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)
  • Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
  • Quest
  • PlayStation Portable
  • Square Enix
Publisher(s)
Quest
Director(s)
Designer(s)Yasumi Matsuno
Artist(s)
Writer(s)Yasumi Matsuno
Composer(s)
SeriesOgre Battle
Platform(s)
Release
October 6, 1995
    • Super Famicom
      • JP: October 6, 1995
      Sega Saturn
      • JP: December 13, 1996
      PlayStation
      • JP: September 25, 1997
      • NA: May 1, 1998
      PlayStation Portable
      • JP: November 11, 2010
      • NA: February 15, 2011
      • EU: February 25, 2011
Genre(s)Tactical role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer[c]

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together[d] 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.[1] A remake of the game developed by the original development team was released for the PlayStation Portable in February 2011.[2] In Japan, the remake was retitled as Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fortune.[e]

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.[3] 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.[3][4]

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.[4][5]

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.

Plot[edit]

A map of the kingdom of Valeria.

Setting[edit]

Chronologically, it is the seventh episode of the Ogre Saga. It directly follows the events presented in the fifth chapter, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, and runs concurrently to chapter six, Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, although both games take place in different parts of the world. The events in the side story Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis precede Let Us Cling Together, with one of the alternate endings in the former directly referencing the events at the beginning of the latter.[6] The story takes place in the Kingdom of Valeria, homeland of the peoples of Galgastan, Walister, and Bakram.

Story[edit]

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.

Characters[edit]

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.[7]

Development[edit]

Tactics Ogre had a long development cycle for its time, and was released 18 months after it was first announced.[8] 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.[9]

The game was innovative in its nonlinear branching plotline inspired by sound novels and gamebooks at the time.[9] Crucial decisions made in the game determine the path of the story, the members of player's 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.[3][4] 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.[4]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

Versions and ports[edit]

Release years by platforms
JPNAEU
SNES1995N/AN/A
Sega Saturn1996N/AN/A
PlayStation19971998N/A
Wii VC (SNES)2009N/AN/A
PSP201020112011
PlayStation Network201020112011
Wii U VC (SNES)2014N/AN/A
New 3DS VC (SNES)2016N/AN/A

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 NES).[13] A prerelease demo was made available for the add-on Satellaview. It consists of a battle in a preset map where the player has full control over two opposing teams, similar to the training mode in the full version of game.[14]

The Super Famicom version is one of the few releases for the system compatible with the accessory Turbo File. In 1998, it was made available through the Nintendo Power download service in Japan.[15] An unofficial translation patch containing the English script of the PlayStation version was released in 2010. This patch can be used with an original cartridge so the game can be played in English through the RetroN 5 console.[16]

In Japan, this version was also made available on three different occasions for the Virtual Console service. It was re-released for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, and for the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS in 2014 and 2016, respectively. These digital re-releases are also 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.[17] This version has voice acting in most of the important scenes, and an exclusive art gallery. 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.[18] The game was released in 1998 for North America, with a full localization into the 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. In Japan, this port was also reprinted as part of the Artdink Best Choice line of discounted re-releases.[19]

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 remake along with the game's original staff.[20] 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.[21] It was released on November 11, 2010 in Japan, and in February 2011 in North America, Australia and Europe.[22] The remake was also made available digitally on Sony's PlayStation Network and can be downloaded and played both on PSP and PlayStation Vita.[23]

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.[24][25][26] 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.[27] In Japan, the remake was also part of the Ultimate Hits budget series of re-releases by Square Enix.[28]

The PSP remake presents several changes compared to the previous releases. New characters and events are included, and the script has been re-translated. Most importantly, the remake severely downplays the effects of a character's death in battle, giving players extra opportunities to keep characters alive even if their hit points have been reduced to zero in battle. The previous releases permanently eliminated characters once their hit points had been reduced to zero in battle. The remake also adds a crafting system and completely revamps the experience system, giving experience to all the party members after a battle, instead of giving it to single party members after executing individual actions.[29]

Reception[edit]

Contemporary[edit]

The original release of Tactics Ogre for the Super Famicom received a score of 34 out of 40 from the Japanese magazine Weekly Famitsu,[41] while the Sega Saturn port received a score of 30 out of 40.[42] These releases remain exclusive to Japan, despite the Super Famicom version having been made available for the Virtual Console system for the Wii, Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS.

