game Cover
game HuCard
©1988 Fun Project, Inc
©1989 Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
Release : 1989-03-24 (¥5500)
HuCard (2 Mbits) JC63002
Role Playing game

Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead is a post apocalyptic and dark Role Playing/Action game by Victor Musical Industries. Due to a series of mysterious events, the town of Chany's Hill has been cut off from the rest of the world. People have suddenly gone missing and cannibalistic monsters now roam the land, killing all who cross their path. The protagonist of the game is Laila Arufon, the youngest female member of the S-SWAT (Supernatural and Special Weapon Attack Team). She was born in the small town and has developped strange psychic abilities. Her Psychic Seal ("PS") and Mind Force ("MF") powers allow her to increase any weapon destruction power but also to increase her defense capability greatly. Her mission is twofold - she must investigate the mysterious and supernatural incident in Chaneys Hill and to rescue all the remaining survivors she can find and lead them to the town's church. Laila comes equipped with a combat knife and a Hand Gun (SIG/SAUER P226) - additional weapons appear later in the game including the Assault Rifle (STYER AUG), Grenade launcher (HK MZP1), Flamethrower (M2A1-7), Bazooka (M72A2) and so forth. Although most of the game uses a traditional top-down view, battles quickly drop the game into side-scrolling action phases. There, Laila fights hordes of monsters to gain experience (blue orbs), life (reb orbs), MF points (green orbs) or ammunitions (pink cases). She can also escape at anytime as long as she can reach the edge of the fighting area. The combat items are complemented by more conventional inventory items such as medic packs, psychic pills, keys and so forth. Player's progression is saved through a long password system.
screen shot screen shot
screen shot screen shot
screen shot screen shot
Hint sheet Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead comes with a little pink disclaimer (picture on the left) that advises the player on five things to do to win the game. It explains that listening and talking to people is more important than getting experience points. It even states that Laila can't gain more that 9999 experience points, and if she does, her stats will go back to zero and she will die. This is rather interesting, most of the other sites on the web claim that this is a bug - all of this leaves us to wonder if the developers finally decided to turn this bug into a feature or if it was deliberately designed this way. The disclaimer also warns that there is a mistake in the instruction manual, although it mentions that the player can carry 15 items, he actually can only carry 14 in the game. They acknowledge and apologize for the annoying length of the passwords and recommend to directly contact them if you happen to be stuck in the game.

MSX versions Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead was first released for the MSX in 1987 on cartridge (picture on the right). The game, it seems, was well received in Japan and it even spawned a sequel called Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead Part 2 in 1988 for the MSX on two floppy disks (picture on the right). Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead, was ported in 1989 to the NEC PC88 Japanese computer and to the PC Engine (version tested here).


Documentation Advertising
Click on picture to enlarge

Here are some hints to get through the beginning of Shiryō Sensen War of the Dead:
The game starts off next to the church, the game's only refuge and this is where all the survivors will be taken to safety. But first, Laila must level-up as she's way too weak to stand for long. To do so, select the hand-gun from the inventory menu (which is a much better weapon than the combat knife) and start wandering around the church. You don't have to fight all the monsters during each encounter and you can concentrate on the ones that give experience points (blue orbs) and ammunitions. Practice also the jump as it is the best technique to take down airborne enemies. Once you've reached a couple of levels, then the game should be a lot easier to play. Now you should be ready to start your mission and explore the area (see the map from the instruction book in the Omake section). Travel south/east, walk by a small house and carry on until you reach a small building. This is the Town Hall. Enter it and talk to Wells, the mayor. He should now follow you. Return to the church. Now go back to the Town Hall and carry on walking. You should soon reach the School. Enter the building and talk to Janet, the teacher (she's located on the ground floor in the top-right classroom). She tells you to rescue Carol, a young student. She's located on the third floor, in the bottom-left classroom. Talk to her and she should follow you. Return to the church and talk to Carol, your MF power should now be extended to 40 points. Return to the School and talk to Janet again. She now follows you. Go back to the church... I now leave the rest to you...

Add your Pov here !

Before I start I'd like to warn you about something particularly important - Shiryō Sensen is largely unplayable in its cart format thanks to a dull and complicated fifty (or so) character long password system. I gave this game many chances in the past but I eventually forfeited... until today. Thanks to emulation (and to the almighty "save-state" option) I have managed to play the game and enjoy it to its fullest potential. Shiryō Sensen is actually good despite its dated feel and unfair difficulty level right off the bat. Laila is pretty tough to level up at the beginning, not all monsters give experience and she dies in a couple of hits... But if you hang in there long enough then the game reveals its charms and unique beauty. Shiryō Sensen is surprisingly very immersive and the atmosphere really creepy and suspenseful, such as the hospital with its dead corpses floating in a pool of acrid liquid or the hard-to-categorize monsters you'll encounter throughout the game. I'm also impressed by the incredible amount of detail put into it - there are countless characters to meet and all the weapons are based on real life firearms. Shiryō Sensen has aged a lot though (coarse graphics, painful leveling process and you have to walk back to the church every time you rescue someone), and it can be difficult later on if you can't read Japanese - but it is a unique experience and a pioneer in its own time.

All logos and trademarks are © their respective owners. All pages content is © Laurent KERMEL