Nobunaga’s Ambition review

Feudal Japan back in the day of Oda Nobunaga was a splintered land. Daimyos fighting openly, and others trying to gain the upper hand by treaties. Set during these times of unrest Nobunaga’s Ambition comes with three different scenarios. These go back to the original released for the NES back in 1987. 1560 to 1582, but two of them have been renamed.

Nobunaga’s Ambition is a turn based strategy game with two different areas of play. The main area is the map of Japan where you can see the progress of the other daimyos. Managing your domains is all about keeping the citizens happy, or at least not in a state of riot. img_0982_2You can develop the land, town and water supplies. There is only one move available per turn, and building a foundation to stand on is important before you enter the fray. Recruiting, drilling and attacking are the available commands for war. There are also option to try to use diplomacy by marrying into another daimyos family.

The second area of play is the turn based battles. These can be turned off, and simulated instead. In battle you take turns moving and attacking. There are different units available, but all attack in the same manner. There are no special attacks available making the battle more or less predetermined, as you can’t pull of big strategic moves. If your daimyo dies in battle the game is over. If the food runs out, or you haven’t crushed the enemy in a set number of turns the enemy wins. The opposite goes for when you get attacked. I rather turn the battles off, as I didn’t find myself being able to really affect the outcome.
Starting a new game lets you choose a whole bunch of parameters to change. For one you can select any of the historical characters or create your own. Furthermore you get a choice of five different levels of difficulty, and whether or not you can play for forever. Well until you conquered all, unless your daimyo dies in battle. To me it would be easier to have everything in set scenarios, as the choices are simply too many.

img_0981_2The presentation is quite good, even though the map is rather small on screen to accommodate all of Japan. Pinching in and out lets you zoom. The story is told in still frames that are well drawn. Classical music accompanies the game, and I found the arrangements well written. The game also support iPod support from within the game.

Getting into Nobunaga’s Ambition is quite overwhelming at first. The tutorial, and in game manual helps a lot. After a couple of hours the game starts to feel rather thin, and there isn’t that much to do each turn. Long term strategies feel really long term, and watching the enemies can take up more time than own management. Compared to Romance of the Three Kingdoms from Koei Nobunaga’s Ambition feels quite thin.

Koei has taken a completely own approach to pricing on the App Store opting for the higher prices. I think it is a shame as more customers would probably get into the turn based strategy game if they came at a more reasonable price. At ten bucks you better know that you enjoy the kind of game on offer. Having played them in the past helps, but for new gamers it is hard to recommend without a lite version.

Nobunaga’s Ambition is a decent turn based strategy game set in feudal Japan. It offers limitless gamelife with loads of different daimyos as well as the ability to play with your own character. The battles are quite stale, and the domestic management feels limited. In the end I find it hard to recommend someone new to turn based strategy games or the world of Koei.

Final Rating


Nobunaga’s Ambition $9.99
Version: 1.0
Seller: Koei Co., Ltd.
Tested on an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 4.

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