|Release Date:||: March 19, 1998|
February 7, 2002 (Number series)
|Genre:||Tactical strategy RPG|
|Game Modes:||Single Player|
Söldnerschild Special (ゼルドナーシルト Special) is the re-release version of Söldnerschild, a collaboration title between Koei and Sega. Koei developed the original title and Sega published it for the Sega Saturn on September 25, 1997.
The PlayStation port, Special, is completely copyrighted by Koei and is branded as their last Rekoeition entry, or simulation titles which include RPG elements. The game's title is written in German and is loosely translated as "Mercenary's Buckler".
Söldnerschild is set in a fantasy version of medieval Europe. Similar to Inindo: Way of the Ninja, the player's character is the namesake mercenary of the battlefront who leads a group of mercenaries throughout the game. The protagonist is not directly involved with politics, but his actions in battle and his affiliations can re-shape the land's government and leadership.
The story is set in Continental Year 951 within the large Ligurian continent. It was once divided by two main powers, the Lahgeil Kingdom in the west and the Holy Rana Empire in the east.
During Continental Year 939, the elderly king of Lahgeil suddenly perished to illness. The right to his throne was entrusted to his infant heir. The death of the liege caused utter chaos in Lahgeil, and one by one the discontent nobles declared independence. Regent Clovis banded with nobles angered with the court's decision and founded the Principality of Sachsen to topple the Lahgeil throne. Public Chairman Giovanni feared the possible repercussions of Clovis' defiance yet didn't want to associate himself with the current Lahgeil royalty. He departed from his home with agreeing nobles to create the Republic of Estania. In response to the two rebel countries, those loyal to the Lahgeil throne renamed their territory the Grankuhl Kingdom.
As the Grankuhl Kingdom seeks to reclaim dominance against the Principality of Sachsen and the Republic of Estania, their civil war affected their neighbors. Smaller kingdoms seek to defend their property or desire to use the bickering to claim the Ligurian continent for themselves. These rivals include the Holy Rana Empire, the matriarchal kingdom Fenril, and the island kingdom of the west Meilard. The only kingdom neutral to conflict is the religious kingdom of Papis, which graciously accepts donations from other kingdoms within the center.
The protagonist is given the goal to end the years of war by uniting the Ligurian continent under one of the six warring factions.
At the start of each game the player can decide their protagonist's name and assign his preferred troop type, which is locked for the entire game. The game proceeds in a month and year format. Each action the protagonist's party takes consumes one month of in-game time. Within this one turn, the protagonist can move to a single location, meet with townsfolk, train, and so on. Each month the protagonist must take a job request for whoever they desire.
After the third month in 951, the player is free to direct the mercenary group's actions. Travel is done by dragging the arrow cursor and confirming the highlighted location. Locations are graded based on their economical status, E noting a rural village and A noting a castle town. Once a location is selected, the party will not leave from the area until the month ends. Depending on the location's grade, the following buildings will be available:
|Shop||All||Purchase equipment for the protagonist. Changes his weapon type and equipment. Useful for preparing for duels. Presents for bar waitresses can also be bought here.|
|Training Camp||All||Lets the protagonist learn special techniques from the region's weapon specialist based on his current level. Priced with a standard fee. Weapon types include sword and shield, axe and shield, two-handed sword, two-handed axe, spear, and bare knuckled.|
|Church||All||Lets the protagonist learn magic based on his current level. Priced with a standard fee. Magical items can be purchased as a secondary alternative to increasing the protagonist's personal stats.|
|Pub||All||Hire idle mercenaries for the group. Purchase a drink to hear the latest gossip from the barkeep. The protagonist can befriend a waitress by chatting with her and giving her presents. She may reward his kindness with unique and rare items.|
|Guild||All||Building to receive job requests. Job requests are unlocked based on the protagonist's current level. Difficulty is graded by E (easy) - A (extremely hard). Troops can be purchased and upgraded with the guild keeper. Mercenary groups and current status of the kingdoms at war can be checked here.|
|Inn||All||Save and load area. Once a job request is completed (with a success or failure), the group needs to rest here to end the current month.|
|Residence||E-C||Normal village residence. Visiting these places can unlock special events to obtain new companions, new weapons, and so on. This is the only way to unlock the secret two-handed sword style for the protagonist.|
|Square||C-A||Public area. Provides secondary exposition from locals. May serve as a meet and greet for special events.|
|Castle/Noble's Residence||B-A||Lets the protagonist randomly meet and greet the leading nobles/royalty of the kingdom. Characterizes the warring factions.|
|Arena||A only||Lets the protagonist participate in a monthly tournament against other mercenary groups. Maximum of five duels per tournament. Champions obtain 5,000 gold while second place earn 2,500.|
After the end of each month, the player is given a "World Report" sequence. Dialogue for the warring factions and mercenary groups are shown as they fight against one another. Territory between the factions are color coded for the player's convenience.
