Koei made an incursion into the fantasy worlds of magic with this game.
Six magicians, each trapped inside a magical gem, are liberated from the crown Gemfire by Princess Robyn, daughter of the tyrannical ruler of Ishmeria, King Eselred. Fleeing across the length and breadth of the island nation, they each choose a leader from the greatest noble houses as their champion to topple Eselred and bring peace to Ishmeria.
Players select one of these noblemen and seek to unite all the provinces under their banner through a combination of warfare and diplomacy.
Gemfire is a strategy game set in the fantasy world of Ishmeria, a friendly world where humans, elves, fairies and other creatures live in peace. Or at least it once was... An evil wizard used the powers of a Fire Dragon to destroy the peace and nearly destroyed the world. It was only through the joined forces of the six mightiest wizards that the beast was stopped and trapped within a jewel, but the evil wizard cast a curse on the wizards trapping them inside six different jewels. The seven jewels were embedded into a crown.
Now the evil King Eselred wants to use the Dragon's powers to his own schemes. His daughter Princess Robyn managed to free the wizards from their prisons, and it is now up to them to stop the evil king. So the story begins.
Gemfire is a solid game that both looks and plays beautifully. The game is a typical strategy game, where the aim is to defeat all the regions by any means nessecary. You will appoint an advisor at the beginning of the game, and allthough the advisor comes in handy from time to time, it is ultimately up to you to do everything you need to succeed. You will also be helped by one of the six wizards, and each one is different in both strength and type of attack.
As for the actual battles, KOEI made a nice addition to this game. You no longer have to vanquish all the enemy forces to win the battle, it is enough to capture the enemy base. This means that it is extremely important to defend you base, and this is where fences come in handy. Infantry soldiers have the ability to build fences to slow down the enemy (building fences is difficult, so don't give up if your soldier don't succeed the first time). Another nice thing is that you get different bonuses depending on how you attack an enemy unit. This goes for frontal, flanking and rear attacks, but also for projectile weaponry.
Graphically this game is marvellous, and each unit has their own unique fighting animations. The music is also very pleasing. Gemfire is a very nice game that is easy to learn, but hard to win. Recommended to anyone who likes this genre.
The game supports multiplayer up to 4 players.
The Imagination Series games are admittedly the worst of KOEI's games, and this first offering unfortunately doesn't bode well for the future of the series. In an amalgam of a plot involving dragons, wizards, and rival aristocratic families, play one of the four families who must regain control of the Gemfire and conquer the kingdom. In contrast to KOEI's classic games, commands in this game are very simplistic and the gameplay extremely simple. Good for beginners in the strategy genre, perhaps, but even they will wonder whether the game is worth playing at all.
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