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Capsule Review - Ogre Battle

Title Ogre Battle
Developer Quest
Year 1995
Platform SNES/PSX
Capsule Rating
Capsule Review: Ogre Battle is a strange hybrid of real-time strategy and RPG battling. Normally, strategy games don't do very well on consoles; Ogre Battle does, however. Its standard-issue graphics and lackluster sound made it an unlikely contender, especially in the year of Chrono Trigger's release; nonetheless, there's a good game lurking behind that lackluster exterior.

Essentially, the gameplay breaks down like so: in each stage, you and "the Empire" have a base. The enemy sends a steady stream of units from this base to yours; you can deploy your own units and do the same, the objective being to seize the base. The space in between is occupied by all sorts of landforms and other cities that can also be seized and used to good advantage. Should one of your units meet an enemy unit, a fight ensues on a separate screen - the twist here is that you have practically no control over the fighting, aside from setting "tactics" (very general strategy) for your units to follow, casting spells and running away. This whole setup actually requires a bit of strategy to succeed, with many factors to consider before making a move. To enhance the game, there's a large assortment of all kinds of RPG units: dragons, knights, skeletons, demons, angels, Amazons, the whole lot. As you may expect, each has strengths and weaknesses, and that becomes another consideration.

To add to the fun, you have a "Reputation Meter" which can go down if you're too weak and get beaten by the enemy _or_ if you're too strong, act like a bully and waste every enemy unit in sight. Keeping track of all of this can be aggravating, but also very engaging. What's more, there's a large number of secret items, hidden characters and bonus stages, and multiple paths you can take to beat the game. All these things help determine the ending you get (there are more than ten). And while the storyline isn't one of gaming's finest, it's strong enough to keep you motivated till the end, and maybe even to replay the game and see the other endings. The result is a unique, fun and rewarding strategy game, even if the myriad factors to be considered can get frustrating sometimes.

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