Double Agent
Tactical maneuvers - March 28, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. The tear gas falls like rain. Don't say we didn't warn you.

I'm astounded by the number of people who think this holy union betwixt Square and Quest is going to destroy all that is sweet and good in the world. You people call yourselves whores. For shame.

Let's go.

Don't screw it up

Square could bring about some good improvements for the series. It could mean better graphics and more advertising for the series, improving it's popularity. Or they could really screw up the series IMO like they did with Legend of Mana and FF8 (which they thankfully recovered from with FF9 and FF10). Personally, I'd like to see another Tactics Ogre game on a next generation console since I'm such a turn based strategy RPG freak.

Pendy the DQ/DW guy

I share your lust for a Tactics Ogre to find its way to GCN or PS2, but there are those who're dubious as to whether or not it's gonna happen, and I can't say their doubt isn't at all understandable....

RPG machine

Erin, baby, how are you?

Square bought Ogre Battle. Let's recap.

Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis - coming soon to a GBA near you
FFT remake - coming later to a GBA near you
Matsuno - "I'd love to do the next Ogre Battle, but there's this FFXII thing I have to do first"

And from yesterday:

PS1, 2, 3 - GBA 2003
PS4 - the fanboy petitions have already begun

It seems to me that Square (and Sega) are capitalizing on the fact that all the people who played their NES/SNES (SMS/Genesis) games growing up as kids are now adults who are willing to shell out money for nostalgic purposes and, in most cases, even have the money to do so. Since GBA=SNES, voila, instant game! Free money!

Basically, my take is that any new Ogre Battle game from Square is going to be on the GBA and not the PS2. To be honest, the thought almost makes me ill. The GBA is not a RPG machine. Especially for those of us who have to do things like work to pay for all this stuff. If it was about 15% bigger and had a screen that was visible in average light, maybe I'd be willing to play a couple of hours a night (I did get to the bonus dungeons in DWIII), but I'd much rather be playing games on my PS2 (or my PS1, for that matter).

I also never had a NES, SNES, SMS or Genesis, so there's no nostalgia here. We're looking at good games, but if it takes 3 years to finish them because they're on the GBA, well, not going to happen.

Of course, Square will rake in money hand over fist whether I buy anything or not, and that's all they care about.

I'll repeat that, since some people don't get it, and I'm just that kind of person. That's all they care about.

On the other hand, I can play Freedom Force and you and your 8MB video card can't, so life's still interesting.

Orin the Lawyer - it's really just a secret identity

I'm not entirely enthused about the way the GBA is shaping up to be something of a premier platform for RPGs, either. I'm not a huge fan of handheld gaming, and while I've made clear in the past that I appreciate what the platform potentially means for developers with a vision and no hope of developing for a high-end console like the GCN or PS2, the relative ease of putting out a GBA game is a double-edged sword. I don't want to see wave after wave of GBA ports and remakes on the part of the cash-craving take attention away from development for the next-gen consoles, but if everyone goes out and buys a GBA because it's the platform DW, PS, FFT, BoF, and every other RPG ever created is on, it could very well happen.

The almighty nose
Disperser of Double-based Doubleness,

Are you aware you wrote "whore" twice last column and it had nothing to do with one of the clever little dating sims I hear so much about? Well, that clinched the deal for me responding here. So, sit back and drink a random beverage out of a mug shaped like our lord and saviour, Henry Kissinger, as I serenade you with a tale about love, political intrigue, and people who mysteriously lack noses. In other words, Final Fantasy Tactics is the best damn game I've ever played. Even its faults are strengths to me. The translation makes sense everywhere it needs to, making the humorously incorrect parts seem as though the team had intended it to be that way along along. Having never played Tactics Ogre or the original Ogre Battle, I can't really pass judgement on them, but from the faqs I've looked at, they don't sound as deep as FFT, even if it does allow more characters on larger maps. Anyway, I've been in the process of beating Orge Battle 64 for some time now, and while it is quite addictive, it isn't nearly as good as FFT. I know they are entirely different games, but it isn't exceptionally deep, and the characters are neither endearing nor possess powers drastically different from any other characters in the game. I admit, none of this has wholly anything to do with the topic, but if you hang around with me and my inability to form new paragraphs, I might get there.

Okay, about now (rejoice with me for a new paragraph has been created). I've heard through my local water drainage systems that all the scripts for the Ogre Battle games had been writen long ago in a dank basement, so that shouldn't be something Square will shotgun blast to hell very easily, especially with much of the Quest team on board. And on the topic of it changing the series, who cares? Should anyone really give a wet slap if it's changed? No, I don't really think so. The games really don't seem to have a specific art style, except for making use of the almighty nose. And the battle systems shouldn't take a hit, because if FFT is any indication, Square likes the general battle system of TO. And making it more like a marraige between FFT and TO could only make it maddeningly more deep. And, in conclusion, Square always makes kickass music, even if they don't get licensed tracks by Moth on them. So, I can only see improvements from it being under Square's massive wings.

~Exhaust Piper, who daily curses whoever made keyboards for putting "m" and "n" so close together.

