Sword of the Samurai (video game)
|Sword of the Samurai|
|Artist(s)||Barbara D. Bents
Michael O. Haire
|Writer(s)||Jeffery L. Briggs
|Composer(s)||Jeffery L. Briggs|
|Genre(s)||Action, strategy, RPG|
Sword of the Samurai is an action and strategy video game developed and published by MicroProse in 1989 for the DOS platform. It features a combination of role-playing and strategy elements, with arcade mini-games set in feudal Japan. The player's goal in Sword of the Samurai is to rise from being a vassal of one of his clan's various hatamoto to becoming the shogun of all Japan.
The game begins by giving the player their choice of name, clan, and family specialty. The player is initially put in control of his original samurai, but can later play as one of his descendants if the original samurai retires or is killed. In the first two sections of the game, the player seeks to become a daimyo by currying favor with the current daimyo. The player competes with three computer-controlled samurai who also seek to become the daimyo's favorite. Each samurai has several properties, including land holdings, army size, sword-fighting ability, and generalship. However, in keeping with the Bushido theme of the game, honor has the greatest influence on how the samurai are ranked.
Despite the emphasis on the Bushido code, a wide array of sneaky actions are possible. The player (and AI controlled characters) may kidnap and rescue family members, dishonor other samurai, or even assassinate a rival or the daimyo himself. Naturally, such sneaky behavior carries serious risk. If caught, the samurai will lose much of their honor, and might even be forced to commit seppuku, leaving the estate in the hands of his heir.
After becoming a daimyo, the game shifts to a wargame format, with the goal of conquering enough provinces to claim the title of shogun. Whereas in the first and second levels the player can gain honor by contributing in the daimyo's battles, in the third level the emphasis is on choosing which opponents to battle. The size of the player's army becomes more important to success than honor or swordsmanship. The player can still increase his honor through duels and melee, however, as well as assassinating rival daimyo.
After winning the game, the player is given a final summary of the future of his dynasty. Depending on the various aspects of the shogun's forces at the end of the game, such as number of men under his control and the age of the shogun and his heirs, the length of the dynasty could range from hundreds of years (like the Ashikaga shogunate) to a quick dissolution after the shogun's death (like the Taira shogunate).
MicroProse designers Sid Arnold and Lawrence Schick began development of Sword of the Samurai in late 1987, after the success of the company's first role-playing adventure game Sid Meier's Pirates!. They chose to set it during the Sengoku period because the era's chaos made it possible for samurai to gain great power regardless of background, and gave players the goal of uniting the country and becoming Shogun. MicroProse co-owner Sid Meier helped develop the NPCs' artificial intelligence and the dueling.
Computer Gaming World stated in 1990 that Sword of the Samurai "offers even more than its spiritual ancestor, Pirates!". It praised the game's graphics, soundtrack, and many choices during gameplay. Later that year the magazine gave it four stars out of five, stating that the game did not sell as well as Pirates! despite "near perfect" game play and historical accuracy.
- Schick, Lawrence (January 1990). "Designer's Notes / The Secret History of Sword of the Samurai". Computer Gaming World. p. 84. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Wilson, Johnny L. (January 1990). "Unsurpassable Honor / "Sword of the Samurai" from MicroProse". Computer Gaming World. p. 18. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.