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Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence
Adam Beckett posted a topic in Strategy Game DiscussionI never heard before of the "Nobunaga Series" of Japanese Strategy games. They are made/published by Koei/Tecmo for the last 30 years. Steam Version: http://store.steampowered.com/app/392470/ Playstation Version available too. I found some user reviews on Steam, which peaked my interest: "Here's the deal. Koei has been making these two grand strategy game series called Romance of the Three Kingdom and Nobunaga's ambition. You're placed on a large map of China and/or Japan respectively and you take control of one of the historical warlords in the period. You're given control of the finances, diplomacy, and the military features of the realm and you're given the huge task of reuniting a tortured land and placing it under your control." (Source: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TheDarkWriter/recommended/392470/) "I have never played a Koei strategy game before to this was all new to me, but I followed the fun (if long) tutorial through to the end and started an easy campaign as the Oda on the "Birth of Nobunaga" scenario, I then proceeded to play faaaaaaar longer than intended this afternoon. I had a blast. Coming from a Shogun 2 total war fanatic standpoint, this provides a very different experience, that somehow sits between a Paradox game like CK2 (or Sengoku) and something a bit lighter like the total war series. Battles are automatically fought out as the month progresses and you can dip in and try to turn them in your favour if you want to. There are some great positioning based mechanics at work here that make positioning your forces or paramount importance to victory, attacking from different directions and defending or bypassing choke points, are both important things to understand, and provide a lot of enjoyment. Management of your "Officers" is a huge part of the game and I'd say this makes it more like the aforementioned Paradox titles, land management is also important, and takes up much of your time. There is a fun internal and external political system to maneuver and this allows you to do some very fun things like forming coalitions against powerful enemies and calling friends to fight for you, you can even mediate peace between two antagonists!" (Source: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197987848369/recommended/392470/) I played the tutorial scenario myself. Disclaimer: I don't play JRPGs, I don't know what happens in Final Fantasy VII, nor do I play 'Japanese games', in general. I am not one of 'those' people. Your father died. The leader of the Oda Clan. You play a young Daimyo/Lord who engages in a dialog with his Sensei. This older man was a loyal servant to your father, and he wants to commit ritual suicide, because he thinks, he failed his former master, teaching YOU (the character you play/you, the player). In a series of back and forth Plato like dialogs, presented like a Gameboy/Nintendo game (portraits left and right, click button for more dialog), you - the player - are introduced to the game mechanics and systems (dialog about politics and the importance of diplomacy and what wise men should do, did really remind me of Plato's Dialogues!). In the end of each novella length (but strangely enjoyable) conversation section, you get to play what you just learned (or rather execute it), before the next tutorial section. Meanwhile, in the background, you hear a chirpy grand orchestral score, like David Lean decided to make a last Cinemascope attempt, in the 1960s, making an adventure movie, based in Japan. I wish, Paradox would play this game. Everyone can learn a lesson or two, from this kind of character driven tutorial. As far as I can see, the games emphasis is on grand strategy. There are numerous advisers, you get to send all over Japan. Diplomacy plays a far bigger role than I can make out in Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Universalis IV (or any Total War game, goes without saying). The real-time battles play out like Total War Arena. Fast and without a lot of depth. But overall, this game is really intriguing, if you like Japan and Strategy games. Needless to say, I am of the School of thought who thinks tutorials are not a waste of developer resources and an afterthought, but are the true masterclass in game design. Being able to teach new players to understand your game, never having played one, in interesting and engaging ways should be your highest goal, after having nailed and balanced your game systems. But that is a topic for another discussion. While it has the typical 'Japanese' style elements, it is NOT an 'anime' game, like Valkyrie Chronicles. Like Troy, I could not make myself play that one, no matter how good people said it was. It has also the strengths of Japanese games, as I see them: strong storytelling through characters, strong emphasis on game mechanics, thoughtful design and gorgeous art. It is pretty expensive, which I cannot scratch my head around, why this is the case. A lower price point would make curious people more willing to check it out. Apparently the Japanese/Chinese versions are expensive too. I am not expecting to hear a Three Moves Ahead Podcast about this, but I still wanted to point some of you towards this title.