|This article is about the handheld game. For the PC game, see Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.|
Age of Empires: The Age of Kings is a turn-based strategy video game developed by Backbone Entertainment and published by Majesco for the Nintendo DS Handheld game console.
The Age of Kings allows the player to command any one of five historical civilizations: the Britons, Franks, Mongols, Saracens, and Japanese. It has a single-player campaign and scenario mode, as well as a multiplayer mode.
The Age of Kings is turn-based. As a derivative of the Age of Empires Series other games of which are real-time strategy as opposed to turn-based strategy, The Age of Kings incorporates several features and mechanics commonly associated with real-time strategy, including technology advancement and resource and building management.
The playing field is divided into a grid, with the player having an overhead perspective of the map. Units are able to move a certain amount of spaces in the four cardinal directions, with how far they can go affected by several variables, including the unit's natural movement abilities and terrain. Each unit type is given a specific amount of spaces that it can move, with some having better movement capabilities than others. There are a variety of terrain types, such as roads, forests and grass. Roads are best for movement, while some terrains slow the player down but can provide other advantages, such as extra range or defense.
Each of the five civilizations has its own hero, which is stronger than other units. The Japanese hero is Minamoto no Yoshitsune ; the Saracens hero is Saladin; the Mongols hero is Genghis Khan; the Franks hero is Joan of Arc; and the Britons' hero is King Richard the Lionheart. Each hero has special abilities which are unique to them. Each civilization is also unique in the sense that they have different Unit Art (though the Franks and Britons share unit art, as do the Mongols and Saracens), different Special Units, and different high- and low-cost units.
There are many variables to be taken into account before battling an enemy. Before entering the battle, the game will display the statistics of both units, which consists of the units' health points, attack power, and defensive capabilities. This screen shows an adviser, who predicts the chance a given attack has of being successful. The attack power and defensive capabilities of the attacking unit vary depending on the opposing unit's special abilities. When the units enter into battle, many warriors are seen, which begin to battle each other. The attacking units usually do more damage as they get the first strike. As a unit's HP drops, their attack power does as well.
The player can advance their civilization by researching new units, technologies and other advancements. Once the player advances far enough in research or completes certain conditions, a new age is made available. Players usually start in the first age, the Dark Age, and progress through the later ages, the Feudal Age, Castle Age and Imperial Age. Advancing in age unlocks new subjects for the player to research, makes additional buildings and units available, and automatically upgrades existing units to their new equivalent in the new age.
The Age of Kings includes a campaign divided into five sections, one for each civilization. Each section contains five or six missions. The first section of the campaign, following Joan of Arc, acts as a tutorial and educates the player about the basics of the game. Campaign missions vary widely in characteristics. Some contain the fog of war, and in some missions the player starts out with some buildings while in others the player may start without any. By playing to earn "Empire Points", the player can buy powerful units to use in-game from the Bonus Items Shop, as well as new maps to play on in Single Scenario. Each mission has main goals as well as secondary goals, the latter of which increase the amount of Empire Points gained when the mission is completed.
Most units are divided into four main categories: Infantry, cavalry, ranged and siege units. Infantry and siege units have a natural 33% bonus against buildings, while archers and cavalry have a 50% penalty against them. Infantry and cavalry units are only able to attack an enemy unit or structure in any adjacent square (with the exception of squares which are diagonally adjacent), while ranged units and most siege units are able to attack from a greater distance. Each unit has movement, attack, defense, range and vision values. Some units may have additional defensive and offensive bonuses against certain types of enemy units or abilities..
Each civilization has their own unique units as in the normal game, each with their own unique abilities and trained from the castle starting in the Castle Age. Mercenary units are trained from the market; three random units are available to train each round. Normal units (i.e, spearmen, archers, etc) are statistically identical to their counterparts, except that they cost more gold. Most mercenary units during Castle and Imperial Age are the unique units of PC civilizations not included in the DS game (for example, Celtic Woad Raiders or Chinese Chu Ko Nu), each with their own abilities. All units, including all market mercenaries, automatically upgrade upon the research of the next age.
The Age of Kings contains a multiplayer mode which can support up to four players. Multiplayer can be played on a single DS in hotseat mode, or in wireless multi-card mode, where each player has a DS and a copy of the game.
Age of Empires: The Age of Kings has received an average score of 80.0% at Game Rankings (based on 45 reviews), and an average score of 80/100 at Metacritic (based on 38 reviews). IGN gave it an 8.2/10, saying that the gameplay was solid, although they stated that it should have had more civilizations and online play. Both IGN and Electronic Gaming Monthly each gave it a Game of the Month award. It received an award for "Best Game Design" Elan award in the inaugural Canadian Awards for the Electronic & Animated Arts on September 14, 2006. It was also nominated for 2006 BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Award): Best Strategy Game.
There is a common, cartridge-breaking bug that will make the game unplayable. Fortunately, all the player needs to do to avoid it is have a username longer than three characters. Majesco eventually began inserting a slip of paper into all of the copies of The Age of Kings they produced, which warned users of the problem and provided the workaround.
Some players have experienced technical issues which can impair gameplay or damage the data on the cartridge. The game data can become corrupted during a save and quit operation, preventing the cartridge from booting afterwards. The game may sometimes freeze in a battle involving Scorpion units and after the end of a mission. Majesco released claims that they were investigating the issue but no official solution or replacements have ever become available, only workarounds. Also the "Longswordsman" unit, when selected, doesn’t display a "unit name".
Due to financial difficulties, Majesco has restructured their website and removed their forums. The original information regarding the technical issues is no longer directly available. However, the glitches are mentioned in a review from Mygamer.com: "The game also has a number of bugs that freeze the game up during battles or when you save."