The tale of Quest's Ogre Battle Saga's history
in the U.S. is practically a saga in its own right. While first game
in the series found its way to America courtesy of Enix, the subsequent
closure prevented the follow-up, Tactics Ogre, from seeing release
in the States for many years. Thankfully, Artdink saw fit to port
both the games PlayStation in Japan, and both saw a stateside release
by Atlus. The Neo Geo Pocket installment, however, fell prey to the
closure of another U.S. office, this time SNK's. Since then, the Ogre
Battle Saga has been published by Nintendo in Japan, but the company
has shown an odd reluctance to bring the games in the U.S. Just like
2000's Ogre Battle 64, the latest game in the series, Tactics Ogre:
The Knight of Lodis, was originally announced for the U.S. by Nintendo.
And once again, the console giant has stepped aside, leaving the game
in the capable hands of Atlus' American branch.
New world map
Like the Neo Geo Pocket Color Ogre
Battle Gaiden, The Knight of Lodis is not an official part of
the planned eight-chapter Ogre Battle saga. Rather, it extends Tactics
Ogre's graphics and gameplay systems while introducing a brand new
story and setting. But while the company farmed the development of
Ogre Battle Gaiden out to SNK, The Knight of Lodis was developed in-house
The story is set between the events of chapter
6, Ogre Battle 64, and chapter 7, Tactics Ogre, and should help to
cast more light on the island nation of Lodis, a traditional series
antagonist. Known as the Holy Lodis Empire, the island is ruled by
its church, which is centered on the worship of St. Lodis. Located
in the northwest of Galicia, the Empire has engaged in a brutal "enlightenment
policy" over the last ten years by conquering the surrounding lands
and converting them to its religion.
The game's setting, Ovis Island, is one such colony.
The island itself is divided into three distinct regions by its harsh
geography: Rananculus in the north, where the bulk of the poor population
lives under the yoke of Lodis; Anser in the east, the center of trade
where the aristocracy reside; and Tinea in the west, a marshy wasteland
populated by Beastmen and monsters. The many mountains and rivers
of Ovis make travel and communication between the regions nearly impossible.
Let us cling together!
Due to the harsh class and physical divisions
between the districts, politics there remain in a delicate balance.
To help ease the tensions, the Empire dispatches a troop of its best
knights: The Holy Flame Cavalry. Among them is the game's main character,
the 15-year-old Alphonse Locher, a new recruit who remains unsure
of his country's imperialist practices. His regiment is attacked by
an unknown force while in transit and this initial struggle, naturally,
begins a chain of events which will uncover a grand conspiracy on
Though The Knight of Lodis doesn't contain the
quite the same focus on branching story paths seen in Tactics Ogre,
the complex political backstory should convince fans that the series'
complex plots haven't been dumbed down for a handheld. Furthermore,
Quest has stated that the story - which does have multiple endings
- will detail events leading up to the Valerian War that preceded
Tactics Ogre. Ogre Battle fans can expect to have a few questions
answered and see some familiar faces.
The Knight of Lodis adheres closely to the same
gameplay formula that made hits out of Tactics Ogre and its spiritual
successor Final Fantasy Tactics. The game is still focused on isometric
tactical battles and retains much of the scope of the previous installment
-- the maps are as large as 32 x 32 squares and players can take up
to 8 units into battle. As in the other 'Tactics games, the party
moves around a "connect-the-dots" map to reach new towns and battlefields.
It's perfect for our seminar
While the bulk of the battles are story-based,
players will encounter random squads of troops and monsters when crossing
previously-visited locales. Story battles should feature a variety
of mission goals to keep the game interesting, but Quest is also adding
in a new Quest Mode to offer unique battles outside the scope of the
main story. Occasionally, a successful battle will net players an
ancient scroll. Using this in conjunction with a saved game will allow
them to take on one-shot missions, with the chance to gain rare items
and equipment that are unavailable in the main game.
But the biggest change for the GBA version comes
in the form of a revamped movement system. In the original Tactics
Ogre, units received their turns based on a variety of factors; quicker
troops with less equipment would get a chance to attack and move more
often than slower units, as the game cycled through the characters
in order of the "wait turn." The Knight of Lodis moves to alternating
turns, similar to the Shining Force games. Combat is divided into
rounds, and players may move their units in any order during their
turn. Additionally, taking an action now ends that unit's turn, moving
after attacking is no longer possible. These changes vastly alter
the gameplay; rush tactics are now much more successful, while run-and-gun
maneuvers are next to impossible. Thankfully, the AI has been tuned
accordingly for the new system and there is a much greater focus on
Other aspects have been streamlined for the handheld
version, as well. Class restrictions on weapons are less strict, characters
have fewer stats to track, and players are given full access to their
inventory during battle instead of having to equip items on characters
for use later. While the changes do seemed to be aimed at making the
game a bit easier, hopefully the end result will help to alleviate
some of the constant troop training that was the major shortcoming
of Tactics Ogre.
List of Emblems
While some of the combat system has been simplified
for The Knight of Lodis, weather and terrain effects will play a much
larger role in the GBA game's battles. Not only do troops receive
statistical bonuses in their favored weather conditions, as in Tactics
Ogre, but the weather itself will transform the terrain. For example,
snow will cover up plains and impede movement, while a rainstorm causes
rivers to rise and changes land tiles to water tiles. The terrain
and weather are both modifiable by magic: Fire spells melt snow, while
sunlight stops rain.
Not all of The Knight of Lodis is a simply based
on the previous game, however. Units progress to new character classes
in a completely different manner. Rather than advancing by simply
acquiring a set of minimum statistics, units must attain the "Emblem"
for a particular job through special deeds, such as dodging enough
attacks or talking to a certain number enemy units. Once a character
has the Emblem for a given class, he or she can freely change to that
class from the status screen. The classes themselves are Ogre mainstays,
such as Soldiers, Amazons, Witches, and Knights, but this time, they
are less gender specific at the lower levels - a change which makes
troop management much more robust early in the game. Players can now
have male clerics and archers or female knights and wizards, but the
sexes diverge further up the class ladder - for example, male troops
can gain access to the beast tamer class, while the dragon taming
remains the realm of the ladies.
Other additions are more specific to the move
to a handheld platform. Tactics Ogre's somewhat tedious training mode
makes a return, but players are be able to link two GBAs together
to train against human opponents. Both will need their own cartridge
and saved game, but each player will be rewarded with new items at
the end of battle, depending on their performance. The game will also
offer a trading mode to swap items and troops.
Fight it out!
One area in which the game has undeniably been
improved, however, is the graphics. The Super Famicom Tactics Ogre,
and its PlayStation port, was a fairly drab and static game; the GBA
installment is much more colorful and lively, even on the dim and
tiny screen. The backgrounds have a more varied palette and most sport
small bits of animation, such as swinging window shutters or swaying
Though Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis may be
a side story to Ogre Battle Saga, the amount of new gameplay that
Quest has packed in marks it as more of a true sequel -- and a worthy
successor to the Ogre Battle legacy. Though it remains to be seen
whether long-time Tactics Ogre fans will cotton to the changes made
to the gameplay, GBA owners and strategy fans should have more then
enough reason to be excited when the game is release this Spring.
If The Knight of Lodis can live up to its pedigree, the GBA may be
the home of one of the best strategy RPGs to arrive this year on any
Preview by Fritz Fraundorf and Zak McClendon, GIA.
|Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
||Cartridge (? mb)|
||Game Boy Advance|
|| 06.21.01|| Unknown
|Atlus release schedule details
|2 character designs