Koei wishes they wrangled with Shingen.
RELEASE DATE: June 1990
Unite Japan and look good doing it: this is Shingen the Ruler‘s objective. You begin the game with one territory, but there are twenty other territories to conquer (politely, of course) over the entire game. Like any good Koei-esque title (Shingen was developed by Another), there are two types of gameplay: strategic management and janky battle. The latter can be entertaining, if not slightly tedious. You control your cute and chunky units one at a time on the battlefield. Each of your units has a certain move radius. If you attack first, the goal is to win a field fight and a castle fight to conquer the territory. If the enemy attacks first and you win, you get money, experience, and rice (probably women too). Battles can be long and drawn out, depending on how you play, but I appreciate the way Shingen allows you to control your units; much more tactile than Koei’s battles.
Strategic management, on the other hand, is far less kind. Every action is performed through the convoluted menu screen. Ten obtuse abbreviations litter the left hand side of the screen, allowing you, for example, to check your WEL (Wealth), G-M (Gold Mines) and DST (Disaster Rating) among others in any given territory. Abbreviations in general are not difficult to learn, but some of these don’t make any sense. How would one connect CLT with Castle? Worse yet are the twelve commands, which resemble chemical elements: Fa, Fc, Nj, Ok, I’m lost. Now, I’m not a stupid person. But when a game asks me to memorize twenty-two abbreviations from the get-go, my mind wants to blank out. If adventure games like Shadowgate could manage to print the commands in full (Look, Use, Hit, etc.), surely Shingen could have.
The longer I persevered into Shingen, the more I found it to be… a lesser Koei game. It’s not for lack of trying on Shingen‘s part, though. Lord knows it has the ambition. There’s options to do almost everything on the menu, including training Shingen’s heir, Katsuyori, to become the next ruler after Shingen dies. I’m sure I’ll get crap for saying so, but its overly complicated menu navigation really brings the game down. The mechanics, likewise, feel too rough around the edges, compared to Koei’s typical clean interface. Decent battling aside, Shingen‘s not my ruler.
Latest posts by Dylan Cornelius (see all)
- By Request – New Ghostbusters II - April 4, 2014
- The 86 Worst NES Games – Part 4 - April 1, 2014
- The 86 Worst NES Games – Part 3 - March 29, 2014
5 replies on “#561 – Shingen the Ruler”
Interesting as I never played – or even heard of this one. I know as I was reading it and looking at the images you posted here, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Koei games, but it sounds like it doesn’t quite measure up.
Did you look at the label on the cart? It’s the only licensed cart that I can think of where the label doesn’t match the box. Instead, the cart has categorized tables on it that give you all of the abbreviations.
Unless you have a really good memory, though, it’s not very useful… Especially since this was out well before the top loader.
Just sayin’ 🙂
Yeah, I’ve seen that ridiculous cart. Not sure what Hot-B was thinking with that.
It always amazed me that people found this to be the inferior one of the “Conquer Feudal Japan” games. I’ve honestly never found any of the others–like Romance of the Three Kingdoms–to be even remotely playable. And it’s hardly fair to call the battles drawn out and slightly tedious when the game gives an Automatic Battle option. As to the confusing menu portions… if you went into any strategy game blind, it would have that same problem. But if people weren’t complaining about overly complex menus, they’d be complaining of overly simplified menus. C’est la vie.
@Anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoy Shingen the Ruler. People should love the games they love and not be swayed by others’ opinions.
To answer your comments, how many people play real-time strategy games only to pick Automatic Battles? That defeats the purpose of delving into the meat of the game.
As for the menu portions, I find many of Koei’s games to have cumbersome menus, but Shingen takes the cake. Of course, you can learn how to navigate them. You can learn how to play anything, even games like Unlimited SaGa. But Shingen’s menus, to me, feel needlessly obtuse. They could have simplified them. For my money, there’s no such thing as overly simplified menus in strategy games. The simpler menu layout, the better. It doesn’t mean the game has to suffer from want of depth, only that more people will be interested in experiencing it.