Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking at series that lasted a full decade but hasn’t had a new release in seven years. Its games spanned the SNES, Sega Saturn, Neo*Geo Pocket Colour, Nintendo 64 and now, thanks to the virtual console, two of the five games of the series are now available on the Nintendo Wii. The games in the series were divided into two categories. The Battle games were a mix of real time strategy with turn based RPG elements, while the Tactics games were straight up SRPGs. In 2006, readers of Famitsu voted Let Us Cling Together the 7th best game of all time, and the sheer quality of the game led then Squaresoft to hire Quest to make a less intricate version of the game featuring its Final Fantasy characters, known as Final Fantasy Tactics. We all know how well that did, eh? Now four Diehard GameFAN staffers discuss whether or not there is still life in Quest’s classic franchise, and whether it should be brought back to finish the remaining chapters of the storyline.
Christopher Bowen – Sequel
It’s kind of hard to put these games together considering the fact that Tactics Ogre could be considered a “spin-off” in itself. The fact is, both games could use sequels. Both games were under-appreciated, and didn’t get enough love from gamers. Furthermore, we’re seeing other games in these genres – especially tactics games – be revisited nowadays, even B-list games like Vandal Hearts. In short, there’s definitely a market for a new Ogre game, be it the original RPG or the Tactics version, which was last seen in the vastly underappreciated GBA game The Knight of Lodis.
Despite that, I actually waffled on this, as to whether or not to say sequel or to stay dead. On the one hand, there hasn’t been a bad Ogre game. But on the other hand, those games were Quest properties. That company’s gone, merged into Square-Enix, and the first Enix property to be taken into Square’s loveless busom was Valkyrie Profile. Give me a second, I have to talk Alex off of the roof. Be right back.
OK, that’s all set. It’s amazing what a few tranquilizer darts can do. Anyway, VPII wasn’t that good when compared to the first game, and Squeenix has whiffed on a lot of “big” games. On the other hand, they’ve taken loving care of the Dragon Quest games, which was also Enix’s. I’m torn.
Ultimately, I’m taking Squeenix’s recent form into account, which has been pretty solid, Final Fantasy XIII notwithstanding. As mentioned, the remakes of the Super Famicom era Dragon Quest games were good, and though my Japanese is limited, I’m enjoying Dragon Quest IX, which is of course developed post-merger. Even their mobile games are good, as Chaos Rings is getting positive press. In short, they’ve been getting better. Not great, but better.
If they can keep the Ogre series at its roots, and not screw up the Tactics game the way they’ve royally screwed up Final Fantasy Tactics , they’ll be good. But know that this is a VERY tentative pick that I’m waffling on even now.
Guy Desmarais – Sequel
Ogre Battle 64 is a favorite of mine, and even though I haven’t played a single game from the series since, I will gladly put money down for something that has a similar structure of class managing, army building and choice making.
I don’t even remember who was fighting who, or who betrayed the hero. All I remember is that I played a guy named Magnus and that he kicked ass. The story in these games is usually a huge factor. After all, getting you to care about the characters is what drives you to continue the quest. However, with Ogre Battle, all I noticed is that I was commanding dragons, vikings, zombies, three-headed dogs, werewolves… I probably never felt as manly as when I played that game. In fact, I haven’t played it in a while, and my beard just cannot grow properly anymore. That’s not a coincidence.
All I am saying is that I want more. Same structure, same gameplay, just more of it.
Mark B. – Stay Dead
Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way up front: the Ogre series was absolutely awesome, and it’s a terrible thing that it has been essentially discontinued due to Quest having been acquired by Square-Enix. The games were very involved and interesting, whether they were part of the Ogre Battle series of real-time strategy RPG’s or the Tactics Ogre series of turn-based strategy RPG’s. The stories were often well written and involved, the characters were memorable, and the gameplay was always interesting and well designed.
But the absolute last thing the world needs is Square-Enix fucking that up.
