Review by D

"Gamers declare war on misunderstood war game"

WARNING: This review is based on looking at the game objectively from the standpoint of when it was made. Judging older games' graphics/music against current games is ridiculously unfair.

Introduction:

What can one say about this game besides ''wow.'' The true challenge of this game is not the 600 meter dash from hell, but shutting it off after one minute.

When the game boots up you are greeted by cheesy graphics, a terrible fanfare, ugly as sin graphics, and a bad 12-bar melody looped endlessly. It screams pain as if made by an amateur. But beneath the painful exterior, the game offers fun in a sick and twisted way.

Admittedly, when I first played this game I gave up after dying six times. The traumatizing ''WOW! YOU LOSE!'' screen did me in. But months later I revisited this curious game and to my horror, found myself enjoying it.

I think it was the 40th time I saw ''WOW! YOU LOSE!'' that something inside my head snapped and I made it my personal vendetta to kill that big blob guy in the worst possible way. The kind of death that would scare even Darth Vader.

And so I played... and played... and played.

Due to a dramatic lack of information on this game in English (aside from more reviews saying ''IT SUCKS'' than McDonalds has served hamburgers), I began hunting Japanese websites, auction pages, everything to unearth something about this game. And something I found. So I now present what, I believe, is the first English review of this game to cover its story as well as it's challenging gameplay.

Buckle-up.

Story: Has-been king seeks revenge on big blob dude

Oh the story. I've heard so many take son this. I believe one review even suggested the war was being fought because the ''big slime blob king'' was destroying the forest, and that's why there's so much black everywhere.

As good of guess as any since the game never tells you anything, but sadly, wrong.

The story takes place in some unnamed land. King Ogreth (the big blob guy laughing at you on the ''WOW! YOU LOSE!'' screen) of the Basam Empire has succeeded in conquering the kingdom of Suren.

The defeated King Suren is now preparing to strike back, but all 49 of his soldiers have been captured by Ogreth or turned into rock/trees/other objects. King Suren sets off on his quest to defeat Ogreth who is, apparently, only 600 meters away from him.

He must recover his lost warriors and sally forth to battle to the death with the forces of Ogreth to defeat the Basam Empire and reclaim his kingdom.

Wow. So that's the story. I can't say it's the most original ever but when you compare it to the previous assumption that ''there is no story'', that's rather good. I mean, given this was made in 1985 when the standard story was ''save the princess from the monkey throwing barrels at you,'' warring kingdoms and armies is as good as any/better than most.

The story works for this game. It tells me who I am, who I'm fighting, and why I'm fighting them. That seems to be all the reasons America requires to go to war these days so I think it's a good enough reason for our friend, King Suren to go to war. I would have liked to know where all this is taking place (like a country, I sincerely doubt the country is named Bokosuka), but I can live without it.

I rate the story a 6 (taking into account the era of gaming it was made in of course).

Graphics: Low-color pixel-art is good for you!

Like it or not, in 1985 this was pretty good/average. It boasts the same astounding quality as games like Donkey Kong while flat out schooling other games such as Jumpman. It may be block, it may be poorly animated. But in 1985 that's how games looked. Sorry if you weren't there to experience it.

There's two animation poses for every character, 11 types of characters in total, and many terrains. Black is a rather drab backdrop but again, I will point the finger at Donkey Kong which was the cutting edge right before this game.

I give the graphics a 5.

Sound: Why the hell are my ears bleeding?

The game is amazingly bad in this area. They composed a 12-bar tune to be the ''Theme of Bokosuka'' and repeat it ENDLESSLY in the background. I would have rather heard lumbering sound effects as my army moves along or something similar. The BGM was just sinfully bad.

Other people have said it and I'll say it too. If you aren't going to make good BGM, then just leave it out.

In its defense, the fanfares when you start a new game, win, or lose were passable. I did not mind hearing them at all

Sound gets a measly 3 (I'm being generous here).

Gameplay: Harder than porn and more mind-bending

One complaint I do have is how bad the lag is in the NES version of this game. This was originally a PC game which was, apparently, more adept at off-screen drawing than the NES. The game lags like hell and characters do not move in synchronization. This makes the already challenging Bokosuka Wars even harder in its NES form.

Basically, you start the game with King Suren who needs to find his warriors to help him defeat King Ogreth. This is done by slamming into trees/rocks/walls because sometimes, the act of slamming into them will restore your lost friends to their real form (Thank you for returning my wand. I would have surely been stuck in that dreadful form).

When you move, so does your army. You can move up, down, left, or right. But of course, the minions of Ogreth abound. Slamming into one of them will cause a battle tile to appear. The outcome of this battle is based on the offensive power of both your unit and the enemy's unit with a bit of randomization. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. But the advantage is based on your unit's power.

Winning fights increases the stats of both you and your units. For more details on this see my FAQ. Your soldiers and knights will change to a gold class after they've won three fights.

The idea is to have them fight so you don't get killed. Battles involving the hero can easily be lethal. If he died, it's game over. While he may have the potential to be your strongest unit (by only 10 points) that's by no means reason to send him dashing into the fray. He's a king after all and the whole point of having peons is to die for you.

And die they shall.

The gameplay is strangely entertaining in an old school way -- kind of like Space Invaders. Younger gamers will probably smash their controllers in disgust but for those of us old farts who grew up on IBM PC-Jr and Atari 2600, it's just peachy.

What was disappointing was the ending -- rather the lack of one. When you finish the game, one count is added to your screen in the upper right. Unfortunately, the game only has 5 counts even though it keeps on looping. I have played through over 10 times. The difficulty continues to increase with each play but the count stops after 5.

If you're a masochist with a lot of time on your hands, this can be really sweet. However if you're a 3rd year college student studying for classes and getting articles published for your portfolio, chances are you won't have the patience for more than 15 rounds.

The game requires a lot of strategy and thought to move your men round the obstacles and still keep them in an effective battle formation that will protect King Suren. Some people have called it totally random, stupid, and claimed it required no skill. Those people were using save states.

I'm a sucker for challenge and the gameplay is quite unique for a strategy game. I rate it a 7.

Concrusion:

This game had the potential to be a lot better than it was. I think with more stages (like 6) that had different maps with different bosses, the game would have kicked ass.

Unfortunately that didn't happen and I can't rate games on potential.

It's a fun game. I enjoyed it. For it's time it was great. But chances are younger games will hate it and compared to music and graphics today it's severely disappointing. But if you're at all curious about the game or are just interested in a unique strategy game, I would highly recommend it.

Overall, this game is a 6.

To anyone with the guts to really play this game (as in without codes and save states) after all the terrible reviews dotting the Internet, there's only one thing I can say that's fitting.

BRAVO! YOU WIN!

For detailed gameplay information, check my FAQ.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/07/02, Updated 03/30/03


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