Genesis - 1994
Description of Lord Monarch
A great (and free!) PC version of Falcom's 1992 console hit of the same name, Lord Monarch is a fun real-time medieval strategy game in cute "SD" (stumpy heads) style of Japanese anime.
In Lord Monarch, the goal is simple: the expand your territory and defeat the leaders of the other countries-- in real-time. As soon as the game begins, you must give orders to your troops to expand your territory as quickly as possible. Quick thinking is the key to victory, as many characters will be running around acting on their own without you giving them order, and the opponents' troops are not stupid. The game also has a time limit: you are given 3,000 days for each map to clear the map ("stage"). This means that even if you defeat all the other countries, you will not be allowed to proceed to the next stage if the time limit expires. On the other hand, the number of days remaining at the completion of a stage is carried over to the next stage, which means you have more time to clear the next stage. The most admirable aspect of the game is that it succeeds in providing strategic and tactical options with a very user friendly interface. To raise taxes, for example, you need to move the leader unit to the center of his castle. If the leader is not in the castle, no funds will be gained no matter how high you raise the tax. You need money to build bases, which are required to "conquer" land: territory markers will automatically appear around a base once it's built. There are complications typical of Civilization-style games: wasteland must be cleared before bases can be built; barriers must be removed by destroying them, and areas such as bridges cannot be cleared. As you build more buildings, you become more powerful, gain more money and resources, and can build more military units. The game gets progressively harder, and you will need to use strategy to win on the higher levels. The game automatically pauses whenever you start to order your men, but the men automatically work once you tell them what to do.
Overall, Lord Monarch is a pleasant little "beer and pretzel" game that should appeal to all casual strategy gamers, fans of anime/console games, and anyone looking for a break from hard-core wargames. The AI provides good challenge, and the interface is one of the most transparent and intuitive I've seen. Two thumbs up!
Review By HOTUD
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