Napoleon Hands-On

Napoleon is the real-time strategy game that puts you in the shoes of one of the most famous generals in history. We sat down with a Japanese version of the game to see what it's all about.


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Not much is known about Napoleon, the real-time strategy game for the GBA. The game was published by Nintendo and developed by Genki, and it puts you in the shoes of one of the most famous generals in history. We had a chance to play the Japanese version of the game to see what it's all about.

Napoleon is a real-time strategy game viewed from a top-down perspective. The game consists of a series of battles between two fortresses, and it simulates the battles fought by the French general. Napoleon starts in France, and the first mission is actually a very lengthy tutorial. During this mission, you'll learn exactly how to command your troops, how to attack the enemy, and how to manufacture new troops. As one of six of Napoleon's lieutenants, it's your responsibility to ride about the battlefield on horseback and command your army. Instead of using a pointer system like Command & Conquer, Napoleon uses a your lieutenant on horseback to command the army--you'll ride up to the unit you wish to command, then hit the A button to select that unit and command it. Unfortunately, this interface makes it a bit difficult to select large groups of units, as each unit has to be commanded individually. It is possible to group your units together, though it's a tedious process.

Each map has two fortresses--your fortress and the enemy's. You'll be able to generate new units by entering your fortress and using the menus to select what type of units you'd like to manufacture. Making new units costs money, and at this point, it's not entirely clear how you get more money. You win the game by occupying your enemy's fortress--you do this by successfully sending at least four units into the enemy fortress.

There are at least five types of units, ranging from basic infantry and cavalry to cannons. Additionally, there appear to be medics, and your lieutenants can also heal units using their SP meter. The SP meter is a small meter in the upper left that gradually regenerates as you play. It's unknown if this is a magic meter, or if it represents some other set of actions. It's also unknown if there are other uses for the SP meter, or if it's only used for healing units.

The graphics in the game are very clean and the animation is fluid. The game uses a nice set of colors, and though the units themselves are small, they seem pretty detailed. The maps are varied, colorful, and easy to make out. The game has some clever sound, and it even features a remix of a certain French battle song on the soundtrack.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get a whole lot out of the game, as it's entirely in Japanese. Still, Napoleon looks like it could be an exceptional real-time strategy game. The game is link-compatible, and it features at least two multiplayer modes. No announcements have been made concerning a US release of Napoleon.

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