Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence is the 14th game in the long running series. The franchise started on PCs in 1983 with Nobunaga no Yabo. The U.S. wouldn’t get a taste until 1993 with ports of the second game for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Lastly, the most recent game to come out here was on the PS2 in 2009, which was the 12th entry. With that knowledge in mind, let’s begin.
The game is a historical strategy sim set in Japan’s Sengoku era, which is roughly between 1500 and 1600 AD. It’s based off of historical characters, like Nobunaga Oda, to whom players may be more familiar with in Koei Tecmo’s other series, Samurai Warriors. While both games share similarities, let it be known that the stories within are more politically intriguing than they are fantastical.
There are multiple scenarios to start with, each with a solid campaign that could take hours, or even days depending on one’s pace. More or less, each campaign is about taking control of Japan through any means necessary. Players can negotiate villages; build new structures, farm, and myriad of other jobs. It’s all about balance and creating a war fund. Battles play out on the map, though big sieges take on a different effect, mirroring tactical RPGs. There’s a lot to handle and even with the tutorial, it’s daunting. Gamers new to the series may be lost, but fans of strategy sims, like Civilization, or Total War, will pick it up with ease.
This game is all about customizing the user experience. Players can zoom in and out of perspectives, scale the map and menus with ease, play lengthy campaigns, or just jump into skirmishes. The one thing missing is multiplayer, which could have made for a great concept. The graphics leave something to be desired. They’re simple: neither ugly nor pretty. The music though is fantastic.
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence was a puzzle to review. This writer never played one of these types of games before. It’s hard to grasp at first and demands players’ time and patience in order to get anything out of it. That said it’s still a well-made game that’s rewarding and a treat for history buffs. It’s no Samurai Warriors, but it was still a delight.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review copy. This article was originally published on September 1, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.