Review by Laffytaffy777

"Perfect duplicate of the hit arcade series that will keep you up all night for months"

On to the review! But first, a guide to how it's organized
Gameplay: 35%
Variety: 30%
Software: 25%
Other (X factor): 10%

That's it! Now really on to the review

GAMEPLAY

The PC, is probably the undisputed King for RTS games. Before the touch generation, most games that featured real time command was either limited in some way or very sloppy. Even with the touch generation, terrible games were released, like, for example, that Real Time Conflict: Shogun Empires knockoff of Shogun: Total wars on the DS. That was terrible. Sangokushi Taisen Ten, is anything but. It is essentially a historic real time strategy game, but with highly interesting flairs, enjoyable cutscenes, great battle music, war speeches, battle sounds, and battle chatter.

Basically, the gameplay simplified to the most is this: You and your opponent both have a castle with walls and a gate. Command your armies and use their special abilities and strategies to defeat your enemy and waste his castle (reduce its health to zero). Then you win. Orrr...you could simply wait 237.6 seconds and end up with more health than your opponent to win.

In reality, the game is so much more complicated. Instead of having just one strength stat like normal RTS games, there's an intelligence stat too. Strength dictates how well ordinary battles will go, and intelligence dictates how well soldiers resist or produce damage given by spells or strategies (or ambushes). Since very few cards have both strength and intelligence at high levels (and those that do have noticeable outside drawbacks), the player must choose his deck carefully, and strategize all possible scenarios (or at least most of them). Speaking of that, all decks except for some hard mission and most extreme mission decks will only allow 8 orb limit soldiers on the field. Stronger soldiers cost more orbs. You could have 3 really really strong dudes or 8 weaker dudes. It's up to you.

But that's not ALL! There are 5, count'em, FIVE classes of troops. Swordsmen, the most balanced; spearmen, who have stokes to counter cavalry but whose failing speed make them sitting ducks for archers; Cavalry, who can rush and damage troops, especially the unprotected and vulnerable archers; archers, who can attack at a range; and siege, which are worthless in combat but dynamite against fortifications. Like specified above, each has it's weaknesses and strengths, and an all spearmen deck would epically fail against a full archer deck most of the times, forcing, again, the player to THINK and strategize, something many RTS's lack.

But wait! There's MORE! Sometimes, two generals will face off. A little minigame ensues called "A single combat" (duel) in which both players will do a short Dance Dance revolution kind of thing. The better your timing is, the higher the probability you'll win. The ease of getting better timing depends on strength and certain attributes of soldiers/generals. Winning means killing the enemy general. The cutscene for it is really cool.

But wait! There's EVEN MORE!!!! Units have strategies and special attributes. Both of which will mean the difference between victory and defeat. The factions they come from also dictate how well they work together, being a determining factor for multiple strategies and special attributes. One may choose to form an impenetrable defense with his multiple fences, while the other decides to prepare an all out ambush. This game has got a great number of ways to pursue victory. Nothing feels better than being superior at multiple ways.

EVEN MORE??? Keep in mind, this is still simply the main gameplay. Each deck can be assigned an advisor, who will empower his troops in some way. He can also release a special ability that allows everyone some wiggle room if you're in a tight bind. It doesn't necessarily mean victory or defeat, but simply enhances stuff. If it's really really close, yeah, it probably means something like that.

Controls are simple. You get multiple armies. Each army is represented by a card, the face of the general that leads it on there. Move the cards around to move your armies around. Deploy forces in the deployment screen, and move them around during battle to attack. Red button is strategy, blue button is advisor effect, the rectangular radar thing moves the camera, and can be switched from second to third person view. On the left is the armies you command. You can have up to eight. It displays their strength stat.

Improvements could be made to make the terrain maybe more 3-d, as it's all flat, and maybe show intelligence stats. Also, the linear movement of soldiers from point A to point B has always been a bane for micromanagement; maybe more comprehensive movement orders.

Gameplay is excellent. 33/35

VARIETY

Once again it shines. Five modes. Campaign, Mission, Multiplayer, Army Management, Tutorial.

Campaign starts with a mini-tutorial. You move around armies, take cities, protect cities, recruit more soldiers, and basically fight offensive and defensive battles, but in turns. Kind of reminds us of Total war. The campaign mode has a vamped up difficulty though. You get few allies and many enemies. You also have a time limit. You have a limit of 1 new recruit per day. There are only battles in cities, and you can only do battles. There's also only a linear mission. Take this city, or that city. No diplomacy along the way, no alliances, no concerted attacks. In fact, AI movement seems kind of random. Also, you will pretty much never find a vacated enemy city. They Magically get like 4 reinforcements if they happen to lose their guys. Campaign is linear, but offers rewards. You also get to fight as each side from the campaign missions (but...they changed a few things so to make it difficult, namely, number of enemies). It gives the additional option of acquiring new cards. You also learn some obscure Chinese history along the way, with the abscence of cutscenes (only if you can read japanese though).

