Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (SNES, 1993)

INFO: My “Retro Vault” reviews are not scored. Instead, I just talk about why I have fond memories of whichever game I’m writing about at the time. Generally, I won’t pick out any bad games for the Retro Vault feature, so scoring them is essentially useless anyway. Enjoy the read.

I must have only been ten or eleven years old when my brother and I were staying with our grandparents for a few weeks in the summer. He would always bring the Super Nintendo, and one year he happened to rent a rare game by Enix that his friend had talked about called Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen.

Indeed, it was a very rare game. I recall a magazine (probably Nintendo Power) that I read at the time indicate that this game had a very limited distribution. Considering the fact that it was a real challenge to even find the game in Halifax, the capital of my province, said a lot.

I remember it all too clearly. It was a bright sunny day in the village of Mount Denson, and we were cooped up inside looking at the TV. My brother put the cartridge into the Super Nintendo and turned it on, and from there he played the hell out of Ogre Battle. I was just an observer, sitting back on the couch watching in amazement at what looked to be the most amazing game ever. The graphics were very cool when this game was released. The stage maps were simply breath taking.

It would be a little while longer before I would get to play Ogre Battle myself. My brother liked the game so much that he hunted down a copy to buy. Of course, it was his SNES so he played the hell out of it and had control over when I could play, but when I did get to finally sit down and play Ogre Battle, it was simply amazing.

I can’t seem to recall what I felt the first time I ever played the game. Since that day when I first tasted Ogre Battle, I have beaten it dozens of times, and I can’t even count how many times I started new games. What I do know, though, is that Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen has become one of my favourite video games ever. I believe that my brother holds it in the same regard. He often says that he doesn’t really play video games anymore, which is true for the most part, but whenever Ogre Battle is brought up between us he seems to share the same love for it that I do. When it is mentioned around us, we seem to act like two old men reminiscing about the good old days.

Now I could probably go on forever about how Ogre Battle made me feel, but I should probably say why this game holds such a special place in my heart, meaning more to me than other SNES greats such as Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario World.

Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, is considered an RPG, but I like to think of it more as a fantasy war simulation/strategy game. In Ogre Battle, you take the role of the leader of the rebel Liberation Army who rises up against the corrupt Empress Endora.

The gameplay and mechanics in Ogre Battle are actually really great, and I’ve never seen them repeated except in the N64 sequel, Ogre Battle 64. In Ogre Battle, you literally control an army. You can have up to one hundred in your army and can divide them up into groups of five. The groups, which the game refers to as units, are used in the stages to combat the local bad guys.

Every character has their own name, class, several stats, and so on, Regarding class, any character is free to become whatever their base class allows them to develop into. Fighters can become knights, wizards, samurais, and if you’re really lucky, eventually they may be able to turn into liches. Amazons (female archer characters) can be upgraded into clerics, valkyries and witches. Again, if you are lucky, amazons may eventually upgrade into princesses. There are dozens of character classes in the game and I always find that my army develops differently each time I play, which says a lot considering I have literally played this game over fifty times.

The earliest stages take about ten minutes to beat but, towards the end of the game, you’ll be sitting on the same maps for an hour in some cases. Ogre Battle isn’t a game for people who aren’t serious about the genre. Considering the fact that there are over twenty mandatory stages to plow through, and that many indeed take about an hour, you’re looking at a pretty lengthy game that demands determination and devotion.

As far as I’m aware, Ogre Battle is also one of the first console games to have several endings. There are twelve possible endings, and I definitely know that I haven’t gotten all of them yet. There’s a lot to do in this game from trying to get the best items, best classes, bonus characters, all side quests, the rare and elusive “merchant”, and many other things. Ogre Battle may look simplistic, but it’s quite a deep game and, if you give it a chance, is incredibly rewarding. There is a reason why this game commands so much of my respect. Give it a try if you like RPGs, strategy games, or even war games.


E3 2010 Preview

Each June, dozens of video game developers converge upon Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, which is essentially the Mecca of the gaming industry. At E3, many new games are announced for the first time while many hot titles in the works are often presented in playable form. Some of the gaming industry’s biggest games ever were first shown at E3 events.

