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Written by  :  Ray Soderlund (3608)
Written on  :  Jun 26, 2000
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

Perhaps the oddest game to take 16th century Japan seriously.

The Good

The game was based in a fictional account of medieval Japan. Unlike so many computer games from the late eighties, this game didn't sell out the whole culture aspect for sheer violence or 'karate action'.

Although an extremely odd game, it has a very aesthetically pleasing feel to it. The screens are all depicted from the side, yet your character has free motion, which gives the appearance of flying about, even up into the sky. The various locations are stylistically displayed and even each individual person you can run into looks somewhat different than the rest. After a few sessions you start to pick out characters without having to refer to their names.

Interaction with the characters is down through a simple, but effective icon menu of various actions. You can greet people, play docile to them, take an air of superiority, or attack them. Eventually, you'll begin to befriend others, and can start using them to help you in your goal. They will defend you, scout about, or attack your enemies. Whether under your control, someone else's, or independent, these people will carry on by themselves, moving about, picking up whatever they feel like, and dropping them wherever they wish. This gives the world a very distinctive life and almost reminds me of a graphical 'Knight Orc' in the way everyone does their own thing.

Given that you can change who you are (anything from a powerful daimyo like Toranaga to the gaijin Blackthorne to the lowest of peasants) and that the locations of some items are random (and others are moved about by people anyway), the game has a lot of replay value.

The Bad

Perhaps it was just my age at the time, but I don't recall every successfully completing the game. The goal of becoming Shogun was vague and it seemed like you spent hours befriending people without any obvious benefit aside from having people who would probably do what you wanted them to.

The graphics, while interesting in my opinion, might be too surreal for some people's taste. Walking into a four samurai battle and watching everyone flying about waving what looks more like yard sticks than katana may scare people away.

The world was huge and took many, many game sessions to learn where locations were in general, much less exactly. You'd often get reports of something happening at one location, but everything would be all over by the time you wandered there...sometimes frustrating when you were actually two screens away, but took the long way. I don't remember the manual providing a decent map.

The Bottom Line

Coming out before the Infocom game of with the same title, Shogun is similarly based on the Clavell book with the same name. You take the role of John Blackthorne or one of a score of other characters from the book and journey about a surreal Japanese landscape (including such places as 'The Seventh Heaven'), gathering followers and eventually trying to be the greatest force in the game.

An older, title with aged graphics that were 'quirky' for even their time, this is not a game for everyone, but fans of Mastertronic games, or those curious about Japanese culture/things based off the book 'Shogun' may want to take a look.