The latest in the Ogre Battle Saga was released yesterday, and PlanetGameCube is the first Nintendo site to get their grubby hands on this sweet simulation/RPG title.
Tactics Ogre Gaiden is an "Anecdote of Ogre Battle Saga", or rather a
sidestory that isn't an official chapter of the 8 chapter series (3 of the
chapters have been released to date in the form of Densetsu no Ogre Battle,
Tactics Ogre, and Ogre Battle 64, with an Ogre Battle Gaiden game released
last year for Neo Geo Pocket Color). Just like how Ogre Battle Gaiden used
an identical (but slightly scaled down) version of the original Ogre
Battle's system, Tactics Ogre Gaiden uses the exact same gameplay system of
Tactics Ogre, except there are numerous changes and an overall revamp of the
interface, all for the better in our opinion.
The game starts off very dramatic, with main character Alphonse, a knight
serving Lodis, and his friend and comrade, Lector, accompanying as they head
off to the island of Ovis to spread the teachings of Lodis. While there,
they are attacked by pirates, and after the initial battle, a pirate pops
out of nowhere, aiming his bow at Lector, but Alphonse jumps in the way,
taking the arrow, and getting thrown into a nearby river where he loses
consiousness, and drifts to a house near a shore. Alphonse loses his memory
and here where the game begins.
To those new to the series, Tactics Ogre Gaiden plays like this: You have an
army composed of various units, each of whom have their own class.
Scenarios are classic war simulation-type, hex-based, turn-based fighting.
It's like chess, only with fighting and plenty of stats. Your characters
can attack with their regular weapon, or use magic and other skills.
There are several changes that a veteran Tactics Ogre fan will be quick to
notice. For one, there is no longer a distinction between male and female
classes. In all previous Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre games, males had unique
classes and females had unique classes. In Tactics Ogre Gaiden, there is no
such distinction, so you can have a male or female cleric or a male or
female soldier. This distinction is noticed quickly when characters such as
a female soldier, male archer, female ninja, female knight, and male cleric
show up early on, where these classes were usually the other way around,
Also, as far as we could tell, the character report (signified as the Warren
Report or Hugo Report in previous games) is gone. This is a HUGE
disappointment and there was absolutely no reason to leave this out.
Instead, we're left with Kabocha's Memo, which is nothing but a hints
section. In a best case scenario, a character report will open up later on,
but since there was no info on this in the manual, it seems very unlikely.
Another significant change is that movement is no longer agility-based. Now
like Fire Emblem, you will move your units first, then the enemy moves his
units. Then it's your turn again. In the previous game, the order in which
units moved was based on agility, so if you had 3 units with the highest
agility, you moved them, then if the enemy had the next highest agility
unit, he would move his next. And so on.
If anything, these changes seem to have actually improved Tactics Ogre
Gaiden over Tactics Ogre. Although they might have made the game slightly
easier. We'll see after more play.
I was unable to test the Quest Mode since it requires of course, a 2nd copy of the game.