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Cover art for the Sega Genesis version of Nobunaga's Ambition
|Genre(s)||Grand strategy wargame
Turn-based strategy RPG
|Mode(s)||Up to 8 players using hotseat mode|
|Distribution||Cartridge, Floppy disks, CD-ROM|
Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望 Nobunaga no Yabō?) is a series of turn-based grand strategy role-playing simulation video games. One of the first games in its genre, it was first released in March 1983 by the Japanese video game developer Koei.
Games in the franchise have been released on a variety of gaming platforms, including the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Mega Drive, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Virtual Console, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the Wii. The title was also released for Macintosh as well as Amiga and computers with DOS-compatibility.
Nobunaga's Ambition takes place during the Sengoku period of feudal Japan. As the title suggests, the player is tasked with achieving the ultimate goal of warlord Oda Nobunaga: the conquest and unification of Japan. Selecting Oda Nobunaga is optional, however, as the player is also able to choose from a variety of other regional daimyos of the time.
The player may choose from four campaign scenarios, including "Battle for the East" (beginning in 1560), "Daimyo Power Struggles" (1560), "Ambition Untamed" (1571), and "Road Towards Unification" (1582). In each scenario, the player must allocate resources to raise a capable military force, provide a productive economy to support both military and civilian expansion, and support the peasants in order to sustain their respect and loyalty. Gameplay is taken in turns, with each turn in the map view corresponding to a season, and each turn during battle corresponding to a day. The player may achieve victory through numerous means, among which are forcing the enemy to retreat, destroying the enemy command unit, outlasting an invading force, or prolonging battle until the opposing force has exhausted its supplies.
The player can make many choices during the campaign, such as, according to Evan Brooks of Computer Gaming World: "One may transfer soldiers between fiefs, go to war, increase taxes (which causes a decrease in peasant loyalty which may lead to rebellion), transfer rice or gold to another fief, raise the level of flood control (which decreases productivity), make a non-aggression pact or arrange a marriage, cultivate (which increases productivity, but decreases peasant loyalty), use a merchant (to buy/sell rice, borrow funds, or purchase weapons), recruit for the military (soldiers or ninja), train the army (which increases fighting efficiency), spy on a rival, expand a town (which increases taxes collected, but decreases peasant loyalty), give food/rice to peasants/soldiers (to raise morale), steal peasants from rival daimyos, allocate military strength, recuperate (even a daimyo can get sick), turn over a controlled fief to the computer for administration, or pass a turn (hint: when one has no idea of what to do, train the troops.)"
Titles in the series
For personal computers and consoles
- Nobunaga no Yabō (信長の野望?, "Nobunaga's Ambition") is the first title in the series, released March 1983. Written entirely in BASIC, it was compatible with a wide range of Japanese PCs. It has no subtitle. A remake of this game titled Nobunaga no Yabō Returns (信長の野望 リターンズ?, "Nobunaga's Ambition Returns") was released in 1995 for Microsoft Windows 3.1, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation. An update of this for Windows 95 was released in 1996.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Zenkokuban (信長の野望・全国版?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Whole Country Version") is the second title in the series, released September 1986 for PC-88SR, then quickly ported for various Japanese PCs. A 50-province mode covering all of Japan was added, as well as revisions to graphics and gameplay. Releases for Family Computer, Super Famicom, Mega Drive, PC Engine CD-ROM, PlayStation, mobile phones, Windows, and iOS were made subsequently. The U.S. Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System releases were titled Nobunaga's Ambition; the SNES version was released for Virtual Console on April 27, 2009 in North America.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Sengoku Gun'yūden (信長の野望・戦国群雄伝?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Tales of the Sengoku Warlords") is the third title in the series, released December 1988 for PC-88SR, then quickly ported for various Japanese PCs. Taking after the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, this game introduces the concept of "generals" to this series. The Tōhoku and Kyūshū areas were removed. Releases for Family Computer, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows, and mobile phones were made subsequently. The U.S. Nintendo Entertainment System release was titled Nobunaga's Ambition II.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Bushō Fūunroku (信長の野望・武将風雲録?