This year at the Los Angeles Convention Center looks to be a show. Many confirmed big name titles will be appearing, and the rumour mill is also suggesting that a few surprises may show up. I’m not going to go into any details on the “motion capture” wars that the Microsoft and Sony are currently engaged in. Instead, I’m just going to go over some of the games that will be appearing at the show.

In this article, I will present you with a list of all “big” titles worth talking about that will be at E3 this year, but I’ll go talk about perhaps a dozen. After that, I’ll mention a few “rumoured” games that people think may show up.

Here is the list of major titles that will be shown off at E3.


Conduit 2 (Wii)
Dragon Quest IX (DS)
Golden Sun DS (DS)
Legend of Zelda Wii (Wii)
Lost in Shadow (Wii)
Metroid: Other M (Wii)
Pokemon Black & White (DS)
Super Scriiblenauts (DS)


Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Star Wars: The Old Republic


God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PS3)
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
Killzone 3 (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs (PS3)

XBox 360

Gears of War 3
Halo: Reach

Multi Platform Games

Arcania: Gothic IV
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Crysis 2
Dead Space 2
F1 2010
Fable III
Fallout: New Vegas
Mafia 2
Naughty Bear
Rock Band 3
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Now that we know the major titles, what’s worth talking about? There are definitely several, but I’m only going to mention a few, the ones that I feel I’d enjoy.


APB, or All Points Bulletin, is like an MMO version of Grand Theft Auto. There is a sprawling city, gun fights, driving vehicles, and so forth. This isn’t a sandbox MMO though, as it has quite a specific focus. In APB, players will join one of two factions at the beginning, the Criminals or the Enforcers.

Criminals are, predictably, out to break the law and cause crime. Robbing businesses and creating mayhem is the name of the game when you join the Criminals faction. At the other end of the spectrum is the Enforcers faction. Enforcers are basically cops on steroids that can essentially wear whatever the heck they want for a uniform. Enforcers fight and prevent crime, making them the enemies of the Criminals faction. Essentially, APB is just a giant game of cops and robbers but with really great personality and a unique presentation.

I remember when I watched someone playing the APB beta on justin.tv, I thought that he was playing Grand Theft Auto at first because I had never heard of APB. The screen layout is very similar, and the graphics are very good for an MMO. It took me by surprise when I learned that the broadcaster was not playing an offline solo adventure!

Successfully completing goals (completing crimes of Criminals, while preventing crimes for Enforcers) rewards players with money, which they can use to buy/upgrade weapons and vehicles, as well as customize their appearance very extensively.

Developer Realime Worlds has said that player skill, rather than time investment, will determine how far a player progresses in APB. The game will also feature ingame advertising. Normally I am against such a thing, but in the case of APB I really feel that it will help bring the city to life more and make it feel more realistic.

Overall, it sounds like a really great idea for an MMO and I’ve already decided to purchase (and review) it when it comes out at the end of this month.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

A new Assassin’s Creed on major consoles already! I have very little information on this game, but I’ll share what I’ve found out. Brotherhood will, surprisingly, follow Ezio again as he embarks on a fifteen hour singleplayer adventure in Rome.

Ezio will be able to recruit and train new assassins, and will enjoy killing Templars through the use of new weapons.

There will also be multiplayer modes available for the first time in the Assassin’s Creed series. How multiplayer will work in Assassin’s Creed remains to be seen, but I bet it’s safe to say that deathmatch won’t be one of the game modes for fairly obvious reasons relating to the gameplay mechanics of the Assassin’s Creed games.

It’s due out around November this year, and given how enjoyable the first two games were, it’s probably safe to say that Brotherhood will be worth checking out.

Crysis 2

Now here is a game worth talking about. The sequel to one of the most memorable first person shooters in recent years, Crysis 2, is not only appearing on the PC but the 360 and PS3 as well.

