Author Topic: RFN RetroActive #16 Discussion - Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lo(u)rdly Caliber(re)  (Read 25558 times)

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Offline Jonnyboy117

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Please use this thread for discussing Ogre Battle 64. It's available on Virtual Console, so we hope you will play along with the RFN crew and have a lot to say here in the forums! The best comments will be read on the podcast; we expect to begin discussing this game on Episode 230.


If you cannot play along but have any questions about the game, you can leave those here too. And we encourage active discussion of the game, so check back later to see what others had to say!
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Offline TJ Spyke

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I downloaded it yesterday and plan to start today or tomorrow, but I would like to know how much experience the crew had with the game when it was originally out. This will be the first time I have played any Ogre game.
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Offline adadad

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So Caliber/Calibre I understand and graciously accept, but Lordly/Lourdly? I hope I'm right in assuming that this is an intentional joke by Johnny referring to the color/colour difference, as there's no such word as "lourdly" in any English dialect! Also, and it's the same with films, it's commonplace in Britain for American spellings to remain intact in titles of games. So even on the UK's Virtual Console Ogre Battle is subtitled Caliber. Off-topic, but "The Time Traveler's Wife" from a few years ago was a memorable one, I didn't even realise that there was any difference from the British spelling, traveller, until someone pointed it out to me. It can all be quite confusing. At university my professors say a "[sic]" is unnecessary when quoting any American spelling variations, which is a boon considering how many would probably sneak by me unnoticed.

Let's discuss spelling! Or maybe let's not.

Offline Jonnyboy117

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adadad, thanks for the interesting points on spelling. We discussed "Calibre" on the show, but I honestly thought "Lourdly" might be the Queen's version of that word -- obviously, I didn't bother to check first, so let's just pretend I meant it as a joke. It doesn't make sense, considering the universal spelling of "Lord", so my only guess is that it was a subconscious influence of the word "Lourdes".

I missed out on OB64 when it was released (being an Atlus game, it was very hard to find a copy to rent, for instance). After meeting former Editor-in-Chief Max Lake at E3 2001, he let me borrow the game via mail. I kept it for several months and played at least ten hours, maybe a lot more, but I was never hooked by the game. I'd never played anything like it and felt lost and overwhelmed much of the time. However, I do remember loving the graphics and music, which must be better than ever on Virtual Console.
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Offline lolmonade

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This game has slowly started to draw me in.  First thing I noticed was the graphics, which were much better than I anticipated, and probably some of the best detailed scenery I've seen on the N64.  They actually remind me a bit of the graphics from the PS1 game "Saga Frontier 2", except a bit less cartoon storybook look. 

The gameplay was a slow burn.  At first, I was a bit confused by the battle system.  Frankly, I was disappointed with how little instruction there is on the battle system, and I was forced to rely on trial-and-error.  Same thing with finding all the options for customizing your groups.  But once I invested some time in the controls and battle system, I find a very satisfying and deep strategy game.  I made the mistake of leaving the HQ unguarded a few times, resulting in getting a Game Over and wasting 1/2 hr of time  :@ , but I've picked up on strategy pretty quickly.  I'm enjoying the arrangement of the groups and positioning just as enjoyable as playing the actual battles.  By the way, what is the advantage of different positions on the grid?  Do the melee attackers get more hits when they are close up?  Do they take more hits if they're the front line?

Storyline seems like pretty cut-and-paste material if you've played any other RPG.  I've put about 4 hours in this game so far, and have reached a plot point where you would think you're about 1/4th of the way through the game, but I get the feeling I've just scratched the surface of this game.  I only hope my wife will forgive me for the time I'm about to sink into this game, because I'm getting sucked in from the addictive gameplay. 
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Offline noname2200

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I agree with lolmonade about how poor the game is at instructing the player, how it begins slowly, and how the menu system really needs a lot of work.  I love this game, and have beaten it roughly ten times (at around 80 hours per playthrough...), so those problems obviously don't bug me enough, but the fact that such important things as the alignment system, the promotion system, and the Chaos Frame go completely unexplained did a lot to screw up my first few playthroughs; I didn't even know there was a Chaos Frame my first time around, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on that.

