Introduction: a strategy game
In Ogre Battle: the March of the Black Queen (Ogre Battle MBQ or OB:MBQ) you control a full army in a war campaign across the fantasy world of Zeteginea. During the game, you will command your units in order to defeat increasingly stronger enemies on increasingly less favorable terrains; you will also be able to recruit more units with useful fighting and logistic skills.
Ogre Battle: the March of the Black Queen is a strategy video game with role-playing elements.
Three aspects that can define the genre of RPGs are listed here, and they partially apply to Ogre Battle as well:
- Text is an essential part of the game, and the characters have to talk and interact with non-evil characters to proceed in the adventure;
- There are permanent upgrades, in the form of enhancements of the various attributes of the characters (strength, magic etc.);
- There is freedom of exploration, all the areas are connected by an "overworld", and areas that have been previously cleared can usually be re-visited; in other words, the game is non-linear.
As stated above, Ogre Battle is mainly a strategy game, and only two of the three RPG aspects apply to it, as follows:
- Dialogues are mostly flavor text. Depending on some of your answers, though, you may or may not obtain some items, or you can affect your reputation (good/bad) and alignment (holy/evil);
- Fighting attributes progressively increase, but reputation and alignment may also decrease, depending on your playing style; in other words, depending on the role you play.
- The freedom of exploration is missing: all the battlefields are rectangular and connected not by an overworld (as in Final Fantasy VII), but by a map (as in Super Mario Bros. 3, that is not a RPG at all).
The game begins with the seer Warren using Tarot Cards to ask a series of questions to determine your suitability as leader of the revolution. There are several questions out of a fixed set which are randomly asked, each of which is associated with one of the twenty-two Tarot cards of the Major Arcana. Each question has three possible answers: one righteous, one evil, and one neutral. After you finish answering the questions, Warren wishes luck for the revolution and the game begins.
Modes of play
Ogre Battle has three main modes of play: the world map (management and logistic), the battlefield and the battle screens. On the world map, the player can manage his characters changing their class, re-ordering them into different units, and erasing them. The player can also save and load the game, as well as manage items. In addition, the world map is where the player chooses the next stage, which can either be an already completed stage or a new stage.
This map is visible between battle stages. There, you can choose the next destination of your army. You can also manage and reorganize your units.
Once the player has selected a stage, action shifts to the tactical battlefield. Here, the player can deploy units and move them around. Each unit has a cost associated with it which must be paid to deploy the unit and every day at noon thereafter. There is a limit on the number of units which can be deployed at one time. Time passes on the battlefield alternating between day and night. Characters with high alignment fight better during the day while those with low alignment fight better at night. There are also towns and temples which can be liberated by units. Upon liberation, a random tarot card is drawn which can affect either the liberating unit's statistics or the reputation parameter. In addition, liberated towns provide income every noon which can be used to buy items (some towns have shops which can be used when a unit is stationed there) or pay for unit costs. In addition, there are often hidden towns, temples, or items which can be found by moving a unit close to the appropriate location.
One of the most important aspects of the battlefield is combat with enemy units. Each stage has a number of enemy units which attempt to re-capture the player's towns and temples.
If a player's unit gets too close to an enemy unit, a battle ensues. Characters alternate taking actions with the battle ending after one round of combat (many units can attack multiple times per round). During a battle, a player does not directly control his unit, but selects a tactic for the unit to follow (Best, Strong, Weak, Leader) which the characters follow when choosing who to attack. The player can also use stored tarot cards (which can cause damage or have a special effect), retreat, or change tactics during a battle.
The unit which caused the most damage is the victor and forces the other unit to retreat. If the unit leader is defeated, the unit will invariably retreat to its army base; if an enemy unit leader is defeated, the unit retreats and is restored with a new leader; if one of your unit leaders is defeated, the unit retreats and you have to either resurrect or change the leader, then spend money if you want to deploy the unit again.
- For more details on this topic, see ../Alignment & Reputation.
The Ogre Battle games can be considered Strategy/RPG because of two important elements that affect gameplay and depend on what role the player decides to take. These two elements are Alignment and Reputation.
Reputation affects the ending more than anything. You are trying to free the Zeteginean continent from a dictatorial Empire, and you should win the hearts of the people. But you are free to choose otherwise.
Alignment mainly affects class upgrade. Unfortunately, reaching a given level is not enough to change class: a character also needs high Charisma and its Alignment must be within a certain range. High alignment represents holiness, low alignment stands for an evil heart. You can still have high reputation and low alignment.
One of the most important aspects of Ogre Battle is the class system. Each character has a class which determines the characteristics of that character. There are over 75 different classes available in Ogre Battle, but any given character is limited to a subset depending on his/her initial class. Within a class tree, there are usually level, alignment, and often charisma requirements to change class. In addition, some classes also require the use of a special item. Finally, some trees are unique in that they have separate branches in their tree and characters can be demoted to move along a different path.
Apart from attribute increases at level-up, a character's class also determines how the character moves and fights. Each character has a terrain type where he/she move fastest and fight the best (some classes also get additional attacks), with flying characters able to move quickly over all terrain. In addition, each class has a set of attacks characters can perform, ranging from physical attacks targeting one opponent to magical attacks targeting a whole unit.
Despite the title, there are no Ogre classes nor Ogre characters in the game.
There are thirty levels to be played, five of which aren't required to beat the game. The world map where you choose a location allows for some forks, and so some variation is possible in how the stages are played.
The non-required levels are:
- Muspelm, Organa, Antanjyl and Shiguld: they are special stages that can only be unlocked by completing some sidequests.
- Dragon's Haven: this final stage is accessed by naming your hero "Fireseal" at the beginning of the game; it is sometimes referred to as the Easter egg stage.
Note that the game can be completed without finishing all the stages. There are twelve different endings to the main game, depending on the conduct of the player during the course of the game.