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Downloads Home » Rise of Rome: Single Player Campaigns » Nippon Chronicles: Rise of the Shihan

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Nippon Chronicles: Rise of the Shihan

Author File Description
File Details
Number of Scenarios: 8
Difficulty: Mod-Hard
So yeah, this is it, the campaign that I've been working on all throughout High School. As far as I know, it's the first campaign to be released so far with an edited .dat file as well as an edited .dll file, so that's something of an achievement. The story is pretty extensive, so I won't try to summarize it here. Also, I've begun to think that the name of the campaign doesn't fit very well, but it's been "Nippon Chronicles: Rise of the Shihan" for so long that I think it would be rather pointless to change it now. And just for clarification, Nippon is a fictional land and not Japan.

Enough of my ramblings. I hope you enjoy my campaign, and let me know about any bugs that I have to fix. Just so you guys know, scenario 6 has been known to crash occasionally, so save often. Also, play without the patch to avoid the save bug if possible.

Thanks for downloading and happy playing!
AuthorReviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Map Design4.9
Background (skip to playability if you're only interested in reading about the campaign):

RCM7525, or Nacht Jaeger as he would be known on the forums for most of his time at HeavenGames, arrived at Age of Empires Heaven around the same time I did in '07. At the time AoEH was struggling a lot with maintaining an active staff regiment, and Jaeger was an active contributor and well-liked community member, which was why he was made a Cherub soon upon his arrival. He would step down from the rank of Angel in 2011, like most invoking Real Life concerns. In 2012 he released Nippon Chronicles, the campaign he has been working on and keeping us updated about in the Designers Board II for as long as he was around.

So... Honestly, I feel sort of ashamed that it never received a review. I had planned to do it upon release, but as the campaign was released with a series of bugs, I decided to delay it until Jaeger fixed some bugs. Now, Jaeger did update this with a hot fix, but unfortunately he never really told us about it anywhere when he did, and as he left us I guess we all sort of forgot about it. But today is when I'm going to fix that.

Playability: 4.5

Unfortunately Jaeger never got around to fixing all the bugs. I'll freely admit to a slight bias here and say that 4.5 is a generous score for this category. Still, none of the problems present in this campaign are directly game-breaking. Some scenarios may not end correctly after you've fulfilled all the victory conditions, at which point you may use the "Home Run" cheat without a guilty conscience. There are also a few minor frustrations, most relating to a RTS objective I've always dreaded, which is keeping your heroes alive. In the first scenario, trying to position your hero next to the Blind Lame Priest to get healed was so frustrating that I'd just run for it. Similarly in the last scenario you start out in a situation where they are both likely to take fatal damage before you can make it to a safe spot. In general I would have liked if heroes were a little bit more on the defensive side stat-wise. I guess you could argue that the numerous problems with the gameplay could be outweighed by the unique additions to the game. Still, most scenarios are surprisingly conventional, often including some type of assault on a larger fortified city, though the occassional island hopping gives it a unique feel similar to the Yamato campaign from the original game. Depending on how you feel about conventional Build & Destroy gameplay you might feel it is a tad repetetive, or you might just love it.

Balance: 4.9

The campaign maintains a consequent level of difficulty for the complete set of 8 scenarios. This is no question an impressive feat, considering some of the units present in the campaign. There are towers in this campaign which puts old Archimedes' Mirror Towers to shame, but there are also always ways to destroy them or go around them. The large amounts of passive units in some scenarios will often create sort of static situations where you can defend yourself with reltive ease and only wait to build up the force to attack the enemy's stronghold. Either that or you may attempt to draw out enemies of their cities to pick them off, either way you will find that each scenario offers a certain challenge.

