Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

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Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Tactics ogre cover.jpg
Print advertisement. Art by Hiroshi Minagawa.
Developer(s)Quest
Square Enix (PSP)
Publisher(s)Quest (Super Famicom)
Riverhillsoft (Saturn)[1]
Atlus (PlayStation)
Square Enix (PSP, VC)
Director(s)Yasumi Matsuno
Hiroshi Minagawa (PSP)
Designer(s)Yasumi Matsuno
Artist(s)Hiroshi Minagawa
Akihiko Yoshida
Tsubasa Masao (PSP)
Writer(s)Yasumi Matsuno
Composer(s)Hitoshi Sakimoto
Masaharu Iwata
SeriesOgre Battle
Platform(s)Super Famicom
Sega Saturn
PlayStation
PlayStation Portable
Release
Genre(s)Tactical role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (タクティクスオウガ, Takutikusu Ōga) is a Japanese tactical role-playing game created by Quest. The game was released in 1995 on the Super Famicom in Japan as a sequel to Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. Let Us Cling Together is the second entry released in the Ogre Battle franchise, featuring many dramatically different gameplay elements from its predecessor. While The March of the Black Queen has the player managing an army of squads free-roaming in semi-real time over larger areas of land, Tactics Ogre features turn-based battles and offers more control over individual characters. The game was re-released on the Sega Saturn in 1996 and the PlayStation in 1997.[5] An enhanced port of the game developed by the original development team was released on February 15, 2011 for the PSP. In some regions, notably Japan, the port was retitled as Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fate.

Story[edit]

A map of the kingdom of Valeria.

Chronologically, it is the 7th episode of the Ogre Saga. For eighty years, Valeria has been in constant strife, and its three leading ethnic groups all claim leadership. King Rodrick, aided by the forbidden powers of the "Palace of the Dead," is able to dominate the people of Valeria until Dorgalua of Bakram successfully leads his army to defeat Rodrick. Dorgalua then claimed the throne as his own, and was able to end the struggle between the ethnic groups. Under King Dorgalua, the rights of the people were preserved, and all internal struggles in Valeria came to a temporary halt.

All is right until the entire royal family is lost due to a string of accidents. Because the late King Dorgalua had no living heirs, the ethnic groups once again struggled for leadership: Abuna Brantyn of the royal court, Heirophant Balbatos of the Galgastani, and Duke Ronwey of the Walister all fought for control, but in the end, Balbatos and Brantyn stalemated. In order to preserve their power, the two men took separate measures: Heirophant Balbatos sought an ethnic cleansing policy and slaughtered thousands of innocent Walister and Galgastani, while Brantyn received aid from foreigners, the Dark Knights Loslorien of the Holy Lodis Empire.

Denam Pavel is the primary protagonist in Tactics Ogre. He is the son of Abuna Prancet, and after Prancet was taken away by the Dark Knights and his home town was massacred, Denam, his sister Catiua, and his friend Vyce plan a vendetta against the Dark Knights. He must lead the "Liberation Army" to bring freedom to the oppressed nation of Valeria.[6]

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot (PlayStation version)

The gameplay of Tactics Ogre is similar to the turn-based strategy style of tactical RPGs. It focuses on squad-level, turn-based, grid movement skirmishes. Like other tactical RPGs, the player builds up a team of several characters with changeable classes and fights battles on isometric grids.[7] The order of movement is determined by the speed of individual characters, in contrast to games in which each side moves its entire team at once. Each character is moved individually on the grid and the order of combat is calculated for each character individually.[7][8]

The gameplay is intermixed with expositional cutscenes revealing the plot, shown in the same isometric view as the battles. Movement and team management between battles are done through a map interface. Most human characters begin as either amazons or soldiers. By leveling up correctly, they can later progress to the other male or female classes, although most advanced classes are limited to certain alignments: lawful, neutral, or chaotic. Another feature is the "Warren Report", a type of database on the land, people, encounters and races of Valeria.[8][9]

The turn-based gameplay style introduced in Let Us Cling Together launched a sub-series within the Ogre Battle franchise with Tactics Ogre being used to distinguish the two forms of gameplay in later sequels, such as Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis.

