In honour of my runner-up status in June's contest, I'm going to review my personal favourite game. Even without ogres, Ogre Battle is still the best strategy game ever made. Even to this day I still enjoy either playing the game or boring my fiancée with the details. I have fun with both.
The game itself is not quite strategy, yet not exactly an RPG either. The story is not full RPG quality, but there's enough in it to make you want to care. In it, you build an army from a various mix of humans, imps, and other assorted creatures, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. You then put 10 units (of up to 5 characters each) on the map and use them to liberate towns, and take out the Empire's forces on that particular map. But the game involves way more than that. There is also reputation to think of, which is one of the many things that affect which of the 12 endings you get. Your character can play good or slaughter everything unmercifully and become evil. One must also think of finances when deploying an army as they cost money--money you can only get by liberating towns.
The story is that you are chosen to lead the rebel army against the evil Empire's forces throughout Zeteginea. This is done through battles at various places on the continent, and with an army that you build from loyal recruits and from hiring. Eventually, you liberate the continent and overthrow the Empire and the evil force behind it.
The complex structure of this game is what makes this a true SNES classic. If at all possible, get the SNES version as it runs much faster than the PS re-release. The infinite possibilites of what your army can be made up of is half the fun. You have the troops you're given, basic at first, but cheap and eventually powerful. You also have friends along the way who may command higher salaries but give results sooner (like the two generals), or you can recruit lesser troops later on to fill in your weaknesses. Taking them to battle in the game means they all use up their turns, and whoever deals more damage that battle "wins" the battle and pushes the army back some. Of course, one can eradicate the opponent which is a certain win. You can't allow the base to be taken, or your main character to die. Much has been written about what kind of management this game involves and what I've said barely scratches the surface.
The graphics are somewhat lacking, but considering the concept, it won't take long for you to not care in the least. The score is pretty good, but the "LIBERATION" voice may get a little grating at times. Gameplay is pretty basic once you've figured out what your army is supposed to look like, and it turns out to be lots of fun. The controls (what little there are) are dead on, and like I said, if you're patient enough and have tons of time to kill, this game is perfect. Replay value is limitless with 12 endings and infinite army possibilites. Keep in mind though that on the SNES version, you can only save between levels, and one level can take an hour or two or three.
So for my favourite game, what works better than a 10? I'm still trying to get Spinal Tap's special amp, the one where all the dials go up to 11. Then we'll install it on this site. For the strategy RPG player, this game truly goes up to 11. Not even the sequel (Tactics Ogre) matched up, nor has any other successor. This game remains unique in the video game universe.
You can wake up now, my fiancée, I'm done talking about Ogre Battle.