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Video Game / Prince of Qin

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Reviews quoted gave it 67 and 68 points, respectively
Prince of Qin is a 2002 Role-Playing Game, released by the Beijing-based developer Object Studio. It is set during the early Imperial China period, at the time of the fall of the Qin dynasty and the rise of the Han dynasty.

The player assumes the role of Fusu, the eldest son of Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China, who's been exiled to the unfinished Great Wall for refusing to oversee book-burning. Suddenly, he receives an order to commit suicide alongside the commander of the army, General Meng Tian. Suspecting wrongdoing, they refuse to do so, and find out that Emperor has died and his throne been assumed by Huhai, the Emperor's youngest son. Huhai fabricated the order with the country's prime minister Li Si and chief eunuch of the court, Zhao Gao. Their rule has been so tyrannical that rebellion is already underway in all parts of the country, and Fusu is set to play a crucial part.

On release, Prince of Qin sold 100,000 copies and received middling reviews. Some of the development team had left the studio before the game's release to create Blade & Sword. It also had a short-lived MMO called Prince of Qin Online.


The game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alternate History: In real life, Fusu and Meng Tian did end up believing the order and committing suicide. Thus, the entire game is a "what if Fusu lived?" kind of scenario, with heavy dose of magic Diablo gameplay thrown into the mix.
  • An Aesop: The developers are not shy about promoting Confucian values. Almost every good option during NPC interactions are rewarded. If you're humble, kind and generous you will receive significant bonuses to experience, charm and fame or even acquire powerful weapons. Act like a greedy jerk and watch your fame and charm plummet to oblivion while your character progress stagnates.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: There's a maximum of four people excluding Fusu in your party.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The enemies are unable to flank or surround Fusu or his party, and just rush them according to the straightest possible route. Meanwhile, Fusu's AI-controlled allies can occasionally fail to respond to enemies' actions and just stand in place unless you pause and give them orders.
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  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The rule of the Qin Dynasty under Huhai and Zhao Gao is even more tyrannical than it was under Shi Huandi, and this led millions to rebel. However, the rebel leaders are a mixed bunch, and some of them can match the worst of Qin in atrocities. Xiang Yu stands out as a commander that ordered 200,000 prisoners of war to be buried alive to avenge his uncle's death. Fusu deserts him once this happens, and goes to join far more reasonable Liu Bang.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The English version has severe translation errors.
    • Many of passages are translated with completely incorrect sentence structure, most likely from problems with transliterating the original Chinese. For instance, the description of Tame skill learned by Musclemen is translated as "This skill helps you tame your enemy's beasts, but after the period of validity, they will become wild again." This also leads to bizarre dialogue such as Fusu replying with "I'm a fat lamb? Only if you have the capability!" when accosted by bandits who insulted him in Hanzhong Prefecture.
    • Some translations get the general meaning of the word right, but not its intensity, usually with comical results. For example, Fusu's condemnation of his father's Book Burning and murder of scholars is expressed using excessively mild language:
    "But generally speaking, it is not proper to burn so many books and kill so many people."
    • Some words are translated in a way that gives them positive connotations when they should be negative, or vice versa. For example, the positive-sounding "bold" is frequently used when the speaker's tone of voice makes it clear they're meant to be saying something like "impudent" or "insolent" — e.g. "You bold escaped criminal!"
    • There is also plenty of redundancy, and some examples of accidental innuendo. Some choice examples include:
    "I want to take his life because I want to!"
    "See brother, this is troublesome. However, it's just small trouble. I don't want to bring you any trouble."
    "Now Wacheng has been conquered and I have no worries in my rear."
  • Bonus Dungeon: After completing the tiger quest at the tavern in Xuecheng, you can enter a secret cave called Pop Soft Den from the tavern's courtyard. Inside the cave are some exceptionally powerful monsters with unusual names, probably named after the usernames of Object Software's acquaintances and level 9 loot.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": A lot of the aggressive wild creatures have rather strange names. For instance, the mountain goats are named as "Paoxiao monsters".
  • Dialogue Tree: Present at the start of every conversation, although they often disappear halfway through. Unlike other RPGs at the time, stats like Wisdom and Charm have no influence over the options presented.
  • Divided We Fall: The first rebel army Fusu joins is rendered ineffective by the conflict between its leaders, and eventually falls pretty to infighting.
  • The Dragon: Zhao Gao, the chief eunuch of the court who has orchestrated the coup for hui Hai alongside the prime minister Li Si.
    • Dragon Their Feet: At the end of the game, Zhao Gao ends up sending assassins to kill incompetent Hui Hai so that he can declare himself Emperor. He's then confronted and killed by Fusu.
