Diehard GameFAN: Hall of Fame Nomination – Ogre Battle

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
Developer: Quest
Publisher: Enix America
Release Date: 05/01/1995
System Released On: SNES
Genre: Real Time Strategy Game

Who Nominated The Game: Chuck Platt

Why Was It Nominated: Every year, Arab killing shooters, arcade racers, sports games, and other assorted drek are released in droves. Go to any store that sells games and there are precious few unique or even interesting titles to play. The 16-bit era was a little more diverse, though not by much; mascot platformers, beat’em ups, and fighting games were the order of the day. When a game was outside the box, though, it was really outside the box. Case and point being our Hall of Fame nominee this week, Ogre Battle, a gem of an SNES title.

When I first saw screenshots of Ogre Battle in Diehard GameFAN magazine, I was intrigued for sure. The overhead map for movement juxtaposed with combat fought inside a book was unlike anything I had seen before. Character creation via tarot? Multiple endings? Unheard of to my adolescent self and features that gave my imagination flight.

The legacy of Ogre Battle was also a factor in its’ nomination. The first sequel, Ogre Tactics, gave birth to a genre onto itself, the turn based strategy game is commonly denoted with “Tactics” in the title. Ogre Battle 64 took the original concept and rendered it perfectly. Ogre Tactics: Knights of Lodis? Only my favorite and most played GameBoy Advanced game. Quest also made another game in the same vein as Tactics Ogre that you might have heard of, Final Fantasy Tactics. How’s that for influence?

All in Favour:

Chuck Platt: I try with all my might not to be a genre gamer. If a game looks good, I will try it. I generally despise racing games, but I play every Gran Turismo. I dislike First Person Shooters, but Borderlands was my favorite game of 2009. I hate Real Time Strategy games, but Ogre Battle is my favorite SNES game, hands down.

To be fair, Ogre Battle is not an RTS in the traditional way. Sure, the movement is RTS, but the combat is not. Instead, fights take place on a map that looks like a book. The player has only limited control over these battles, but the tarot cards can change the course of a battle. These fights can be as tense as any I have ever played in a strategy game, right up there with the notoriously rough Fire Emblem series.

Another thing that really grabbed me about Ogre Battle was the non-linear nature of the game. From the character creation to the random treasure to the various choices that you make over the course of the game, Ogre Battle can be a completely different game for different players. My evil tyrant will grow a completely different horde than someone else’s heroic crusade. Unlike many modern games that claim to have difficult moral choices, Ogre Battle really did challenge my ethics on certain issues.

Ogre Battle is the best game on my favorite system. What more ringing endorsement can I give?

Alex Lucard: I was on the fence with this for a long time. This is mainly because I prefer the Ogre TACTICS games to the Ogre BATTLE games. As well, I prefer OB64 and OB:NGPC to the original. However, very few North American gamers have played the N64 game and we wouldn’t have OB64 without the original game, so I’m voting yay on it even though I consider it only a touch above FFT on the Quest scale of awesomeness.

So why does this get a yes? For several reason. The first is that the gameplay is so different from anything that came before it, while FFT is a Square-Enix cash in on OT‘s greatness. It was such a neat mix of real time strategy with RPG elements that it immediately stood. Then there was the highly branching storyline, twenty-five stages that didn’t all have to be played and a neat use of Tarot cards that reminded me of Ultima IV when I first played it.

Ogre Battle was probably the deepest game I’ve ever encountered on the SNES and tied with Shadowrun as my favorite title on the console. For these reasons and many others, Ogre Battle gets a yay from me.

Dave Olvera:

Political intrigues? Multiple endings? A first game that combined elements of different games into one beautiful experience? Ogre Battle was a revelation and its success, and the world it created, lead to more games of a similar quality. The story of the world OB created was rife with topics like genocide, racism, right and wrong, things that were not approached with a simple: oh, hey, this is bad, but with more of a nuanced stance. The game isn’t a cakewalk and has made a lasting impact as it spawned a more successful (but lesser series) child in the FFT series.

OB is a Hall of Fame game.

All Opposed:

Guy Desmarais: I loved the original Ogre Battle, but if we’re going to induct a game from the series, then it has to be Ogre Battle 64. I feel like the original was good, but was a rough draft of what was to come. On its own, it’s fun, but I don’t feel like it is a classic. The story is probably the best part of the game, but the gameplay does not hold up as well as I remembered. Is it because of the SNES’ limitations when it comes to a game this ambitious? All I know is that this game was a template for better things to come, but on its own, I cannot justify its entrance into the Hall of Fame.

Result: 3 In Favour, 1 Opposed, 75% Approval = ACCEPTED

Conclusion: Ogre Battle is a deserving title and I am thrilled that it made it into the DHGF Hall of Fame. I can think of no more deserving title. It may not be the most accessible, easy, or popular title nominated, but Ogre Battle is more than just a good game. Ogre Battle is influential, rewarding, and still playable 15 years after it was released. This is the mark of a great game, and one worthy of enshrinement.

Next Week: We look at not only an all-but-extinct genre, but a licensed game to boot. How does that get a Hall of Fame consideration? Find out then.

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