"Itís not that itís a bad game by any means ó it just doesnít offer anything important that already wasnít in the original Destiny of an Emperor. In fact, this game essentially takes the majority of the first one and adds a lot of story-telling to what is essentially a Dragon Warrior clone set in feudal China."
After playing Destiny of an Emperor II, I wasnít surprised this Famicom game never was released in America. Itís not that itís a bad game by any means -- it just doesnít offer anything important that already wasnít in the original Destiny of an Emperor. In fact, this game essentially takes the majority of the first one and adds a lot of story-telling to what is essentially a Dragon Warrior clone set in feudal China.
You still have all your favorite Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors characters like Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei as they unite to rid their lands of power-hungry warlords -- you just get a lot more dialogue to explain their motivations for doing so. Sure, thereís nothing wrong with this, but it made me wonder why Capcom didnít just release this as the one and only DoaE instead of making the original game and then rehashing most of its elements in a new game designed to awaken strong feelings of deja vu in anyone who played the first.
As well as feelings of annoyance. A few things make getting through Destiny of an Emperor II way less fun than it should have been and definitely detract from any enjoyment one possibly would get from the more cinematic portrayal their heroesí exploits received.
First off, players no longer can recruit the majority of bested foes. That was a neat aspect of the first DoaE, especially in the early stages of the game, where picking up a particularly tough enemy warlord could have a noticeable effect on the party for a little while. Here, while you still get a sizable number of folks willing to join you, they are ALL dictated by the plot. If you run into a warlord in a random battle, itís just a tougher-than-usual random battle with no opportunity to recruit the dude after besting him.
The game also attempts to differentiate between all the guys on your team by only allowing each character to equip one specific sort of weapon (sword, bow, axe, etc.) -- a good idea in concept, but a bad one in execution. The gameís plot seems designed to ensure you never can count on the same guys to be in your party for too long, as guys come and go on a regular basis for all sorts of reasons.
While that does make players experiment with more than a handful of characters, the problem is that, due to lousy programming, when the computer forces a change of personnel, the new guys have ALL of their predecessorís equipment. So, youíll wind up with a guy who can only equip an axe holding the sword formerly used by the guy he just replaced. If you donít either have a spare axe in your inventory or the funds to immediately buy one, heís going to be fighting bare-handed (ie:ineffectively) for some time.
For a game so story-driven as this one, it also seemed funny there were so many filler dungeons strewn all over the land. Apparently someone at Capcom decided that this would be a pretty short game if it just consisted of your rapidly-changing band of rebels mowing down one bad guy after another, so youíll get to spend a lot of time traversing boring caves and mountains. When Liu Bei has to flee a castle due to a huge army advancing upon it, he does so by way of a massive underground labyrinth. When one of your master tacticians needs to harness the power of the wind, heíll be leading your party on a jaunt up a really large mountain. Thereís nothing wrong with having these dungeons here, but it does detract from the flow and pacing of the game. One minute, youíll be mowing down enemy generals in five rapidfire battles. The next, youíll be puttering around a gigantic dungeon....to kill time before your next group of major confrontations.
If Iíd never played Destiny of an Emperor, Iíd likely be more forgiving of this gameís flaws. It is far more entertaining from a story-telling perspective and seems to progress at a faster pace. Battling doesnít get so tiresome in DoaE II because no one has the 20,000-soldier (aka: hit points) forces that everyone had in the original. In fact, the only real differences between mid-game generals and end-game ones are that those final foes have superior strength and intelligence AND have mastered the gameís most deadly tactics (aka: magic spells). Giving them eight or nine thousand soldiers instead of 20,000-plus makes these fights hard-hitting and fun, as opposed to long and mindnumbingly tedious.
In a way, I really liked Destiny of an Emperor II, but because Iíd played the original first, it just felt like I was rehashing old ground. Itís easy to recommend this game to old-school RPG fans whoíve never played the first, but if you have, odds are youíll find it as tiresome as I did.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (December 20, 2007)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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