more than twenty levels each requiring hours of your time, the game ran out of incentives to keep me going.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #29/100
February 2nd, 2019.
That’s when I started this enthralling and highly encompassing strategy game. Three months later, while only a few levels away from the finish line, I can honestly say I have no more — this game has successfully grounded me to dust.
The game’s biggest fault is that it peaks atmospherically during the first ten battles. The randomly-generated unit names will stick with me for the rest of my life. I wrote them on pieces of paper, categorized by their expertise and purpose. This might seem silly, but this game is pretty serious and requires so much thought that the units grow to be something akin to colleagues.
The pressure to sweat the details dissipates in the later half: after assiduously managing your brigade, you reach a point where it becomes a cakewalk. The last handful of battles were only slightly above point and click campaigns. With the 1.5 to 2.0 hour campaigns no longer demanding the riveting planning and execution, there was no point to continue.
In between the hours of military campaigns, there exist a few sparse character interactions. You are a rebellion force against an evil empire, but it is never truly clear why anything happens or who these people are. Thankfully, this is like most things in life: it doesn’t matter.
The beauty of this game is the strategy. This is why the game is engrossing: the game is rewarding to get good at. The depth available to explore might be unparalleled.
Need to Know, Nice to Know, Nuts to Know.
To deal with the amount of information in grad school, we used the saying “Need to Know, Nice to Know, Nuts to Know” to create a hierarchy of importance to focus our study habits. Ogre Battle operates much in the same vein: there is some information you have to understand to play, but beyond that, you get to match the level of detail to your motivation.
Need to Know.
The core concepts that you need to know are battles, alignment, and reputation.
Battles unfold in a way uncharacteristic of most RPGs: you are a passive observer. While you direct where the units go and the overall battle plan, they fight the battles independently based on factors involving their class. Depending on whether a unit is in the front or back row, they get a different set of attacks or spells. For example, a knight slashes twice in the front but once in the back but are more protected in the back than the front. This means you have to put together units before hand and hope it works out for the best.
Sometimes, the units you meticulously created flops. Other times, the rag-tag left over pieces function supremely well. This also depends greatly on enemy units as the heroes of your last campaign might get obliterated in the next one. One of the greatest moments of Ogre Battle is having to deal with this on the fly as you move and shuffle units to try and make up for the situation at hand.
To make matters more complicated, each class roughly has an alignment of good, neutral, and bad. The only way for them to continue to grow is to keep their alignment where it should be. Alignment is affected by decisions you make in the battlefield, such as whether you destroy weaker units. This means that you have to combine units of similar alignment to make sure the actions are in accordance with alignment.
Reputation is affected by whether you take towns with good alignment characters or bad. If you allow your wizards and undead to capture cities, your reputation will go down and you will not get certain rewards and recruit bonus members. This means you have to bend over backwards to not only manage the tactical map but win in such a way where each unit successfully completes its purpose.
Nice to Know.
Within this framework, there are subtle pluses and minuses.
- For instance, characters with negative alignment fight better at night and vice versa for positive units.
- This also changes which magic they are weak to: a holy attack will decimate negative units while evil attacks destroy positive ones.
- Each unit is particularly suited for specific terrain. Adding enough high/low flying units allows a unit to fly over any terrain and speedily be scouts or run to bolster defenses.
Nuts to Know.
Have you found the 12 hidden zodiac stones within obscure map locations needing a laundry list of prerequisites and completing hunting and gathering missions that give you a princess crown that upgrades one of your units to an invincible unit that gives everyone an extra round of attacks? Me neither.
Probably the best game for the SNES I will never finish.
Other People’s Takes:
- Media in Review: “The game is definitely fun, but not compared to its successors (the rest of the Ogre Battle saga).”
- Iron Skullet Art: “The first video game in life that I was fully addicted to (to the point that I would think about it any time I wasn’t playing it) was Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen on the Super Nintendo.”
- Megan Condis: “You see, as someone looking to win the hearts and minds of the kingdom in addition to its lands, the player is tasked with paying attention to the optics of their war in addition to the effectiveness of their troops.”