Title : Battle Master
Publisher : Mirrorsoft
Genre : Action / Strategy / RPG
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $15-$20
This is one of those strange Genesis games that came out early during its launch, and I have a vague recollection of playing back in the day. I never owned it, but I do remember a friend of mine down the street having this in his possession. He always wanted to play Sonic the Hedgehog or Mortal Kombat when I was over, but as for me, I wanted to play this game.
My enjoyment of this game probably stems from the fact that it closely related a DnD type genre. A nice mix of fantasy elements with action, strategy and RPG gameplay styles. That's quite a lot to throw into a game, especially one that was somewhat better for the PC, but you know what, the Genesis made it work.
Battle Master was a strange sort, and do you know what it actually kind of reminds me of after playing it again? If you played Robin Hood : Prince of Thieves for the NES, this game actually has a similar style of gameplay. Overhead perspective, hack and slash style game play with some RPG leveling elements. And hell, a lot of people hated Robin Hood..not me though!
Anyway, bear with me on this one if you haven't played this game. You might be surprised. Let's review this bad boy.
You are the Champion Battle Master, tasked with uniting the four kingdoms and restoring peace to the land! Oh, what a typical story line...but who cares. Let's kill some stuff.
The game starts off with the choosing of your main character. You'll have a wide range of races and classes to choose from, which is very reminiscent of your standard RPG / DnD fare. Examples of course being your traditional warrior or mage, and choosing from orcs or elves or humans. Good 'ol fantasy cookie cutter selections. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It's still done to this day, and it still works so why not?
Eventually, you'll be able to get other minions to join you on your quest.
Once you settle on your character you're taken to an over world map. This is where you will be spending a lot of your time, deciding on where to go next, and which route to take. Each area is completely different, and by choosing your next location you'll have the opportunity to either chit chat with the folks in that area in order to trade goods and supplies and upgrade your equipment, or you can enter the location.
When you enter the chosen "zone", you'll be switched to an overhead view of your character as you traverse the land in a quest to kill all the hostile foes on the screen. Not necessarily ally, but you need to kill most of them before you can leave the zone. And why would you leave anyone alive anyway!?
Here is where you'll search the areas which are pretty varied ranging from mountains, forests, villages, caves, etc. You'll find enemies, and you'll also find treasures which are damn well needed if you are going to bring peace to the land. In this 2/3 perspective, you'll be able to make your enemies poof out of existence. No joke. They poof. Into smoke. Too bad, was looking for some decapitations and blood spatter. Ah well.
The movement is a bit slow in the battles, but it is definitely more enjoyable once you recruit your allies to help. That's where the strategy elements come in, and instead of hacking and slashing your way through your enemies, you'll be able to give out some commands to your party members.
Although the battles are bit slow, and quite easy at first, they increase in size the more you progress into the game. I'm talking full scale, epic battles where you really don't know if you're going to make it out alive. That is where my addiction with this game came into play. If you make it that far, you're not going to be able to stop.
Visually, this game is nothing to brag about. The graphics are not impressive, and even the sprites are a bit rudimentary. Not to mention the UI is a bit cumbersome and the screen seems to be taken over by a lot of stat information rather than the actual overhead environment. Still, it's not bad if you like the old DOS game PC look.
This game also has one of the best soundtracks for an early 90's 16 bit game. Sound effects leave the player a bit rough around the edges. Too many bleeps and bloops for me, but satisfying ones when you destroy your enemies.
It may seem like I'm ripping on this game, but I'm not. Look past the visuals and the "okay" sound effects, and you've got quite a good game on your hands. The battle elements are a lot of fun, and the game offers quite a bit of replay value if you want to try your hands on each class / race combo. It's a hack 'n' slash gamers paradise, and if you enjoy ripping through the enemy horde, you'll find yourself pleased with Battle Masters.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time, keep on gaming!