  • Dying Speech: Mortally wounded Huhai has one where he admits to his involvement in the coup and the murder of First Emperor, and also blames Zhao Gao for leading the Qin to downfall.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Zhao Gao has his own underground palace, and it's where the final showdown between him and Fusu occurs.
  • Elemental Powers: The traditional Chinese elements of water, earth, wood, air and fire are used in the game, and there are spells for every one of them.
    • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: These elements again interact with each other in accordance to traditional beliefs. Thus, wood serves to feed the fire, and so wood-affiliated creatures will suffer greatly increased damage from fire spells. However, water extinguishes fire, and so not only will water spells greatly damage flame creatures, but the flame spells are also practically useless against water creatures. The game shows these relationships as lines on a five-pronged star, which is displayed on every loading screen.
  • Evil Vizier: Zhao Gao, the chief eunuch of the Qin court, is very much one. He's orchestrated Huhai's ascension to the throne alongside the Prime Minister, using the young prince as a puppet for his own rule. He forged the letter ordering Fusu to commit suicide to get him out of the way, and imprisons Prime Minister Li Si for treason after the latter challenges his tyrannical reign that led the country to mass rebellion. Once his defeat becomes clearly inevitably he has Huhai assassinated in order to rule in his own name until defeat.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: There are five character classes in the game: the Paladin, Muscleman, Asssassin, Wizard and Witch.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Huan Feng, a person who promises Fusu and Li You assistance in freeing former prime minister Li Si from prison, ends up being a Zhao Gao double agent who wanted to lead them into a trap.
  • Fetch Quest: The absolute majority of quests in the game.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the dialogues are basically multiple-choice questions involving Chinese philosophy, literature and history, which can be quite confusing to those unfamiliar with those topics. The most notable is the game of Xiangqi between Fusu and Master Guiguzi in the Peach Garden , which requires you to apply classical military strategies. This can also double as Genius Bonus.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Fusu manages to persuade Li You, a childhood friend and a Qin general, to switch sides to rebels. Later, he persuades the governor of Wancheng to do the same.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Fusu and his party is somehow capable of carrying up to 90 items of any size and weight on his body.
  • Item Crafting: Wild creatures like tigers or bears will typically drop their pelts, bones and such, which can be turned into new armours by either professional blacksmith or by Fusu himself: the latter needs high skill to craft powerful items, but blacksmith typically has rather steep prices.
  • Multiple Endings: Several of them, which are mainly dependent on how many quests you've completed by the end of the game and what companions you have in your party.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In the English version, all of the characters have very clear English pronunciation and never try to sound Chinese.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: A stat called Savvy is responsible for the amount of experience earned while fighting and carrying out quests, and so it soon ascends to that position.
  • Random Encounters: Fusu can occasionally run into ambushes by the Qin loyalist troops while moving on the world map.
  • Real-Time with Pause: Pressing space activates pause and allows you to direct Fusu's companions or stack orders for everyone.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Fusu himself was one during his exile to the Great Wall. The whole reason rebels work alongside him in spite of trying to overthrow Qin dynasty is because of the respect he's already earned from the people under his lead.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Huhai regrets what he's done and confesses his crimes to Fusu as he lies mortally wounded.
  • Respawning Enemies: Most battles have waves of reinforcements just appear out of the thin air somewhere nearby.
  • Rare Candy: Various single-use skill books can be found throughout the world, which permanently increases a character's stat when read.
  • Socketed Equipment: Weapons and armour pieces have slots where you can insert various stat-increasing gems.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The world map doesn't show the names of towns and places until Fusu personally discovers them, and if you're required to go to a certain unexplored city, it needs to be found as such. You can be given directions according to the cardinal points (i.e. south-west) but those are often wrong.
  • You Are Too Late: Happens near the end, when Fusu is finally able to reach the Epang Palace to confront his treacherous brother Huhai and the current Second Emperor. However, he's already mortally wounded by Zhao Gao's assassins by the time he arrives.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Li Si, the Qin Prime Minister who orchestrated Huhai ascension to the throne alongside Zhao Gao, ends up betrayed and imprisoned by the latter. Then, it turns out he was only kept there as a bait for Fusu and other rebels, and is executed on the spot before they can rescue him.
    • Zhao Gao ultimately has Huhai assassinated after the latter becomes universally reviled and a huge liability for him.
  • Young Future Famous People: The game has a fair share of people who are or will become the significant figures in the Chinese history. For example, the leader of the anti-Huhai rebellion is Liu Bang, the future founder of the Han dynasty, and one of your potential companions, Modu, will become the founder of the Xiongnu Empire.