Review: Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen (SNES)

You must succeed in ousting the evil usurpers - your fate, and that of the entire population, depends on it.

The Ogre Battle series has long been a favorite among hardcore strategy fans and it won't take you long to see why that is once you begin playing any of them. This Super Nintendo release of Ogre Battle has become quite a coveted game cartridge over the years and its rarity has made it even more collectible. Now Square-Enix has finally decided to make their strategic masterpiece available to all Wii owners with the release of Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen on the Virtual Console service. So how exactly has this decade old 16-bit strategy title held up over the years?

While you'll notice some similarities between Ogre Battle and many of the other strategy titles of the 16-bit era, Ogre Battle has its own very unique style and game play design that really makes it stand out from the crowd. The real-time pacing of the game puts a greater emphasis on your choice of movements and actions and forces you to make quick decisions when enemy attacks begin to become more frequent.

Ogre Battle also gives you a large amount of freedom when it comes to creating and managing your units. Putting your various units into formation can be a very integral part of the quest as you always want your strongest units up front and your more vulnerable units in the back in order to help protect them.

Your main goal in the game is to liberate the various towns and temples across each map. As you do this, you'll be given your pick of tarot cards that can aid you on your quest. These tarot cards can also be used in battle and come in particularly handy when you begin facing enemy troops of a stronger variety. As you move your units around the map, you'll come into contact with enemy troops that you'll be forced to do battle with. It's at this time that all your hard work managing your units will pay off.

Unlike more traditional turn-based rpgs, Ogre Battle carries out the combat sequences on its own with very little interaction from the player. You can choose to use tarot cards or change your tactics during battle, but for the most part the entire fight is executed out for you. The stronger and better equipped your units are, the better chance you have of being victorious. Each scene has specific goals for you to achieve and as you liberate towns and temples, you'll be given information regarding your current quest. In truth the game offers up an almost endless amount of game play options for even the most ardent strategy game fans.

The play control itself is extremely intuitive and set up for ease of use. The menus are quite easy to navigate and no matter how detailed and involved you choose to get in setting up and controlling your units, Ogre Battle's efficient control scheme makes it easy to execute, which will leave you more time to focus on your strategies instead of fumbling for game commands.

The visuals in Ogre Battle are about what you'd expect from the Super Nintendo console. There's not quite as many flashy Mode-7 effects as found in many other Super Nintendo RPGs, but the level of detail is still quite sufficient. The battle scenes themselves are generally the high point of the visual experience and while the animations of the battles are a bit on the basic side, they do enough to simulate the elements of battle and carry out the actions of each character. The maps themselves could have used a bit more color variation and detail, but it's difficult to complain given how good all other aspects of the game are.

The music is typical of Square's Super Nintendo offerings and shows a solid amount of charm and personality. The various music tracks seem to fit the action taking place around each scene perfectly and although many of the tracks repeat themselves over and over during the scene, they're of such high quality that you really won't mind. The game tosses in a few short segments of digitized speech to mix things up a bit and while they're a bit muffled at times, they're still a nice touch and do add to the already solid audio experience.

Conclusion

Since the actual Super NES Ogre Battle cartridge is quite rare and expensive, it's nice to see Square-Enix releasing this amazing strategy title for everyone to enjoy, even those on a strict budget. You're getting a lot of game for 800 Wii Points and Ogre Battle still stands as one of the best strategic video game offerings of the 16-bit era and an absolute must-have for strategy game fans.

NOTE: Despite the Wii Shop stating that only the Classic Controller could be used to play Ogre Battle, it can also be played using a Gamecube controller.