Lords of the Rising Sun logo Format Gold


There was a time in history when matters of great import concerned the world and mankind lusted to become a part of it: when wars were fought and not winning but honour was what mattered most. Japan, that orange land bathed by the light of the rising sun, was one such place.

Cinemaware, long renowned for the astounding Defender of the Crown have produced this new interactive movie set in that 12th century land of honour and dignity.


The game sees two would-be emperors fighting for domination of one crumbling empire. Yoritomo, the consummate politician and strategist faces the battle-skilled Yoshitsune in a legendary struggle to win control of the Japanese dynasty. You can select to paly either of these characters, assuming the obvious advantages associated with each. The objective is to capture all 19 castles spanning the map of Japan and stil manage to stand up straight afterwards. Along the way you can build up your skill ratings depending on the outcome of battle and your leadership abilities. Just to make sure the game is not all blood and war, you can win the hand - and body - of a beautiful princess if you are lucky.


The game is arranges as a giant map with monasteries, castles, cities and an imperial palace strategically positioned to keep the action across the whole area. You initially take control of three soldiers who always begin the game in the same location. These are directed around the map by selecting them whenever they come to a standstill and directing them to their new location. They then follow the shortest path either on foot or by boat - if they are beginning their journey at a port.

Different locations offer different features: monasteries are neutral territory and can often be relied upon to supply food. Castles can either be attacked or an alliance suggested and the imperial palace is the place to go for imperial regalia such as the Sacred Sword or Scroll.

As you make your journey, you encounter other troops at which point you can intervene and suggest forging an alliance with the leader of attacking them. Either is usually a good suggestion since your own castles are often liable to attack if you are not careful.

As you make your journey there is often the need to stop for food to supply your troops. Visiting one of your own castles or a friendly monastery is advised for this task although the imperial palace is neutral territory and will often give food.

The game is punctuated with moments of interaction where you must participate in all sorts of encounters or attacks. In these moments the map is frozen and you move into the interactive phase where skill is rewarded with extra troops or new territory.


Considering that this type of game is based largely around its strategy elements, the graphics have been remembered at every turn. There is a remarkable resemblance here with Cinemaware's previous hit, Defender of the Crown, but there is far more interaction with the player. All sorts of animated routines appear at opportune moments from attacks by a Ninja assassin to tense battlefield occasions when you must participate in the bloody wars.
The superb animation is supplemented in most circumstances by atmospheric musical effects to convey the impression of ancient Japan. Probably one of the best examples of this occurs during the opening credits of the game, although the music at other points is almost as good, if a little repetitive.
Grunts and groans as you strike your enemies also appear at times as well as other spot effects to assist gameplay.


In its day, Defender of the Crown was reckoned to be one of the finest strategy games ever, but Lords of the Rising Sun could be viewed as the next logical step considering the progressions made with the ST and Amiga on the games scene over the intervening years.
The challenge, as ever in this type of game, is not one likely to appeal to anyone unprepared to play for a long time. It is very much of a strategy game so the action moves sufficiently slowly to give you time to think. In moments of tension this can often prove to be too slow despite a speed-up option, although a save to disk feature is available. The game spans a wider battlefield than Defender ever did, and as such the gameplay is far deeper and potentially more appealing for the avid strategist. With the long shelf-life of this kind of game it is certain to become the same classic which Defender proudly claimed.

Lords of the Rising Sun logo CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £29.99

Since Cinemaware took the idea of the interactive movie seriously they have spent much of their time pursuing an interest with the kind of subject matter found at Saturday matinees: Sinbad was a fantastical Far Eastern adventure, Rocket Ranger a camp Forties romp, and The 3 Stooges pre-war slapstick.

Having seemingly exhausted this source of inspiration they have turned their attention to subject matter of greater scope and depth, Lords Of The Rising Sun is their ambitious attempt to take a Kurosawa-like epic and turn it into entertainment software. This is 'Ran' for 16 bit micros.

Set in Twelfth Century Japan Lords Of The Rising Sun is a tale of warring feudal clans. It follows the fortunes of two brothers in their quest for power by way of a bloody conflict with an opposing clan. The game develops in the style of their earlier work Defender Of The Crown, a polished combination of arcade and role-playing elements, linked by location stills and descriptive narrative. The sum of these parts blends together smoothly to form an impressive whole.

The detailed and, for once, interesting booklet enclosed in the packaging, makes the need to précis the plot superfluous. You have a choice of playing either of the two brothers in their attempt to regain power and honour for their family. This is achieved by gaining control of the forts of your enemy, the Minamoto clan. How you do this depends on your blend of strategy and arcade skills. These come into play at various times during the game, particularly if you play Yoshitsune, the more warrior-like of the two brothers.