Development[edit]

Tactics Ogre had a long development cycle for its time, and was released 18 months after it was first announced.[2] This was the second game directed by Yasumi Matsuno, following Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, which featured a considerably different game style. Conceived as the seventh episode in the Ogre Battle Saga, the game was originally titled Lancelot: Somebody to Love, and then Tactics Ogre: The Bequest of King Dorgalha, before the final title was settled upon. According to Matsuno, Japanese players were not used to the real-time strategy gameplay of Ogre Battle so he changed to a turn based grid system for Tactics Ogre. Furthermore, he stated he felt the previous game "lacked reality", with too many gods and demons, and thus decided to switch to a more dark fantasy atmosphere with a Middle Ages/Roman Empire base for a more realistic setting.[10]

The game was innovative in its nonlinear branching plotline inspired by sound novels and gamebooks at the time.[10] Crucial decisions made in the game determine the path of the story, the members of your army and the ending sequence. There are multiple endings with radically different outcomes. The game expanded the non-linear alignment system of its predecessor, with three types of alignments for each unit: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaos, none of which are portrayed as necessarily good or bad. The game gives players the freedom to choose their own destiny, with difficult moral decisions, such as whether to follow a Lawful path by upholding the oath of loyalty, even if it means slaughtering civilian non-player characters on the leader's command), or follow the chaotic path by following a personal sense of justice, even if it means rebelling.[7][8] Such factors affect the game's ending, which is also affected by decisions such as whether to obtain the most powerful class, which can only be acquired by making a tragic sacrifice.[8]

While the concept of branching storylines affected by Law/Neutral/Chaos alignments had already been explored before in the Megami Tensei series developed by Atlus, Tactics Ogre presented choices more grounded in reality, revolving around war crimes and political alliances, rather than supernatural elements.[11] The dark, complex, political narrative of Tactics Ogre revolving around the reality of war was inspired by Matsuno's outside perspective on events that unfolded during the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s, including the Bosnian Genocide.[12]

The subtitle of Let Us Cling Together is a reference to the Queen song "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)" from their album A Day at the Races. This is one of many references to Queen songs in the series, including Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, which references "Ogre Battle" and "The March of the Black Queen" from the album Queen II.[13]

Versions and ports[edit]

Super Famicom[edit]

The original version of the game was released on October 6, 1995 and published by Quest for the Super Famicom (the Japanese counterpart of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System).[14] The Super Famicom version was released worldwide on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console (VC) service in 2009, and in Japan for the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS' VC in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The Virtual Console releases are only available in Japanese.

Sega Saturn[edit]

Tactics Ogre was ported to the Sega Saturn only in Japan and released on December 13, 1996 and published by Riverhillsoft.[15] This version has voice acting in most of the important scenes, and an art gallery exclusive to this version. In addition, this version makes it is possible for the player to swap bodies with some normally restricted classes through one ability from the Ogre Blade item. In all of the other ports of Tactics Ogre, restrictions are made on which character can be controlled under this ability, but the Sega Saturn port does away with any restriction, significantly impacting gameplay if this feature is to be used by the players.

PlayStation[edit]

The game was ported to the Sony PlayStation and released in Japan on September 25, 1997.[16] The game was released in 1998 for North America, with a full localization into English language. The PlayStation version of the game has remixed Super Famicom music and thereby does not take full advantage of the system's audio capabilities.

PlayStation Portable[edit]

Despite officially resigning from Square Enix before the completion of Final Fantasy XII, Matsuno returned for the re-development of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for the PSP. Matsuno worked on the port along with the game's original staff.[17] In the PSP version, "The World" system allows players to revisit key plot points and make different choices to see how the story unfolds differently.[18] It was released on November 11, 2010 in Japan.[19]

A "Premium Edition" was released in Europe, including a cardboard external case with embossed lettering, a copy of the game, a product registration card, a 53-page instruction manual, a 48-page hardcover gloss coated artbook entitled "The World of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together", a mini CD "Original Mini Soundtrack" with 6 tracks, and a PlayStation Store voucher for 50% discount on Vagrant Story.[20][21][22]

A "Collector's Pack" was released in Japan containing a CD with the original soundtrack, a set of tarot cards, a copy of the game with the instruction manual, and an illustration signed by the artist Akihiko Yoshida. The tarot card set was also available as a pre-order bonus[23].

