Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber Cover
Platforms Nintendo 64
Genre Holy Grail of RPG Strategy
Score 10  Clock score of 10
Buy from Amazon

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is a mixed game, and has had mixed reviews. Some hold it as the holy grail of RPG/Strategy gaming, while others find it about as entertaining as a box of rocks.

I’m of the former. When I saw this game in Nintendo Power, and read about it, it was all new to me. I never played its SNES predecessor. But it looked so awesome. Being an RPG fan, and desperately wanting a reason to play my Nintendo 64 other than to play Super Smash Bros. or Star Fox. The game Quest 64 left a terrible taste in my mouth and made me desperately want a PlayStation for some good RPG games.

One week before Christmas was Christmas at my father’s house. My parents were long since divorced and both remarried, so I happily took part in many Christmases, which rocked! (Not saying divorce is good, but hey, make the best of a bad thing, right?) I had asked for many things, and for a few years, I always got what I wanted, along with my two older step-brothers. The things I remember from that Christmas are: Stereo, The Offspring’s albums “Ixnay on the Hombre” and “Americana,” and Ogre Battle 64: Personal of Lordly Caliber. Oh, yeah, an inflatable arm chair which got a hole in it about two months later.

Anyways, that weekend was a blast, and was simply me, in my inflatable arm chair, with my stereo blastin’ the Offspring and killin’ baddies. I hadn’t played a game this in depth before. No game so complicated. Games like Final Fantasy and stuff were never this complicated. But the complications only made me more interested. It wasn’t so complicated it was confusing, but it was fun. I loved the fact that while the game was linear (as linear as they get, in a way), it was so customizable that I had the time of my life.

The first time I played through it, I got the worst ending, and had played for about 70-80 hours. I then proceeded to buy the Prima’s strategy guide and played the game about eight more times in a row before going to any other game. The only other game I played in between Ogre Battle 64 was Unreal Tournament for the PC, and that was because my dad was in a clan and it was a good way to spend time with him. (My dad is a huge gamer, and if you look up Pointman 308 on the World in Conflict ladder, he’s like, #3 in the world in infantry for online play. Hilarious, right?)

There was a lot going on in my life during that time. I lived with my mom and my sister was inviting boys to come over via AIM. Not boys down the street, or from her school, but from states away. So to keep from hearing my sister whine and complain when my mom yanked her computer away, I just played Ogre Battle 64.

Anyways, let’s get out of this nostalgic feel and review the game already!

Ogre Battle 64 Wizard ValkyrieGameplay - 10 

A lot of people might find this weird. The way Ogre battle 64 plays is not terribly demanding of action, but it has everything right in the right places. While I have personally heard a lot of complaints that you don’t “do” anything during battle, you don’t really have to.

First, you have a unit. Each unit can have 5 small characters, or three small characters and a large character, or two large characters and a small character. Small characters are basically humans, faeries or hawk-men. Large characters are golems, griffons, wyverns and dragons. You arrange the characters on a 3x3 grid. The characters role and actions in that unit are decided almost completely on their position. For example, let’s use a knight. If a knight is in the front row, it gets two attacks in each skirmish. If he is in the middle, he does less damage and gets one attack, and if he is in the back, he gets one attack but does even less damage.

You generally want spell casters in the back and melee classes in front, but you can equip melee characters with swords to make them perform spells in the back.

Now, when you are in the battle overview screen, and your unit meets and enemy unit, the game checks to see which way each unit is facing. Let’s say I am chasing a unit running away form me, and I finally catch up and their back is facing me. Their unit is now reversed from their normal position. This can really mess them up, because if they had healers in back, and melee characters up front, they are in a very vulnerable position because their healers are weak against melee attacks and all of their abilities are weakened severely.

In every skirmish, it goes for a maximum of 3 rounds, depending on what characters are in each unit. An example of this is that a knight gets two attacks in the front, but a paladin gets 3 in the front. Making the skirmish last 3 rounds total. The skirmish is decided by whose characters dish out the most hurt.

While a lot of people find this tedious, it makes a lot of sense. If you’re fighting a group of guys, and your friends are getting torn apart, you’re going to retreat. The unit that loses is pushed back a few inches on the screen, and has the chance to start running for their lives or to try and go at it again.

Ogre Battle 64 Mission Fort TuathaThe main screen is very similar to its SNES predecessor as it displays the map of the country and has many options to select from. From here, you can permanently save the game, or choose to equip units, change their glass, or buy some basic items for your group or equip units with healing items or other items like that.

One major difference of the options you have in the main game screen is the option to train your units. This is incredibly useful and makes the game more forgiving than March of the Black Queen. The mistake I made through the first few missions was only leveling up my main character’s unit. I figured this was wise because, generally, the only way you can lose is by your main character losing, or losing your headquarters. Unfortunately, while I was about to capture the enemy’s main encampment, the attacked mine, and I had a bunch of weaklings dispatched and the enemy was tearing through them, killing my guys and when they’re dead, they’re costly to resurrect. So, I restarted the mission, and before starting the mission, I trained a couple of my units to hold down the fort, and afforded them a few skirmishes, and soon they were quite battle worthy themselves. Most games you would have to restart the entire game from a mistake like the one I made.

The one thing that Ogre battle is famous for is its class system. You first start with soldiers, which is a group of three little guys with spears. When they level up, they turn into a single fighter or amazon (dependent on what gender the leader of the unit is). Then, depending on how they level and what their alignment is (their alignment changes with whom you kill and what choices you make) you will be able to change them into different classes that do different things. You then get to change their class again, and you can usually laterally class change, which is useful.

