In Battle Master you get thrown into this medieval environment, seen from above, like a later Ultima game. However, this is not an early RPG, but it's more of an action game, with an accent on squad based tactics. This means that you will have to control an entire set of characters, have them occupy the right positions relative to one another and also , try to have them placed in positions that are better considering their specializations. Thus, an archer will be much better away from the units that would otherwise chop them away with swords. So, on one level is the type of strategy with a rock paper scissors built in frame work. Then, placement of the units in order to get cover and distance, when distance is important, is the other kind of thing that the game gets right. Also, Battle Master is a kind of game that looks great, in spite of its square-ish looks. It's got good textures, and, for a 2D top down game it is very lively animated, which is definitely a great find for a 1990s game.
Enjoyable slice of retro fantasy fun
Fans of the likes of squad-based games like Laser Squad or Strike Squad are sure to enjoy Battlemaster, an early example of the genre which offers a neat fantasy variation on the theme but which provides some entertaining action. The game starts out by giving players the choice of four traditional fantasy races, Human, Elf, Orc and Dwarf, and then continues to tell a story which is pretty standard stuff for the genre but which basically revolves around a war between each of the races and four powerful crowns which can restore peace to the realm. It's all fairly unimportant to be honest, and acts simply as a rather basic backdrop to the main gameplay. This takes the form of a series of missions viewed from an overhead perspective, and which simply require players to destroy 75 per cent of the opposing force in order to proceed to the next, using their team of up to five characters, each with their own skills and weapons. Combat is a mixture of ranged and melee action, with players issuing commands to the other characters, and although they are quite basic, this does add an extra element of strategy which is appreciated. Although Battlemaster is not without its flaws, it remains an enjoyable enough excursion into the world of fantasy battles. The graphics are quite dated and retain a sort of retro charm, with some decent sprites and environments but which aren't overly spectacular. The main gameplay too is quite exciting but lacks the depth and strategic complexity that would make it a classic. There is plenty of challenge on offer here though and if you are after a straightforward enough slice of fantasy fun, this is worth a look.