I'd also forgotten just how slow the beginning of the game is.  This seems to be a deliberate choice: the game starts many of your units in a poor formation, so that some troops only attack once when they should attack twice.  Even worse, adding Soldiers does a lot to make the early game a bit of a crawl: they only attack once per battle, and one of them dies out for every 1/3 of the unit's HP that is lost (thus costing you promotion points and further weakening that cluster of soldiers), but you need to promote dozens of them if you want to get an army that are worth having (and one commander has to promote ten of them if you want to unlock one of the character classes).  I don't understand why the developers thought that soldiers were a good idea, but if they were done away with I think the early game would flow much more quickly. 

Offline noname2200

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By the way, what is the advantage of different positions on the grid?  Do the melee attackers get more hits when they are close up?  Do they take more hits if they're the front line?

Every unit acts differently depending on which row it is located, and it can only attack/be attacked by enemies in certain columns.

For example, an Amazon in the front or middle row only gets to attack once per battle, but if you stick her in the back row she attacks twice per battle instead.  Fighters are the opposite: front row gets them two attacks, middle and rear only buys them one.  Additionally, a small number of units to have completely different attacks if they switch rows: the Paladin, for instance, does a melee attack from the front or middle rows, but uses magic if he's in the back.

For the columns, a unit can only attack enemies that are in the same column as it is, or one column adjacent.  This means that a unit you have on the far right can only attack enemies on the far right or the center column, and it can only attack enemies in the far left column when the right and middle columns have been cleared of enemies.  One last note: units with projectiles (arrows, magic, etc.) must attack whoever is the furthest back in a column before they can attack who's in front, and melee units have to do the opposite.  So if the enemy leader is in the front center, and a enemy Soldier is in the rear center, your Amazon will attack the enemy Soldier instead of the enemy leader, even if your unit is set to Attack Leader.

It's a bit complicated, and not well explained in the game (despite being incredibly important...), so let me know if I didn't make much sense, and I'll try to explain it better.

Offline broodwars

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Man, this is a really bad week for me to start this.  Commander Shepard, Isaac Clarke, and Nier all demand my time right now.  -_-'
 
Soldiers can be tricky to handle, but I never had a huge problem with them.  Plus, I think they get 2 attacks when they're up front, and when supported by a Cleric they don't die that easily.  Plus, there's just something really rewarding when one of your lowly soldiers gets promoted at the end of a skirmish to an Amazon or Fighter, and then working that character into one of the best classes in the game.
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Offline noname2200

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Nope, they only have one attack, even from the front row.  Being able to combine with other soldiers helps, but that early in the game three small attacks just about equals one big one, I think.  And I don't have access to clerics yet: I'm about to finish the prologue, and none of my units have a cleric.  I got a pretty mediocre group, to be honest.

Offline Crimm

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I got a crappy starting line-up, so I re-rolled.


Yep, this game gives you a random starting cast.  Well, not "random," it's based on how you answered the questions.


"What does your sword hold?"
"What do clerics like?"
"Wrong answer! You get Dio, and Dio only. Enjoy."
"%@!%@ #^ @# %@#"



Not that I needed to start a new game, I had one just after the first plot turn, but I wanted to relive the beginning of the game.
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Offline gojira

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I've owned this game for a very long time but never really played it.  I put in a couple of hours back when I first got the game, but never understood how the battles really functioned.  The whole deal with the fight ending after a few hits threw me off.  So the first thing I did (after dusting off my N64) was sit through the hour or so it took to go through the training.  Yeah it was a crap ton of information upfront before even starting the game, but it definitely helped me. 

Now I'm over eight hours in and enjoying it for the most part.  There are still some aspects of fighting that bother me.  There was this one group I was fighting where "attack the weakest" and "attack the strongest" resulted in attacking the exact same enemy.  Or when you and an enemy are basically stuck next to each other resulting in several consecutive fights.  But for the most part I find the battles pretty fun.  And I guess I answered well, because my starting groups were all pretty useful.

Offline noname2200

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There are still some aspects of fighting that bother me.  There was this one group I was fighting where "attack the weakest" and "attack the strongest" resulted in attacking the exact same enemy. 

Check the post I made explaining the importance of what column/row the character is in: some of your characters may not have the choice to attack the weakest/strongest enemy, so they focus on a different foe.  Alternatively, the strongest/weakest enemy may be changing as the battle goes on, since "strongest" and "weakest" refer to remaining HP, not combat strength.

