There are a few games that I really enjoy and go back to every year. Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen is one of those games. It’s my favorite game on the SNES. I know that sounds weird, especially with all the great games on the system.
There is just something about it that stands out and makes me feel happy. The reason I like it has changed over the years. It went from curiosity to trying to beat it and finally enjoying the game for what it is. It’s an excellent strategy RPG. Not a perfect game by any means, but it means something to me.
It’s more than just one game. Ogre Battle is the start of a series. It’s a confusing series that changes its name for some reason, but it’s a series. Each game tells its own story, and the only thing connecting them is the world they exist in.
All of the games deal with war and its impact on people. Also, you end up fighting demons because that is always fun!
Let’s break down the games and talk about the series.
Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen
At the time, this was a unique game on the home console. There weren’t any real-time strategy games for the SNES that I’m aware of. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive had Dune II, but I don’t think there were any others at this point.
The Ogre Battle side of the series is a real-time tactical RPG. You could call it a strategy RPG if you want. I’m sure there are several ideas about what genre the game fits into.
I still remember playing this for the first time. It was on an emulator; I can’t remember which one, over at a friend’s house. Ogre Battle was one of the many games I had never heard of, and when I started collecting games, I tried to find this one. I found it, but not on the SNES. I found the game on the PS1.
There aren’t too many differences between the SNES and the PS1 ports. You have voice acting in the PS1 version, and the text has minor differences. Aside from this, the two games are the same.
In the game, you try to overthrow a corrupt empire controlled by demons. Demons always come up in this series. It is interesting, in a way.
You do have an alignment meter that controls which ending you get. You will be seen as evil if you have a low alignment. High alignment means you’ll be greeted as liberators.
I’ve seen many different ideas on how you can improve your alignment. The game also tells you a few ways. I would try to beat it first and then experiment to find the best way for you. I wouldn’t say I like it when someone tells you how to play a game like it is the only way to do it.
March of the Black Queen is my favorite SNES game. I think this game is the best!
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Let Us Cling Together was a bit of a drastic change of direction from March of the Black Queen. Instead of being a real-time strategy RPG, this was a tactical RPG. In Let Us Cling Together, Quest went with a turn-based game that would become a model for future tactical RPGs.
While March of the Black Queen had some mature themes like war, demons, and some realities of war. Let Us Cling Together brought those themes to the next level. It parallels the breakup of Yugoslavia and includes the themes of genocide and war crimes.
There are three ethnic groups in the game. They were held together by a King, and when that king died, the fighting began. There are also the Knights of Lodis and a group of soldiers from Zenobia. This gives the game some connection to March of the Black Queen and makes the timeline a little funky, as we don’t know exactly when this takes place.
There are a few characters carried over from Ogre Battle. You have Lans, Warren, and Canopus, who make an appearance. Canopus is the one that sticks with your party, while the other two don’t. They are said to have been exiled from Zenobia for some unspecified crime.
Some of the characters used in Let Us Cling Together are the same as in March of the Black Queen. With a few exceptions, like the Doll Mage being missing from the Tactics Ogre series. It makes the game feel very familiar.
The game has many adult themes, much like in March of the Black Queen. The game doesn’t shy away from the realities of war. Units that die stay dead. You might have to recruit and train new units to replace those who die.
This is one of my favorite RPGs. I have many memories of playing it over the years, and along with March of the Black Queen is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the series.
Ogre Battle: A Person of Lordly Caliber
This game felt like the polar opposite of March of the Black Queen and Let us Cling Together. Instead of freeing the people from a tyrannical ruler or ending a war, you start by crushing rebels unhappy with the government. It is quite the departure from the other two games.
The first thing that I noticed was the art style. Back in the 90s, this probably would have looked great, but looking at it now, I prefer the way the SNES games. I like the pixel art in the previous two games.
In some ways, Ogre Battle 64 reminds me of Ultima IV: Quest for the Avatar. In a way, both of the Ogre Battle games do, but here it feels like a closer comparison. You’re trying to take a person down a moral path and away from an oppressive government.
It has a good story, and the gameplay is very good. However, the choice to go with a 3D art style didn’t work for me.
Ogre Battle Gaiden: Prince of Zenobia
This side story takes place alongside the March of the Black Queen. It was released in 2000 on the NeoGeo Pocket Color. It was also a Japanese exclusive.
Quest didn’t make this game, as they had licensed out the property to SNK. This is the only game in the series that a third party made, and it was the first Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre game on a handheld.
