Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tactics Ogre, Part 1 - March of the Lune Knights

In a word, it's vibrant

Change of pace today, as I'm looking at a PSP game. "Let Us Cling Together" is is a remake of Tactics Ogre for the Playstation, a game I have fond memories of from 1998 or so. What are my thoughts on this game so far? Read on to find out.

First of all, I want to thank James Smyth for getting this game for me. Read his works at Taiwan, Japan, Spain, and I.

Second of all, this is going to be a relatively quick look at the game. For a far more in-depth imageblog series on this game, check out Aaron/Brayniac's site Resistance Line.

At the outset, you name the main character and choose your birthday and whatnot. The "months" (though they are more in the timeframe of zodiac signs) have names that generally follow the "scale" motif. Not sure what effect the birthday has on the gameplay itself.

Next up are a series of Tarot cards and questions. Some, like this one, ask you about yourself. I go with the Mitt Romney answer.

Others ask you to make difficult choices.

With that, the game begins with A LONG CHAPTER TITLE. It's just a sample of the at-times brilliant script of this game.

So of course, you play as Denim (now Denam, but I reverted the name to its former form), traipsing about the land with your sister (seen here). Catiua (formerly Kachua) seemed a lot more likable in the PSX version of the game. Maybe it's the perpetual frown that she sports here.

Joining them is the nefarious and/or heroic Vyce (formerly Vice), playing the role of Delita. I wonder how Vyce would feel about Miami.

We get an introduction to more fabled characters, as Warren appears for a battle. As effectively the curator of the Tactics Ogre / Ogre Battle world, Warren is ancient. The gameplay in this is similar to that of Final Fantasy Tactics, only with improvements in some places and downgrades in others. By and large, this game has more interesting battles while FFT has more intuitive classes and micromanagement outside of battles.

One of the menu screens has an odd assembly of, well, sexily-posed women. This picture is on the front cover of the game, too. I'm not sure what the lowest one on the left is supposed to be doing

This game features the feared FFT trope of inescapable multi-part castles, but it has the decency to warn you about them.

This enterprising mercenary gives out the order to kill Denim. He's going to skim 50% off the top, apparently. I wonder if that's okay with whoever skims the top off of Denim.

For a brief moment, I thought this said "Romney". Nope, that's Duke Ronwey. In other news, Mitt Romney has gotten two mentions in this post, effectively getting the Tactics Ogre Bump. If he wins, I expect my check to be in the mail.

After a battle ends you get a (usually) sizable repertoire of useful goods. These spoils are on the lean side for Denim and company, though. I certainly enjoy mead in real life, and it has been way too long.

Denim's army gets a name. In the past I might have gone with "Light Warriors" ala Final Fantasy, but now I realize that it sounds like a militant branch of a white supremacist group. So I go with Lune Knights, i.e. the knights of the moon.

Vyce and Catiua have a back-and-forth throughout the early game where they disagree on politics. Or rather, Vyce belittles Catiua's ideas. Given the era of civilization that this game is staged in, it stands to reason that women wouldn't be the recipients of an awful lot of respect. Wait, they still aren't.

Here's the world map of the game. I have to say, this pushes the bounds of the PSP. The graphics are so far above the much-more-popular DS that it is barely a comparison. These graphics wouldn't look out of place on a TV in a PS3 game.

Donnalto, one of my favorite characters. He's an exorcist, and has some of the best dialogue. I feel like a whole chapter of the game could have had this guy in the starring role, but unfortunately it isn't long before he becomes just another character in Denim's militia.

Witches (now called Enchantresses) in this game are fairly alluring.

Having the characters learn as many offense and defense based skills as possible is one of the keys to victory in this game.

Herpetology, eh? These damage-to-unit-type skills are more crucial than one would think. In particular, Anatomy is extremely useful as it increases damage done to humans... A classification that most of your foes at this point in the game fall into.

Here's Nybeth, the necromancer. He's perhaps the big challenge of the early-game. It took me a couple of tries to win this battle, and I only succeeded by having Canopus (debatably the best character) fly up to Nybeth and effectively assassinate him with a bow.

Speaking of badass... here's Lans Tartare, leader of the Dark Knights.

Dame Ravness is another badass character. Unfortunately, in my game she didn't stick around for very long.

Catiua and Vyce are in a constant state of disagreement. If this were a lighthearted romp, it'd no doubt culminate with the two of them getting together as the sexual tension becomes unbearable. This, however, is no lighthearted romp, so their disagreements never go anywhere except deeper into enmity.

Duke Romney is a merciless bastard. He's basically manipulating his "enemies" against each other.

Under a pouring rain, the big decision of the early game occurs. At this point, you can choose to either side with the bad guys, or rebel against them. It changes the course of the game, which is pretty awesome. There are a number of possible storylines that can be undertaken. Vyce turns on you no matter what choice you make. Hypocrite!

The bad guys lay waste to everything. Damn you, Duke Romney!

Chapter 2 (of four) begins. I love these chapter titles.

Here's Canopus, who I earlier referred to as the best character in the game. He's quite a formidable fighter, and he can fly. He's also a steadfast comrade.

Here's Xapan, who looks like the viking version of Dong Zhuo. What's a curdled tongue?

 I waited a long time to get access to the Ninja class, and it's a magical moment when I do. I turn my offensive meleers into Ninjas right away, which is a good way to mow through foes.

Now it's just a matter of levelling up the ninja class, which is a bit of a process. I like how in this game levels are class-based rather than individual character-based. It saves time.

These mercenaries I keep having to battle... they really love the women-folk.

Xapan is a recurring villain, a real thorn in Denim's side.

More dialogue. This game has a lot of political intrigue, but it wouldn't be a Tactics game without pulling the clergy in as well.

Check out my Wall of Ninjas up front (Denim is the third ninja, you see). While defensively weak, they absolutely slice through enemies like butter. Just a matter of getting them some defensive skills and counterattacks, then throwing a healer or two behind them.

Vyce (EVIL VERSION~!) has a one-on-one fight with Denim midway through the game. And... this is as far as I've gotten. Despite having no trouble at all in the game up to this point (except with the Nybeth fight), suddenly I run into a brick wall here.

Vyce is a tormented soul.

Case in point on this fight: Denim attacks, does 8 damage. Vyce counterattacks... does 23 damage. Who's the higher level? Oh, it's Denim? Huh. When Vyce is on offense, he'll attack for around 44 while Denim will counterattack for... 2.

I turn Denim into a Knight to get access to the heal spell and increase his survivability a bit. So much for Ninja until I find another mark.

I manage to get into a corner to negate his high back-stab damage, and start chain-healing. That barely negates the damage he does (if I'm lucky) while my 2 damage counterattacks slowly whittle him down.

 This is as far as I got with the fight. It feels like I'm missing something here. What could it be? My equipment is the best (store-bought) available, and my skills are up to date. Whatever it is, I'll either figure it out, or I'll win the next time I drop a half hour on this bizarre Twilight Zone of tactics battles and its 2 damage counterattacks.

Tune in for Part 2 to see if I managed to surmount this battle.

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