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Record of Generals in Turbulent Times") is the fourth title in the series, released December 1990 for PC-98, then quickly ported for various Japanese PCs (this was the last title in the series supported on 8-bit PCs). The scope was once again expanded to all of Japan, and technology, culture, and tea ceremony mechanics were introduced. Releases for Family Computer, Super Famicom, Mega Drive, PC Engine, PlayStation, Windows, and mobile phones were made subsequently. The U.S. Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System releases were titled Nobunaga's Ambition: Lord of Darkness, whereas the Sega Genesis release was titled Nobunaga's Ambition.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Haōden (信長の野望・覇王伝?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Tale of the Conqueror") is the fifth title in the series, released December 1992 for PC-98, then quickly ported for various Japanese PCs. This is the first game with an expansion pack. Battles were changed from taking provinces to taking castles. Releases for Super Famicom, Mega Drive, Mega-CD, 3DO, Mac OS, PlayStation, mobile phones, and Windows were made subsequently.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Tenshōki (信長の野望・天翔記?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Chronicle of Soaring") is the sixth title in the series, released December 1994 for PC-98 (the last of the series produced for DOS variants), with ports for FM Towns, DOS/V, Windows, and Macintosh available later. Commands were executed based on units of power. Releases for Super Famicom, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation Portable, and mobile phones were made subsequently.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Shōseiroku (信長の野望・将星録?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Record of Star Generals") is the seventh title in the series, released March 1997 for Windows 95. This game introduces a new map, portraying the entire country on a grid. Releases for Macintosh, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, PlayStation Portable, and mobile phones were made subsequently.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Reppūden (信長の野望・烈風伝?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Tales of Storms") is the eighth title in the series, released February 1999 for Windows 95, with ports for Macintosh, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PlayStation Portable made later.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Ranseiki (信長の野望・嵐世記?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Chronicle of a World of Storms") is the ninth title in the series, released February 2001 for Windows 98. This game returned to province-taking battles, and the a system of varying powers was introduced. Ports for PlayStation 2 and Xbox were made later.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Sōtenroku (信長の野望・蒼天録?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Record of Blue Skies") is the tenth title in the series, released June 2002 for Windows 98. This game returned to castle-taking battles. It also became possible to play as a castle lord as well as a daimyō. Ports for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable were made later.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Tenka Sōsei (信長の野望・天下創世?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Creation of the World") is the eleventh title in the series, released September 2003 for Windows 98. This game introduced castle towns and unified castle sieges. The administration screens transitioned to full 3D. A port for PlayStation 2 was made later; this was released in the U.S. as Nobunaga's Ambition: Rise to Power on February 5, 2008.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Kakushin (信長の野望・革新?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Reform") is the twelfth title in the series, released June 2005 for Windows 98. The map and battles are in real-time, and the map is rendered in 3D. Ports for PlayStation 2 and Wii were made later; the former was released in the U.S. as Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Tendō (信長の野望・天道?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: The Way of Heaven") is the thirteenth title in the series, released September 2009 for Windows XP, with ports for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 made later.
- Nobunaga no Yabō: Sozou (信長の野望・創造?, "Nobunaga's Ambition: Creation") is the fourteenth title in the series, released 12 December 2013 for both PlayStation 3 and Windows.
For mobile platforms
For Game Boy:
- Nobunaga's Ambition, Game Boy Version (信長の野望 ゲームボーイ版?) (1990), loosely based on the first and third games.
- Nobunaga's Ambition for WonderSwan (信長の野望 for ワンダースワン?) (1999)
For Game Boy Color:
- Nobunaga's Ambition, Game Boy Version 2 (信長の野望 ゲームボーイ版2?) (1999), primarily based on the third game.
For Game Boy Advance:
- Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望?) (2001), a remake of the fourth game.
For Nintendo DS
- Nobunaga's Ambition DS (信長の野望DS?) (2006), a remake of the eighth game.
- Province-Taking Brain Battle: Nobunaga's Ambition (国盗り頭脳バトル 信長の野望 Kuni-tori Zunō Batoru: Nobunaga no Yabō?) (2008), containing board game elements.
- Nobunaga's Ambition DS 2 (信長の野望DS2?) (2008), a remake of the fourth game.
- Pokémon Conquest (ポケモン＋ノブナガの野望 Pokemon Purasu Nobunaga no Yabō?, Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan) (2012), a crossover with the Pokémon franchise.
