Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber was developed by Quest, and released in the US by Atlus on October 10, 2000 for the Nintendo 64. By the time the game was released, the N64 was well on its way to the grave, and this, combined with the small print run, makes this game fairly rare. Emulation is also difficult, due to the sad state of N64 emulation and the obscurity of this game.

The Holy Lodis Empire is rumored to be planning the domination of the entire continent of Zeteginia. Magnus Gallant, the protagonist and a young officer recently graduated from the military academy, is assigned to the Southern Division of the Palatinean Army, where he witnesses the plight of the lower class, oppressed by the Empire and treated as expendable livestock.

The nobles have shed their pride and their nationalism, their only concern being the protection of their status by showing loyalty to the Lodis Empire. The members of the upper class are in constant discord among themselves, selfishly striving for a better lifestyle, while the lower classes live in despair, stripped of everything. The unbearable rage of resentment caused by this disparity reigns over the southern region of Palatinus.

In the midst of social disorder, Magnus thwarts the abduction of the Prince by a band of lower class rebels. This is a turning point for Magnus, and for the entire kingdom of Palatinus. Magnus raises the flag of revolution against the kingdom of Palatinus, hoping to rid the land of the Holy Lodis Empire and regain freedom for all people.

In the course of this revolution, Magnus is forced to deal with the Bolmaukans, a historically opressed people in the west of the Palatinea, to deal with the manipulations of the new Zeteginean order to the south, and, above all else, the raw power of the Lodis Empire. (And, no, "deal with" isn't neccessarily a euphemism for "slaughter".)

A great deal of this story is mutable. What kind of leader Magnus becomes can change based on his actions and reputation, much like the original Ogre Battle. There's also a set of key decisions that decide how Magnus will come to terms with the Zetegineans and their leader, Destin Faroda, ranging from earning the loyalties of the heroes of the Zeteginean Revolution (the events of Ogre Battle), to having those same heroes make a last stand to prevent Magnus from asserting his despotic rule over Palatinea.

The game plays almost exactly like the original Ogre Battle. Units, which are very similar to parties in most RPGs, are fielded on an area map, given orders to move, pursue enemies, etc., until they run into an enemy. Once in combat, the action is very hands off, with the player only able to order their unit in a general way (attack most effective, weakest enemy, strongest enemy, or enemy leader), or, after a timer bar has filled, order the unit to retreat or unleash an Elem Pedra.

Elem Pedras are similar to the tarot cards from the original Ogre Battle. The enemy force is blasted with an attack of the element matching the Pedra (you start with one, and can find three more corresponding to the other elements, plus one for Bane and one for Light.) It takes a certain time outside of battle for an Elem Pedra to recharge after being used, and a battle has to run for quite a while before you can use one anyway. Gone are the days where one could easily flay one's enemies with a handful of tarot cards.

The class system is reminiscent of Seiken Densetsu 3, with a set of class chains based on gender, although it's not as rigid. (A knight with sufficient intelligence and low enough alignment could change to a wizard freely, for example.) Character classes are unlocked by finding the needed equipment for that class (after that, all but the rarest equipment can be bought as needed for new promotions). Once a class is unlocked, any character of sufficient stats and appropriate gender and alignment can change to that class.

Each class has a set of attacks based on their location in a unit's 3x3 grid, and most classes are best suited to a certain position. Melee characters, like knights and pikemen, do best in the front line, and spellcasters, like wizards, tend to fare better in the back. There are characters that do well anywhere, like valkyries and dragons, but they are the exception, rather than the rule. New to Ogre Battle 64 is the ability to flank your opponents, rendering most formations less effective by attacking from the side or rear.

The pacing and difficulty aren't nearly as daunting as in Ogre Battle, but the game is by no means short or easy. Each battle is, at the very least, an even fight, and as the game goes on, the battles become more and more difficult. You're generally outmatched in level and class by your enemies, plus the fact that, in almost every stage, there's a boss unit that outmatches your army, and requires some outthinking to defeat.

The graphics are a mixed bag. The character models on the battle map are ugly even for the N64, but the battle models and the cut scene models are all stylized CG sprites, and are works of art. Even with the obvious signs of heavy compression, the backgrounds of cut scenes and whatnot feel alive, with lots of ambient elements, like swaying grass and clouds of dust.

Arguably the best RPG on the N64 (only Paper Mario competes), Ogre Battle 64 definitely delivers the strategy RPG goodness, as well as delivering a complex, multithreaded story that delivers shocks all the way until the end, truly living up to the reputation of the Ogre Battle saga.

Ogre Battle || Ogre Battle Gaiden || Ogre Battle 64 || Tactics Ogre Gaiden: The Knight of Lodis || Tactics Ogre