Eiyu*Senki Gold: A tale of Strategy, Gender-flipped World Leaders, and Romance!
In 2015, Fruitbat Factory localized and released Eiyu Senki – The World Conquest on the PS3. For many, including myself, this was a delightful surprise. While I hadn’t heard of the game until its Western release, I quickly snatched it up and sank hours into it. So, imagine my joy to learn that this game was not only based on an 18+ PC release but that it had a sequel.
Back then, I could only hope that we’d maybe one day see said sequel make its way stateside. Things went quiet for some time until 2016 when adult VN and Eroge publisher JAST USA announced they’d be bringing the original 18+ release to PC, along with an All-Ages version for Steam. Again, I was taken by surprise, but ecstatic.
Now titled Eiyu*Senki – The World Conquest, I was more than happy to go back and relive my adventure with Chihaya, Benkei, Arthur, Columbus, and the rest of the characters from this title. And, in the back of my mind, I hoped that just maybe we’d see that elusive sequel. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long.
In 2019 at Anime Expo, JAST USA announced that Eiyu*Senki Gold – A New Conquest would finally be coming to the West! It had taken some time, but it was better late than never. Finally, just last month on February 5th, the 18+ version of the game was released on JAST USA’s website. I eagerly bought a copy of the game and set out on a new journey to conquer the world and reunite with some familiar friends. So, was the wait worth it? How does this game stack up to the first? And what’s the deal with this being an 18+ review? Well, let’s start by delving into what Eiyu*Senki is as we work our way through this review.
Where Genderflipping and Strategy RPGs Meet
Since I’ve gone through most of the history regarding the Western release in the intro to this review, I’ll just stick to a few key points here.
Eiyu*Senki Gold was originally released in 2014 in Japan for the PC. The premise of Eiyu*Senki Gold is pretty simple. An amnesiac guy washes up on the beach. A woman finds him and declares him her brother. And now he’s tasked with both conquering the world and recruiting allies. With said allies being various historical figures from throughout history. Who also all are women. And of course, being the one guy among the group, he naturally will begin to romance them. While it may seem almost dry with that simplified explanation, there’s a pair of excellent games we can compare it to: Koihime Musou and Sengoku Rance.
Take the idea of Koihime Musou. That all historical characters are female versions of themselves. Now, pair it with the strategy elements and gameplay of Sengoku Rance. Both of these games are often cited as being excellent examples of what the Visual Novel and Eroge genres can accomplish. If you’re even remotely familiar with either title then you have a good idea of what you’re in for. Still, we do need to see if it can live up to those two titles. So, let’s delve into the graphics and see just how enticing this journey looks.
Grand Glorious Graphics
Let’s get this out of the way. Eiyu*Senki Gold is gorgeous! It’s a great example of how modern VNs should look. Not only does the game look great on my 65” TV but it runs fairly smoothly on my Dell Inspirion 15 Gaming 7567. From the map screen; to the battle animations; to the character portraits; it’s a very visually pleasing game. In particular, I want to point out the character designs.
These designs are wonderful. Sure, most of them come from the first Eiyu*Senki but everyone is very distinctive. In a cast of over 50 characters, it can sometimes get hard to remember who is who. But, it’s easy to tell at a glance who is who because the characters are so well-designed. Besides, some character’s looks just fit them perfectly. Beethoven is a prime example. Just take one look at her and you’ll see what I mean. Another great thing are the CGs.
The CGs in this game are very pleasant to look at. Many of the scenes that CGs are used for are, of course, for the 18+ bits. But, that’s not what I mean when I say pleasant. I specifically mean the art-style. Though the fact they are used for the 18+ scenes factors into this. These CGs seem to have a much softer, yet detailed flair that helps to accentuate the mood. Even for the casual CGs such as stargazing with Tadataka. It really does fit well with the mood. However, graphics are only one part of the experience. What kind of delightful sound does Eiyu*Senki Gold have? Let’s discuss that next.
