What a fucking baller.
So, I didn’t know what to expect going into Daiteikoku. In some respects, I wanted Sengoku Rance in space – but from the start I knew this would be based off the other 大-series games. In some ways I got both, and in others, not either. I’m not as overly critical about this as some long-time Alice Soft fanatics might be, so I will say that 大帝国 is pretty fun. There is an entire wiki dedicated to AliceSoft game mechanics and information, so I’ll just briefly go over the system in Daiteikoku. You play as Togo, Space Admiral of the Japanese Navy. Your wife passed away, leaving you with a lovely daughter. Thus, you return to being a player, so long as your daughter likes the girl you’re pimpin’ it up with. The whole setting is a World War II parody where some of the most historic figures in history, such as Adolf, come to life as teenage girls or otherwise (Adorufu-chan) to serve in your military, one way or another, as the story progresses.
Each turn there is a strategy phase where you can see weather or monster alerts, planned invasions, and what country owns which territory. Some turn-based story events happen on these turns as well. During this phase you can move your units around, attack opposing countries, research, and equip new ships to your admirals. Afterwards comes your tactics phase and counter phases where you do battle with your opponents. Following that is your event phase where you get one opportunity to please a girl (making her stats better, or in some cases, convincing captured enemy units to join your side), talk to a wolf god, some awesome old man, or a couple other of your cronies, go for story events, cheat, or end the game (I kid you not.)
Daiteikoku is not a terribly complicated game. It requires some strategic planning but you can take over a lot of territory easily once you get a hold on the game-play mechanics. It’s difficulty ranges dramatically throughout the course of the game, and the plot keeps a nice balance between good humor and good build up. If you really like some extra flair of gameplay to your VN’s (a’la Utawarerumono), then this is a solid game that’s worth playing. It had some nasty bugs to start but those have been patched in version 1.02.
That being said, I have the same complaint with Daiteikoku everyone else does. It’s not Sengoku Rance. It has a territorial combat system that is fun (slightly more fun and challenging then Sengoku Rance), but it’s just missing something. I definitely got the flair of “I must do nothing but play this game.”, but it was short lived to about a day and a half compared to Rance’s several weeks. Infact, I still want to go back and play Rance every now and again. So I suppose where I have to agree with some hard critics is the overall appeal of the main cast (the Japanese admirals). Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in Japan (and I don’t know the historical representations very well), but I just don’t really like the main cast (as amazing as the dialogue for the Togo is, it really doesn’t grip me). The character design seems okay but they just don’t mesh very well. Some of the best character design came from the other countries, where I felt like more time was spent.
Being a single father, Togo aims to please those around him and has no true ambitions of his own – much different than the agenda of Rouga or Rance. I think a little more time spent in this department could of made a world of difference, since I’m enjoying the game immensely more when my own commanders aren’t on the screen. While the writing is okay, it just means you care less about your own military. When I was playing Rance, I always wanted my military to beat down my opponent to victory. Princess 帝 on the other hand? I could care less. I measure a game’s value by the “am I realizing I’m playing a game while playing it” meter. By contrast, I like a game more if I’m just so into it that I don’t even think about the fact I’m playing a video game. Maki-chan did make me HNGH, though.
What kept me into playing without doubt is this beauty on the right. Adorufu-chan is one of the most entertaining characters and definitely had some of the most entertaining scenes and reactions with the Togo. Protip, if you ally with Germany early and break through the south before they’re taken over, you can rescue Adorufu and add her to your military. She’s a solid unit and probably has the most in-depth plot in the game, save for Katherine. Her voice acting is also amazing, especially in the H-scenes. Damn did I love dating the #1 tactical and progressive genius in the galaxy. アドルフちゃん – she is just too damn moe.
Though, at the end of the day Daiteikoku had me hype for about a week at the most, so I’m not dieing to replay it. Part of it is the accumulation of important battle decisions which could hurt you 15 turns later, may cause you to have to replay a large portion of your game if you fuck up too bad (which is frustrating and demoralizing). Seriously, if you fuck up once, NATO and Warsaw are going to declare war on you. But then again, once you know everything you can pretty much blaze through it with ease (also demoralizing). In Rance, I always had the feeling I could come back no matter how many turns it took, and breezing through weaker territories was fun. In this game, I always feel like I either am playing to boring and am just easily conquering, or I can’t come back when Rance attacks me (and he does make a pretty big cameo). In short, the pacing and direction is pretty weak.
That being said, it’s definitely worth a run-through if you can get a hold of it (due to AliceSoft’s Japan sales only restriction after the unnecessary international backlash against eroge due to RapeLay about a year or so back). Maybe it just tickled my fancy because of my love for war drama, so I’m not being as hard on it as I should. Though if you love visual novels, you’ve played some Alicesoft games before, you have at least a vague understanding of Japanese as a language, and you <3 <3 war drama then you’ll enjoy it at least as much as I did.
It might be kinda gimmicky in catering to the territorial conquest hype after Rance…but…look, I really, really enjoyed dating Adorufu-chan.