One more thing you can do is to equip weapons, armor and accessories to your characters. The one thing I always liked when I originally played this was that the weapons actually changed in their hands. Each weapon had a different look, and that was awesome.

There is so much here to customize and make your own that there are limitless combinations for your army. Do you want to make that fighter a balanced, sword brandishing knight? Or do you want to go for the glass cannon approach and make him a mace/axe using berserker? Or do you want to go defensive and make him a lance wielding phalanx? These are decisions that will change the game completely, and are fun to make. There’s not exactly a wrong way to make your groups, but it is so entertaining to see how your army turns out.

The last thing I will say about the gameplay is that you have a lot of choices to make in this game. There are multiple endings, and you can recruit characters based on the choices you make in the story portions of the game, and when you’re on the battlefield, visiting towns. The best ending is exceedingly hard to get, but god do you feel good when you do it. 

Ogre Battle 64 Hugo TacticianGraphics - 8 

For its time and being restricted to a cartridge, the graphics are better than what I expected, truthfully. It’s a massive improvement from what it was before, and is far more playable. The characters are isometric sprites, and not fully 3D, which honestly, was better than if they made them 3D.

I always came from the camp that the 2D or isometric RPGS were superior to the 3D RPGs. I don’t’ really feel that way anymore. But when the technology was so new the characters looked extremely blocky where the games like Ogre Battle 64 and Breath of Fire as opposed to games like Final Fantasy VII and Legend of Legaia. They’re great games, and graphics aren’t that important, but it is nice to have that smoothness that the artwork had. Of course, without the 3D games, we may not have had the games we have today that look so good.

The amount of space on a Nintendo 64 cartridge is extremely limited, so there weren’t nearly as many good, lengthy games on it as there were on the PlayStation. This ended up being one of Nintendo 64's greatest downfalls was the fact that they stuck with cartridges.

The fact is, while the graphics aren’t the absolute most gorgeous thing I’ve seen, with what they had to work with, they pulled off the absolute best that they could do, and it’s still great. 

Sound - 7 

This is one of my big problem areas. Music is a big deal in a game, and while the music is good, it just doesn’t sound as good as it should be. I wrote a letter to Nintendo about a year ago begging them to remake Ogre Battle 64 and to change the music to a more digital, clean sound, with a real orchestra and to fix up the graphics a bit. Sadly, they never responded.

The problem with this is also due to the cartridge. The music, while great, would be far more epic and serve the game better if it were a real orchestra playing the music, instead of being programmed. That’s the only complaint I have. This could have been so much more.

While they used the most they could for the music, it’s just not nearly as epic as other games. Final Fantasy, for example, is legendary for its beautiful scores. But this just isn’t as good. Not to mention that the game Secret of Mana, which is an older game, has better sounding music than this. 

Ogre Battle 64 Leia SilvisStory - 10 

This is the best story that I’ve ever played. This game awoke feelings of serious anxiety when I played it. The basic premise is that you are playing Magnus Gallant, the son of General Ankiseth Gallant, recent graduate of the Ischka Military Academy and a Captain stationed in the southern section of the Palatinean Empire.

While growing up, Magnus was a childhood friend of Prince Yumil. Primce Yumil was an outcast of the royal family. While the rest of the family had blonde hair and blue eyes, he had silver hair and purple eyes and was far more peaceful than the rest of the family.

One night, a noble tries to assassinate Yumil, and Magnus tries to stop the man. The man smacks Magnus away like a punk, and then General Ankiseth Gallant comes in and kills the noble. Even though he was protecting the prince, this earns Ankiseth a bad reputation, despite that he’s one of the best men the kingdom has.

After this, Magnus and his father have a rough relationship and Magnus leaves to join the Ischka military academy and leaves his past behind, to try and build his own life. This is why he chose to go to the southern section of the kingdom, they were the least prestigious of the sects and he felt that it was the best way to get independence from his father’s reputation.

Anyway, I won’t spoil the entire story, but there are so many twists and turns and there’s so much evil going on that it is an intense ride!  

Fun Factor - 10 

This game is a blast. It is a bit slow at first, but when you’re having intense battles, recruiting soldiers, building your army, leveling up your guys and changing their class, making money and getting deep into the story and making story changing decisions, you won’t be able to put the controller down. There’s nothing I would really change about this game except the media it is on. If this game were made on a disc, it would be absolutely perfect. 

Ogre Battle 64 Overworld mapOverall - 10 

This is a hard score to give, but despite its flaws, this game is probably the best the Nintendo 64 has to offer, and probably one of the best games of its kind. Its combination of class changing, army building, story and putting your units to battle and fighting soldiers and things that are out of this world will make your pants fill with crap.

It’s such a shame that Nintendo made it for the Nintendo 64, it really is. That’s the only flaw I feel is really a gaping wound. If this was a PlayStation game, and could fit on a disc or two or four, this game would have had much greater reviews. Still, this is a diamond in the rough.

Despite how much I love this game, and how much critics loved this game as well, it was an overall failure as it had limited sales in the United States. Much like Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen was on the SNES. They just didn’t make that many, and I have no clue why.

I have several of the Ogre Battle games, and they’re all pretty pricey. Thankfully, Nintendo has put both March of the Black Queen and Person of Lordly Caliber online via the Virtual Console.