- Principality of Sachsen -> yellow
- Grankuhl Kingdom -> red
- Holy Rana Empire -> blue
- Republic of Estania -> green
- Fenril Kingdom -> fuchsia
- Meilard Kingdom -> light blue
- Holy Kingdom of Papis -> brown
If the protagonist earns beloved favor for one of the factions by constantly attending to their job requests, he will be knighted for their efforts. His group will no longer travel and will be stationed within the country of the player's choice. The main party is then given missions to fulfill for unification. Knighthood is necessary for obtaining one of the fourteen different endings in the game. Endings are determined by the resistance to the player's faction and by the protagonist's answers to story events.
Occasionally, mandatory story events will force the player to drop their plans and attend to them. Most of these events must be passed successfully for the story to continue.
The game's time limit is the Continental Year 954. Should the player fail to choose a single side to be loyal to, they will obtain the game's bad ending.
Battles are primarily job requests or missions throughout the game. Before engaging in conflict, the player can check the battlefield and assign the participating soldiers for each squadron. Squadrons consists of one leader and two subordinates whom lead their respective troops into battle. The conditions for victory and defeat are explained once the battle begins.
Troop types include cavalry, infantry, spearmen, and archers. Sorcerer characters can also conjure golems or undead soldiers to attack in battle. They can be summoned once the battle commences and cannot be bought. When characters reach level 10 or 20, they can upgrade their troops' strengths once the protagonist returns to the guild. Their respective strengths and weaknesses are listed in the chart below.
|Troop Type||Weak against||Strong against||Other Traits|
|Cavalry||Spearmen||Infantry||Fastest troop type. Allows army to quickly pass through plains and roads, but defenses drop in forests and mountains. Troop names include Trooper, Wing Feather, and Dragoon.|
|Infantry||Cavalry||Spearmen||Basic troop type. Increase defensive power in forests and mountains. Troop names include Fighter, Guardian, and Berserker.|
|Spearmen||Infantry||Cavalry||Increase defensive power in forests and mountains. Slightly slower than infantry. Troop names include Pike, Phalanx, and Tercio.|
|Archers||All||None||Cannot be ordered to the front and cannot last long in close-ranged combat. They can be ordered to shoot a volley in battle. Lowers enemy morale dramatically and can target weakened commanders who hide behind other squadrons. Troop names include Short Bow, Long Bow, and Sniper.|
|Golems||Magic||All||High defense and attack power, but easily decimated by magic attacks. Can be unsummoned through enemy magic in battle. Earth or Stone Golems can be summoned.|
|Undead||Everything except Golems||Magic||Above-average defense and attack power. Slightly weaker than golems. Can be unsummoned through enemy magic in battle. Zombies or Skeletons can be summoned.|
Battles are turn based and take place on an overhead square grid. Two units cannot occupy the same square. Allies move first, then third party allies, and then enemy troops.
When two conflicting parties clash, the battle switches to a separate screen to detail their encounter in a brief real-time sequence. The player can control the ally squadron's units based on the number of Command Points allocated at the top of the screen. Command Points are automatically generated as the squadrons fight against one another. Units will be arranged based on whatever settings the player decided prior to battle.
Orders can be issued by pressing to open the order menu; orders pause the battle's time limit so the player can take their time to decide their action. Orders can affect all units (全軍), the front unit (前列), the middle unit (中列), or the rear unit (後列). These commands include:
- Order (命令) - opens the following sub-menu
- March (前進) - moves the selected unit(s) forward. Uses two command points.
- Defend (防御) - orders the selected unit(s) to standby and defend. Uses two command points.
- Withdraw (後退) - orders the selected unit(s) to back away. Uses two command points.
- Switch (交代) - switches the two selected units. Uses four command points.
- Volley (弓攻撃) - Only if there is an archer unit. Orders archers to fire at a selected enemy squadron within their range. Uses four command points.
