Romance of the Three Kingdoms (video game series)

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Romance of the Three Kingdoms for the Nintendo Entertainment System

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國志 San guo zhi?, lit. "Records of Three Empires"), or Sangokushi in Japanese, is a series of turn-based tactical role-playing simulation grand strategy wargames produced by Koei.[1][2] Originating from Japan in 1985, twelve installments of the game have been published in Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea and North America to date. While the game's title as it was released in English refers to the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義) by Luo Guanzhong, the title as it was released in Japan and Chinese regions refers to the historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (三國志) by Chen Shou.


The games are based on events that took place in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, when the land was divided between the Shu Han, Cao Wei and Eastern Wu kingdoms, as well as various other less-remembered forces. The games draw ideas mainly from the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the more historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms.

Gameplay revolves around managing numerical statistics, each representing an attribute of a city or character. For example, a city will have statistics indicating the amount of food stored within its walls, its vulnerability to disasters such as floods and earthquakes, how content the people are with its ruler or governing officer, etc. Characters have statistics to reflect their fighting prowess, intelligence and loyalty towards their respective lords, among other attributes. Players can spend time increasing these numbers before waging war on neighbouring territories or intending diplomatic efforts.

The seventh, eighth and tenth installments are compounded with RPG aspects, allowing the player to play as any character provided by the game and decide his/her fate in that warring world, whereas the player controls an entire force in other editions. In addition, certain characters possess (or can learn) special skills to aid them in war, diplomacy or governance. For example, a general or adviser with high intelligence statistics can lure an enemy unit into a trap or cause the unit to retreat.

There are also several spin-offs based on the series, including Dynasty Warriors, a tactical action video game series, as well as Dynasty Tactics, a hybrid of Dynasty Warriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Koei has also published three biographical tactical RPGs based on three characters in the series. They are Sangokushi Eiketsuden (Liu Bei), Sangokushi Koumeiden (Zhuge Liang), and Sangokushi Sousouden (Cao Cao).

List of games in the series[edit]

The games are sorted according to platform. The release dates provided are for original Japanese releases.



  • Romance of Three Kingdoms


  • Romance of Three Kingdoms (different from MSX1 version)
  • Romance of Three Kingdoms II




Sega 32X

Sega Saturn



PlayStation 2

PlayStation 3

PlayStation Portable

PlayStation Vita



Wii U

Game Boy

  • Sangokushi (1992)

Game Boy Color

Game Boy Advance




Mobile phones

  • Sangokushi
  • Sangokushi 2
  • Sangokushi Mobile
  • Sangokushi Mobile 2
  • Sangokushi Mobile 3


  • Romance of the Three Kingdom Touch (2009)
  • Romance of the Three Kingdom 2 (2010)
  • Dynasty Kingdoms (2013)


Several years after its Japanese release, Sangokushi received positive critical reception in North America when it was released there in 1988. In Computer Gaming World, the game was reviewed by Dungeons & Dragons creator Dave Arneson, who wrote that it is "a great historical simulation and will keep players at their keyboards for many a night in order to win their empires. It has economics, intrigue, bribery, covert action, diplomacy, war, and more! There are many ways beyond simple conquest to accomplish one's goals." He concluded: "I most heartily recommend Romance to all serious game players out there."[3] In 1990 and 1993 surveys of historical strategy and war games, however, the magazine gave Romance three-plus stars out of five.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". Legendra. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  3. ^ Dave Arneson (September 1988). "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". Computer Gaming World (51): 12–3, 31, 34{{inconsistent citations}} 
  4. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (1993-06). "An Annotated Listing of Pre-20th Century Wargames". Computer Gaming World. p. 136. Retrieved 7 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]