In Impressions turn based wargame Conquest of Japan, much will be very familiar to fans who have played earlier efforts that utilize the Micro Miniatures system. Although game play has been enhanced considerably over preceding releases, the troop movement routines are still not as smooth as one might wish as the program's execution of keyboard or mouse commands is still slow and awkward at times. Anyone who has played a title such as Cohort II will notice some improvement over the frustrating manipulations encountered in that game but will, in all likelihood, still not be satisfied with the overall effect. Battlefields, a bit flashier than previous efforts, are contoured to reflect various terrain features but unfortunately the player cannot take advantage of the terrain since no option to invoke defensive maneuvers is apparent in the orders menu. But, improvement of any kind is still nonetheless improvement.
Conquest of Japan is a game that invites the more unusual approach of viewing the battlefield from afar rather than using the zoom function to monitor troops from a close up perspective. Generally, the individually uniformed troop units (very nicely differentiated by the program designers) are colorful and easily recognizable when mingling with other troops (happens a lot) and the overall effect is fairly pleasing to see. Close up range, however, tends to create blocky looking figures and somewhat diminishes the reality factor. The game engine still has a tendency to make all battles play out as an unruly melee which makes control of your units difficult.
The game reminds you more of a complex type of tug 'o war than the intended struggle for land supremacy. Control is at the small unit or individual soldier level, activated by a simple mouse click. Computer AI seems considerably improved over former games in the Micro Miniatures series and turning control of a unit over to the computer can be done with an expectation of reasonable results. As warlord, you and your formidable single enemy, start the game with five cities each that are instrumental in the eventual supply and build up of armies. Only five armies can be created with an option to combine two small forces into a larger one and the ultimate objective is to take over your opponent's cities and be recognized as the all powerful shogun. Not surprisingly, the action takes place on an island (Honshu) which does impose some restrictions on the expanse of the game world.
Conquest of Japan is actually a rather simple game with a focused agenda. The simplicity arises from the fact that this conflict could ostensibly be between any two factions, Japanese samurais or not. Not many outside events influence the on-screen actions and the level of strategic planning and tactical maneuvering is complex and realistic enough to garner interest from even expert war gamers. The game is quite an improvement over earlier Impressions war game efforts and provides interesting and unusual game play.
Graphics: From afar they look great, up close they don't rate.
Sound: Nothing spiffy, somewhat iffy.
Enjoyment: Animation and unit movements have a tendency to be slow and jerky, especially with a screen full of combatants. Lack of defensive maneuvering and terrain exploitation dampens the strategic aspects a bit.
Replay Value: Not abundant, but redundant.
Conquest of Japan is a strategy title in which you must conquer your opponents cities on the Island of Honshu in 16th century Japan. The ten cities must be occupied to win, you do this by forming armies to defend your five cities and attack those of your opponent. When a city is taken, any mobile army that came from that city is automatically disbanded. In this way, potentially overwhelming forces can be routed by conquering their cities -- but only if you can conquer the city before its army reaches its target. Depending on how the cities are located at the start of the game, you may find this to be a key part of your campaign strategy. When armies battle, the game switches from the strategic map, to a tactical one. Formations, unit orders, and moral are factors in the tactical battles.
Conquest of Japan is a pseudo-historical game set in 16th century Japan. As a Daimyo (i.e. ruler) of a state, your goal is to conquer your opponenent's state to claim ownership of the entire island of Honshu.
Although the exotic subject matter is commendable, Conquest of Japan unfortunately suffers from a very cumbersome user interface that makes even simple commands such as moving your troops a multi-step process. Worse yet, the cities' starting positions for each game are random, thereby negating any historical value that can be gleaned. This also means that the game can be either almost impossible to win, or a cakewalk depending on your luck at the start. Despite some pretense at city management (i.e. you gain koku (Japanese currency) to spend on units from city growth), the game is not much more than a showcase of Impressions "Micro Miniature" tactical combat system, which is given a Japanese disguise. Although the units look authentic on the surface, they are nothing more than new names of typical infantry-spearman-archers types commonly seen in dozens of other wargames. You can select Japanese formations, but the AI is generally so poor that it hardly makes a difference what you choose. Overall, anyone looking for an authentic historical Japanese game would do well to play Sword of The Samurai or even Electronic Arts' recent Shogun: Total War instead, and leave this conquest alone.
People who downloaded Conquest of Japan (a.k.a. Samurai: Way of The Warrior) have also downloaded:
Conflict: Korea, Conflict: Middle East, Cohort II (a.k.a. Fighting for Rome), Conquest of The New World: Deluxe Edition, Cohort (a.k.a. Fighting for Rome), Conqueror AD 1086, Civil War Generals 2, Conflict in Vietnam
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