Set in an alien infested New York City, Crysis 2 sees the return of Nomad as he adventures around in the Nanosuit 2, an upgraded version of the suit he wore in the first Crysis. Because of the fact that he is wearing the new and improved suit, he is being hunted by Crynet Systems because he isn’t supposed to be wearing it. This makes me wonder, how did Nomad happen to get it? Prophet, the team leader from the first game, is supposedly going to play some kind of a role in Crysis 2. Perhaps he was involved in whatever allowed Nomad to get his hands on Nanosuit 2?

Nanosuit 2 is supposedly much more versatile than the original from the first game. Crytek has stated that the new nanosuit will be able to use more than one power mode at once. This opens the doors for some very, very interesting possibilities! Stealth and speed could be very effective.

Finally, it is worth noting that Crysis 2 will have LOWER system requirements than the first game. It sounds like they’ve straightened a few things out, considering the fact that Crysis 2 is certainly prettier than the first game.

Crysis 2 is due out in December of this year. I suspect many people will find this one under the Christmas tree!

F1 2010

Developed by Codemasters and due out in September of this year, F1 2010 is based on the current Formula One season. New teams Hispania, Lotus, and Virgin will all be featured in the game, as will the revised Silverstone and all new Korean Grand Prix circuit.

Codemasters is promoting this game as having the most advanced weather system ever seen in a video game. Weather will change in real time. Just like during the real races, rain may only sprinkle for a few minutes, or only half the track will have rain showering down upon it.

Racing lines will also dry in wet conditions, and trees will shield areas of the track from the rain, keeping them dry. It is also worth noting that driving through the water in the wet will help you cool your tires.

F1 2010 uses the EGO Engine, which was first used in DiRT and then GRID. Because of Codemasters making their recent racing games have mainstream appeal, such as the Colin McRae (now DiRT) series which only appealed to a niche crowd, I suspect that F1 2010 will follow the same path and be a great game even for people who don’t enjoy Formula One. The fact that flashbacks, which let you rewind accidents that you have and essentially “undo” them, are making an appearance in F1 2010 says it all, I feel.

Throughout career mode, players will be able to interact with the media and their team, responding the questions in conferences and interviews. I don’t recall such a thing ever being done in a racing game before, and it certainly has a nice sound to it.

I should note that the following images have 2009 cars. Codemasters have stated that they were just used as placeholders until the 2010 cars were fully implemented. I have a strong feeling that at E3, we’ll see the 2010 cars in action at last.

Gran Turismo 5

Sony’s cash cow racing series is finally nearing the finish line. After a fantastic Prologue followed by a pretty unimpressive demo, Gran Turismo 5 certainly has been taking it’s time. I’ve been told that the only reason we don’t have Gran Turismo 5 now is because of Sony pressuring Polyphony to implement 3D capabilities into the game.

The fifth Gran Turismo offers nothing less than you’d expect it to. Approximately two dozen tracks and more than one thousand cars make up Gran Turismo 5. NASCAR and WRC races will also be featured in the game, and the list of car manufacturers, which was already big enough, has welcomed Bugatti and Lambourghini. All cars can be damaged now, so if you want to smash up realistic looking Lambourghini Murcielagos, then this is the game for it.

The tracks seem to be quite varied, and will include night racing. Here is an apparent complete list of circuits in Gran Turismo 5. Note that I cannot guarantee that this list is accurate.

Apricot Hill Raceway, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Autumn Ring, Cathedral Rocks, Chamonix, Circuit de Catalunya, Circuit de La Sarthe, Circuit de Valencia, Citta di Aria, Clubman Stage Route 5, Complex String, Costa di Amalfi, Daytona International, Deep Forest Raceway, Driving Park, Dunsfold Park, Eiger Nordwand, Fuji Speedway, George V Paris, Grand Canyon, Grand Valley Speedway, Gymkhana, High-Speed Ring, Hong Kong, Ice Arena, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Laguna Seca Raceway, Las Vegas Drag Strip, London, Madrid, Midfield Raceway, Monaco, Motorland, New York, Nordschleife, Nürburgring GP Strecke, Opera Paris, Rally Japan, Rally Toscana, Rome, Seattle, Sepang International Circuit, Shanghai International Circuit, Spa-Francorchamps, Special Stage Route 5, Special Stage Route 11, Suzuka, Swiss Alps, Tahiti Maze, Texas Motor Speedway, Tokyo Route 246, Trial Mountain, Tsukuba Circuit, Tuscany, Twin Ring Motegi, Yas Marina Circuit, Zamboanga.