Oh, but there's more. there's the mission mode. There are 20 missions to start out with. Yes you unlock more and yes they get progressively harder to the point of ridiculousness. Ugh...No spoilers, but I would advise you to play the last four missions of the easy difficulty. If you can't beat them with an S rank each without batting an eye...ugh... Anyways, this mode also offers rewards, and even rankings. Lots of fun stuff. Oh, and the first four missions, as you will see, are ridiculously easy. They are more of a tutorial though, and speaking of which, will also exist here. It's not interactive, but more like an archived book with a bunch of colorful and explicit pictures.

Multiplayer was a huge hit on the arcade installment of this game, so it makes sense that yeah, the DS with it's wireless capabilities should be taken full advantage of. Single DS, multi DS, Wi-fi connection, rankings on internet, what more is there to say? The AI on this game isn't too exceptional, so human players are definitely welcome, and difficult too. Remember, this game is a remake for the DS based on the third version of the Arcade game, one of the most popular in Japan. Hardcore players will STUDY combinations and strategies like people STUDY for the SAT. Wi-fi also offers the nice flair of pairing people up with opponents who are about as likely to disconnect during a middle of a match when they are losing as the first guy is.

Army management is where you can view your cards. You start out with very few, and collect over 200, unlocking them as you play, and the breakdown of how many of each kind, rare, common, legendary, cards you have. (advisors there are about 20? same concept). Advisors can level up too, creating a kind of progressivism found in adventure games. You can also create new armies here, and store up to 25 with advisors and names. However, it lacks a testing mission. There's also the option to change your name and erase your data. Avoid that if possible. Beating SangoKushi Taisen takes a HUGE amount of work (and luck).

Something that strikes me as odd is that there is no options mode at all, or at least not one that I could find. No way to turn off or on music or SFX, cutscenes, It was kind of really odd. But I also found myself never looking for the options before writing this review. Therefore, I concluded it was of little importance. However, if you're the kind of person who just wants SFX or just music, you're in for a disappointment.

Variety is amazing. However, this lacks a random instant mission kind of thing, if you're on the go and you don't want to choose an army, but just get in quick, which existed in the earlier Sangokushi taisen DS, the ten version doesn't allow that. Campaign doesn't really offer anything new, nothing exceptional either. No options mode is kind of odd. Multiplayer is where it shines. Now if only there was a lobby, multiplayer would be perfect.

For variety and options, Sangokushi Taisen ten for the DS gets a 26/30.

SOFTWARE

Graphics are amazing, pushed DS to its limit. There's a wide array of sounds and music, and a lot of voice acting, which is something usually not found on the DS. The AI is average and brings nothing exceptional to the table. But what I was really surprised with was after playing Real Time Conflict: Shogun Empires was that the DS would be able to handle this kind of game, much less excel at it.

The graphics, save for a few things that the DS cannot correct, are entirely duplicative of the original arcade version. I mean this in a good way. The arcade version was played on a screen as big as a TV. To put that on a DS, I mean, look at any reproduction of a DS game from a console game, and chances are that it's inferior. Sangokushi taisen, it really isn't. It's got the same groups of soldiers, same cutscenes, same effects, groups of soldiers getting tossed in the air and dying, everything fits on the screens too, and if not, you can always move the camera.The fact that around 200 soldiers are doing battle on the DS is amazing. I couldn't believe it when I first saw it. And I have not had the game crash once, or even lag once. It always ran and the crisp, smooth framerate that I like.

Sounds are similarily perfected. Everything was transferred. When you check your card list, you'll find over 200 cards. when you touch voice acting, there are nearly 20 sounds for each card. Multiply and you've got 4000, more or less, phrases that are contained in this game. There's different music for each stage or place and great opening cutscene music. When people are fighting, there are cheers, and metal clanging, glass shattering when you damage a fortress, and a satisfying *THUMP* when your ram hits the gate or wall. I like the music so much I've learned some of the tunes to play on violin. Chances are you will too.

AI? Not as good as the sounds or graphics, but decent. They use strategies and advisor powers, and take full advantage of the rock paper scissors mentality of soldier classes. They are, how do I put this. um...overtly audacious at times, and too cautious others. Citing some examples from gameplay, I can surround my siege weapon with 7 ambush troops, and they'll just cavalry rush right in. However, once I had just one spearmen and one archer unit defending against four cavalry, and the computer refused to attack for over 40 counts (around 100 seconds). Computers get confused too. I have a siege unit and a spearman unit on opposite sides of his fortress attacking him. He couldn't decide which one to attack so he just went back and forth, never hitting either. Eventually I won. The AI could use some work, but the computer is very playable, to say the least.

Software is great. AI isn't particularly good, but just about no AI can compare against a seasoned human opponent who has the advantage of a brain that has billions of neurons (as opposed to the computer 50). Graphics and sound are amazing. The DS is in for some awards. Software score gets 24/25.

And my own personal score?
9/10. I was kind of pissed that they removed the random game option, but yeah, I love the game.

So then the final score would be?
92/100. Unfortunate that we have to round down, but 9/10!

Thanks for reading!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/09

Game Release: San Goku Shi Taisen Ten (JP, 08/07/08)


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