That's what I like to hear -- hope and positivity, both of which are at risk of added to the endangered species list here at DA.

Why can't more of you be like this?

The end is nigh

What do I think of square acquiring the Ogre Battle series? I think it means we'll see a decline in game play, and a love story between a love sick rebel and a surly guard. And maybe there'll be some all encompassing evil who will have happened to raise them both in an orphanage and....

In all honesty, I think it means the end to one of my favorite strategy games. Square hasn't put out much in a while that's made me have faith in their ability to make a game with solid gameplay value. Sure they've made some decent movies lately... but in terms of gameplay they've gone down the crapper. :(

-Neil who still giggles while thinking of the "ihateyou" line followed by heavy metal and then Yuna falling flat on her face

I can't say I fear any such thing. If FFT and Vagrant Story are any indicators, this pairing could result in some truly memorable efforts from Matsuno and the Quest team. True, FFT was arguably not as complex as various Ogre Battle offerings, but it undeniably favored gameplay (addictive gameplay, no less) over flashy graphics, and there was not a love story of consequence in sight.

What I see resulting from this is unrelentingly positive; Ogre Battle will continue with its challenging sagas and branching scenarios, but it'll be stylistically dressed-up and supported by the name and resources of Square ... the, uh, bastard monopolist uber-power.


By creating a monopoly and using unfair business tactics, Square is eliminating any chances of other companies to really thrive in the RPG market. I wouldn't be surprised if Monolith Software, Tri-Ace, OverWorks and Contrail get together some time in the near future to file an antitrust lawsuit against them.

And I would definitely be on MonolithSoft's side. We don't need another Microsoft.

Love and peace,

- S.S

My mind boggles at the sheer number of points in this one, tiny letter that blow me away with their audacious wrongness.

I suppose I should begin by slapping down the common misconception that Microsoft is a monopoly -- they're not, and any garden variety high school economics teacher will confirm that for you. They're the big dog in a limited pack of OS suppliers -- the chief beneficiary of a monopolistic competition. I'd get into further nitpicking detail, here, but no one wants to endure my tangential lecturing about micro economics, so, moving on....

I don't see where Square has "used unfair business tactics," here. If anything, the way I see it, the Quest team now stands a better chance of seeing whatever they may spawn released in foreign markets. It's not as though the team's been creatively stifled by a couple hats made of money to clear the way for Square to somehow steal the SRPG genre, and even if such were the case, they'd still have to somehow dethrone Nintendo's Fire Emblem series in Japan, and definitely arrange to off those pesky bastards at Koei.

Finally, until Square somehow works out a way for their software to come bundled with every PS2, GCN and Xbox out there, sell all their titles for $20 and still turn a profit, and/or pull something similarly predatory, I really don't see how anyone could pin them down with an anti-trust suit. If anti-trust suits are even within the realm of the possible in Japan; I don't honestly have any idea.

Follow the leader


To be quite honest, I was quite surprised to hear that FFT was being made for the GBA. But I was ecstatic when I heard that now Square has acquired the rights to the Ogre Battle series.

Reason being is that, unlike most people, I bought FFT because I knew the team developing the game created, what I consider, the first greatest strategy game ever made being Ogre Battle. I actually still own the SNES cart of that game.

When I heard that *finally* Tactics Ogre was getting formally translated I couldn't be happier. IMO FFT is like Tactics Ogre *light* because Tactics Ogre I found to be infinitly harder, better balanced, and insidiously more complex than FFT ever could be. And the game was done by the same team a couple years before FFT, which made Tactics Ogre that much more impressive to me. Not to mention that Tactics Ogre had a somewhat non-linear storyline that threw incredibly nasty choices at the end of each Chapter, something which FFT didn't do. And then there was the Hell's Gate bonus dungeon, something which made FFT's Deep Dungeon look like a picnic by comparison.

But if there's one thing that makes all this come together for me, it's that Yasumi Matsuno is, and probably will always be, my favourite game designer of them all. One thing always seems to stand out in his games. GREAT storylines, and fantastically balanced battle systems, made even better by the IMMENSE amount of replay value his games come with. Even relativly short games like Vagrant Story, once you got the hang of the battle system that is, can take a player ages to get everything out it has to offer.

There's just one slight and tiny thing that's kinda bugging me though. The main music composer(s) for Matsuno's games has been Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata (where is Iwata now anyways?). But since Sakimoto went freelance, as did Yasunori Mitsuda did with wonders if he'll come back to work for Square under Matsuno. Square I noticed wasn't to kind to Mitsuda for going freelance, as noted by his conspicuously absence in the credits of the CT remake. I hope those two composers will be working on FFXII, which I will snap up the instant it hits the shelves and let it devour my life ^.^;

All in all this is a dream come true for me. Ogre Battle is VERY deserving of being a Square franchise because it's IMO what every start-RPG tries to be. Much the same way that FF is to mainstream RPG's. FF IMO is the leader of RPG's and everyone follows behind it. The Ogre Battle series is the same way, it sets the bar for which all strat-RPG's follow suit.