The PlayStation port of the game was the first to be released in other territories, and it was well-received in and outside of Japan, according to the review aggregator Game Rankings, with an average aggregate rating of 81%.[71] 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".[7] Joypad noted that the game would give players hours of enjoyment, as it is a complex and large T-RPG, although 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.[39]

Remake[edit]

Released fifteen years after the original game, the PSP remake received positive reviews, with an average aggregate rating of 88% at GameRankings,[31] 87 out of 100 at Metacritic.[32] Reviewers praised the gameplay, storyline, and changes to the leveling system as well as the World and Chariot systems.[51] 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 remake preserves the best qualities of the original game, while the new features improve the game.[51] The remake received a score of 36 out of 40 from Famitsu, earning the platinum award from the publication.[40]

Sales[edit]

The original Super Famicom release sold over half a million units in Japan in 1995.[72][73] The Sega Saturn port was the 5th best-selling game for the system on the week of its release.[74]

From 2010 to 2011, the PSP remake of the game sold nearly 280,000 copies in Japan.[75][76] The remake was the best-selling PSP game in February 2011 in North America, though no official sales numbers have been revealed.[77][78]

The New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console port of the game was the 18th most-downloaded Super Famicom game for the system in Japan.[79]

Sales
Console Year Version Japan USA Europe Total Ref.
SNES 1995 Original release 515,311 N/A N/A 515,311 [75]
SSAT 1996 Port 78,993 N/A N/A 78,993 [80]
PS 1997 Port 13,963 16,940 N/A 30,903 [75]
PSP 2010 Remake 273,492 Unknown Unknown >273,492 [75]
PSP 2011 Ultimate Hits 5,715 N/A N/A 5,715 [75]
Total sales: >904,414

Accolades[edit]

The Super Famicom version of the game was awarded Best Import Strategy Game of 1995 by gaming magazine GameFan.[67] In March 2006, the Japanese Famitsu magazine readers voted on their 100 all-time favorite games, and Tactics Ogre was named number seven.[81] In December 2009, Game Informer published a list of the top 200 games of all time, and the PlayStation port of Let us Cling Together ranked 199th.[82]

The PSP release was considered by the staff of gaming website GameSpot the best remake of 2011.[69] It was also named PSP Game of the Year in 2011 by the staff of review aggregator website Metacritic.[70] That same year, the staff from website GamesRadar+ chose this port as the best PSP exclusive title, mentioning that the "PSP remake was impeccably executed".[68] In 2012, the website Eurogamer asked game developers to select their favorite games from 2011; representing Supergiant Games, Greg Kasavin, creative director and writer of Bastion and Hades, granted the PSP remake the title of Game of the Year.[66]

In 2017, IGN placed Tactics Ogre as the 20th best RPG of all time, citing the mature themes, multiple thread lines, and multiple endings.[83] 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 15th.[84][85] In 2020, USgamer published a list of the top 25 RPGs of all time and ranked the PSP remake of the game at the 24th spot, considering it to be Matsuno's "most complete and defining work".[86]

Legacy[edit]

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is widely considered to be the forefather tactical RPGs genre.[51] 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".[87]

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 particular, was heavily influenced by Tactics Ogre, to the point it might be considered a spiritual sequel to the game.[88] 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 Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia – retained the style introduced in Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen.

Final Fantasy XIV's writer, Banri Oda, claimed that the game's approach in reflecting real-world issues was inspired by Tactics Ogre, and that the game's story would have been different if he did not play that game.[89] Naoki Yoshida, the director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV also claimed Tactics Ogre was one of his favorite games and that it made such an impact on him that he built his career in such a way that he would have the opportunity to work with Yasumi Matsuno, the director of the game, which he did in the Stormblood and Shadowbringers expansion several decades later.[90]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ PlayStation Portable version.
  2. ^ PlayStation Portable version.
  3. ^ Super Famicom version.
  4. ^ Japanese: タクティクスオウガ, Hepburn: Takutikusu Ōga
  5. ^ Japanese: タクティクスオウガ 運命の輪, Hepburn: Takutikusu Ōga Unmei no Wa

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