Saturday, January 9, 2016

Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest (PS3) Review

Strangely, I hadn't heard of Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest until it appeared on the Playstation 3's online store.  It's a strategy game where you must, as the title states, conquer the world.  Also, each region is inhabited by famous historical and mythological characters... and they have all been gender-swapped to be female (except Joan of Arc).  Rule 63 is in full effect here, and considering the original nature of the game (it was very much for 'adults'), that is no surprise.  Time to be the hero and unite the entire world, all while having the ladies fall head over heels for you.

The console release of Eiyuu Senki does prove that you can remove the naughty bits and still have a good game.  I haven't been able to compare it much to the PC uncensored Japanese release, but there are a few points where I'm sure something was take out or altered.  On one hand, I would like to try the untouched version, but on the other, it being changed means it actually comes out here on a system I would play it on (sorry PC people).  I still wouldn't play it around younger audiences that can read, as there is a lot of suggestive dialogue and some swears (mostly from one character in particular).  The story is pretty good, with a few nice twists.  Plus, several parts of the dialogue and the events that you can view were funny.

When you need to scare off some bandits or take down a region's leader, it will likely involve a fight.  Combat in Eiyuu Senki takes place on a 3x6 grid, with your side occupying the left half, and your opponent the right.  You can choose up to six people to place in battle, and where their initial position is.  The top center of the screen shows the turn order, which is dependent on your speed stat and what actions you take.  You can attack an opposing unit (if it's within your range), wait or move.  If there is a full column between both forces, you can use the 'advance' function to move your entire force toward theirs.  Skills are either attacking (damage) or support (heal, debuff, etc.) and require brave points to use.  The brave points are the little stars you have in the upper left of the screen.  Every time the meter fills, you gain one.  Doing or receiving damage are the most common ways of getting brave meter, and using the skills at the right time can actually change the battle in your favor.

However, it isn't quite as cut and dry as you might think.  There is a rock-paper-scissors like chart of which type does more damage to which others.  While you will get more damage by taking advantage of that, any brave points for such and attack will go to your opponent.  It's an interesting balancing mechanic that has you thinking about immediate benefit versus long-term benefit.  Early on, the brave points aren't as important since you don't have many skills that use them, so the choice is easier.  As you progress through the game, that choice becomes more important.  Are you willing to trade that damage boost for potentially fueling an enemy's ultimate attack?  It is a really unique part of the game, and I like that it changes what you plans are.

Before placing a unit on the field, you can see their attack ranges, type and stats.  Since a person can only be used once per turn, you might not want to take all six every time, or at least not take all your heavy hitters in one fight.  After awhile, the battlefields will also have effects on the ground, such as reducing your defense, or raising all of your stats.  Unfortunately, the spread of them isn't always fair, and there are plenty of times where the field effects are totally against you.  Clever use of placing units and moving/advancing will help sometimes, but other times you just have to suck it up and deal with it.

A great shot of the battlefield.  It also coincidentally shows a few of the characters I like to use.

However fighting is only part of what you do.  The other half of the game revolves around viewing character skits and deciding who and where to fight the other armies.  Every turn you get an allotment of Action Points (2-4 depending on the point in the story you are) that have to be divided up between viewing the extra events and fighting battles.  Most times the choice is up to the player.  You can view all the mission events, then focus on battles, the opposite of that, or anywhere in the middle.  Personally, I found the best balance to be in the middle, so I wasn't constantly fighting or reading.  When you end your turn, any hostile nations may attack you in a bid to reclaim their territory or grab some of yours.  If you have any characters left, you can fight to repel them.

This is where another part of the strategy in the game lies.  Early on, you won't have as many characters, so choosing who to use and save for later in the turn is important.  Most times you can give up the town and just fight for it again later if you need to, but I always tried to leave a few left to repel an invasion.  Later in the game that is much less of a problem.  You have so many characters that is it nearly impossible to use them all.  At the end of each turn, you will gain money and each character will heal 10% of their troops/HP.  Any enemy invading/defending forces will also gain some health back.  Hostile forces will also be "slightly upgraded", which basically means their max troops/HP will increase a bit.  It is possible to sit around for many turns and build up a lot of money, but it really isn't necessary.

