Nobunaga's Ambition — the hardcore Japanese-history strategy sim that established Koei as a game company — is 30 years old. This makes it not only one of the older game series still in operation, but one that's been around longer than a pretty hefty chunk of the modern gaming audience.
"When we were looking to get into games, I wanted something that would make you think while you enjoyed it," said Kou Shibusawa, series creator and general producer, in an interview with Famitsu magazine. "I was already over 30 years old at the time, so I wanted something with a lot of strategy and tactics instead of a game that just tested your hand-eye coordination. I went with a Nobunaga theme because it was one of the most fluid and dynamic periods in Japanese history, filled with heroes and generals to play as."
Encompassing over a dozen games, the Nobunaga series allows you to play as your preferred daimyo or general, engaging in diplomacy, alliances, war, and politics in your quest to unify all of Japan during the civil wars of the 16th century. "The thing we always focused on is right in the title, the concept of Nobunaga's ambition," Shibusawa said. "Unifying Japan was Nobunaga's greatest dream, one that was sadly crushed in the end, but we can create this virtual Warring States period in the game and let people realize the dream that he couldn't. That concept's stayed true across the entire series, from the first game forward."
To commemorate the 30th anniversary, Tecmo Koei is releasing a new game. Called Nobunaga no Yabou: Souzou in Japanese, the 14th title in the series is due out later this year for the PC and PlayStation 3. Like most other games in the series, it'll keep from becoming stale by offering a variety of new gameplay modes and approaches.
"The producer and designers came up with the basic ideas for each title, but we naturally take in ideas from players as well," Shibusawa said. "Also, as general producer, I propose ideas that I think could help bring the game into new directions. We start by holding discussions to work out the general concept of the title, the way the new Nobunaga should go. For example, the original Nobunaga covered only 17 nation-states in central Japan, but that later got expanded to all of Japan after many player requests."
As Shibusawa put it, gamers across Japan wanted to take historical figures from their own region and try to use them to take over the whole country. "I thought it'd be more fun to have all of Japan involved as well," he said, "so that's how the next game [pictured above] got started. There was also the fact that PCs and consoles had advanced to the point where it was possible. Being able to provide these 3D battles and realtime war progression is something that's gone hand-in-hand with advances in technology."
The new Nobunaga will come out in Japan later this year.