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Ogre Battle 64

Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Quest
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

I'll come right out and say it--graphics are definitely not Ogre Battle 64's strong suit, at least when it comes to 3D. The field maps are dark and blurry, not particularly detailed and in general less informative than the old ones on the SNES Ogre Battle. Sure, you can zoom the camera in and out, and change the angle a bit, but that doesn't change the fact that the 3D looks very, very first-generation.

The 2D graphics, on the other hand, are bright, crisp, and detailed. The characters are easy to tell apart, the various classes and types are quite cool looking, and the cutscenes involving them all are quite nice to watch. The game definitely shines here; there's a whole lot of 2D data stuffed on this cart, with characters and faces and whatnot, and it definitely adds to the appeal of the game.

As for the sound in the game, it's almost directly taken, if not compositionally then stylistically, from the SNES version of the game. That's either good or bad, depending on your personal preferences. Considering the hours I spent with the original, the themes definitely brought back memories of long hours wasted guiding little troops around Mode-7 maps. For people expecting CD-quality music, on the other hand--well, prepare to be disappointed. You're playing on the wrong console anyway.


But whatever Ogre Battle 64 lacks in graphical depth, it makes up for ten times over in the depth of its gameplay. Yes, the gameplay is very similar to the original game on the SNES--indeed, those of us who played the original will have almost no learning curve as you jump into the game. And while the curve is a little steep for the rest of the world, it's definitely worth the climb; Ogre Battle 64, like its two predecessors, provides more gaming bang for the buck than any other similar videogame series created, bar none. One may argue that there are no similar gaming series out there, and you'd be mostly right; that doesn't change the fact that OB64 rocks.

I know the 'bang for the buck' statement sounds like gross lauding, but when you look at the levels of complexity that Ogre Battle 64 lets you attain, it's hard to deny that there's enough to tweak here to keep any serious gamer happy for weeks, even months. The vast selection of character classes and the ways that you can combine those units into groups are absolutely mind-boggling, and there's absolutely no Right Way to do it--you can play the game as you like, and discover your own ways of 'doing it all'.

All right, let's put away the fanboy hyperbole for a moment. Ogre Battle 64 details yet another part of the Ogre Battle Saga--this time, following the exploits of one Magnus Gallant, a fresh new member of the Palatinean Army. Unfortunately, said kingdom of Palatinea is busy being stepped on by the Holy Lodis Empire (sound familiar?), and Magnus isn't too crazy about the rampant corruption and discord in the upper levels of the Kingdom. Not too far into the game, all hell breaks loose, and soon Magnus is fighting for liberty in the only way RPGs know how--battles upon battles upon battles.

Indeed, Ogre Battle 64 consists of a long series of battles, interspersed with cutscenes that move the plot along. These battles take place on 'field maps', which have a number of cities--allied, enemy, or neutral--and other points of interest. You're given an objective for any given battle, and things that you cannot allow to happen (death of Magnus, for example), and you're let loose upon the battlefield.

This works fine for the first few battles, but then you have to really start strategizing. There are roughly a million variables that you can tweak. Every character in the game is of a certain class, and most of those classes can be changed, if there is equipment available and the character has the proper statistics. The game keeps track of everyone's alignment--fighting weaker enemies lowers your alignment, while fighting stronger ones raises it. Certain classes are only available to those of a particular alignment, further complicating the mix. There's also a huge array of weapons and armour, which can be equipped on your characters. Of course, every class has its own rules for equipping.

The battles themselves are run in real-time. You can set out your groups from the main camp, and then direct them around the map. They get fatigued and have to rest; they get in fights; they liberate or capture cities, and so on. There's a lot to keep track of, so the ability to pause the game and get a look at what's going on is crucial.

The battles themselves are a lot more hands-off than most people have come to expect from RPGs. You can give your units general orders, such as Attack Leader or Attack Strongest, but you don't actually control what they do. Instead, your units are placed on a 3x3 grid. Depending on the row that they're on, they have particular attacks. This can get fiendishly complex, so experimentation (or a strategy guide) is necessary for full comprehension of just what's going on.

There's a lot more to the game--the engrossing plot, the many hidden classes and characters, the absolutely crazy things you must do sometimes to get events to happen--but suffice it to say that Ogre Battle 64 is absolutely jam-packed with gaming goodness.


The battles in the game range from the terminally easy to the fiendishly difficult. There's always a proviso that you could do better--with adjustment of classes and equipment, you always feel that you could do more than you're doing. This sort of permanent 'growth envy', as it were, can be debilitating if you're a tweak-fiend. I usually am, but the Ogre Battle series is so complex that I turn off that habit of mine and just play the damn games. None of the battles are impossible, and all can be done with reasonable ease if you utilize some basic combat strategy--never fight alone, keep your strongest units forward, and so on. The game may seem overwhelming at first, but take it in small steps, learning what you need to learn as you need to learn it, and you'll do fine. Don't let the millions of options overwhelm you; just because it's there to be tweaked doesn't mean you have to tweak it within your first hour of play.

Game Mechanics:

The game uses every button on the controller, and there are tons of menus to keep track of. Despite that, the tutorials do a fantastic job of walking you through everything that you need to know--and when I say everything, I mean practically everything; while the details are left unsaid, you'll learn how to do pretty much everything you can do in the game. Future game developers take note: this is a Very Good Thing to have. The controls are simple enough once you know what you're doing, and while there's a lot to keep track of, it's easy to find everything you need to know by digging around in the menus. The translation is solid, if not quite as impactful as, say, Vagrant Story's--but what translation is? The instruction book is thick, filled with info, and quite useful as well.

While the 3D graphics in Ogre Battle 64 may not be stellar, everything else about the game shines. With hours and hours of engrossing gameplay, a captivating storyline that will intrigue both fans of the series and newcomers alike, and a solid game engine, Ogre Battle 64 is almost guaranteed to please any strategy RPG fan who picks it up. If you liked the original Ogre Battle, pick up OB64 post-haste; if you've never played the original, or didn't like it much, definitely give Ogre Battle 64 a try. You'd be missing out on the greatest N64 RPG experience out there if you didn't.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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