And here are some car manufacturers in the game. I left about ONE HUNDRED small name ones, or ones that not many people would recognize.

Abarth, Acura, Alfa Romeo, AMC, Ariel, Ascari, Aston Martin, Audi, Autobianchi, Bentley, BMW, BRM, Bugatti, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Cosworth, Dacia, Daewoo, Daihatsu, Dallara, Datsun, DeLorean, Dodge, Dome, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, FSO, GAZ, General Motors, Geo, Ginetta, GMC, Hennessey, Holden, Honda, Hudson, Hummer, Hyundai, Infiniti, Isuzu, Italdesign, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Koenig, Lada, Lambourghini, Lancia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Lister, Lola, Lotus, McLaren, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mercury, MG, Minardi, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pagani, Peugeot, Plymouth, Polyphony, Pontiac, Porsche, Proton, Reliant, Renault, Reynard, Rinspeed, RollsRoyce, Rover, RUF, Saab, Saleen, Samsung, Saturn, Sauber, Scion, Seat, Shelby, Skoda, Spyker, Studebaker, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Triumph, TVR, Tyrell, Vauxhall, Venturi, Volkswagen, Volvo, Walter Wolf, Williams F1, Yamaha, Z Cars, Zakspeed, ZIL, Zytek

WOW. Okay, so Grand Turismo 5 is massive.

Halo: Reach

I’m not much of a Halo player, but I figure that a fan of the games may accidentally wander into my mostly PS3-centric blog.

Halo: Reach seems to take place in the 2552 in which humanity is at war with the alien Covenant. The player controls an elite supersoldier squad member known as Noble 6. I was surprised not see Master Chief’s name to be honest, but as a Halo outsider it may make sense that I’m surprised since to people who don’t play Halo, Master Chief practically is Halo itself.

I wish that I could say more about Reach, but I cannot. I’m aware that the multiplayer will be very deep however, and customization is apparently heavy. That’s always good! 360 fans seem to be getting a very nice FPS here.

Legend of Zelda Wii

This should be good! Little is known about this new Zelda yet, other than that it stars an adult Link and he is apparently not wielding the Master Sword. A mysterious figure on a piece of promotional art that stands behind Link vaguely resembles the Master Sword, which has raised a few questions.

Unfortunately, this is all that’s known so far about the new Zelda. Despite the fact that there so is little info, I still felt that Zelda deserved it’s own mention because, hey, it’s Zelda!!

LittleBigPlanet 2

LittleBigPlanet 2 sees the return of Sackboy on another epic adventure. This time, a vacuum cleaner-like villain dubbed “The Sucker” travels to the dimension that the game is set in and starts sucking everything up! Sounds like the levels may be more diverse than the first game’s as a result of this interstellar vacuum cleaner bad guy.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is going to play the same as the first game, and all content that you bought for the first game will be available straight away in the sequel.

It’s worth noting that customization is going to take on a whole new level of depth. While the first game promoted an editor that let you make platformer levels, LittleBigPlanet 2 supposedly lets you go even further, making racing games and even RPGs. How this is possible, I have no clue, but I’m excited to find out. I just hope that making levels is easier than it was in the first game. Unless you had lots of time to devote to the first LittleBigPlanet, you weren’t going to create much.

Online is supposed to be more intuitive, thank goodness. Hopefully Media Molecule removes the whole “globe” menu gimmick from the sequel! Anyway, LittleBigPlanet 2 will be available this fall, presumably in December.

Metroid: Other M

Team Ninja, famous for developing the Dead or Alive and recent Ninja Gaiden games, has been given a chance to work some magic on Metroid. I can only assume that this is going to be a Metroid unlike any we’ve seen before. I do not have a Wii, but if I did, this game would probably be at the top of my list of games to watch out for.

Other M takes place after the SNES hit Super Metroid and leads Samus to an alien infested spaceship that sent out a distress signal.

