Genre: Strategy Developer: KOEI Publisher: KOEI Players: 1 Released: 1993
KOEI titles have a reputation for being deep and involving, and Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf is no exception. In this game, the developers have painstakingly recreated the ebbs and flows of ancient Asian history on an intricate scale and given you a chance to play a part. While the heavy nature of these games does present a high learning curve, once that curve is surmounted and managed any strategy fan will find something worth sinking their teeth into.
Genghis Khan was the legendary warlord who led his horde of Mongols to victory across the Asian continent. While translating this into a 16-bit playable game was a tall order, KOEI came through with a shining strategy game. The strategy is very big-picture. Likely accurate to the role of ruler, you never have any direct interaction with your subjects. Their approval or disapproval is only noted through text. You instead command your council of generals with the help of an adviser while balancing the budget and satisfying both your subjects and your family.
There is much to accomplish in this game. Beyond merely conquering territories, you also have to keep their cash and food supplies high, make sure your governors don’t revolt, maintain alliances, produce an heir, keep your troops paid and trained up, guard against natural disasters like disease and drought, make a good trading game with the merchants that come through, and become the ruler of a successful empire! Though it sounds like a lot to keep track of, the gameplay is streamlined. Genghis Khan II is sectioned into four campaigns that deal with different territories and rulers. It is very hard when you are just beginning the game with one territory and few troops to your name, but once you conquer about 20 territories, you can afford to build up an unstoppable army and plow across the countryside. Thus, the game actually decreases in difficulty from start to finish.
Battles can be fought in three different ways. The first is letting your generals handle all the work. This takes less time, but is also less successful, especially if you have a general who is less than competent. If you choose to lead the troops yourself, you’re taken to an overhead screen where you direct your separate regiments around. If you’re strategic, you can win the battle from here. You can also go into battlefield mode, where you order actual troops across a small battle screen left to right, a la Shining Force. These battles can be tough and time-consuming, but they also give you the most control over the outcome; however, if you’re just wanting to finish the game, they can be skipped entirely by delegating the wars to your generals and focusing on trading and training.
A game like this is never played for the graphics, but what we have here is decent. The overall world map is accurate and colorful. There is a wide variety of rulers, advisers, generals, wives, and children; and they are all well-drawn but largely static. A slight nitpick is that some graphics look a little washed-out. During regular gameplay, the music is typical ambiance, while the battle tunes are bright and catchy. The music changes to fit whatever area you are in, which is a nice touch that adds atmosphere. The tunes are usually very minimalist, which you’ll be thankful for in a game of this length. Yes, this is a fairly time-consuming game, and it does eventually tend to drag on a bit too long when you’re forced to grind before you can fight off the more powerful kingdoms like Japan and India. Giving you the option of winning the game with other leaders and kingdoms, as well as being heavily RNG-based are two choices that give Genghis Khan II lots of replay value.
Most of the controls are menu-based, and navigating through all the pictographs can be confusing at first; however, if you have an adviser, he will give you a brief question after you choose to make sure you know what you’re doing. Conquering the entire Eurasian continent will not be an easy task, as the more territories you occupy, the more you’re forced to spread your resources and troops thin across the countryside. World conquest becomes a give-and-take where you capture a territory, then lose one, over and again, until your reign eventually encompasses all 31 territories and you become supreme emperor.
This is a tough, detailed, addictive game that any strategy fan or history buff should love, and an excellent addition to KOEI’s highly-regarded stable of Genesis titles.
SCORE: 8 out of 10