Lords of the Rising Sun

Title           Lords of the Rising Sun
Game Type       Action Strategy
Publisher       Cinemaware
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS/AGA
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Eric Haines

     Early on, Cinemaware was criticized for having great-looking games
with shallow gameplay underneath. Lords of the Rising Sun, however,
doesn't suffer from that problem. Of the Cinemaware games I played, it's
possibly my favorite.

     The setting is feudal Japan, where warring armies are, naturally
enough, vying for control. You move your troops around a lovely scrolling
map and engage in combat, attack and defend castles, and survive ninja
attacks. Along the way, visit the emperor and see if you can rescue the
princess too.

     You start as one of two brothers, each with somewhat different
capabilities and a different starting location as well. Each has his own
army, divided into several units. Various towns and castles are scattered
over the map, which provide the key elements of the game. They provide
food and troops, and if you capture them all then you've won. Towns
succumb to your armies without much of a fight, and castles are easily
taken if they're not defended, but otherwise you'll have to do it the hard
way. This involves a Gauntlet-type stage, with you as leader running
through the castle, slaying guards with your sword and bow and attempting
to find the lord of the castle. Kill him and it's yours. The control here
takes some getting used to, as instead of a joystick you use the mouse. As
a matter of fact, the whole game is controlled with the mouse. This can be
aggravating at times, especially during some of the more complicated
castle layouts that involve water, which is all too easy to drown in. But
it's satisfying when you do take the castle, and with practice you learn
the various layouts so you don't take fatal detours.

     Defending a castle against invaders is easier. Here the view is from
a high window, with you holding a bow and shooting at soldiers as they
attempt to scale the walls. If too many make it past, you're history. This
is fun, but doesn't happen too often since your army has to be at the
castle when it's attacked.

     While you're moving your armies about and attempting to take castles,
you'll run across enemy armies. If you engage in combat, then you see a
battlefield from high above. The fight takes place in real-time and
options for strategy are limited (realistically, it's best just to
outnumber the enemy in the first place), but it manages to be fun anyway
thanks to the unique control system. It's sort of a "magneto-mouse"
approach, where you can attract or repel your troops with the mouse

     If you defeat the enemy, you then find yourself on horseback,
galloping after the fleeing leader in a 3D isometric chase, cutting down
the remnants of his army left and right (literally) and trying not to run
into any trees. This takes some getting used to and your timing will
probably be way off at first thanks to the not-very-smooth scrolling. This
sequence can also go on for too long but is good fun when you get the hang
of it.

     The last action sequence involves ninja attacks. You can send ninjas
against your enemies, but it's not too wise because it's very
dishonorable, and if you're caught there's only one option.... It seems
some of your enemies don't care, though, so sometimes while resting you'll
find yourself attacked. It's you at one end of a hallway and the ninja at
the other, throwing stars at you while you attempt to knock them aside
with your sword. "Attempt" being the key word here. This is an
unnecesarily difficult sequence and can end your game very quickly, so
saving often is a good idea.

     Overall this is great stuff, plotting strategies and taking over
castles while trying to accomplish your goals. One of these, as mentioned
above, involves rescuing a princess. If you succeed, what awaits you
but...Michael Whelan's cover for "Daughter of Regals" by Stephen R.
Donaldon! Altered somewhat to presumably avoid a lawsuit I'm sure, but
such a blatant case of plagiarism I've rarely seen.

     Other than that one sour note, the graphics and especially the music
combine to create a real sense of atmosphere, something most games lack to
any noticeable degree. There's a lot to keep you busy, and this isn't
something you'll easily finish, especially not with a high rating! A real

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