Name: Ishin no Arashi: Bakumatsu Shishi Den (52.50% in 4 votes)
Company: Koei Japan
Release date: 1998
Reviewed by: Kyubi Fox
The Bakumatsu marked the end of the Edo era and the beginning of the Meiji era (1868). Bakufu means shogunate, and matsu means the end. Various shishi (men of high goals) did many activities to change the furture of Japan according to their wills. The influence of foreigners from Europe had great impact because of their pressure for trade and their advanced weaponary (most notablely the Black Ship). It was one of the most romantic time in Japanese history next to Sengoku (check out the review for Nobu 8). There hadn't been many games about this era, so this game is a welcomed change from the usual Sangoku or Sengoku strategy games.
This game is actually the second game in the series, the first being Ishin no Arashi for Playstation. In this game, you get to play as Sakamoto Ryoma, Hijikata Toshijou or a free character (no storyline).
Sakamoto was definitely the main guy during that period. He was one of the most important persons who supported the Emperor and suggested openning Japan for trade (plus openning the first company, etc).
Hijikata was the number two man in the Shinsengumi, a police group in Kyoto appointed by the shogun. People who have seen Kenshin will no doubt be familar with this group because of Saito Hajime.
Playing as the two different persons gives a very different perspective. Sakamoto went around to debate to persuade people to believe his idea, whereas Hijikata concerned mainly with killing those who oppose him. Depending on your skill, you CAN change history. Send Sajamoto to Ikedaya on THAT day and see if you can survive :)
(a sorry to Japanese historians for condensing the history so much here)
The story is based on real history. Koei has made much effort to create a world as real as possible. For example, many of the events are conveyed in conversation, which gives a sense that you ARE there. Everywhere people talk like they should in the time. You can do things like you should in real life: buy swords (very expensive); work at the harbours; study different subjects, etc. Overall, the experience is very impressive.
As real as it is, problem arises. As you know, real world is nowhere close to action-packed as fictional games. You will wait months and months before something actually happens, then you will wait again for another thing to happen. For busy people, this kind of waiting can easily prove to be fatal.
Koei is VERY ambitious in this game. I marked this game as RPG, but it more closely resembles a life sim. You can do 5 things each day, and everything you do you have to go to the right place, like a resturant or someone's house. The way you go around is through layers of maps. Koei created a HUGE world to explore. In Edo alone there are more than 9 areas, and each area contains at least 5 buildings (the most has more than 30 buildings).
There are some mini-games that are all important in the game. You have to practice sword skills and win in bouts, persuade people in the form of a card game (cards being news you've collected), fight street battles in a strategy game, and play hanafuda for fun (and win special cards for persuading people). The mini-games are all fun, but the LONG and repetitive waiting for events bring down the score dramatically.
The game is filled with beautiful watercolor pictures that depict locations. The people and major events are drawn based on real historic photos and pictures. On top of that, the most important events are in anime clips! The art direction must be praised for bringing the era vividly to life.
The background is very good. For example, in the major trading cities (Nagasaki) you get very western music that fits the time, and in battles you get intense music that add to the atmosphere. The sound part is also fairly impressive with sword and cannon sounds for battle, card sounds for hanafuda and so on. The sad thing is, music gets repetitive because of the LONG gameplay time, which drags down the score a little.
Despite the very high production value for this game, the waiting between events is still is major issue. People who are really interested in bakumatsu (like me) should definitely consider getting this game, but for others this game will prove to be very boring.
Written by Kyubi Fox 4/7/00
All pictures copyrighted by Koei.
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