Sales[edit]

The original Super Famicom release sold over half a million units in Japan in 1995.[24][25] From 2010 to 2011, the PSP remake of the game sold nearly 280,000 copies in Japan.[26][27] The remake was the best-selling PSP game in February 2011 in North America, though no official sales numbers have been revealed.[28][29]

Sales
Console Year Version Japan USA Europe Total Ref.
SFC 1995 Original release 515,311 N/A N/A 515,311 [26]
SS 1996 Port 78,993 N/A N/A 78,993 [30]
PS 1997 Port 13,963 16,940 N/A 30,903 [26]
PSP 2010 Remake 273,492 Unknown Unknown 273,492 [26]
PSP 2011 Ultimate Hits 5,715 N/A N/A 5,715 [26]
Total sales: 904,414

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
AggregatorScore
GameRankings81% (PS)[31]
88% (PSP)[32]
Metacritic87/100 (PSP)[33]
Review scores
PublicationScore
1UP.comA+ (PSP)[34]
EGM33/40 (PS)[36]
Eurogamer9/10 (PSP)[35]
Famitsu34/40 (SNES)[37]
31/40 (PS)[38]
30/40 (SAT)[39]
36/40 (PSP)[40]
Game Informer8/10 (PS)[41]
9/10 (PSP)[42]
GamePro4.5/5 stars(PS)[43]
4.5/5 stars (PSP)[44]
GameSpot7.9/10 (PS)[6]
9/10 (PSP)[45]
GamesRadar+4.5/5 stars (PSP)[18]
IGN8.5/10 (PSP)[46]
Nintendo Life10/10 (SNES)[47]
PSM9/10 (PSP)[48]
Sega Saturn Magazine (JP)7.66/10 (SS)[49]
Joypad70/100 (PS)[50]
Mega Fun84/100 (PS)[51]
M! Games92/100 (PSP)[53]
Awards
PublicationAward
Supergiant Games[52]Game of the Year
Metacritic[54]PSP Game of the Year
GameSpot[55]Best Remake

The original release of Tactics Ogre received a score of 34 out of 40 from the Japanese magazine Weekly Famitsu,[37] while the Sega Saturn port received a score of 30 out of 40.[39]

The PlayStation port of the game was well-received in outside of Japan, according to the review aggregator Game Rankings, with an average aggregate rating of 81%.[56] GameSpot deemed it "a blast from the past for just about everyone." Comparing it to Final Fantasy Tactics, GameSpot says "aesthetics aside, however, Tactics Ogre is purer and more playable than its hi-tech descendant and definitely worth a look from strategy/RPG enthusiasts".[6] Joypad noted that the game would give players hours of enjoyment, as it is a complex and large T-RPG. However, they noted that the version had no additions from the original version, other than being in English and having loading screens.[50] In Japan, this port received a score of 31 out of 40 from Famitsu.[38]

Released fifteen years after the original game, the PSP port received positive reviews, with an average aggregate rating of 88% at GameRankings,[32] 87 out of 100 at Metacritic.[33] Reviewers praised the gameplay, storyline, and changes to the leveling system as well as the World and Chariot systems.[53] Thomas Nickel of M! Games praised the PSP version as being far superior to the PSP port of Final Fantasy Tactics (which had excessive slowdown) and said that the port preserves the best qualities of the original game, while the new features improve the game.[53]

Legacy[edit]

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is widely considered to be the forefather tactical RPGs genre.[53] Kurt Kalata from Hardcore Gaming 101 stated that "Quest's Tactics Ogre shook up the strategy-RPG formula with its strong, politically oriented storytelling and complex tactical combat", and "together with Square's Front Mission, released earlier that year, essentially redefined a whole sliver of the subgenre".[57]

Although not the first isometric tactical role-playing game – CRW Metal Jacket and Front Mission preceded the release of Tactics OgreLet Us Cling Together helped the graphical style to become more popular and prominent in subsequent tactical RPGs, such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vandal Hearts. Final Fantasy Tactics, in special, was heavily influenced by Tactics Ogre, to the point it might be considered a spiritual sequel to the game.[58] The gameplay style of the game was also replicated in Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, while other sequels to the Ogre Battle saga – Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber and Legend of Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia – retained the style introduced in Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen.

In March 2006, the Japanese Famitsu magazine readers voted on their 100 all-time favorite games, and Tactics Ogre was named number seven.[59] In 2019, Famitsu conducted a poll of 7,158 of their readers to determine the best games of the Heisei era, with Tactics Ogre placing #15.[60][61] In 2017, IGN placed Tactics Ogre as the 20th best RPG of all time, citing the mature themes, multiple thread lines, and multiple endings.[62]

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External links[edit]