Genghis Khan is on a roll. With the villagers bringing an abundant supply of gold from the mines and wheat from the farms, the population prospered and victory was almost assured in the continuous action in the north. Now the Warlord can look forward to a quiet evening with a small selection of his favorite concubines. But what is it? There has been a riot in the South and the enemies are gathering at the border. How will Genghis handle this? Will he withdraw important military units from the northern front to support his defenses, or will he stop expanding his empire while he trains more militias and cavalry to repel this new impact? Or will Genghis simply hide with the concubines inside, hoping that his allies will come to the rescue in the West? Decisions, Decisions.

What we have here is just a delicate Situation for Age of Empires: Age of Kings players on the DS, although this one clashes more with the touchscreen and mentions fewer teenage maids. Under its presentation of the Classic PC Ensemble Studio 1999 Age of Empires II and the screwing of a turn-based engine friendly for handhelds, the Age of Kings is a classic strategy game at all levels. To be honest, this Version is so old that it should come with a lumpy pudding and a director, but it has an undeniable retro Charm that manages to occupy the player quickly. The only real concession to modernity is the control of the DS-compatible stylus, which faithfully imitates the mouse and keyboard system of the original game.

A series of well-developed didactic missions, all based on the story of the French legend Joan of Arc, will teach you the most important skills that you need to master to progress in the game. The base game is a combination of resource acquisition and military strategy (some missions focus on one or the other and some combine both game modes), so there is not much to surprise veterans of the genre here. The sources of gold and wheat must be secured by the education and employment of the villagers to find them on the map. With a constant flow of food and money entering your city center, it is then possible to build the first barracks and stables necessary for the training of soldiers and cavalry.

Each Mission usually starts with a handful of units (villagers and soldiers) to launch it, but there is more to prepare if you want to conquer the level. Research is also an important feature of the game and only by injecting money into the recent equipment such as looms or leather-soled shoes will you be able to progress your city enough to grow old. By reaching this status, you will have access to more advanced technologies (ballistics, siege vehicles, espionage) that can provide a crucial strategic advantage over enemies stuck in the Dark Ages. The more advanced your civilization is, the more military units and buildings you will have at your disposal. It is therefore important to set aside enough money to explore all the options that stand in your way. The maps are relatively small, everyone trades the best resources and the missions usually start with a crazy shot at the nearest gold deposit or wheat field.

The Action is a standard turn-based affair where melee units can only hit nearby enemies, while projectile units can hit bad guys from a safe distance. Capturing key strategic points such as bridges and mountain ranges (which give archers momentum) is an integral part of success, as is monitoring enemy units striking and defending with AI mature enough for a handheld game. Wisely, Age of Kings includes an action advisor who will give you his intelligent assessment of the outcome of the action before committing to action. The only disapproval I have with Action is the speed with which your maximum number of units is limited. Some first missions are almost insurmountable, because they are forced to face enemies with a relatively poor army. This encourages them to hone their strategic skills, but it can be off-putting for those who don’t keep Sun Tzu’s art of war as reading material.

Where the game really stands out for its attention to historical details. During the main campaign, they command five different civilizations (from the British to the Franks to the Mongols) and each action is led by a unit of heroes. There is a certain thrill of great icons like Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan or Richard the Lionheart in action and each hero has special powers to heal his armies or increase his statistics. Before each Mission, you will be given a short but informative history lesson about the context of the conflict, which will add an additional atmosphere to the game and will never back down – unlike the scolding of your Average History teacher.

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