Prince of Zenobia follows the story of Prince Tristam. I’ve seen his name spelled as Tristam and Tristan. He was a minor character in March of the Black Queen who is mentioned at points during the game. He is the last surviving member of the Zenobian royal family and was whisked away from the capital as the Empire took it over.
Like the other Ogre Battle games, this is a real-time tactical RPG. It is a unique RPG and can be a ton of fun to play. Prince of Zenobia looks like March of the Black Queen but incorporates the waypoint movement system that Ogre Battle 64 introduced.
A novel adaptation of the game was also released with the special edition. I’m not sure if there is an English translation of it. There is a partial translation that appears to have been abandoned. I wish that stuff like this had been archived better, but I don’t think that books like this are all that important to some companies.
While this game was only released in Japan, a fan translation was done in 2015. This reminds me of how I played many games in the 90s. Knowing that there is a way to play this game is great! Especially with the rights to the game being split between SNK and SquareEnix.
SquareEnix seems to have little interest in the Ogre Battle part of the series. They’re releasing Tactics Ogre Reborn, but they don’t seem interested in making new games for the series.
Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
This game acts as a prequel to the rest of the series. It deals with a soldier in the Lodis army. He discovers that his country oppresses the island of Ovis and turns against his former comrades.
It is another side story like Ogre Battle Gaiden. This one feels slightly different because it could fit into the story. I wish we could have gotten more parts of the story of this world, but SquareEnix seems not to be interested in adding to the Ogre Battle story.
This is where we get more information about the Kingdom of Lodis, mentioned in Let Us Cling Together and A Person of Lordly Caliber. It is a fascinating part of the Ogre Battle story that was essentially a mystery. We don’t get much information about the world as a whole.
Like the other Tactics Ogre game, this one takes place on a small island. The Tactics Ogre games were meant to focus on more minor conflicts, while the Ogre Battle games were larger ones.
Kingdom of Lodis and Kingdom of Zebonia
These seem to be the two great powers in the Ogre Battle saga. It would have been nice if we had gotten a game based in Lodis because that country seems to have its claws in many games.
Several smaller countries and regions are mentioned. The Tactics Ogre series focuses on two areas and tells smaller stories about those conflicts. Ogre Battle seems to focus on the wars between the different kingdoms.
It is a little hard to tell how long these conflicts have been going on as we don’t get a clear timeline. In March of the Black Queen, we’re told about the Empire being unified 20 years before the start of the game. The other games, except for The Knight of Lodis, could have taken place during or after the events of the first game.
The Kingdom of Lodis seems involved with these conflicts and sends its knights to fight for a favored side. It seems clear that they are trying to increase their power and influence in this world.
I’ve never seen a map of this world, so I don’t know where each location is in relation to the others. It can make it hard to tell what is happening and if they all exist in the same version of this world.
Growing up, I played March of the Black Queen and Let Us Cling Together quite a bit. My best friend at the time introduced me to March of the Black Queen. We were playing it on an emulator, and I was fascinated by the game.
Later, I found the PS1 versions of both games. Then in the late 2000s, I found a copy of the SNES version of March of the Black Queen. In the late 90s, I tried like hell to get into Let Us Cling Together but kept getting distracted by other games and things going on in my life.
While I would go back to both games over the years, it wasn’t until college that I sat down and dug into both games. I had more time on my hands, and I was rediscovering my love for retro games.
I remember playing March of the Black Queen every summer in college. In the morning, I would make the hour drive to campus, spend the day taking classes and hanging out in the library, then I would drive home to play Ogre Battle until late in the night.
With Let Us Cling Together, I spent many nights in high school playing it. I would go to work at Little Ceasers and bring a pizza home with me to play the game. I loved playing the game and getting lost in the story. I also remember it being much harder for some reason.
Many more popular series were going strong in the late 90s, but the Ogre Battle/ Tactics Ogre games always stood out to me.
This is one of those series of games that have been abandoned as far as getting a new game. SquareEnix owns the rights and seems more interested in making remakes of Let Us Cling Together. The other games are largely ignored.
They can all be considered stand-alone titles, but some things connect them. Like many other series that I fondly remember, I don’t think a new installment is in the works.
With Tactics Ogre Reborn set to be released, I feel the same way I did when Actraiser Renaissance was released. I’m excited about the game, I’ll probably enjoy it, but I wish it was something new. Perhaps there will be enough new content added to it, and I will have the same feeling I had when I played the original.
I would love to see a new Ogre Battle, especially if it is in the style of March of the Black Queen.