Part 1: UPDATE 1: Rich People ProblemsUPDATE 1: Rich People Problems
We open with a classic sepia flashback shot of some fancy-boy in a courtyard.
The life of the idle rich: stand around in your poofy sleeves, staring at a tree, not a care in the world. One day I'm gonna hit it big, and every day's gonna be like this. Maybe a cigar, maybe a glass of scotch, maybe
Well there goes MY me-time. Fine, fine, what do you want.
This dapper young fellow with the giant anime cowlick apparently finds some fault with the standing-around-the-palace-grounds lifestyle and wants out!
: "Why can't you stay here? Why the military academy? Why?"
: "God knows where my mother is... and I can't stand..."
A-HA. The principles of detection lead my keen logical mind to conclude that here we have what is colloquially known as a "FUCK YOU DAD" situation!
See, that's what's wrong with kids today. You give 'em everything in the world, take 'em to a huge palatial estate where they can hang out with rich spoiled brats in poofy sleeves, buy them the finest pirate shirts and bright blue sashes and the stiffest hair gel, and they'll STILL find a reason to hate you. Count on it.
: "I'm leaving... Yumil..."
: "I have to learn to stand on my own... So I can protect both of us."
Wow. Well, this just got a little... let's call it "personal."
And with that... ambiguous line, our mysterious young hero turns around and walks straight out of this flashback without looking back. Good for him! Cut to six years later.
Apologies to those of you expecting the military academy to be a two-hour-long tutorial. No, this game was slightly before that craze began (there is a tutorial, but it's optional and involves no characters from the game proper and I'm skipping right the hell over it) so we cut straight to the point where the protagonist already knows all the stuff you'll have to figure out yourself.
"Our next graduate..."
Six years later and our rebellious friend is still sporting a bright blue sash, to his own graduation even. Maybe he won the Miss Palatinus pageant.
(come to think of it the full body armor is also a little odd in this context)
Anyway the guy in the robes with the impressive beard and staff is Archbishop Odiron. Basically he's the Pope, and he's here to personally hand our little war hero his diploma! Dye-job here must be a pretty big deal. ( yes I know it's not a dye job shut up )
: "He who has learned the way of the sword and God's teachings, in accordance with the traditions kept since the days of the Progenitor, I shalt now complete thy training with an oath to our Mother Berthe. What is thy name?"
Yeah like I said earlier I'm gonna need you guys to give him a name. Please try to resist naming him "Goofus." It's been done to death. hell I'd take Dongs over Goofus.
For the purposes of this update we're gonna stick with the default: Magnus. Latin for "great" in a bit of symbolism almost as artless as naming the guy from Gladiator "Maximus."
Throwing us some softball questions first, I see!
Ogre Battle sports an (almost entirely useless) in-game calendar that is roughly analogous to the Gregorian model. Put in a real-world date (like the default July 25) and the game will thoughtfully tell you the corresponding in-game date (in this case Trueno 12).
For the purposes of this update, again, I'm gonna plug in my birthday, which corresponds to Flama 4. Go ahead and give me another one to use. It doesn't matter nearly as much in this game as in Final Fantasy Tactics -- any date will do.
OH BOY THIS PART
So the way Ogre Battle 64 decides what generic units to give you is by giving you a personality test. This kind of makes sense -- they'd group you with the underlings that most closely match your answers, etc etc -- although I have no idea why it's necessary to have Archbishop Freakin' Odiron play quizmaster for us in front of a formal audience. Doesn't he have, I dunno, sermons to give or something?
"Congratulations on successfully graduating from the most prestigious military academy in the nation! You are now the first line of defense for our citizenry against bandits, wild animals, foreign invaders, DRAGONS, what have you. I'm your host, the Pope; all the lords and politicians in attendance, please welcome Magnus to St. Peter's Basilica! Now then, if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? *pen-clicky-noise*"
There's some big complex mathematical system relating your answers to the units you will receive. When I was a young teenager first playing this game, I spent a busy Saturday afternoon (I didn't have friends, I played JRPGs) tinkering around with the numbers until I finally found the series of answers guaranteed to give me the best possible army. However this was 10 years ago and sometime during that period I lost the doodled-up notebook paper I wrote it down on, so instead I'm going to ask you guys to answer it for me, in whatever way seems best/funniest/whatever, and I'll have to deal with whatever the algorithm spits out. Go hog wild!
At the end of this post I will have a Voting Form where all these questions and their possible answers are repeated-- don't worry about having to actually pay attention to them at this point.
Odiron is nothing if not pragmatic. "Okay, got it, you want valor from the Gods. Everybody wants something. The gods aren't around for charity, though -- what can YOU offer THEM? And I assure you I'm already praying enough for the both of us."
yeah I guess this one is distinct somehow from the beseeching one? "What I really want is valor, but while we're on the subject, fertility would be pretty nice too..."
