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Ogre Battle 3 Preview

Publisher - Quest
Developer - Quest
Platform - N64
Release Date - January 1999
Type - Strategy

For more than a year, Quest's sequel to the popular Super Famicom and PSX hits, Densetsu no Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre, has been nothing but a name on our Japanese release list -- now the old-school Nintendo developer has finally unveiled its first N64 project in all its glory: Ogre Battle 3.

Loosely modeled after the original Super NES hit, Ogre Battle 3 (tentative title) goes for the same mixture of roleplaying and strategy. From what we can tell so far, apart from plot and the characters, the differences are mostly cosmetic. The former Mode-7 map has been replaced with polygonal landscapes with mountains, forests and rivers, and the isometric battle scenes look a bit more beautiful and detailed than on the Super NES.

Like the original, Ogre Battle 3 puts players in control of an army of units that can move about the landscapes in real time. When the sprite characters meet enemies (which only appear when in visibility range), the scene changes to an isometric battle scene where the characters fight it out with all sorts of pyrotechnics and weapons attacks. During the battles, which can happen both inside buildings and outside in the fields, two display windows will pop up that show each characters' hit points and position.

During the quest, which includes many kingdoms in peril and much betrayal and intrigue, players will make new allies as enemies often defect or come to their senses when approached the right way. Each new character joins the army and can be positioned strategically in the group (like in RPGs, the difference between the front and back row determines what attacks are more effective).

The cast of characters in Ogre Battle 3 looks similar to the predecessors. Knights, wizards, warlocks, witches, dragonknights, wyburns, dragons, and more. Each battle the characters survive will ultimately strengthen their abilities and help them to learn new spells and attacks. Much like in traditional RPGs, the characters' abilities are divided into different categories: Strength, vitality, intelligence, agility, and so on. Some characters can even transform into more powerful classes when they have reached a certain level. So what was a measly apprentice before, can turn out to become a powerful warlock after many battles. However, if your character happens to die, he's dead for good (well, okay -- we're sure there is some kind of revive spell).

Some of the major characters slated to appear in the game are:

*Magnus Galand: The proud and tall leader of the Paradise Kingdom Army
*Leiah Silvis: His female counterpart
*Diomedes Lang: A fast and agile sword fighter from Paradise Kingdom
*Yumil Durmael: The second prince of Paradise Kingdom
*Richard Grendel: Templar from Rodis
*Procas Durmael: The royal head of the Paradise Kingdom

Although Quest is still quiet about the game's story, we are sure it will twist and turn just like the two predecessors. Whenever major characters encounter each other outside of battle, they will be able to talk to each other and more details about the story will be revealed. Another cool feature that made the jump to 64-bit is the fact that characters can be either lawful, neutral or chaotic (Ogre Battle borrows the system from the D&D games of yore). If for example a lawful character meets a lawful (=misguided) villain, the chances are you will be able to convert him and win him as an ally. Thankfully, Quest is doing away with the infamous "Chaos Frame" from the Super NES game which determined whether the populace liked you, or not, and screwed up the ending if you didn't free cities quickly enough.

Players will also be able to find a plethora of hidden treasures, items and weapons that can be assigned to the characters or used in battle. Although the gameplay in Ogre Battle takes place in real time, whenever you bring up a character's abilities window, the game will pause to let you do all the changes you want.

It is still unknown in what form the Tarot Card system from the predecessor will take in the Nintendo 64 version, but we are sure it will be as original as in the Super NES game. At the beginning of the original Ogre Battle, the randomly drawn cards would lay down your characters' alignment and his abilities.

So far, no US publisher has announced a publishing deal for the west, but was able to speak to a number of companies that seemed more than interested. Look for the Japanese version of this game to appear later this fall, with an American version following in spring -- unless some clever publisher manages to translate it iin time for Christmas rush.