Kudos to Square, they just snatched up one of the greatest series I've ever known. And Kudos to Matsuno for bringing most of the original Ogre Battle development team to Square. I think this development team will be a godsend for Square, who seem to be a little lacking in creating great games as they once did in the past these days. This development will probably give Square the shot in the arm it needs.


Considering the Ogre Battle bunch has, in large part, worked with Square in the past to bring FFT into the world, I don't understand all the misgivings afoot tonight. FFT is hardly a standard in shitty SRPG-making, and while it may not quite be Tactics Ogre ... it was never supposed to be. Matsuno had already done Tactics Ogre -- he wanted to go somewhere else, and he did.

But does neccessarily mean the Ogre Battle series will cease to be the Ogre Battle series? Not neccessarily, no. It's the same team, guys, but backed by a bigger name who can conceivably carve the franchise a bigger niche in the world.

Props, Lezard, for not allowing yourself to be mired in cynical mistrust of ... "corporate assholes."

No-good bunch of string-pullers

Dear Erin-san,

What was Square thinking? If they had to buy out Ogre Battle, they shouldn't have made it so... flagrant. They need to keep the strings pulled from behind closed curtains so they don't look like the buncha corporate assholes they truly are. This is how they've always run it. You know the megalithic "The Sims"? Square owns it, if you do some tracking. "The Sims" is owned by Maxis which is owned by Electronic Arts which is owned by Square. If they plan to buy Ogre Battle without being covert, this can only mean they have every intention to change what the series is about - and I can only say that they better damn well not! If the first Square published Ogre Battle has a light, fluffy atmosphere with no challenge (the series is KNOWN for challenge! Square is known for LACK of challenge!) and a Moogle showing up in a cameo... Well... I'm gonna have to convince Mustadio to assist me in an assassination.

By the way, I was shocked to see Jennifer Diane Rietz writing in to Double Agent yesterday. She is my hero! If it weren't for her, I don't think I would have found the courage to even admit my TG (transgender) nature to myself, let alone my other video game buddies.

-- Enbreeze

Not much call for comment, here, except perhaps to point out that Square doesn't "own" EA by any means -- Square Electronic Arts LLC is a merely a joint publishing venture between the two.

Kicking ungodly amounts of ass

Dearest Erin,

As a veridical zealot of the Ogre Battle Saga this news was a complete shock, but as my reeling mind grabbed hold of the possibilities... nay, probabilities, my surprise turned to excitement and elation. Truly, I think this turn of events bodes extremely well for the property and its new ward. More importantly, this is going to be cool.

Before this announcement the future of the Ogre series was in no way certain. When a developer as small as Quest conceives as a connected epic that would span in excess of seven games, it's rather necessary to have strong ties to a massive publisher at any given time. They've partnered with Enix, Nintendo, and now Square.

What comes to mind as the best thing about the property going to Square is that many key Quest staffers are already there. If you can put Matsuno, Sakimoto, Yoshida, and the experienced staff who created the N64's iteration of Ogre Battle and the upcoming GBA side story on a new project you have an incredibly deep pool of talent*. One can only guess at what kind of awesome creature rests at the bottom, waiting to be brought to the surface. Then, were you to add a few key individuals like Minagawa (art director for Vagrant Story) and any number of other talented Square employees and give them a sizeable budget, you can say with some certainty that the behemoth of a project that emerges will kick ungodly amounts of ass; this beast is destined to rage on the gaming media, drawing spewing fountains of critical acclaim like blood from the throats of all who stand before it.** Lastly, the fact that Square has a large presence in North America seems like it could give the series a boost in recognition and might make English language releases more likely to happen.

Aside from Square snagging a well-known and respected license in this deal, The Final Fantasy Tactics remix on the GBA should be quite something as well. Like everyone else I'm crossing my fingers that Daravon will take the time to brush up on his English before he washes up on North American shores a second time. If Square carefully grooms the new property they could end up with another flagship title. Holding the second most popular RPG and SRPG series in Japan (Dragon Warrior and Fire Emblem would be #1 in their respected categories) is not a bad position to be in.

Of course if I weren't generally optimistic about the whole thing I might have secret fears that Square would turn Episode I of Ogre Battle into something mirroring the new Star Wars trilogy. But, I can take comfort in the fact that Yasumi Matsuno isn't a middle-aged bumblefuck who accidentally hit on a winning formula and continues to embarrass himself in a pathetic attempt to recapture that special something.

Vaguely related to all this, I saw the trailer for Attack of the Clones and dear god... the script... she is awful. Blade II on the other hand was really good. Leagues above the first one. He and Dante really should hang out... or at the very least I hope that Kamiya watches the movie for reference on Devil May Cry's sequel.

Justin Speer

* - this is assuming that future collaboration is possible, or that Square endeavors to swallow Quest whole.

** - artist's conception, not to be taken literally.actual amount of praise subject to speculation.

In case it wasn't already obvious, I'm clean out of things to say tonight, so ... Rock on.

Closing Comments:

Well, my sources tell me we're about due for a free topic day, so what can I say beyond ... send letters.

- Erin Mehlos

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