I don’t walk around with my smartphone’s web browser opened on Metacritic or another review score aggregate at all times, on the off chance that I stumble upon a game that interests me, and I can look it up online, and see if it’s a good game or not before purchasing it. Thus, sometimes I just check the box before I buy a physical game for the DS, Wii or 3DS. And boy is it a mistake sometimes. We’ve all done that, haven’t we? I remember doing that with more than a few games, Anubis II being one of them. That was a big mistake! Even on Steam; although it’s possible to check the reviews for a game before you buy it, you can’t tell if you’ll enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to.
Such was the case for Spectral Force Genesis; its box art looks great and promises some interesting anime style, the back advertises it as an RPG, war simulator and real-time strategy game. How do these genres fit all together? By fighting for supremacy with each other on top of a sort-of story that only follows the logical beats of the setting!
Let’s just get this one over with, shall we?
|Totally not villains.|
Once you’ve picked a country, you get a short cutscene showing that country’s Lord and their turmoil. If you picked the country with the biggest army, highest amount of currency, and the like: Good job, you picked the villains. But what if you chose any other available country? Oh, don’t worry too much, unless you’re of the unlucky type you should fare okay. The villains are the head of the Republic, who are trying to keep a strong grip on what they own. The world is on the verge of a war, and there seems to be nothing to stop it. The various factions are preparing themselves for battle, but that hasn’t stopped the trades, accords and diplomatic trips from happening. It helps that every country has some allies it can rely on, if things were to get rough.
|Every month has a theme, but not a|
single month is "Peace&Love" Month.
…Anyhow. This means that they take a fairly serious approach to real-time strategy and war simulation, as you negociate trades and alliances with other countries, in an attempt to diminish the human losses that war could cause. You trade with the nearby countries, send in goods to receive money, send out money to receive goods. Of course, sometimes battle is inevitable. Not that you actually choose when you get to fight, though…
Ah yes, I need to mention this. The game is split in such a way that one turn lasts a month. During that turn, you can take charge of various elements in your kingdom or trade with other kingdoms. However! Each month has a set category: Taxes, Strategy, Foreign Affairs, Human Affairs and Battle. Here’s a quick overview of each.
|Buy! Sell! Make friends!|
You,ll just attack them later.
-Strategy: Increase the defense of the walls surrounding your city, and increase your country’s value by investing in your economy. A stronger economy will attract more troops and strengthen your army.
-Foreign Affairs: Pick a General to negotiate an alliance with a foreign country. Obviously, when battle rolls around, you won’t fight your allies; those can be invaluable if you get in trouble. Of course, if your General is awful with people, you won’t get anywhere. You can even persuade powerful Generals to join your side!
-Human Affairs: Appoint people to important ranks. You can also look for more Generals, and lure one to you with a General you own who has a lot of charisma.
-Battle: Get into a straight-up battle against an opposing country (you can be attacked too), or be sneaky and send an army to loot said opposing country.
|This is about as helpful as handing a|
fork to someone who's hungry, and
not giving them any food.
Another bad element about the game? Well, each month’s activity is set randomly. You heard right, one month you may be doing human affairs, the next you may be doing strategy, then some more human affairs, then who know, you might as well have three battle months in a row. Most of the war simulation elements happen through menus and we don’t see much of the interactions that take place. We get the odd comment from a person we talk to, with a very tiny image of their face next to their text box, but that’s it. We do get a lot more out of battle sections, though…
|Shields defeat swords and magic?|
|Are you protecting your own walls?|
Are you tearing down fortresses?
Either way, some walls are GOING
As your empire grows in size, other factions will start rallying against you in a bid to protect themselves. Things get hard past that point, and your resource management has to be tighter and more effective, as you’ll need all the troops you can get, as well as any of the Generals you can salvage. Still important to keep a good standing with the neighbors, and not play any dirty tricks on them, and- I realize right now that I don’t give a semblance of a damn about this game.
|Geeeez, could these people be|
even MORE dramatic?
Has anyone ever done that, though? I can’t even finish the game for one of these goddamned countries. As a game, I don’t like it, but I could see this as an anime. Like a Japanese Game of Thrones or something. It does have the big anime feel, with plenty of characters – too many to keep track of without gigantic flowcharts, perhaps – and so many intertwining stories. Problem is, there is no interest whatsoever in trying to discover them all. The strategy element is there and it’s executing all of these elements as well as it can. However, you need to actively seek out the tutorials to understand how to play – and even if you find them, they won’t help much, delivering not enough information. You know what we needed? Playable tutorials. That would have been useful.
|"Com"? "Dft"? "Tax"?|
The anime style does look pretty good, and I can tell there was an effort to feature stories that might interest the player, but since we have no proper introductions for anyone and no incentive to see more of them, we lose any desire to see more. What’s worse, the bits of dialogue we read early on do imply a greater story as well as many mysteries around the characters we meet from the get-go… but there’s no incentive to follow on any of it!
|"Unicorn Flag", and this guy has a hair spike shaped|
like a unicorn horn? That is the stupidest haircut I
have ever seen! And I know a lot about stupid haircuts.
I watched Yu-Gi-Oh, for crying out loud.
All in all… yeah, just skip that one. I’m almost grateful that information on this game is so rare, that this game is almost unheard of. It’s a shame for Neverland and Idea Factory, the game’s developers… but yeah, this is just bad. Just find some friends and play Risk instead.
Next week, a better game. One that I will actually give a damn about.