Sword of the Samurai
Sword of the Samurai is one of those games I never had when it came out. I didn't play it until much later, probably around 2000. Not that I have any reference point, but it doesn't seem to have aged badly at all.
The game itself is split quite cleanly into various sections. You start as a retainer for a daimyo of whichever clan you choose, and run around the province doing tasks to try to keep your honour high and your enemy's honour low. Marriage is also a priority, since if you die, your son (if any) takes over.
The game has various minigames, which aren't really minigames at all: the wandering around in between — much like sailing around in Pirates! — is merely the glue that connects them.
The first I will go into is sword fighting. You square off against one opponent and try to do him in before he does you in. I can never figure out how to block, so this is probably the weaker element for me. Probably if I bothered to learn the interface I would enjoy it more.
Next up is melee. You run around an overhead map killing anyone that gets in your way. This is fun, it works nicely, isn't too finicky. It's kind of simple when you get a system though. Just keep your distance, use your bow to attack, try not to let the brown guys get close. Fun, but easy.
Then there are battles. It's very nicely done. Almost the Shogun: Total War of it's time. You start off either attacking or defending. If you attack, your troops will move automatically towards the enemy in the formation you select until you tell them to do something else. Defending, your troops remain stationary until you tell them to do something else. Things like flanking work well, and the system, while hard to control with the keyboard, works quite nicely.
Of course, that's not all there is to it. Hopefully your daimyo dies when you're in good standing and you can take his place. Rinse and repeat until your lord dies, and you get to be lord. Now instead of moving over a province map to do things, you get a map of Japan and can try to take neighbouring provinces. The first few moves of this process are vital. When you are still a small clan you will likely take out a weaker enemy, but lose enough samurai that someone really big will just come in and take your land and you won't be able to put up much of a fight. If you survive the first few moves and conquer some territory however, it won't be long until you're Shogun.
- Sword of the Samurai (PC) (660.1 KB)