These take the form of a number of interactive sequences, some of which you can bring on, others you have no control over. Of the latter kind, two spring readily to mind, one when your castle is under siege in which you fire arrows from a castle window at onrushing warriors. The other occurs when you are surprised by a ninja assassin armed with shurikens - you have to block them with your sword as they are thrown. Miss them and nasty splurts of blood fly out until everything goes red - end of game.

Of the sequences you have control over, there is the retreat when you can charge your horse through troops, fight a battle and, best of all, lay siege to a castle. This takes the form of a small neatly drawn warrior under your control. You have to guide him through the castle grounds to the keep in what rapidly becomes a frantic Gauntlet-esque battle, sometimes with dozens of opposing troops.

Much of the game though is played from the beautifully drawn map, Lords Of The Rising Sun plays in real time, and the map reflects this as clouds drift across the skies above the archipelago. As you move your forces around you may watch their progress.

Sending out scouts for reports on troop movements and positions is crucial, as is regularly reviewing your own forces.

The scope of LOTRS is breathtaking. It truly is an epic in all senses of the word. It takes a grand story with heroic events and gives it tremendous breadth and depth of gameplay. The strategy is absorbing, the arcade interludes relevant and entertaining. There is many hours of enjoyment here.

Visually, LOTRS is a truly stunning game. The graphics, both of the arcade sections and of the stills are superb. The latter though are often animated and the silhouetted screens, with their saturated colours are outstanding. They lend the game still more atmosphere.

Whilst what sound exists is good - there is an oriental tune, and some sampled battle effects - large patches of the game are played in silence. It is a minor gripe, but some kind of extra aural accompaniment would have added more, say in the way the ethereal soundtrack works with Populous.

Lords Of The Rising Sun ranks as Cinemaware's finest interactive movie yet. It has a superb combination of disparate yet mutually complementary elements that combine to make one of the most comprehensive pieces of entertainment software yet released. Sayonara!

Lords of the Rising Sun logo

Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft, Amiga £24.99

Twelfth Century Japan is as wild as it sounds with Samurai, Ninja and Warlords hacking seven shurikens out of one another. Civil War has split the country and the big fight is about to commence. The country is split into two factions: the constantly feuding Taira and Minamoto clans. The Taira clan are in control, the Emperor has lost his influence and the future of Japan is at stake.

The game begins with the selected Minamoto brother - either Yoritomo or Yoshitsune - having three armies under his command. Use the map of the Oriental islands to direct forces from castle to castle, gaining alliances or storming castles wherever possible. Via the map, forces under your command can be directed along the country's pathways to distant castles, monasteries, cities and ports. Ports provide speedy sailing to other ports while monasteries can top up supplies if asked nicely (a sword at the throat would be just as easy).

Taking castles and cities is one way to success and obviously increases your force's power. A siege takes the form of a Gauntlet-style sub-game as the attacking leader fights through guards to kill the Keep guard and claim the castle.

But like Defender of the Crown, it isn't all battling and slashing. There is a love interest, but she's locked up in one of the Taira's castles (the Emperor's daughter, just so you know). Rescue her and please the emperor, gaining some honour into the bargain.

Battling is the other way to ultimate victory in which opposing archers and troops stare each other out across the battlefield, charge at one another, and massacre fellow Japanese. If the enemy retreats you can chase after the leader on horseback hacking down and trampling underfoot his cowardly men while avoiding rocks and trees. Fun indeed, providing you get through to slay the leader.

If things are going badly, Ninja assassins can be hired to kill a powerful rival, but if they're caught it's the old sword in the stomach routine for you. However, you're not the only one who can play dirty and if a Ninja pops up make sure you've got your swords handy!

Lords is a change for Cinemaware in that they've sought to revamp ideas from a previous game (namely Defender of the Crown). The presentation is, as ever, first class with suitably Oriental music and good graphics (if not quite in the Rocket Ranger league). It may be argued by miserable people (i.e. Paul Rand!) that the strategy side of things is slow moving, but the various arcade sections (many more than in Defender) shatter that argument.

Purists might balk at the thought of a Cinemaware strategy game but the game's much more of a wargame than an interactive movie. Thankfully the opponent is strong enough and fast enough in gaining power to provide a high level of strategic strength. The computer-controlled warlord follows a basic pattern of taking over weak fortresses and does start off on a better footing which makes your task that much harder. Unfortunately it's all too easy to fail at the arcade sections and lose the battle (the very difficult castle siege sequence is a prime example).

Without the strong strategic element the game could easily have fallen between all stools and appealed to no one. Arcade adventurers will enjoy the game but it is essentially a powerful strategy/arcade combination with slightly more emphasis on the former.