The Sounds of Conquest are Actually Quite Pleasant
Many of the songs from Eiyu*Senki return for Eiyu*Senki Gold. Which isn’t a bad thing. The soundtrack in the original game is solid. So, much so in fact that we included its final boss theme on our “Songs to Save the World to” list. While that song doesn’t appear in Eiyu*Senki Gold, its final boss theme, “Pithos Elpis”, is still a fantastic tune in its own right. But, what about the rest of the music?
Simply put, if you like Eiyu*Senki’s soundtrack then I think you’ll love this one. My only complaint music-wise is that the main theme for Eiyu*Senki Gold isn’t as memorable as the original’s. Then again, it’s really hard to top something as majestic and grand as the first game’s theme. So, the music is great, but how about the voices?
The voice cast for this game is amazing. While I’m a fan of dubs and will always advocate for them, I find the Japanese voice cast perfectly enjoyable here. For one, the cast and their delivery are just excellent. Another is that dubbing a game like this with this large of a cast would be a financial nightmare. I already don’t want to think about what JAST USA had to go through to secure the rights to the Japanese voice cast considering how big it is. Does that mean everything is pitch-perfect? Unfortunately, no. There is one major issue for me. The audio mixing.
Specifically, characters who are soft-spoken like Columbus and Palamedes are really hard to hear. I ended up having to turn the background audio down to 60% while bumping the vocals to 100%. It works, but I don’t feel like that should be the solution. It just feels like someone thought they should be whispering directly into your ear. Maybe it’s appropriate at some times, but not for every conversation with these characters. Perhaps this is something that could be addressed in a future patch. For now, though, let’s move onto the bulk of this conquest by talking about the gameplay.
Formulating a Strategy; Both on the Grid and in the Menus
Eiyu*Senki Gold’s gameplay is both simple, but also deep. It’s also here where the comparison to Sengoku Rance is at its strongest. Each turn is divided into a player phase and an enemy phase. During the enemy phase, you’ll need to defend your territory from enemy attacks using the game’s battle system. Meanwhile, during the player phase, you’ll be able to take up to four actions.
An action is defined as completing something in the Missions menu. These can range from simple side-stories that will give you money or items; to developing bonds with characters; to conquering the next point on the map. You begin the game with one action point and as you conquer more territory you’ll gain additional points. How do you conquer though? While through battle!
Battles in Eiyu*Senki Gold take place on a 6 x 3 grid. With your forces occupying the left-side and the enemy the right-side. You can deploy up to six units per fight. Each hero has their own stats. However, the bulk of their strength comes from the size of the army backing them. This what you’ll spend the majority of your gold on. Buying more troops for your units and then replacing the troops you lose in each fight.
While you’ll never lose your heroes, you can lose the army backing them. This is basically their HP. If it hits zero then that hero is removed from the fight. Lose all your heroes and you lose the fight. However, it’s not just as simple as going into battle with the biggest army (though it helps). Each hero also has unique skills that can aid them in battle.
Brave skills cost Brave, which are the little balls you see along the top of the HUD during battles. You generate Brave by attacking the enemy and you generate a little each turn you take. However, there’s a catch and that comes in the form of weaknesses.
You see, each hero has a class. With each class type being strong and weak against certain other classes. Let’s take Columbus for example. She’s of the Gun class. She’s highly effective against Sword class heroes. So, she’ll deal more damage. Also, she’s just as weak to Sword class heroes as well. So she’ll take more damage from them. So, you might want to take advantage of her range and keep her away from the front lines. Sounds simple, right? Well, that’s where Brave generation comes into the picture again.
You see, if you attack a unit and exploit their weakness, all the generated brave goes to the enemy. Yeah, you really need to think about who you attack. Otherwise, you can very easily end up filling the enemy’s Brave gauge and being on the receiving end of a very powerful attack. The inverse also holds true. If an enemy exploits your weakness, well guess what? You may have taken a ton of damage, but you also got a ton of Brave. Time to turn the tables and dish out some pain! And this is only the very basics of the battle system.
What really makes Eiyu*Senki Gold’s battle system shine is the vast amount of characters, and thus customization. While each character can’t be tweaked to the degree of say, Super Robot Wars T, you do have a fair degree of freedom when it comes to items.
