A strategy RPG developed by Quest. It should be noted that despite being the first game released in the Ogre Battle series it is actually the fifth game in terms of storyline. Taking place twenty four years after the formation of the brutal Zetegenian Empire, the people of the old kingdoms live under constant persecution by the current regime. As the ambitious leader of the rebel army the player is tasked by the old wizard Warren to gather their forces and liberate the people from oppression.
The game was unique at its time being an odd hybrid of real time strategy and RPG. The game progresses linearly (aside from certain secret levels unlocked by fulfilling certain requirements during battle) leading the player from one battle to the next. Before these battles the player can manage his army with a variety of options. Most importantly is the formation of squads, which are created by grouping together units. There are a large variety of units ranging from doll masters to werewolves as well as several special hero units (though many are just improved versions of existing classes). Squads consist of three to five units placed on a three by three grid, with their placement on this grid dictating their actions in battle. As with most RPGs, units gain experience and level, often leading to more advanced classes. Units can also be equipped with items to further increase their effectiveness
Battles take place in real time on large maps with the player starting at his home base and fielding his squads into the battle at a cost. The player controls his squads by issuing move orders which they fulfill to the best of their ability. The objective is to reach the enemy's stronghold and liberate it by occupying that space while preventing the enemy from taking the player's own base. Along the way towns can also be liberated to help the player's cause. Towns provide information, units to hire, items to buy, and income. When an enemy squad comes into contact with a player's squad the two squads "fight it out" in a quick computer controlled battle. The units in both squads act out whatever actions their placement dictates, with the squad suffering the most damage or losing their leader unit being declared the loser and as a result being pushed backwards on the map. The user has limited control in these battles with only a few options such as using a limited number of tarot cards (magic spells) or giving the AI a certain routine to follow such as attack the leader. This continues until one side's home base is captured. The story is presented during battles through conversations when encountering certain squads (generally the boss squad sitting their home base) and also through brief cut scenes between battles.
While the game is lauded for its depth in terms of customization it is also criticized for its brutal learning curve. Many features are poorly documented or explained, and as a result can only be discovered via trial and error. Many a player would unwittingly progress quite far into the game only to realize his forces have been improperly trained and are vastly inferior when compared to the enemy. The game also featured multiple endings, however due to the aforementioned poor documentation; Especially in regards to the reputation and alignment system, many players would receive a "bad" ending, where they themselves have become a blood thirsty tyrant with many of the characters they encountered plotting against them. Whether this is some kind of social commentary about the nature of war or simply poor game design has yet to be and probably never will be determined.
Despite these criticisms the game is loved by fans for its massive depth, endearing charm, and poignant storyline.
The band Queen is said to have inspired Yasumi Matsuno when creating the series. References to the band's second album, Queen II, can be seen within the Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. Most notably are the songs Ogre Battle and March of the Black Queen which obviously served to inspire the game's name, not to mention Let Us Cling Together the subtitle to Ogre Battle's sequel.