RELEASE DATE: January 1990
This quote is taken directly from the Genghis Khan instruction manual: “In Koei simulation games, as in real life (!), things do not always go as you expect. If you don’t do as well as you hoped for in the beginning, don’t give up! The real enjoyment comes from learning how to play the game. Try to understand how each of your commands affects all the factors in the game and use this knowledge to plan ahead…. Eventually, you will find your own way to play, whether it be aggressive, tactical, or diplomatic, and maybe even find out a little about yourself in the process” (italics mine). An observation, followed by a question: Koei saw a market for historical simulation games on 8 and 16-bit systems… and they sold well. Who at Koei had the audacity to ask players to “try to understand” the game? It’s the equivalent of saying “Congratulations, we at Koei think you’re an idiot! Thank you for spending fifty dollars on a product you may never fully comprehend!” I can only conclude one thing: the people running Koei, both then and now, are mad geniuses who somehow understand the niche market better than almost any other small game company, save Atlus and maybe Natsume.
Anyways, Genghis Khan right? I’m going to take you on a whimsical journey, a la Dragon Warrior. It will be my little way of trying to understand the game with you, the reader. Perhaps together we can make sense of this beast of a game.
5 minutes: Right off the bat, you’re asked which scenario you wish to play. Having done my extensive GK research, I can say that I desire the “Mongol Scenario,” as opposed to the “World Scenario.” The latter sounds very intimidating, as you’re essentially trying to unify the world, as opposed to simply rising up the ranks in the Mongol Empire. Alright! I’ve selected Prince Temujin as my character because his stats are the highest. Difficulty level is set at 2 out of 5 because I want to understand and not get destroyed right off the bat. Everything seems in order… oh sweet merciful McGillicuddy, what is this horrendous menu?! I have about 14 options, but I have no idea what I should be doing? Should I go to war, tax my citizens, recruit and train soldiers, work on my countries policies?
10 minutes: Much like every other Koei game, you really need to just jump into this game head first and damn the consequences. My first 3 orders – the only I could give before it wasn’t my turn anymore – were as follows: I tried to sign a peace treaty with a country below me for no real reason, and they refused. I then sent a spy to their country to give me some insider information. Perhaps I will want to go to war with them should they conflict with my standards and morals. Finally, I trained some of my soldiers to be even more BA than they already were. Awesome. This game beats the pants off of Gemfire already.
20 minutes: After much deliberation, I have decided to attack the Tartar people to the South. Why?! Because they paid me little respect in our treaty negotiations, and because my spy has yet to come back, so I presumed they killed him. I have thirty days to enslave their country. Sadly, their stats seem to indicate that they are stronger than me, although I had no way of knowing this until I engaged them in battle (curse that captured spy!). We shall see how this skirmish turns out. The Mongol people are a swarthy bunch. Perhaps we can take them down, regardless of number.
30 minutes: Oh yeah, we were slaughtered. It was closer than I expected it to be, though. If it wasn’t for that large group of 24 soldiers literally making waste of my smaller clumps of 10 and 12 soldiers, I think I would have been in the clear. Most importantly, this is the most fun I’ve had with a Koei game, although I’m not a huge fan of the battle interface. It definitely feels more designed for a mouse than a chunky D-pad. Still, one can work around it if they’re so inclined. As with all Koei games, relinquish large chunks of time or do not expect to get much enjoyment out of them. They were made for people who relish patience, history, and NES simulations, which apparently, are a larger group than I would have ever known. Any of you readers Koei simulation buffs? Drop me a comment and give me some of your favorite Koei memories.
Despite my appreciation for Khan, I’m looking forward to some mindless fun and simple one-paragraph reviews tomorrow. Please, look forward to it.