Look, Final Fantasy Tactics was a fabulous example of what Quest could do with something outside of the Ogre universe, but Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is an abomination against God and man in comparison and I am openly ashamed that I ever paid money for it. Yeah, Square-Enix has made some great games in the past several years, but of the four games they have built on the Tactics Ogre engine, only one can be considered faithful to the original source product, and the fear that some bizarre mechanic like the Judge system or God knows what else would be attached to the game is enough to make me violently ill at the idea of either series being resurrected. By all means, re-release the original games, but I never want to see a new game in the series ever again, thanks.
Alex Lucard -Stay Dead
I loved Quest. I loved their games. In my opinion, Ogre Tactics: The Knight of Lodis is one of the best SRPGs ever made and it’s probably the single best game for the late Game Boy Advance. Ogre Battle: Legend of the Zenobia Prince makes my top three NGPC titles and Ogre Battle 64 is by far and away the best game I have ever played for the N64. Everything this team touched turned to gold. Hell, they made what is considered to be the best Final Fantasy title ever in Final Fantasy Tactics and by Square and Quest’s own admission, it’s a second rate version of the Ogre Tactics games, dumbed down for FF fans. I feel bad for FFT fans that haven’t played the REAL Quest games, especially the SRPGs, as they’re only getting a portion of Quest’s true greatness.
However, with all that said, there is no way in hell I want to see Square-Enix touch the Ogre series. Once Quest made Final Fantasy Tactics and Square realized this was a team of better developers that could make better games that outshined FF titles in every way, they systematically began destroying Quest. In 2002, they purchased Quest and then forced heavy input onto Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which made it one of the worst SRPGs EVER. They forced a horrible new storyline AND characters onto Final Fantasy XII at the last second of development, and yet even with the slightly awful story, FFXII remains the Final Fantasy that brought a lot of FF haters back to the series, while also making the creepy fanboys of the series kvetch and cry on internet message boards because it was deep and required actual thinking in order to play and design your team.
The bottom line was Squaresoft didn’t want to let Quest make an Ogre game for the same reason Sega buried Eternal Champions. Sega knew EC was more popular and critically acclaimed compared to its lackluster Virtua Fighter, but that’s the series they wanted to push, so they punished fans by taking away Eternal Champions, forcing Sega fans to buy Virtua Fighter. Here Square didn’t want a series in their own portfolio overshadowing their two biggest series’, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, so they buried the developers and the franchise, not allowing either to be used properly. In 2005, Quest higher up and Ogre creator Yasumi Matsuno left Square-Enix, disgusted by their treatment of Quest’s old staff and the Ogre franchise. I can’t say I blame him, and this is just one of the many reasons I have a lot of loathing for Square-Enix as a company. God forbid they had actually utilized one of the best development teams in the business on a popular RPG franchise to make money. Instead they destroyed them both in order to slowly stave off the growing realization that their two main franchises are both stale and severely lacking in both story and innovation. I hope to god they never revive the Ogre series in either form, even if the series is left unfinished, because Square-Enix would proceed to ruin this series and destroy its legacy. It’s proven that, as a company, it can’t make a quality SRPG or an actually deep RPG, and the Ogre series is both of those, so a revival of this once glorious franchise is no doubt doomed to failure. Please stay away Square-Enix. Do something right for the first time in a long time.
End Result –
Stay Dead: 2
Start Over: 0
Well, it’s a tie this week with our staff torn between our love of the Ogre series, in either its Battle or Tactics form, and a deep distrust of Square-Enix to do the series justice or put out a quality SRPG. The only crew that could do the Ogre series justice is Quest, and with Square-Enix having systematically dismantled them, the hope of getting another Ogre series game, much less a good one, is slim to none.
Next week it’s off to a city where life is supposedly like a hurricane. Join us then as we decide if this series is still good enough to make us want to solve a mystery or rewrite history.