Supposedly the game will play like a 3D version of the original Metroid games, and Samus will have all of her old abilities from the classic games. So, fully 3D classic Metroid? Certainly sounds good to me. Wii owners are in for quite a treat with this one, I believe.

Naughty Bear

Now this game is just plain twisted! Here is the plot of the game taken from Wikipedia.

“Naughty Bear is the only bear on the island that was not invited to a certain birthday party because of the fact that he is too naughty. While he crafted a gift for the occasion, he was laughed at by the other bears and sulked back to his house. Naughty Bear decides to take his revenge against all the other bears on the island.”

The object of the game? To be naughty! Doing so rewards you with naughty points and from there… Well, I have no idea. The game has an open sandbox environment like Grand Theft Auto, so there should be lots to do. To be honest, I don’t care what the objective of the game is, I’m going to be picking the game up when it releases at the end of this month. The idea of being a teddy bear who just causes trouble sounds really…. Fun!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

Finally, a new game in the numbered Sonic the Hedgehog series! It is very unfortunate that the only good game Sonic has been in recently is a kart racer (and a very good one, to be fair), but he’s finally coming home. I suppose Sega clued in and realized that Sonic has only ever done very well in 2D platformers. So, yes, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a classic 2D platformer with what I suppose are HD graphics. Sort of.

This game is more of the same. Dr. Eggman (I prefer to call him Robotnik, but oh well) has it out for Sonic, and our blue friend has to do something about it. Sonic will trek through several zones made up of 2D side scrolling levels, just like the old games. I only liked Sonic 2, but I really think I’ll be checking this one out when it is released as a downloadable title.

The first episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 will be released later this year.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Yeah, some Star Wars MMORPG.

I like the old Star Wars movies, but I know very little about this game. This is all I can say on it, really! It’s being made by Bioware and should be out around April or May 2011. I also fully expect it to steal elements from WoW, but you’d be crazy not to if you’re making an MMORPG.

Star Wars has an amazing history and setting though, which makes it perfect for an MMORPG. Considering the size of Star Wars’ fanbase, there’s no doubt in my mind that this game will be a hit.

Now, the rumour mill is always spinning around E3 time. I will now go over the four games I have heard rumours about but, at the moment, there’s no confirmation at all that these games are in the works, except MK9.

Half-Life 3

Surprisingly, yes. Valve have said that they have a “big” surprise for us at E3 this year but they didn’t specify what. A lot of people are jumping to the BIG conclusion. While it may be a stretch, it’s certainly an awesome stretch. Half-Life 3 would rock E3 to the core.

Infamous 2

While I only played the demo of Infamous (I found myself being more tempted to buy Prototype, which I did), I was able to acknowledge that the full game was probably pretty great based on what the demo offered. Judging by the review scores, I was right. More of the same can only be a good thing, right?

Mortal Kombat 9

Despite the fact that Midway bit the dust, Ed Boon and his wily crew survived after being taken in by Warner Brothers Games. It was an obvious choice for WB, considering the fact that Mortal Kombat is a cash cow. Boon revealed last year that MK9 is in development, so don’t be surprised if it shows up at E3.

Resistance 3

Sony’s “golden egg” FPS series. I find shooters to be pretty boring myself, but Resistance is pretty cool. I fully expect Resistance 3 to make an appearance at some point in time on the PS3. Whether or not it’s at E3 is yet to be seen.

And that’s about it! Overall E3, looks to have some pretty stellar games this year, and possibly some amazing surprises. Despite the fact that Playstation Move and Natal will probably be the focus of the show, we can’t forget that the games make E3, and this year it’s going to be a doozy.

Return to June 2010 Articles

Half Retarded II: Episode I

This is not likely to happen very often, if ever again.

I found a very strange video on YouTube that I feel should absolutely be mentioned. It appears to be a video made from GMod clips, featuring all sorts of cameos. The format of this video reminds me of Robot Chicken, only it makes a lot less sense and is much more random.

This video isn’t really funny on merit. Instead, I found myself laughing a few times just over how bizarre and random the video is.

So here it is, Half Retarded II: Episode I.

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