August 13, 2014

[Game 046] Super Daisenryaku (TGCD - 1990)

Translation by Gaijin Productions

What's this?  A game distributed on CD before the SNES had even been released?  Yes, it's true, but does Super Daisenryaku take advantage of the massive storage capabilities of the compact disc format?  Not really!  There's a modestly rockin' digitized tune at the beginning and some realistic vehicular sounds but music during gameplay is standard BGM.  There's no cutscenes or graphics of any kind that would require a hefty amount of room.  What there is though is around 50 maps of extended hardcore grand strategy.  SD plays like a growed-up version of Famicom Wars, with improvements on all fronts.  Instead of the square grid maps of FW, SD upgrades to the vastly superior hex format.  Most units have a primary and secondary attack, improving their versatility in regards to being able to effectively engage opposing forces.  For example, heavy infantry come with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles but are weak against other infantry.  The game is nice enough to provide a detailed breakdown of unit effectiveness versus all the enemy units.

Just look at these swell
stats... Well?  Look at them!!

Not content to just provide these spreadsheets, Super Daisenryaku gives up more of its internal secrets by outlining the different types of terrains.

Just look at these swell terrains... Well?
 — Wait, have I used this line before?

Not stopping there, SD also allows the player to choose from a plethora of real-world countries.  In what totally isn't a thinly-veiled excuse to pad out the article, here is a list of all the factions available:

• USA 1 • Argentina • Japan
• USA 2 • Israel • China
• USA 1960 • Israel 2 • Best Korea
• USA 1990 • Arab • Worst Korea
• France • Syria • Europe
• Britain • Egypt • NATO
• W. Germany • Libya • 2yHeisei
• Warsaw • Iran • Latest
• Soviet • Iraq
• Sweden • Vietnam

Notice how, even though this game came out over two decades ago, that a lot of countries represented are still the troublemakers of the current international stage?  (dang Sweden!)  The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems.  This is certainly true of the units available for each country within the game.  The variation between each country's units is minimal, mostly slight differences in payload, gas, and cost.  This ensures a fairly even playing field regardless of which faction is selected (edit: not quite true, see next post).  Each unit is named according to its real-life counterpart which should please military buffs.

Watch out AMX-10RC!  Don't drive into
the bottomless chasm that separates
every single battlefield!

All these improvements alone would net Super Daisenryaku Shen Nung's seal of approval but SD takes it to the max and introduces the crowning feature of the game — four nation warfare.  Famicom Wars was strictly a heads-up conflict throughout the entire game.  In contrast, the vast majority of SD's maps support up to four players.  That's hot.  I get overjoyed when I see computer nations destroying each other's units and depleting their resources.  Unfortunately, this strength is also the game's major weakness.  Just like in Famicom Wars, the enemy commanders take for-fucking-ever to complete their turn.  I bitched about it in the FW posts and with more nations, it's even worse here.

It pisses me off even more that I don't
know what the hell being "in cast" means.

Thankfully, the animations can be turned off which helps somewhat but it's still upwards of 10 minutes per turn when everyone is in the swing of things.  The time lag pretty much rules out me completing all ~50 maps unless y'all want my next posting to be in 2020.  The first map alone took me just over 5 hours and that was one-on-one.  The four player map I did next took over 10.  It doesn't help that the computer never surrenders and the player is forced to either eliminate all enemy forces or capture their capital.  SD would be great as a PBeM (Play by eMail)-type game where a player does one turn a day and having human opponents would allow for diplomacy, alliances, and surrender conditions.  As it currently stands, once a single nation starts to accumulate excess wealth (there is a limit of 48 units per side), it's pretty much over for the others.  The "lesser" nations will still duke it out with each other instead of ganging up on the leader.  I'll do one more map for the end game posting, detailing specific strategies and perhaps framing the encounter in a velvety storyline.