For Nintendo DS
- Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望 Nobunaga no Yabou?) (2013)
- Nobunaga's Ambition Internet (信長の野望Internet?) (1998), an online battle simulation game for Windows.
- Nobunaga's Ambition Online (信長の野望Online?) (2003), an MMORPG for PlayStation 2, Windows, and PlayStation 3.
- Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望?) (2003), a blanket title for a number of mobile phone games.
- Million-Man Nobunaga's Ambition (100万人の信長の野望 Hyakuman-nin no Nobunaga no Yabō?) (2010), a social network game by Mobage.
- Nobunyaga's Ambition (のぶニャがの野望 NobuNYAga no Yabō?) (2011), a cat-themed browser-based online battle/raising simulation game.
The Nobunaga's Ambition series has garnered several awards over the years. According to Koei's website, various releases in the series have won Log-In magazine's "BHS Prize", the "Minister of Post & Telecommunications Prize", Nikkei BP's 12th, 13th, and 14th annual "Best PC Software" awards, and CD-ROM Fan's "Fan of the Year 2001 Grand Prize".
In North America, where it was released five years after its Japanese release, critical reception was also positive. The game was positively reviewed by Computer Gaming World, where reviewer Evan Brooks gave it four stars out of five. He introduced the game as "a detailed economic / diplomatic / political / military simulation of the unification of Japan in the Sixteenth Century." He praised the graphics for being "among the best that this reviewer has ever seen for the IBM" and the 5x10 hex map battles, and noted that it used role-playing game elements, including assigning various statistics to a selected persona, a time system where each turn represents a year, as the daimyo ages and eventually dies of old age, and a multiplayer option. He stated that he "thoroughly enjoyed Nobunaga's Ambition", concluded with a "Highly Recommended" rating, Compute! similarly praised the IBM PC version, calling it "one of the best strategic war games ever designed for a personal computer" and citing the game play, user interface, and documentation.
- Vestal, Andrew (1998-11-02). "The History of Console RPGs". GameSpot. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- "Koei History". Tecmo Koei. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Nobunaga's Ambition Rekindled for PS2, 1UP.com
- Brooks, Evan (September 1988), "Nobunaga's Ambition", Computer Gaming World (51): 48
- "Poker, Planes and Platform Games Fuel Players' Ambition". Nintendo of America. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- Gifford, Kevin. "Nobunaga's Ambition: Rise to Power". Newtype USA. 7 (2) p. 118. February 2008. ISSN 1541-4817.
- "KOEI Company Introduction".
- Brooks, Evan (September 1988), "Nobunaga's Ambition", Computer Gaming World (51): 12, 34, 48–9, "Nobunaga's Ambition is a detailed economic / diplomatic / political / military simulation of the unification of Japan in the Sixteenth Century. ... The graphics for Nobunaga's Ambition are among the best that this reviewer has ever seen for the IBM. While much of the graphics are composed of maps, the small touches reveal the craft that went into this product. Thus, when the daimyo distributes rice to the peasants, a vignette shows the lord throwing sheaves to the peasants who gratefully pick it up; as taxes are increased, the peasants flow with tears. When war begins, the screen changes to a 5x10 hex area for the execution of the battle. Terrain is effectively delineated as hill, mountain, village, river, plain, or castle; deployment is dependent on the route of invasion. ... After deciding upon a daimyo, one must select a persona. Akin to role playing games, characteristics are composed of health, ambition, luck, charm, and IQ. Generally, one should reselect if any single characteristic is under 80 (especially luck and/or IQ; there is nothing worse than a stupid daimyo). ... Each turn (year) is composed of four seasons, during which the daimyo ages (and will eventually die of old age). Each daimyo may accomplish one action each season for each fief he personally controls; these actions often affect other parameters of play. ... This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed Nobunaga's Ambition. ... Koei stresses that Nobunaga's Ambition is both a solitaire and a multi-player game. ... Highly Recommended. This reviewer was glued to his computer for 13 hours, stopping at 3:00 am. Not since Gunship has this occurred. The end result is that the computer gamer must have, at least, one Koei game in his inventory!"
- Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Randall, Neil (January 1989). "Nobunaga's Ambition". Compute!. p. 94. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "Nobunaga's Ambition for NES Review".