If you lose a fight, you many times can choose to replay it (which may allow you to try different characters), or even back up an action.  Sometimes you can just give up and let the opposing forces take the town back.  I only ever had to do that early on, when I didn't have enough character to make headway and defend.  The only other time I considered losing a fight to throw more people at the problem (since the opponent would retain their lost health) was at a point in the story when my ports were taken.  Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to at that time.  It kind of sucked that when I actually wanted to make use of something was one of the few times I couldn't, but I just powered through.  There's also an option in the middle of the fight to restart, which helped me a lot in one of the final true ending fights (stupid "original lust king").

The 'Missions' you can undertake  are usually events scenes that have lots of character interactions.  Some involve battles, which is always shown and mentioned beforehand so you aren't unprepared.  Some will give you a new character, item or money.  Most of them will deepen the relationship between the main person involved and the hero.  These are necessary to give characters more skills and equipment slots.  Each mission has set requirements, which you fill by committing characters to them.  All character in Eiyuu Senki have non-battle skills and you have to add enough of each required type to actually do the mission.

It honestly sounds more complicated than it is, as I was able to understand what to do right away.  Since you can only use a character once a turn, you must make careful choices who you send on a mission, and when to do it.  Missions also take an action point to do.  It is very easy to get behind on character missions as you progress through the game.  I was pretty diligent about them, but toward the end I got so many characters that I feel behind quickly.  While I could ignore them, I try to be a completionsit, so I want to see them all.  Plus, the extra skills and items are appreciated.  If you don't care who you send, there is a very helpful 'auto select' function to fill out the requirements.  Some missions are missable, but usually they are ones that help you defeat your current hostile enemy.  I would have been more annoyed at this, but you don't actually lose anything or really miss anything, so I quickly forgot about them.

There are harder and easier parts of the game, part of which is dictated in the order you take over the world.  Overall the game isn't too hard, which I like.  However, you can make it harder.  If you take over the more difficult opponents, you can gain an extra bonus item that will in turn make all other opponents stronger.  You can keep this up if you want to get the hardest experience possible.  It's certainly an interesting way to choose your difficulty.  As long as you don't sit there against an opposing force to buff them, and don't leave yourself without a possible defense, the game is very manageable and fun.  I don't think it is possible to make the game unwinnable, though.  You should earn enough money and have enough characters to brute force your way through any opponents.

The game is more linear than I thought it would be.  There are times when you have the freedom to choose the next area you will conquer, but the characters you get and the important plot points are all set.  This is fine, though, because there are a lot of other armies to conquer.  Considering your start on a small island nation and have to take over the world (I tried to type it in a Brain voice), it makes sense that the game can take awhile to beat.  If you skip through the text it would be much faster, but where's the fun in that?  If you try to view every event and conquer everybody, you are likely looking at a 50+ hour completion time.  Of course, the time you take to conquer each region is somewhat variable, depending on how aggressive you both are.

There are two endings, which is very possible to do in one playthrough when you know the qualifications and make a separate save at the appropriate time.  Even if you don't want to do so, going through the game again isn't bad, since you have some freedom in who to take on at certain points.  You can even keep your items in a new game plus mode, to help with the higher difficulties you might face.  Some of the items would allow you to breeze through the first half of the game, and getting duplicates of others would help you do the areas in any order to gain some of the missed items.

I really enjoyed playing Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest.  It was actually one of the most fun games I played in 2015 (yes I'm aware the review is out in 2016).  The premise of all these famous characters as females was pretty cool.  Several parts of the dialogue were funny.  Even if the 'true ending' takes a Star Ocean 3 turn, I still enjoyed it and it all made sense.  Battles are fun and surprisingly tactical, especially late in the game.  It took me a long time to beat the game, and there is some incentive to play through again.  The biggest complaint I have about the game is that some of the text can be hard to read - whether because it doesn't scale well or it's white text on a light background.  If you are a fan of JPRGs or strategy/tactical RPGs, I would highly recommend Eiyuu Senki, as long as you are fine that your main character is assembling a harem of world famous people.  I'm really hoping the expanded Eiyuu Senki Gold makes it way to the US, as I would love to play it uncensored, even if it were the PC version (shock!)

(Review code for Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest was provided by the publisher.)

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