Nobunaga's Ambition

a game by Koei

Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesisSNESSNESNESNES

Genres: Strategy/War, Simulation

See also: Nobunaga Games

Nobunaga's Ambition is another solid Koei historical Simulation, but compared to the company's existing games it's by no means ambitious.

An Ode to Oda

Nobunaga's is based on the 100-year effort of various Japanese warlords, or "Daimyos" (the most famous being Oda Nobunaga), to unite hundreds-of warring feudal states in ancient Japan. The game's four scenarios begin from 1467 to 1600.


  • During battles, Ay to deploy your units to surround and "double-team" individual enemy units.
  • Build up your army as quickly as possible, especially during the volatile Scenario 1 Battle for the East.
  • Train troops often. It costs only a turn, and builds battle stamina.

This game's great for brainiac number-crunchers, which makes it an acquired taste for everyone else. You pick a state and then "build" a Daimyo by randomly generating five character values. You must enrich the economic base of your territory in order to build an army and conquer your neighbors. Of course, other, more powerful Daimyos' are after your assets, too.

Veteran Koei samurai know that you'd better have a head for numbers! The game tallies everything, including soldiers, gold, rice, loyalty and even productivity potential. As the digits rise and fall, so does your empire.

At least the swift computer blows the doors off other Koei games in terms of speed. However, Nobunaga's still requires a major time commitment. Games can span 40 years, and unlike other Koei games, you basically make one move per category per turn.

You use an efficient menu- driven, point-and-dick interface to run your statefrom four main menus-4 Military, ,D9mestic, Diplomatic, and Control (which manages vassal states). The individual options are too numerous to list, but among your activities you can deploy Ninjas to trash enemy states, propose a strategic marriage, sell rice for profit, and even take out a loan.

When it's time for war, Nobunaga's becomes an entertaining game of strategy and tactics. Cone are the cartoony, hokey graphics. Instead, you get an excellent grid combat system, where you merely maneuver icons representing five military units. Since every state features different terrain, you must plan attacks and defenses according to-the geography.

Nobunaga No-Nos

The graphics and sounds are in the Koei tradition: sparse but sharp. However, Nobunaga's contains even less animation and fewer graphics than usual. The sounds are similarly lean, dominated by crystal clear but repetitive Asian- sounding music.

Same As It Ever Was

Nobunaga's Ambition is another entertaining Koei recounting of Japanese history played by the numbers.

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Nobunaga's Ambition Downloads

Sega Genesis Nobunaga's Ambition download
  • Manufacturer: Koei Corporation
  • Versions: IBM and most compatibles

Nabunaga's Ambition is a military, political and economic simulation of the warring states period in feudal Japan.

The gamer becomes a daimyo (lord) of one of the several fiefs in the land that will one day become Japan. The goal is to unite the kingdom under one rulership, and become the Shogun for all of Japan. Up to eight players can participate.

There are two play configurations of Nobunaga's Ambition: the shorter scenario consists of 17 fiefs in the area of central Japan, while the longer scenario features a full map of the island nation, with 50 different fiefs in play. The 17-fief scenario is only brief in comparison to the 50-fief scenario, which can take ten hours or more to complete. Fortunately, games can be saved in progress.

The success of each daimyo in the game is influenced by several traits, only some of which depend on the player. Computer-controlled daimyos behave like the real leaders they represent. Success or failure at various game actions alter the basic characteristics, and the daimyo's age is increased one year during every spring game turn, so the computerist's alter ego varies during the course of play.

Each fief begins with a status similar to its actual condition in the year the game starts. Fortunately, the randomness of events makes Nobunaga's Ambition replayable, so games are not locked into a historical mold. Each year takes four turns, and every season the daimyo turns his attention to military, political or economic choices. The perfect balance may be hard to find. The game sequence is repeated until one human player controls enough of the provinces or all human players are killed.

The need to choose only one action per turn is one of the major flaws of the game. The player cannot both build up the town and train the soldiers. The choices create strategic tension, and it's frustrating to have so little control over events in the warlord's domain.

The graphics outshine most war games. Full-color EGA mode provides an exceptionally attractive display. Even the Hi-Res, black and white display is very crisp. Clever animations act out many of the maneuvers by both the player and the computer. For example, plague produces a vignette of a dying person; battles produce pictures of warfare; and soldiers are shown training on the drill grounds. The package includes an extensive rulebook and a poster of the Japanese fiefs and their daimyos. The documentation also contains ample instructions and hints on how to play the game, as well as some historical background on Japan's warring states period. The program can be run from a hard disk, which speeds it up significantly.

The game, a top-seller in the Japanese market, has just been released in the U.S. Only the IBM version is available at this time, but plans call for versions for the Apple II, Macintosh, Atari ST and even the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Nobunaga's Ambition is a satisfying game experience. It's also a pleasant way to learn something about an ancient era of Japanese history, when great warlords clashed and kingdoms were born.

reggie posted a review

If you're ready to test your military and diplomatic prowess this game's for you! As one of the first strategy simulation games available for Game Boy, you can now command your forces anytime and anywhere! Conquer your enemies and defend your territory as you fight for control of Japan!

reggie posted a review

If you're ready to test your military and diplomatic prowess this game's for you! As one of the first strategy simulation games available for Game Boy, you can now command your forces anytime and anywhere! Conquer your enemies and defend your territory as you fight for control of Japan!


  1. GameLink options allows 2 players to compete in head to head combat
  2. 1 meg, 64K of RAM, battery back-up saves up to 3 games
reggie posted a review

When Oda Nobunaga declared he could unify the warring states of medieval Japan, they told him it was all in his head. Now that real-life history can be in your head, too.

Ambitious Goals

Nobunaga's Ambition is an ambitious Genesis role-playing/strategy game, where the thrill lies in watching numbers grow and diminish, not fancy graphics or animation. You and up to eight samurai pals play as Daimyos, or warlords. The game presents four historical scenarios, which cover Japan's civil war period from 1467 to 1600. Your goal in each is to conquer all the country's fiefdoms (up to 50) to form one nation.

Pass the Menu, Please

Like all Koei games, Nobunaga has an easy-to-use but detailed menu-driven interface that activates a load of complex commands. Four main menus open 19 submenus, and one of these has 12 sub-sub-menus. Your powers include raising cash by growing rice, recruiting soldiers, deploying Ninja assassins, and bribing enemies, among myriad other things. The results of your machinations show up as numbers, so you use your imagination to visualize the action...and, as Koei fans will testify, it works!

Warfare in this game is a chess-style challenge in which you move five army units across a grid system. Again, the visuals are simple, and victory's based on your ability to trim enemy numbers before he subtracts all yours. It's mental, but fun.

Daimyo Eyes

This game's truly a mind game. If you have a yen for Japanese history, a yen for number-crunching, or just a yen for yen, maybe Nobunaga's Ambition can be your ambition, too.

reggie posted a review
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