Offline gojira

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There are still some aspects of fighting that bother me.  There was this one group I was fighting where "attack the weakest" and "attack the strongest" resulted in attacking the exact same enemy. 

Check the post I made explaining the importance of what column/row the character is in: some of your characters may not have the choice to attack the weakest/strongest enemy, so they focus on a different foe.  Alternatively, the strongest/weakest enemy may be changing as the battle goes on, since "strongest" and "weakest" refer to remaining HP, not combat strength.

I thought about your post when I was having that battle, and the enemy was in the middle so I don't think it was the position thing.  It was probably the enemies HP.

Offline Pandareus

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I am not far into the game, finished 2 story missions (saved the prince then killed off the rebels). Right now, I'm liking it. It seems more accessible than what I had imagined. I'm winning battles pretty handily despite making an effort to use my weakest units. The one thing I don't get right now is the alignment going up or down. Maybe I'm confused with what I read about the SNES game, or about Tactics Ogre, but aren't you supposed to fight units above your level to get your alignment to go up, or something? If so, how the hell do you check an enemy unit's level?

Alternatively, the strongest/weakest enemy may be changing as the battle goes on, since "strongest" and "weakest" refer to remaining HP, not combat strength.
Woah. If that is true, then doesn't that make the order "broken"? Since it is supposed to be the option to choose "if you want to get rid of enemy numbers quickly" according to the tutorial? It would in fact make it one of the slowest options.

Offline noname2200

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I am not far into the game, finished 2 story missions (saved the prince then killed off the rebels). Right now, I'm liking it. It seems more accessible than what I had imagined. I'm winning battles pretty handily despite making an effort to use my weakest units. The one thing I don't get right now is the alignment going up or down. Maybe I'm confused with what I read about the SNES game, or about Tactics Ogre, but aren't you supposed to fight units above your level to get your alignment to go up, or something? If so, how the hell do you check an enemy unit's level?

Alternatively, the strongest/weakest enemy may be changing as the battle goes on, since "strongest" and "weakest" refer to remaining HP, not combat strength.
Woah. If that is true, then doesn't that make the order "broken"? Since it is supposed to be the option to choose "if you want to get rid of enemy numbers quickly" according to the tutorial? It would in fact make it one of the slowest options.

For alignment, the more important stats early in the game is the enemy's alignment: killing priests=bad, killing vikings=good.  As the game progresses, you'll find that your own units' alignments matter more than anything, since your troops automatically try to balance out their alignment.  That means that once a unit starts to lean in one direction, it becomes increasingly difficult to get them to lean the other direction...

Although to answer your question, you can actually select an enemy unit and see each individual characters' stats, including their level.

As for Attack Weakest being broken, you can generally leave it on and it will work, but sometimes you'll have to keep an eye on it to make sure that an errant attack by, say, your archer (who couldn't reach the weakest enemy character) didn't weaken a different enemy enough to create a new Weakest.  So there is a bit of micromanagement in this game, although that's about the extent of it.

Offline Crimm

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Chaos Frame: Don't take towns with an alignment greatly different then the unit you're using the take them.

If you "liberate" the town, you're good. If you "capture" you're not.
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Offline broodwars

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I generally found it useful during my playthroughs back in the day to have a squad of misfits (who I rarely bothered to level) that were all chaotic for the expressed purpose of sending them out to nab any low-alignment towns.  If I needed a character to drop in alignment, I'd throw them in that unit and have them fight a few battles so they'd get lower alignment when the unit averaged out.  Otherwise, I'd just concentrate on having neutral and "good" aligned units (which, IMO, are easier to make than chaotic units) for town liberation.  Made things easier without resorting to item glitches to manufacture alignment items.
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Offline noname2200

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Random musings:

-The sprites and the pre-rendered backgrounds (NOT the battle maps) are nicely detailed and very easy on the eyes.  On the flipside, having only four frames of animation does a lot to ruin the beauty.  Having said that, I can't get myself to turn off the battle animations, despite knowing that it would shave off about 20 hours...

-Atlus' localization has come a long way in the past ten years.

-Witches.  Why?

Offline broodwars

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-Atlus' localization has come a long way in the past ten years.

-Witches.  Why?