Creativity: 5

Upon release this was the only campaign to make use of an edited empires.dat file. It is the only one to this day. It basically replaces one of the original game files to create its own little mod specifically for this campaign. What surprises me is how little was actually done with this. The first scenario has the most original tweaks, creating an artificial night by removing unit line of sight and letting the player upgrade their hero later on. From there on the usage is kept to a few modified units per scenario, most of them being heroes. A lot of the tweaks are just small fixes for things which have annoyed designers for ages. Discovery snow dropping flags when walked on? No more. Civilians chopping down the carfully placed trees in cities? Not anymore, and they put up a fight against intruders. But at the very first scenario, where you control your hero and you're so surprised to see him actually throw that spear at enemies, you expect so much more! The potential for this is huge, it could've completely revolutionized the game. One could rebalance the game entirely, redo civ bonuses completely, or have priests conjuring fireballs and bowmen shooting lazers, but the data file leaves so much untouched. I don't know if Jaeger didn't do this because of time constraints or if he just didn't want to alter the core gameplay we're all familiar with. Apart from this there isn't overly much to applaud in terms of creativity. There are a few eye-catching design tricks every now and then, but at the same time the map design feels slightly "standard" a lot of the time, but we'll get to that below. Still, there is no questioning that this campaign is one of a kind, and thus I can but give it a 5 for Creativity.

Map Design: 4.9

Jaeger asked players to keep in mind that the campaign was designed using the Enhanced Editor, and that it might not reach the levels of some later works composed with the Composite Editor. However in my years here I have learned that what matters isn't the technology but the designer, and I don't think Jaeger reached quite all the way there. Even comparing this to some quality pieces from the EE era I think it falls flat in some regard. Typically the maps are sometimes a bit too large and unvaried, and I feel that this may be one of those cases where the map sizes could be shrunk down for the designer to give more attention to a smaller area, but at the same time when considering gameplay the larger open areas actually have to be there. My main grudge is the repetiveness of the maps. While the campaign is set on a fictional island in the Orient, the everpresent grasslands, forests and cities using the Asian Architecture set do get boring after some time. Some rocky areas, arid valleys, anything that could break up the monotony would be welcome. The large, regularly spaced cities also give a somewhat sterile impression a lot of the time. Still apart from the lack of variance I have few complaints. The underbrush is always given the attention it so sorely lacks in many other maps, and there are quite a few spots with some great eye-candy every now and then. If you compare it to other scenarios made in 2008-9 when a lot of the groundwork for this campaign was laid quite a few of them might even be considered revolutionary. Some of my favorite areas are, as I often find, the marshlands where villagers and boats fascinatingly move side by side. I don't know if it is because I often took inspiration from Jaeger's work myself, or if it is what seems to be occasional homages to the old ES designs (remember the temple at the top of the mountain in the Yamato campaign? This is the second time I mention it but I feel like this sometimes plays like a refined version of that campaign), but I often feel that Jaeger's designs induce an odd feeling of familiarity in me. If that doesn't earn a high grade I don't know what.

Story/Instructions: 5

The story of Nippon Chronicles is delightfully simple. As the campaign starts out you join the hero, Lee, in the wilderness on a quest to become a man. But as he returns to his village, he finds it has been burned by the enemy, represented by the Shang civilisation in-game. They're called the Zhang. The campaign is a fantasy campaign that doesn't offer anything particular in terms of plot. It is a story you've heard before, a clear cut "hero's journey". The worldbuilding isn't overly deep either, but at least it manages to stay consistent. The story does a nice enough job with retaining your interest and binding the different scenarios together. The writing is pretty much impeccable and objectives are almost always clearly formulated (though I understand some might be confused by "find and kill unit x" without a visual reference). The bitmaps unfortunately all appear kind of messed up for me at the briefing screen. I've given high story grades to a lot worse things than this, so I think the 5 is deserved.

Final Comments:

Er... yeah, so I'm sorry this review took so long? In fact I'm only reviewing this because I had a bout of insomnia last week and I was somehow while I was laying in bed not sleeping the existence of this thing came to my mind out of the blue. Unfortunately Jaeger like a lot of people who put scenario design on the shelf released his final work in a state that isn't directly rushed, but where you get the feeling that a lot of the potential went unfulfilled because of time contraints. But as a final verdict, it is an excellent campaign, the only one of its kind.

[Edited on 02/14/19 @ 08:13 AM]

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Map Design4.9
Favorites: [Who?]0
Size:2.56 MB