And THIS one is exactly like the severing one only with less phallic imagery! I suspect Odiron came up with the last two questions during his carriage ride here and wrote them down on his hand or something.
This one is not related to your starting units, but determines (a) what innate Element Magnus has and (b) which Elem Pedra we start off with. Details on both of those concepts can be found in my Game Mechanics Megadump or you can wait until they come up in the LP.
At this point the game has decided what your units will be and Odiron starts just giving you shit to outfit them. Yes, it would make more sense for them to be carrying this stuff themselves. No, it doesn't matter.
Oh hey, the Pope carries around some kind of puppet thing and he just gave it to some 18-year-old. Nothing strange about that.
Since I picked Wind earlier due to it being the first choice, we get the Pedra of Wind. There is (of course) one of these things in existence per element, for a total of six. In the whole world. Magnus just got handed one because he graduated army high school.
yeah I don't even know
Anyway, with that, Odiron is done with us and we cut straight to the opening-credits-ish-type sequence.
Yes. Episode VI. I think the first Ogre Battle was picked (using some sort of random-number generator) to be Episode V. In ten years or so we'll be about on schedule to receive the vastly inferior prequels (as well as the spinoff LEGO Ogre Battle games which will be the best part).
ANYWAY TIME FOR A TRAVELING MONTAGE
Complete with pratfalls! The guy on the left with the huge pipe is totally the real star of this scene.
"Christ, who decided we should take such a wobbly path? You know we don't actually have to go around the mountain peaks on the map, they point UP in real life."
This isn't what camping looks like in-game. What they should be doing is standing in their marching formation, asleep on their feet. MY IMMERSION
"man we spent like a week just wandering back and forth in the east there for no particular reason"
"oh shit a vista overlooking a beautiful sunset, everybody line up and peer out as though into destiny"
And finally after one more inexplicably lengthy session of apparently going backward for some reason, we arrive at our new post: Akka Castle.
Southern Region, Akka Castle
Personnel Assignment Ceremony
Yeah this is more what I expected graduating military academy to be like. Lining up in a grid while some asshole on a throne glares at you. Meet our new boss, General Godeslas, head of all military operations in the Southern Region.
: "Welcome to the Palatinean Army, Southern Division. I'm sure you all know that Alba is the most rugged region in Palatinus."
: "It looks like some of you are graduates from the military academy in the Central Region... I have absolutely no idea why you people chose to come here, of all places."
Obviously this guy is not born and bred Southie.
: "If that's the case, then I suggest you think again. Don't expect any special treatment. All that counts is your ability! Remember that."
: "Now I want you to go on a training exercise. Ariosh! You take care of the rest."
"You take it from here, lackey, I've got important shit to do. Like sitting in my chair and glaring."
: "Before we start the exercise, we must get organized."
Three of these names are main characters (CAN YOU SPOT THEM IN THE SCREENSHOT?); the rest will never be mentioned again.
: "You were selected as command candidates. Wait in the hall. You will interview with your advisor in a little while. Follow your advisor's instructions and work hard to become competent soldiers. That is all, no questions asked. Understood? ...Then get moving!"
You're in the army now, kids. Anyway, time for Magnus to meet his advisor.
Meet Hugo, the stereotypical Wise Old Man. He wears robes. He braids his beard. He holds a staff while sitting down. He gives out sound advice. He does nothing else.
Presently there's a knock at his door.
: "...Come in."
: "Alright, let me see..."
"Let me see" is a phrase which here means "let me get up, walk over, and check you out from within your personal space."
My... thoughts... exactly.
: "Graduated from the Ischka Military Academy, eh? ...What, are you nervous? Don't worry, I'm here to guide you. You'll get used to it in time. Alright, you're dismissed. ...Head to Tenne Plains and get ready for training. We will begin as soon as everyone arrives."
: "When you get old, you can tell a lot just by looking at people's faces. While we lack strength, our knowledge and experience more than make up for it. And... to tell you the truth, I've known about you for a long time."
Rule #14 of being old (ie older than 30) in a JRPG: Never stop talking about how old you are. Rule #56: Be cryptic. Always be cryptic. If possible, be creepy and cryptic simultaneously.
: "Go get ready for training. Understood?"
Enter the next guy.
: "You're Diomedes, eh? Hmm..."
Dio () has pretty much zero patience for the whole sizing-you-up-visually routine.
: "...Oh no... don't tell me you're my superior!"
THAT'S OUR DIO
And with that we reach the world map for the first time, and since we can't go any further without knowing our starting army, it's about time to stop this update for voting. Next time: Gameplay!