Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nerdicus NES Review #172: Destiny of an Emperor

Title : Destiny of an Emperor

Publisher : Capcom

Developer : Capcom

Genre : Strategy Role-Playing

Players : 1

Release Date : 1990

Estimated Value : $20 - $25

We're back it at with another NES review on this fine Tuesday, which is actually a Monday, and it's technically not that fine because a) it's snowing yet again, b) it's freezing, c) the heat is being a pain in my house and not turning up all the time, and d) I'm back at work. But you know what work means. An excuse to jump into some blog posts and stalk my Best Buy order for my MAJORAS MASK NEW 3DS - which they still haven't shipped yet.

Ahem, Best Buy. If you are reading this...SHIP MY ORDER!!!

Despite that, I did accomplish something quite entertaining this weekend. I've started doing some live twitch streams of my own version of "Let's Plays". I call them "Let's Suck" because face it, I'm not calling myself a pro-gamer. I'm more of a casual player, and I'm far from being "really good" at retro games. In fact, I'm horrible most of the time. So instead of watching someone who is pro at gaming, I had some people hop into my room and absolutely suck it up. Got a few laughs, it was fun, plan on doing it again. Will actually come up with a legit schedule soon for streaming so we shall see what happens.

Back to the games...

You know what the greatest part about sifting through every single NES game ever made and playing through them? I'm discovering games I never knew existed that I full on regret not playing as a child. DESTINY OF AN EMPEROR fits the bill. First of all,  it's a Capcom game and we all know how epic Capcom was back in the day (still are, just not as much). Secondly, it's a Strategy Role-Playing masterpiece set in ancient China and based on a Manga. Whaaaa!?

You heard me, this video game is actually based on Hiroshi Motimoya's manga, Tenchi Wo Kurau, which is actually loosely based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Primarily, the game follows the Liu Bei and his brothers battling against warlords who are hell bent on taking over China. Still, it's the recipe for some epic storytelling that I always craved back when I played NES games. Hell, I still crave them  now.

As soon as you start playing the game, you'll probably end up saying to yourself, "Hey, wait a minute.  This looks exactly like Dragon Warrior!". You know what, it does. I can't blame you for thinking that. In fact, the menu systems, and the overworld look like they were ripped from the same texture pack. The battle system is a tad different though, both in terms of appearance and how it flows, but I'll get to that later.

I won't get into the story, because there's way too much to talk about. But if you're familiar with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, then you'll pretty much get the idea. It's all about civil war, rising warlords, and new emperors. Good 'ol Chinese history turned into a video game. And it's downright EPIC. Now you'll follow the path one of character through most of the game, but you will have the opportunity to control others through branches in the arcs. The game gives you ample opportunity to discover what is going on with each of the 150 damn characters in the game.

Okay, there's not REALLY a story for each character, but I am not lying when I say there are approx 150 characters in the game. You can ACTUALLY recruit up to 150 different people. It's downright chaotic!

Let's look at it this way....over 150 characters, up to 70 in your party, and 7 and of them in your battle party with 6 able to fight and one being a replacement. Phew! Got all that? Not to mention that all of them are unique. Unique to the point where they are not generic characters, but individual generals that you've successfully recruited after you beat their ass into oblivion. Reminds me a bit of Suikoden mixed in with Dragon Quest where you can recruit monsters that join you. And pokemon....ha...would be funny to capture Chinese Generals in Pokeballs. Gotta catch 'em all....GENERALS! Say that in the tone of the show, and you'll get the idea.

And that's where the battle system is unique in this game. Of course, this is an RPG and you'll have random encounters, and most times it's just generic fodder mobs like bandits. BUT, there are a lot of times where you'll encounter generals who are in control of the area you are in. If you defeat them in battle, there's a good chance they'll join up with you afterwards and offer you their services. Some, are capable of leveling up way beyond where they are, while others are locked and can only help you for so long. You can even banish some people from your army, but that means they end up being your enemy again and you'll actually be notified as to how large your enemies armies are. It's beyond detailed.

Despite that, the fact that you are able to truly manipulate your party into thousands of combinations thanks to the sheer number of characters in this game is mind blowing. This is the NES mind you. I didn't even think this was possible!

Characters all have different attacks and abilities that you'll be able to incorporate in your battles, much like most RPGs have standard attacks, spells, etc. There's just no real "magic" in this game as this is more of a historical strategy RPG. There's also an option in battles to go ALL OUT which basically forces your characters to bum rush the enemy using their best attacks. No tactics involved here, but it's a speedy way of killing everyone with no concern for your skill reserves.

This is a game that I couldn't give all the time it deserved. I'm talking I need hours to play this, and I unfortunately don't have the time right now. I already spent half the weekend playing through this just to get a feel for it and I was already hooked, but I've got so many RPG's to play. But just saying that is a lot. The fact that this 20+ year old NES game has got me hooked goes to show that it doesn't matter how pretty the game looks, it's how the gameplay makes the game unique.

It's an RPG with strategy elements where you are forced to pick your best forces, and remove the ones you think you can handle out in the field of battle again. Sure, the battles can end up being repetitive, but that's with all RPG's. The fact of the matter is that this game has one of the most epic storylines, and most involved party system I have ever faced in a video game of this era. 

Visually, I already compared it to Dragon Warrior, and while it's somewhat lacking in that department, it works for the game. The sprite design, and map design don't leave me disappointed, even though I'm sure they could have made it to look quite a bit better. They were probably too busy focusing on all 200 of their characters!  And I do love the avatars.

And music...oh boy....such standard RPG fare. Loved it. Battle music? Holy hell, talk about catchy.

What else can I say? This is a gem. If you have yet to discover it like I failed to, pick this up NOW! I am already on the search to add it to my library.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until Next Time, Keep On Gaming!