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Around 1993, one of the surprise hits in the strategy RPG market was the SNES' Ogre Battle. Quest's game was a big success due to the depth of strategy and addictive gameplay found throughout every millimeter of the cartridge. After re-releasing the game for the Sony PlayStation, as well as developing the sequel Tactics Ogre (which Artdink then ported to the PlayStation), Quest is looking for another hit by returning to Nintendo with the next installment: "Ogre Battle 3 : Person of Lordly Caliber."
Chronologically, Ogre Battle 3 takes place between Ogre Battle (numbered Episode V), and Tactics Ogre (Episode VII). The game itself is remarkably similar to the first Ogre Battle, while adding many new features and goodies which will definitely be alluring to fans of the first episode. Players take control of vast armies, divided into groups of five or smaller, and place them strategically over a broad landscape. Once within viewable range, enemy parties appear on the map, and begin to react to your presence. When two parties collide, the scene shifts into a standard turn-based, automatically-controlled battle, with a 3x3 grid for your characters to be divided up depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Two 3x3 grid windows also pop up to detail positions and HP remaining. The player can interrupt during this battle sequence to change strategies and tactics, as well as issue commands with an innovative "Intervene Counter" gauge.
The variety of character classes and customization included, as well as countless other unique features in the game will ensure that no game is ever the same. Character classes are divided by gender and levels. For example, once your basic male fighter has gained enough experienced and risen to a high enough level, you can upgrade him to a Ninja. From there, after many more levels, you could raise him even higher, to a Master Ninja. A partial listing of the new character classes is conveniently located here.
Like any good epic war story, a detailed and twisting plot is in the works to weave and complement the gameplay. The original Ogre Battle was admittedly light on storyline and role-playing, so the game's producers are making a strong effort to put in a decent and addictive plot, as Tactics Ogre had attempted (to mixed results). Storyline is interjected both during and between battles, although the unpopular "Chaos Frame" of the original has been nixed -- meaning you don't have to worry about making the wrong choices or taking too long in battles anymore to get the best ending.
What we know of the story so far involves the hero of the game, Magnus Galand. He is assigned to the southern army of Paradise Kingdom, a state within the country of Lodis. There, he witnesses a barrage of injustices and horrors committed against the underclass of society by Lodis, and vows to help right the wrongs. He tries to gain favor with the nobles of Lodis in an attempt to reach his goals from within, but after the lower classes to the south began to revolt and fight against the state, Magnus joins them in their struggle and helps lead the war.
Characters in the game can also be swayed to either fight by your side, or against you. Similar to the Dungeons & Dragons series of games, characters throughout the game have a lawful, neutral, or chaotic alignment. Six of the major characters announced so far are:
Although alike in most respects, Ogre Battle 3 is dramatically different in the graphical department, as well in some other areas. The battlefields are completely polygonal, without any sort of grid limiting where you can and cannot place your sprite-based troops, and the isometric battle encounters are cleanly drawn with impressive detail. Forget about any sort of army phases this time around, as well. Text boxes also include miniature pictures of characters' faces with a different style from the first Ogre Battle (the original designer has since left Quest).
Japanese gamers are eagerly anticipating Ogre Battle 3 sometime in the 4th quarter of this year, to be published by Quest. However, Quest has no presence in the rest of the world, and the rumors are flying left and right as to which publisher will bring the game out in North America. While multiple companies have expressed interest, the two most likely possibilities at the moment are Nintendo and Atlus. Assuming all goes well, look for the unique strategy RPG to make its way here around early to mid 1999.
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