I’m willing to bet that Shingen the Ruler is a good game. I don’t actually know though. I played the game for about twenty minutes, didn’t quite grasp what was happening, and then started writing this. Everything seems well put together, but I just don’t know what I’m doing.
Without any explanation, the game immediately thrusts you into a menu with tons of stats and figures. I have no idea what any of it means. A man at the bottom asks you how many occupied regions to give orders to, and I have the choice of zero, one, two, or three. I select three, because I don’t know. I’m told we don’t have three regions. Okay, so I choose one. That worked, and now I’m asked which region to give orders to. As far as I can tell, I only have one, so I choose that. Now I’m told that I can’t travel because of snow, but I should be happy because the princess is born. What is happening?
There are three options at the bottom of the screen, Enlist, Going, and Move. I know I can’t move because of the snow, and I don’t know how “Going” is any different, so I choose to enlist. I’m told I can afford to enlist up to seven recruits, so I do that. My loyalty stat goes down. I don’t know why. This cycle repeats again, and once again, it’s snowing. This time I can only enlist one recruit. I do that. My loyalty goes down. I still don’t get it.
Finally, the snow is over. I select move, but I can’t go anywhere because I only have the one region. So instead, I select Going, which is apparently the order to attack a neighboring region. I’m asked if I want to do the battle myself or to automate it. I do it manually, because even though I don’t know what I’m doing, I still want to be the one playing. Next I’m asked how many soldiers to bring in. I select most, but not all, and get ready for battle.
The actual fights play out a lot like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem. Each side moves their troops one at a time. Each soldier can move once and attack once per turn. Some of the troops are archers and can attack from range, while others ride on horses and can travel long distances faster. From what I could gather, each side has a leader unit,and killing the leader will end the battle. For whatever reason, the enemy leader was on the front lines. It took awhile for me to kill him, but once I did it, and I won. And then I turned the game off.
Visually, Shingen the Ruler looks pretty solid. The stats are neatly laid out and easy to read. It’s too bad I don’t know what they mean. The guy talking to you at the bottom of the screen is drawn well and looks like a pretty tough dude. During combat, the game is presented from a top down perspective, and despite the small size of the characters, it’s very easy to tell what each soldier is.
I’m sure Shingen the Ruler is great and I’m sure plenty of people have played it and really enjoyed it. I bet if I had an instruction manual and more time to prepare than Random Game Wednesdays allows, I’d really get into it. But as it is, I’m just kind of confused. If you like turn based strategy games and want to see an older example of the genre, I think this is worth checking out. But for now, the cartridge is going back on the shelf until the day I find some time to figure it all out.