- Magic (魔法) - lets the player choose a spell from one of their squadron leaders. Spells can be used to heal troops, boost their stats, decrease the enemy stats, or attack them with varying effects. Magic points cannot be restored during battle, so the player needs to use their spells carefully. Uses at least four command points.
Players can track the health of troops during these encounters by keeping track of the guide at the middle of the screen. Green indicates healthy soldiers, yellow notes wounded soldiers, and red is for those who are critically injured. Each squadron leader is defended by their soldiers; once they are wiped out, the unit's leader can be attacked directly. Magic and volleys can be used to injure leaders before they reach this point. If the squadron's main leader falls in combat, the sequence will end automatically for the victor. Experience for party members can be obtained through each encounter.
Morale can also decide a squadron's fighting potential. If an ally unit is struggling, keep them away from combat to restore their morale. The magic spells Bravery and War Cry can also restore lost morale, but the unit will be further fatigued after battle.
If the player wins the overall conflict, they boost the protagonist's reputation and can earn money to fund their forces. Losing a battle lowers the hero's reputation but earned experience for participating units is kept.
If the protagonist accepts a personal challenge from his foe, a duel sequence will begin. The two fighters will face one another and take turns hitting one another. The hero's performance in battle is relative to his level, special techniques, and his equipment. If he loses the duel whilst in a battle, the game will automatically end. Any other instance results in his normal defeat. The following menu is available on the hero's turn:
- Offensive (攻撃側) - opens the following sub-menu
- Attack (攻撃) - basic attack from equipped weapon.
- Shout (気合) - builds up technical points (TP).
- Special Technique (必殺) - uses allocated TP to perform a strong strike.
- Defensive (防御側) - opens the following sub-menu
- Defend (防御) - self-explanatory. Lowers damage from enemy's strike.
- Dodge (回避) - evades enemy's strike. Gain one TP for each successful dodge. Certain fail and success rate.
- Counter (反撃) - counterattacks enemy's normal attack. Uses two TP. Certain fail and success rate.
Over 150 characters are in the game. Only the major characters are listed below.
- Ein (name is changeable)
- The main protagonist. Orphaned at a young age, he was adopted by Anastasia's father. When he was orphaned again during an attack at his village, he volunteered to become a member of Steindorf's Tigre Mercenaries. He eventually is entrusted to become the leader of the group. A righteous youth who values justice and fairness, he desires to save the people and see a world of peace.
- Ein's childhood friend who once housed Ein at her village. She joins the Tigre Mercenaries when her father is murdered by a bloodthirsty mercenary named Cortez. She is unsure of her purpose in battle but swears to use her magic to ease the people's suffering.
- A young man who lived in Anastasia's village. He also lost his family to Cortez and swears to one day obtain vengeance. He joined the same time as Ein and Anastasia yet was stationed at a lower rank. Luc considers Ein to be his rival for Steindorf's recognition.
- Renowned mercenary and leader of the Tigre Mercenaries. He was once known for his legendary dual sword wielding. When he and Gilford faced Smilie, however, Steindorf lost his right arm in the conflict. Humble and charismatic, he is the one who entrusts his will to Ein. He dies shortly after the game's tutorial session in a duel with Smilie.
- Veteran member of the Tigre Mercenaries who abandoned her ties with nobility. She was once raised as a knight who is well studied in swordplay. She is the strict yet calm voice of reason for the group.
- Like Louisa, he joined the Tigre Mercenaries years ago. He left before Ein's recruitment over a trivial dispute with Steindorf. When he learns of his old friend's death, Antonio graciously offers his aid to make amends for the past. He is a flamboyantly dressed playboy who is known for his wisecracks and flirtations.
- Elderly master sorcerer and an old friend of Steindorf, he joins the Tigre Mercenaries to defeat Smilie. He is later revealed to be Smilie's father and mentor. He wants to stop his son's wickedness.
- Malevolent warrior seemingly encased in a large skeletal armor who opposes the protagonist's party with his mercenary group. He seeks to exploit the wars to conquer the continent for himself.
Special offers the following changes different from the original version.
- The original game awarded bonuses for refusing the default protagonist name and changing it to the game's secondary offer (Söldnerschild), but this feature has been omitted in Special.
- Tweaks to troop types and magic to make them balanced in battle.
- Additional music.
- Loading function.
- Additional dialogue between characters. Select scenes in the game also include voice acting.
- Profile information for more characters.
- Staff roll after viewing one of the game's good endings.