You mock the witches, but you pretty much have to have them if you're going after the 3 Elem Pedras hidden in training battles.  I forget at the moment the arbitrary cities and the number of times you have to train at those cities with a single squad to trigger them, but you can trigger insanely difficult fights with a Dragon Tamer/Dragoon and an Evolved Dragon of a given element.  Your prize is the Elem Pedra corresponding to that dragon's element.  Having a witch in the squad to repeatedly Stun (or sleep...I guess, though I prefer Stunning) the dragon makes your life a hell of a lot easier in those fights.
 
But yeah, other than those situations they're pretty useless.
 
What's your problem with Atlus' localization, btw?  I haven't started my game yet, but I remember OB64's localization being one of the best ones in any game at the time of its release.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 09:15:16 AM by broodwars »
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Offline noname2200

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-Atlus' localization has come a long way in the past ten years.

-Witches.  Why?

You mock the witches, but you pretty much have to have them if you're going after the 3 Elem Pedras hidden in training battles.  I forget at the moment the arbitrary cities and the number of times you have to train at those cities with a single squad to trigger them, but you can trigger insanely difficult fights with a Dragon Tamer/Dragoon and an Evolved Dragon of a given element.  Your prize is the Elem Pedra corresponding to that dragon's element.  Having a witch in the squad to repeatedly Stun (or sleep...I guess, though I prefer Stunning) the dragon makes your life a hell of a lot easier in those fights.
 
But yeah, other than those situations they're pretty useless.
 
What's your problem with Atlus' localization, btw?  I haven't started my game yet, but I remember OB64's localization being one of the best ones in any game at the time of its release.

I usually just brute-force my way through those fights, although a witch probably WOULD help immensely (especially against the one that puts all your troops to sleep...GAH!).

As for the localization, it was pretty good at the time, but reading through it now it just seems too stilted, and the conversations often don't seem to flow naturally.  It's not that it's terrible, but having recently played newer Atlus games like Etrian Oddysey III, the difference is quite noticeable.  It's almost like OB64 was more of a direct translation than a localization, although that's probably not completely right either.

Offline Jonnyboy117

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How do you use the elemental attack? It seems like battles hardly ever last long enough for that meter to fill the third time.
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Offline broodwars

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How do you use the elemental attack? It seems like battles hardly ever last long enough for that meter to fill the third time.

As your units grow more powerful and start dealing more damage with more attacks (the bar fills as you inflict damage and you take damage from enemy units), battles last longer and the bar fills faster.  Once your Interupt Bar (or whatever it's called) fills 3 times, you can use your Elem Pedra attack (if there's one available.  Once you use one, it has to charge for a bit, but you can eventually acquire 6 Elem Pedras if you scour the game thoroughly enough).  For the record, allowing the bar to fill once allows you to change tactics, and allowing it to fill twice gives you the option of retreating.  You won't really be able to use Elem Pedras till probably around the time you get the ability to upgrade Fighters into Knights sometime in Chapter 1.
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Offline adadad

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How do you use the elemental attack? It seems like battles hardly ever last long enough for that meter to fill the third time.

Also bear in mind that once you've used an Elem Pedra it takes a long time to get it charged back up so you can use it again, so if you only have one or two it's best saved for important/difficult battles.

Offline Crimm

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Getting all the Elem Pedras is VERY helpful in the last battle.


The best team I built had an Angel and a Dragoon. I miss that team with the group of lovable losers I have right now.
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Offline noname2200

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I just beat Scene 8 (Dardunelles), and I'd like to ask something I've been wondering for years: was that level's boss some kind of mistake that got overlooked?  There are two other tough battles in that fight (especially the witch's unit: thankfully she's alone), but dumping a level 20 Ogre in the front row just seems cruel.  It instilled an unholy fear of ogres in me for the rest of that first game...  Although it's interesting that that is the only boss that ever moves away from his castle.  Has anyone ever sucessfully captured that castle without defeating the boss?

Also, on Scene 7, I got the Helm of the Fearless.  I can't think of too many other RPGs/SRPGs that dump the best equipment of its kind on you so early on.  Other end-game quality items I've gotten so far include the Earth Javelin and the Flame Flail.  Maybe the devs are comfortable with giving you these so quickly because you'll have up to 50 characters per battle, so one or two good peices of equipment don't really unbalance much of anything?

Also, the Angel Brooch.  What does it do?