Each character has a couple of item slots assigned to them. You can freely equip whatever item you want to whatever character you wish to. As for getting item slots and skills? As you complete each character’s personal missions you’ll gain access to them. This means, your priority will often shift from conquering new territory to hanging out with your favorite heroes to unlock things. This can be both good and bad.
On one hand, there’s always something to do. On the other, sometimes it can feel like it’s too much. At one point I spent almost 40 turns clearing side-missions and character events between conquering Britannia and starting work on the Taika Empire (aka China). Whether this is a good thing or not will fall to personal preference. Though, I will tell you to pace yourself. This game is quite long. Of course, that means you’ll need to have a good story to keep you invested. So let’s delve into the narrative next.
Saving the World through Conquest
Since we’ve already covered the premise of the game earlier, let’s delve instead into the bulk of the narrative. Namely, why we’re on this quest of world domination.
At first, Date Masamune seeks to unify Zipang and open its borders to the outside world. However, another reason for trekking the globe quickly gets both Masamune and Chihaya’s attention. The possible destruction of the New World, aka North America.
Not long after making contact with Columbus and assisting her in quelling a rebellion in the USA, another shadowy group rears its head and places a magical seal on a supervolcano. If the seal isn’t undone the volcano will eventually blow itself apart in a mighty eruption and wipe out most of North America. So what’s the solution?
Our heroes need to trek the globe to find several dark spheres. Once found, Chihaya can absorb them with a box. Said box being the Ark of the Covenant. Yep, we’re already mixing various historical periods and mythologies and I love it! So, what’s the fastest way to accomplish this? Simply, reach out to each nation where a sphere might be and ask if they can retrieve it. Of course, it’s never that straightforward for two reasons.
First, the dark spheres cause anyone who touches them to kinda go a bit crazy and believe that Zipang is out to ruin the world. Of course, even if they aren’t under the dark sphere’s influence not many countries are going to happily allow another military to just waltz around looking for something they’ve never heard of. So, often you’ve got to declare war and invade said country. Though Chihaya and thus Zipang aren’t exactly your everyday conquerors. Why? Well, let’s talk about the characterization, namely Chihaya, next and I think you’ll see why.
The King Has Returned
With so many characters to choose from in Eiyu*Senki Gold I think it’s only fair we focus on the Chihaya to showcase how good the writing is here. So, let’s talk about the King of Zipang.
Yes, that’s right. Not soon after the unification of Zipang, Masamune makes Chihaya the king of the nation. While it is strange to appoint an amnesiac man the king of a newly unified country, there’s not anyone better suited to the task than Chihaya. He quickly proves himself to a kind and thoughtful person. Often worrying about those around him and not being afraid to do menial tasks when needed despite his station. He’s more like a gentle and reliable older brother than a king. Which extends to his idea of “conquest”.
Chihaya has no desire to directly rule over the nations that Zipang conquerers. Instead, they just ask the defeated party to essentially ally with them and continue running the territory like they used to before. Sure, this is super idealistic and wouldn’t work in real life, but that’s the fun of fiction. We can see how something like this would play out under the best conditions. And it does work for the game.
Often the heroes will exchange ideas or collaborate on how to better improve their nations in some of the side-missions. And in this day and age, people coming together to better other’s lives is something I can certainly get behind. But, this is a romance game. How does Chihaya get along with each character personally?
While the obvious answer is, very well, that would be doing a disservice to the writing and characters. Chihaya is just a damn nice guy. As I mentioned he cares about those around him and grows attached to them. Whether it’s helping Benkei find another weapon to add to her collection; sharing several drinks with Alwida, or patiently helping Tutankamen overcome her chronic shyness; the man is just a good soul. While we’ll touch more upon his bedroom antics later, just know that even there he puts others first. And this level of characterization extends to the whole cast.
While there are some characters who aren’t as developed as others, for the most part, everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Everyone feels like a person and I guarantee you’ll find your favorites as you play through the title. Personally, my favorite new character for Eiyu*Senki Gold is Perry. Not only does she have a sharp mind but she has just as sharp of a tongue. Even better, her Japanese VA swears in English! But, for as much fun as this game is, some things need some improvement. So, let’s talk about that on the next page.