Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Box Shot
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Platform: NES
Publisher: Koei
Designer: Koei
Genre: Strategy
Players: 1-8 (taking turns)
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: 8-Bit Star


Koei? Yep, Koei. These guys keep on trucking, game after game, never failing to disappoint. Ever since I played Nobunaga's Ambition 2, though, this classic has started to wear off of me, but it's still a dandy title!

Alas, the Chinese Morons have gone to Civil War! Alas, eight warlords have risen to power! Alas, you ARE a warlord! Alas, you must train your men, harvest crops, and stuff like that.

This game is menu-based, can you screw up the controls? Not much, just a few small confusing things. If your copy doesn't come with a manual (mine didn't) you'll have to tinker around a bit to find out what all the options do (some of them aren't as obvious as they sound.) For instance, you may think the TRADE command establishes a trade route between you and a rival warlord (;ike in CIVILIZATION) but really all it is is buying stuff from merchants (just to get this out of the way for those who haven't found the TRADE command yet, press LEFT on the Control pad on the menu and it will bring up more options. It took me 4 days to figure this out).

Now to the Gameplaymobile! Well, the game plays sorta like an economic simulation here, you have to manage your lands while preparing your men for battle (trust me, no matter what, you WILL have to fight!) When you go to war (either you're attacked or were on the offensive), you go to this battlefield. There you place your men (they can only be placed on the Black Dots) and your rice. There are 3 ways to win: (1) Capture the enemy's castles/rice (move your men on top of them and stay there a few turns). (2) Defeat the enemy leader (usually the one with the most men (HP) but not always), and (3) Wait it out (you gotta have more Rice/Gold than him if you want to try this tactic.)

This brings me to computer controlled characters: the computer cheats in a few ways. For starters, they pretty much always start out with high gold/rice, and strong men. Human players have to WAIT for a few turns with a guy on an enemy castle to capture it, but the computer simply has to move his man up there, and WHAM, he's got it. There are ways to prevent this, but still. There are ten difficulty levels, so you can choose how powerful and agressive the bad guys are.

Sounds...only 1 tune is good: The Victory Tune. I find myself humming it whenever I do something right (or whenever I beat my friends at Goldeneye, or whatever). The rest of the tunes range from OK to dumb. The battle music encourages you to fight on, but really isn't very good (Three Kingdoms 2 for SNES and Nobunaga 2 for NES were better in this department) There are 2 different battle tunes, the one I described, and the one that makes you so depressed, you WANNA lose, just so it will end.

However, despite the cheating computers, THIS GAME ROCKS!!! All your options make for more fun, and Strategy! I mean, name another series that allows you to put buildings on fire, just to drive people out! Overall, this is the first game in one of the best series ever made. It has enough Options for millions of different campaigns, has lots of strategies to learn, and has 10 difficulty settings and the option for up to 8 players in 5 different scenarios! A must have for any gamer whatsoever, even if you can't stand slow, turn-based games. It cries "Come get me!" It's an extrememly rare one, though.