Years ago, I inadvertently purchased a ‘clean version’ of an album from Wal-Mart. Within minutes of playing the CD, I knew something was intolerably wrong. All of the anger, sorrow, and satire that I had expected had been carefully stripped away, leaving behind a bowdlerized work that expressed little of the author’s intent. It was if Picasso’s Guernica had been re-rendered in cartoon form and draw in soft pastels.
For many mediums, a similar feeling erupts when a work becomes sanitized. Film can lose much of its impact when viscera is reduced to earn a PG-13 rating. Of course, video games have a long history of suppressed content, with religious symbols, blood, and nudity excised for a good portion of their history. Given this attitude, it’s little wonder that players exhibit skepticism when a title makes its way stateside with some of its content left on the cutting room floor.
Such might seem the case with Eiyuu Senki – The World Conquest, a game that catered to more lascivious tastes when it was released as an 18+ title in Japan back in 2012. But unlike many adult titles, gameplay consisted of more than a pursuit to see the next coitus-based CG. As such, developer Tenco was able to retool the game, removing many of the scenes that could never be shown on a console release and allowing the game’s visual novel and tactical components to stand on their own. While the title’s recent stateside journey is bolstered by a persistent procession of fan-service, if players can look past these indulgences, they might find a game that can hold their attention for forty+ hours.
The game’s protracted prologue propels players into the role of The Servant of Heaven, an amnesiac young male who also happens to be an accomplished swordsman. While the absence of memory is typically used a plot device for exposition, with Eiyuu Senki’s world, everything feels like a delirious mix of the oddly familiar and the wildly unexpected. Take for instance, the seventy different global leaders, who are culled from different eras, allowing Nobunaga, Napoleon, and Nero to co-exist. The other twist is that each historical figure is now rendered as a female, regardless of their actual gender. Persist, and you’ll notice other peculiarities, such as how Japan is referred to as “Zipang”, permitting a reference to contemporary manga and film. Luckily, not everything is perplexing, and if Eiyuu Senki’s subtitle didn’t already make it clear, in-game conversation reveals that unification is the best route to stop the world from plunging into warfare.
Naturally, Nippon plays an essential role to your first undertaking as a conqueror, as you follow a series of missions that offers a diminutive take on Nobunaga’s ambitions. For better or worse, Eiyuu Senki never ditches its story to offer a tutorials that explain how the battle system works or describe how the turn-based actions lead to unification. Instead, the game’s slowly starts layering new components, giving players time to experiment with each element, whether learning the range and area-of-effect for a character’s regiment or equipping a new ability-augmenting item found after defeating bandits.
Largely, it’s all relatively easy to pick up, especially if you’re familiar with role-playing convention. Combat tasks players with placing allies on one side pint-sized grid, where they’ll square off against opposing forces situated on the other end. Although there are some tactical nuances to battle, favor is given to the larger fighting force, with Eiyuu Senki fusing troop number and health is a single statistic. Keep any eye on the turn order counter displayed at the top of the screen and utilize the magical capacities of some of your characters and you’ll be fine. Should you find yourself underhanded, they you can utilize some of the funds collecting by your growing empire to recruit more combatants or even take on side-missions to learn new abilities.
Back on the world map, aspirations are gradually accomplished turn-by-turn, with players assigning members of realm with specific activities. From completing the steady succession of missions the game offers to raiding republics that you’ve declared war on, there’s no shortage of methods to realize your desires of world domination. Of course, you’ll also want to limit the score of your conquests, leaving a few troops behind to defend your annexed cities. Fundamentally, Eiyuu Senki’s AI is competent but fairly predictable, with economic policy offering the game’s biggest challenge.
Visually, The World Conquest is proficient, flaunting playful artwork from Oyari Ashito. While Eiyuu Senki doesn’t can’t claim a wealth of animation, the game’s static drawings do exude personality, rendering historical figures as fox-girls and impishly underdressed maidens. Few will find fault with the game’s Japanese voice-overs, which provide commendable performances. Pleasing, the flavorful battle cries are given English subtitles to help convey meaning.
Much like Tears to Tiera II: Heir of the Overlord, Eiyuu Senki – The World Conquest is the unlikely adaptation of an adult game that does suffer from the loss of amatory content. While the game’s hentai heritage means that The Servant of Heaven’s journey might lack a bit of depth and its characters are a bit shallow, there’s still fun to be had in harem-esque unification.
Eiyuu Senki – The World Conquest was played on the PlayStation 3 with review code provided by the publisher.
Platform: PlayStation 3
Publisher: Fruitbat Factory
Release date: November 24th, 2015
Price: $39.99 via PlayStation Network