The developers of Jet Grind Radio are working on a Dreamcast strategy game called Hundred Swords. Originally an arcade game using Sega's Japanese fiber optic service net@, Hundred Swords is a real-time strategy game with a definite console feel.
Hundred Swords lets you choose one of four kingdoms--Nalavale, Gran, Mascar, or Riplustorie--and jump into a multiplayer RTS competition on- or offline. Each kingdom has a unique unit and a general that adds special bonuses to your units. Like any other real-time strategy game, Hundred Swords has you gather resources and use them to build structures and create an army. The army consists of four basic units: army infantry, cavalry, mages, and archers. And the units balance out, because infantry are strong against cavalry, cavalry are strong against mages, mages have special magical attacks, and archers are good at long-range combat. You will have living units in your army, and you'll also be able to build vehicles such as golems and airships. After winning each battle, you'll be rewarded with shells. Shells are swords and armor that can be used during battle to increase your attack or defensive capabilities.
The Dreamcast version features several modes. The adventure mode is a single-player game that wasn't featured in the arcade version. And although the adventure mode may seem like a simple addition to the basic network play of the arcade game, the storytelling and plot are well conceived and well implemented. The Dreamcast version uses the same character models used in the arcade version, and it makes each unit look like midget-sized warriors. The general plotlines are told through comic book-like sequences, and these cutscenes and the loading screens both feature brilliant artwork from Yoshio Sugiura. Only two of the kingdoms are available in the adventure mode, which consists of six chapters--three for the Nalavale kingdom and three for the Gran kingdom. The difficulty of the adventure mode is just about right for the average gamer, but it may leave hard-core RTS players feeling a bit unchallenged. This is where the mission mode comes in--missions are scenarios with varying difficulties that have specific tasks for you to complete. The shells awarded in this mode can be used for the network mode.
The only concerns that need to be addressed in the game are the lack of range and navigation support in the game's camera. The field map is displayed in an isometric view that can be rotated in increments of 45 degrees, but you can't see very much onscreen, and it would be helpful if the camera could be zoomed out a little bit further. Pressing the L and R triggers together switches the perspective to a completely zoomed-out view, but this feature is useful only for checking out the geography of the entire map. The keyboard can be used for chats during network play, but considering how this genre was originally designed for a mouse and keyboard, it's too bad that Hundred Swords doesn't feature support for the mouse and keyboard during gameplay.
Hundred Swords is a welcome addition to the strategy-simulation genre. With network play and single-player support, Hundred Swords looks like a solid conversion from the popular arcade game.