Liberty or Death

a game by Koei
Genre: Strategy/War
Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesis SNESSNES
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 2 votes
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The few, the proud, the brave who have marched into combat in Koei's excellent series of historical RPGs will know that up until now, the battles have taken place in faraway Asian lands, featuring history that isn't familiar to most Westerners. Well, dust off your American history text and shoulder your musket -- the British are coming!

ProTip: It's easy to build Morale with Parades and Gazettes. Officers with high Tactics scores carry out Gazettes most effectively.

Up the Revolution!

Liberty or Death is a mind-boggling strategy simulation that takes you back to the British colonies, circa 1776. Although you won't find much in the way of stimulating scenery, Koei's done their usual out-standing job of re-creating historical events by putting you in charge of rewriting history.

Study the battle terrain to decide which troops to bring along. For example, only Artillery units can build bridges.

You can march off to fight the American Revolution as either the Colonial Army or the British Redcoats, battling the CPU or another player. Per usual with Ko4i simulations, you'd better bring a head for numbers, and a willingness to worry about minor details. You won't learn as much about American history (unless you read the informative manual) as you will about the annoying details of keeping a rebel army solvent and happy.

The game play relies on Koei's standard point-and-dick menu system. The variety of options is extremely complex, and a detailed read of the manual is essential. In addition to the obvious, like troop movement and battle Sequences, you must also keep an eye on morale, recruit, new troops, pacify the occasionally testy Colonial government, borrow money to keep your army fed, and all the other minutia of making sure, your Minute Men head for the battlefield and don't desert.

One If by Land, Two If by Sea

The main focus of the game play is to either drive the British out of the colonies or, if you're playing as 'the British, subdue the rebellious colonists. Winning a battle is all about knowing the numbers; since numerical superiority^ usually the key to victory. This means knowing not just how many enemy troops guard a fort, but also their battle preparation, supplies and resources, and even the type of terrain, you'll fight on. The actual turn-based battle is somewhat anti-climactic. Your view of the fighting is from an overhead perspective. As Commander in Chief, you move your troops across the battlefield, wait for your opponent to move their troops, attack, wait for your opponent, and so on.

Before you attack a neighboring district, send in a spy to assess the number of enemy troops and the battle terrain.

Per other Koei classics, you won't find a concentration on revolutionary graphics or -- snazzy sounds. Once you've mastered the details, the -'menu system is easy to read, although highlighted text doesn't alter its color clearly enough. The repetitive music is guaranteed to send the troops into retreat.

Yankee Doodle bandy

Despite the more familiar history, Liberty or Death is still probably foreign fare for most gamers. The huge amount of detail makes these absorbing simulations an acquired taste. But don't dump this game into the harbor; you might just find it a revolutionary change of pace.

Download Liberty or Death

Game Reviews

  • Manufacturer: Koei
  • Machine: SNES
  • Genre: strategy
  • Players: 1, or 2 cooperative
  • Difficulty: medium

The British are coming! And you must either defend the colonies or lead the assault against them. Change history or lead the colonists to another victory in Liberty or Death, Koei's strategy game set during the American Revolution.

You must plan every step of your campaign: Get the support of your country's political system, then enlist officers and decide their salaries. With your remaining funds, purchase new weapons, recruit troops, then lead them into battle. Do poorly and your troops, officers, even your political backing may walk out on you.

As in other Koei games like Genghis Khan and Nobunaga's Ambition, commanders and generals are based on real people in history. Since most players in these parts know more about U.S. history than that of Japan or China, Liberty or Death appeals more to strategy fans than those titles. But folks not used to the deliberate nature of RPGs and strategy games may revolt when they discover that this requires too much time and work to make too little progress.

  • Manufacturer: Koei
  • Machine: Genesis
  • Theme: Strategy
  • Release: May 1994

People say:


This type of game normally appeals to me, but Liberty or Death seems to play quite slow. I don't get the feeling of being in control and the events don't seem all that connected. The graphics are very good and I really liked being able to play as the British. The strategy part of the game is very well done and if this is your type of cart, you better plan to set a lot of time aside for it because once you start you won't stop!


Koei has never been one to let me down when I wanted a good strategy game and Liberty or Death is another heavy hitter. While the story doesn't really excite me, this one will definitely keep you glued to the TV set for hours on end. You get total control over the troops, money allocation, and territory control. This is a great time warp back to the early days of American history. It's worth a look.


I dread the time when I have to review these types of games, because they are just not the kind I get into. Like most of the games that are like this, I found Liberty or Death to be a slow-paced war simulation. The graphics could have been better as well as the music and sound. On the plus side, this game comes out on the positive as an aid to a student's history lesson, but overall, it's just not my type.


War simulations are made for a very particular type of person and, unfortunately, I'm not that type. Granted there is a lot to do and plenty of strategy, but the category as a whole doesn't catch my eye. This one in particular tries to give you a forced history lesson. I can see it appealing to fans of the genre, however the graphics aren't anything special and the particular options don't seem to interest me.

  • Manufacturer: KOEI
  • # of players: 1 or 2
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Available: March 1994
  • No. of Levels: 200+
  • Theme: Strategy

Liberty or Death is a very unique military strategy game. It puts you (the player) in a very different situation. You help determine the events and the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Play as General George Washington on the American side or play as General Thomas Gage on the British side. This means you can play as the British and defeat the rebellious Americans! You must carefully plan your attacks against the enemy, for any false moves can easily allow for defeat. Can you defeat the British soldiers or the Americans? The fate of American States is in your hands.

Liberty or Death marches into the Genesis, but you'd better have a head for numbers if you plan to determine the fate of the Thirteen Colonies.

History is Not A Mystery

This game's exactly like the SNES version. You can command either the American Continental Army or British Royal Army. Either way, you assume the role of every officer as you rally your troops for battle.

As usual, you must be content with studying changing numbers rather than watching exciting graphics or listening to satisfying sounds. The static visuals provide you with all the information you'll need, but they're supported by just one repetitive tune.

You flip through a typical icon-based, menu-driven interface to make the patriots do their duties, which may drive some players AWOL. Preparation for war is extensive and includes drafting troops, training soldiers, building boats and cannons, and sending spies into enemy territory.


  • Some key factors affecting battle outcomes are the commander's Body Strength, his tactical abilities, and the loyalty of people in the area. Combat, however, is typical of Koei games: high on strategy, low on action. Forces appear as icons on an overhead terrain map, and you move them into battle, chess style. You command four types of units, which offer a good variety of firepower and mobility.
  • A force of 250 Rangers, maxed in Arms and Drills, can take out 1000 British troops.
  • Build your fleet Ships outside a coastal territory will bombard enemy forces.
  • A calculator and a notepad are a must!

Give Me Liberty

Liberty or Death's video war isn't revolutionary, but it is the Revolutionary War. If you think Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys are MTV award winners, there's a lesson to be learned here.

Snapshots and Media

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

SNES/Super Nintendo/Super Famicom Screenshots

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