After searching for fifteen years, I have finally found a strategic battle simulator that I can carry with me anywhere that I go on the dual screens of the Nintendo DS. Spectral Force Genesis DS is a near perfect, portable version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms from the NES. While the theme is modern and generic, the same principles are at play with this title. You get to manage an empire of 40 unique nations each with their own economy, generals and of course a castle to defend!
How are the graphics in this 3D battle game?
How much replay value does Spectral Force Genesis offer?
Read On To Find Out!
Spectral Force Genesis is a role playing game that focuses on building up countries to produce goods and defensive capabilities. Initially, you can pick from one of 7 nations in the world of Neverland to begin your campaign on unification through battle. As a twist on the traditional form of empire role play, Multi Phase management randomly picks from one of five tasks each month for you to focus on. Some months you will be building walls while other months you will focus on drafting soldiers into your army. The end game condition is met when you have all 40 nations under your control. Now that you have completed the game once, more nations will be available to play as which just expands the possibilities!
I found the controls in this game were mostly stylus based and are generally very responsive to your commands. The stylus can be used for 99 percent of the interaction with the game so you have to spend very little time getting the hang of special keypad combinations.
To keep you from making too many costly mistakes, there are three save blocks. Each time the game stores a tag of your conquest total, year and month for instant location of the most recent data. I highly recommend that you use the save feature since it can help you reverse a mistake made a year back in the progress of the game.
One of the most genius and insidious tricks that the developers built into this game was the concept of out running your supply lines. As a beginner, you will be tempted to battle every country on the expansive map but you can only do sat at your own peril. If you get your empire of countries to large then the computer players will quickly invade and take over your countries again. The only way to avoid this is through a steady approach of invasion that insulates your inner kingdom from the risk of attack. You will lose many battles in this game but investing in walls will keep the invaders at bay. Of course those walls take time and money to build you will have to persuade many generals to your side if you ever wish to beat this challenging game.
Multi Phase Empire Management
Each month you are going to be given one of five different tasks in the management of your empire. The heart of an empire RPG is your ability to control the individual nations or rather kingdoms in this game.
The strategy here is increasing your walls and investments which are shown as the Status for your nation. Your generals are used for each task and their abilities directly affect the success of the project. Each general can only be used once so a wise player would recruit or find as many generals as possible while in Foreign Affairs to maximize building efforts.
On Tax month you can trade commodities like relics, gold, jewels and livestock. The regenerating wealth of a kingdom is called Status and it directly affects the amount of resources you have for drafts and taxes. Each general can only have a maximum of 400 troops so this limit is yet again going to force you to recruit many to your cause. The trading feature is going to help you collect resources for building walls and investments in the kingdoms. Item value ranges between .2 and 3.0 with a maximum of 9999 pieces of the item held in inventory at any time.
During Human Affairs month you will be in charge of ranking three generals to key positions and finding new generals. I use this month to dismiss generals that have been acquired through battle that I do not trust. An unloyal general can rebel and cause chaos in your empire.
During this month you can ally, persuade or if you are part of another empire, you can declare your independence. I often use this month to fill my general roster so that I can increase the Status of kingdoms with their forced labor.
The most fun of all is Battle month! You can pick any kingdom within reach of your empire and attack them. Attack wisely since kingdoms with strong fortifications can hold out for a long time against your onslaught of troops. A weakness to the game is the limitation of just one offensive attack per month.
While I appreciate all that was done to develop this complicated software title, I still think that it could have been better. First, the battles are simple 3D perspectives on a flat battlefield with no terrain variances to take advantage of. As a result,
The box for Spectral Force Genesis claims that there are over 300 generals in the game. Since you can only have 20 at one time, you will have to pick your talent wisely. Each general has a brief character explanation, soldier type and council rating. The soldier type is important when battling.
Each general has the following five council ratings ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best:
How Good Is The Instruction Manual For Spectral Force Genesis?
The instruction manual for this game was rushed. The 66 page manual looks big when you hold it in your hands but you will soon discover it is split into English and French with 33 pages for each language. As a result, there is not much space left for covering the specifics of a complicated strategy game. The pages inside are printed in black and white. The few screenshots inside are also hard to read due to their small printing and the captions are printed in small text. Finally, they left out several key features like game saves which may make using this game difficult for the beginner player.
Spectral Force Genesis has two distinct graphics modes the each have their strengths and weaknesses: Multi Phase Empire Management and Battle. The text in both of these modes is easily seen on the screen with no squinting to make out the finer details.
Clearly defined command buttons is what you can expect in this game. Scrolling through the map or through your general list is a snap with the stylus. The backgrounds are richly detailed and the borders to all the screens have that classic feudalism look. The generals have little detailed portraits and a smart pop-up message appears every month to let you know their condition or some humorous word of advice.
The battles are shown in full 3D on the top screen with the bottom screen acting as your stylus command menu. The 3D battle engine does get ahead of itself at times. While executing a Level 1, 2 or 3 spell, the game shows some cool effects but after it is executed the game pauses and you have to wait to issue a command while the enemy units commence attacking again. I found this to be a problem because you may need to pull a general back and cannot.
I believe that if Ignition Entertainment and Idea Factory had just one more week of time that they would have made the soundtrack to this game much better. As it is now, the background music tends to become boring and the battle sounds are little cheesy. I usually just crank up the Metallica and forget about listening to the sound in this game.
Replay Ability Of Spectral Force Genesis
You will need about 20 hours of play for each time you invade and conquer the entire map in this game. Since the point is to try winning with each nation, you can really get some playing value for your dollar out of this game.
How Much Will Spectral Force Genesis Cost Me?
As you can tell I have enjoyed playing this game every waking moment for the past five days. I visited Amazon.com and found they were asking $22.97 for it yet that meant I had to wait the entire weekend to get a copy in my hands. Instead I went to GameStop.com and found that my local store had Spectral Force Genesis for just $19.97.
Overall I really enjoyed playing this game. I was able to unite Neverland in a little under 20 hours of playing time. The smooth 2D graphics and stylus helped me fly through the administrative objectives and focus on the 3D battles. Spectral Force Genesis is tough to beat but persistence will get you through and the low price should make this an easy choice for any Nintendo DS strategy gamer.
How does Spectral Force Genesis for DS look on the various Nintendo handheld consoles? Graphically, the detailed artwork lends itself to a better interpretation on larger screens.
Nintendo DSi (3.25″ screens): Very Good
Nintendo DSi XL (4.2″ screens): Great
In all I would give Spectral Force Genesis for DS two thumbs up.