I had the pleasure of trying out Dragon Age II over the summer at San Diego Comic Con 2010. Was I a lucky member of the press whisked away to some dark room to spend hours with the game? No, absolutely not. I waited in a long line with other passionate fans for about an hour to get my hands on an early build of the game. As I told a number of my friends, the game looked and felt amazing. Combat had been sped up, and everything felt more fluid and tactile.
Seth Killian (Strategic Marketing Director: Capcom) has no clue who I am, but for about 30 minutes he and I worked together to defeat the rival “green” Shogun in Haunted Temple’s: Skulls of the Shogun. Skulls of the Shogun was a big surprise for me. In a virtual sea of first person shooters, action platformers, and… well… crap… Shogun stood out as one of the few turn based strategy games at PAX East 2011. I grew up on turn based strategy games, and they’re incredibly fun if properly executed (like the now classic X-Com UFO defense). Shogun has been nominated for a ton of awards, including, but not limited to : Eurogamer Expo – Honourable mention for Best of Show, Machinima.com – nominated for Best Indie Game, PAX 2010.
How the game works –
Unlike most turn based strategy games, Shogun isn’t designed to take hours on end. You won’t be spending days on a single map, micro-managing resources, or staring blindly into the “fog of war”. As a matter of fact the maps are all pretty small, and your enemies will never be more than a screen screen away. Your leader or “Shogun” begins the game in a “sleeping” state and cannot act. While the Shogun is your most powerful unit, his power grows while you let him sleep (sort of like a…. nevermind). The object of the game is assassinate the enemy Shogun and win the game.. honor awaits.
My Experience –
I loved the art design on Skulls of the Shogun and had been eying it all weekend. As you all know, conventions tend to be a bit hectic, so I didn’t get a chance to give it a shot until Sunday afternoon. When I walked up to play I noticed Seth Killian being briefed along with another unknown member of the press (we’ll call him Tim). I grabbed a controller, and while Tim was distracted I made Mr. Killian a diabolical offer. I suggested that he and I ignore each other and focus both of our armies on Tim. When Tim’s shogun was finally defeated, he and I could then worry about each other, but until then, we were secret allies. Mr. Killian agreed and the double-cross was on. Not very nice for Tim, but fuck Tim right?
Game Play – In typical turn based strategy form, each player has a certain number of “moves” they can issue per turn. Unlike games like Advance Wars, there is also a ticker which limits the amount of time you have to make your decisions. This is a great addition to the turn-based strategy formula and can really speed things up. As far as old staples, there is your resource gathering (haunting fields of rice) , and powering up (eating skulls), but what makes Shogun unique is it’s sense of style, and speed of game play. Everything was designed so intuitively that a turn based novice could learn to play in minutes. Ranged units were weak against melee units, melee units had limited range, I don’t even have to explain the rest.see you got it!
So what happened!? – Seth and myself brought both of our armies over two small bridges and effectively surrounded “Tim’s” army and Shogun. We carved our way through his troops until eventually one of my samurai got the killing blow on Tim knocking him out of the game. Seth then proceeded to mop the floor with me, but I didn’t feel comfortable beating a gaming legend anyway… that has to be bad luck or something.
Nationalism – If you enjoy Turn Based Strategy and want a great game that shatters the genre like the brittle bones of “Tim”, then put Skulls of the Shogun on your list. With unique graphics, catchy music, and simple game-play, this game has much honor.