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Cover art
Developer(s) Koei
Publisher(s) Koei (JP)
Electronic Arts (NA)
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s)
  • JP March 4, 2000 (2000-03-04)
  • NA November 13, 2000 (2000-11-13)
  • PAL December 15, 2000 (2000-12-15)
Genre(s) Real-time tactics
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution DVD-ROM

Kessen (決戦?, lit. Final Battle) is a real-time tactics video game produced by Koei and published by Electronic Arts. It was a launch game for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. It was initially the only real-time wargame game available for the PlayStation 2.

It is a real-time tactics game set in feudal Japan, focusing upon a conflict between the eastern Tokugawa clan and western Toyotomi clan (with Ishida Mitsunari as the Toyotomi's guardian and protector) shogunates at the end of Sengoku Jidai. Tokugawa Ieyasu served as the primary representative for the Eastern forces where the Western army changed leaders based on the results of select key battles.

Although it was, for the most part, historically accurate, the game contained a number of "what-if" scenarios, for example, if the Western forces are victorious at the Battle of Sekigahara (historically an Eastern victory).

Two sequels were later created, Kessen II and Kessen III. These two games introduced magical and meteorological elements to the games.


A note from the game's producer, Kou Shibusawa, addressed to players before any campaign begins, explains his desire to take his own twist on this segment of history but felt too constricted by cinema to do so properly. With Kessen, he believes that he was able to explore his ideas more freely. Thus, several of the game's cut scenes have a theatrical feel similar to chanbara and jidaigeki films.

Before each campaign begins, a narrator enlists a brief summary of the events proceeding the selected campaign to help familiarize players with the battle taking place. After the pre-planning of the battle is finished, a cinematic event occurs, often dramatizing character interactions or significant historical events that took place before the battle occurs.[1][2] Similar events also occur after the war council, during battle, and at the battle's end.

Among the historically accurate retelling of events, preference for the oft romanticized accounts were sometimes used. Notable instances include Hosokawa Gracia ordering a soldier to kill her and Tokugawa Hidetada ordering the assassination of Sanada Masayuki for causing his tardiness at Sekigahara.[3]


Kessen was generally received positively by critics. On release, Famitsu magazine scored the game a 32 out of 40,[4] and Jeff Luther from GamesFirst! magazine noted that the game is easy to pick up, although he felt that it failed to maintain its difficulty level after the initial stages.[5] Others have also described it as redundant and slow.[6][7] Cut scenes were cited by one critic to be "the visual appeal to Kessen".[8] Graphics concerning the historical figures were also said at to be "over the top" and colorful enough to the point of ridiculousness, though impressive.[9] What gained Kessen the most praise was the game's sound department, many citing the orchestral score to be "epic" with one critic noting the "English voices to be good and fitting".[10] Overall, it is seen as a game for history buffs of Japanese history with a good but flawed presentation.

As of January 2008, the game holds an average ranking of 77% at GameRankings.[11] The title also won a special prize PlayStation Award in 2000. It was also nominated for the grand prize in the consumers' selection for graphics and scenarios.[12]


  1. ^ Kessen- Tokugawa's Rearguard (flv). Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  2. ^ At Sekigahara, Shimazu Yoshihiro: So Ishida said, "Night attacks are for cowards! Go fight boldly!" He would not listen to me and now look what we face. Koei (2000-10-26). "Kessen". PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. 
  3. ^ Tokugawa Ieyasu: You had Masa Sanada murdered!? You fool! I detest such treachery!/ Tokugawa Hidetada But it was- it was because of him that we were late to arrive at Sekigahara! I just felt- / Tokugawa Ieyasu: What, more excuses... Leave my sight! I grow sickened by your face. Koei (2000-10-26). "Kessen". PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. 
  4. ^ プレイステーション2 - 決戦. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.55. 30 June 2006.
  5. ^ Luther, Jeff. "Archival Review for Kessen". Games First!. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  6. ^ Klepek, Patrick. "Review for Kessen". Gaming Age. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ ZeroTolerance. "Review: Kessen". Pure Hardcore Gaming. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  8. ^ Carlock, Jamie. "Review for Kessen (page 2)". Gamespy PS2. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ Smith, David. "IGN: Kessen:Review". Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  10. ^ Sato, Ike. "Review for Kessen". Gamespot. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Kessen-PS2". Game Rankings. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Playstation Award 2000". Kessen. Retrieved February 19, 2009. 

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