Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest is less than ideal. It’s a PC game wedged onto the PS3 without a full revamp of the interface to cater to gamepad controls. It’s an adult game stripped of its mature elements, but still written and conceived as a project relying on those elements as a selling point. It’s a Japanese game for a Japanese audience, brought to the West by an outfit small and plucky enough to make it work, but without the resources or console experience to iron out translation wonkiness or make interfaces more legible from afar.
That it’s less than ideal is inescapable. But it’s hard to envision what an ideal Eiyuu Senki would even be.
So first: what is Eiyuu Senki? It’s a strategy game that focuses heavily on unit management and maintenance, with small grid-based tactical battles surrounded by a world map, slow unit regeneration and currency to quickly replenish or enhance units’ ranks. The macro level has elements of Risk, as the real danger is in trying to do too much at once and not leaving units available for defense when your turn’s done. You have a small number of Action Points in a round, and you can use each to start a battle or complete a side quest of some sort. The thing: once you commit a fighter to one task, that unit can’t be used for anything else until the beginning of the next one. That makes for a nice push-and-pull between creating an elite strike force and spreading the cash around to make everyone decent enough to hold their own.
The battles themselves play out on a three-by-six grid, with each faction fielding up to six units on their side of the screen and aligning themselves to deal maximum damage. This is a very puzzle-like aspect of Eiyuu Senki, as every unit in the game has different combinations of ranges, affinities and special attacks. For example, gun users can shoot from afar, but have to align themselves in the same row as an opponent, and magic users often hit most of the board, but do so with little power. This is crucial to get right, since you can either attack or move one square on your turn, making traversal a time-consuming task. Type-matching also serves you well, as dealing double damage to a weak opponent is often the only way to get out of a battle with enough forces intact to continue pushing ahead without retreating for a while first.
Battles are a very puzzle-like aspect of Eiyuu Senki, as every unit in the game has different combinations of ranges, affinities and special attacks.
Surrounding these battles is, of course, the story. Which is basically nonsense. All of history’s famous warriors have been placed on a barely-fictional version of Earth at once, made into young women and given control of their various regions. You play as some “Servant of Heaven,” sent from the world we know to help fight battles and unite the world. It’s through all this that the game’s adult title origins still show through, as each character is given some well-trodden anime archetype to embody and often-provocative clothing to match. None of the adult content itself is present here; that was removed when the game was originally ported from PC to console in Japan. Still, its specter lingers.
Then there’s a lot of time spent talking to these girls to “get to know them,” with inane conversations originally designed as a way to get to mature scenes but now standing alone and just kind of awkward. Given how much of this game is a visual novel, it may seem like a waste to skip that aspect. Still, if you’re interested in the strategy aspect and wanting to avoid all the other weirdness, some of the game’s text-speed options will help you do that by just holding down the cross button when people start talking. It’s a legitimate way to play it, too; no gameplay-relevant information is expressed in these events, and there’s enough of interest left to justify play.
Eiyuu Senki is, in many ways, a lot like Monster Monpiece: a compelling tactics game with a management-heavy strategic layer atop it, weighed down by some unfortunate narrative decisions made in the name of fanservice marketing.
Localization house Fruitbat Factory did an admirable job with Eiyuu Senki, even implementing a solution to show subtitles for in-battle text that wasn’t in place in the Japanese release. Still, this game needed a lot of work, and there’s only so much that Fruitbat could handle. The text was translated but not re-crafted; for example, while it makes sense in the original Japanese for a character to affectionately call the protagonist “onii-san,” it’s weirder for him to be called “Big Brother” over and over again, both because that’s not a Western concept and because that already means something specific as a proper noun. There are also some issues with readability. The text scales in a blurry way, and some important text is light pink with thick white outlines and as a result nigh-inscrutable. Everything’s also small and crowded in a PC-game sort of way, since that was after all what it originally was.
Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest is, in many ways, a lot like Monster Monpiece: a compelling tactics game with a management-heavy strategic layer atop it, weighed down by some unfortunate narrative decisions made in the name of fanservice marketing. The difference here is that our version of Eiyuu Senki is less weighed down by questionable content, instead slowed largely by how its current shape doesn’t quite fit its original box. The fact that it’s here at all is a profound accomplishment, and the experience of play has no problem underlining that: this isn’t really as good of a game as it could’ve been, but there’s not really anything else out there that can deliver something similar.