Romance of the Three Kingdoms Games Ranked From Worst to Best

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a turn-based strategy game based on the 14th century historical novel written by Luo Guanzhong.

Set in China’s turbulent past as it reached the end of the Han dynasty to finally culminate into the three states of Cao Wei, Shu Han and Eastern Wu. Since its release in Japan in 1985, 14 installments have since been published with its popularity soaring with each new release.

We’ve compiled a list to uncover the best Romance of the Three Kingdoms game.

5. Romance of the Three Kingdoms II

cover of Romance of the Three Kingdoms II game
Developer Koei
Release Date 1989
Platforms MS-DOS, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, Amiga, NES, Super NES, Genesis, WonderSwan, PlayStation, Windows 95

Set in ancient China, the player has six scenarios to choose from and while certain aspects of the game is based on the novel, the gameplay diverges according to player choice. The game was well received and deemed to be better than its predecessor in many regards.

Koei is also the developer of the seminal hack and slash series, Dynasty Warriors and those familiar with that game will recognize some of the names listed here.

The main aim of the game is to conquer all territories in China and the player has an option of choosing various campaigns to accomplish this. With the ability to measure a warlord’s intelligence, War Ability and Charm Influence, there exists 41 provinces to conquer with more than 200 unique characters to play with.

Turn-based strategy is not to everyone’s liking and because of the graphics, many might not want to revisit this classic. Names like Liu Bei, Dong Zhuo and Cao Cao may also be difficult to pronounce or remember for a western audience, adding to the complications of leading large forces into battle.

The game does well to simulate the chaos of ancient China, but the complex game dynamics may prove to be too daunting for some.

4. Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX

PS2 cover of Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX game
Developer Koei
Release Date 14 May 2003
Platforms PC, PS2

Known as Sangokushi IX in Japan, it is the ninth installment of the series. As an added bonus, players can use saved data from various Dynasty Warrior games, including Dynasty Tactics to recruit new officers for the PS2 version.

Able to unlock various endings with the 15 historical scenarios on offer, the player also has the option of playing through five challenge scenarios. The Officer Development System also makes a return to increase officer abilities and gain an edge in combat. The Personality Dependent System also allows for a deeper gameplay mechanic that affects an officer’s decision-making ability in battle.

Keeping track of all the stats may prove to be too cumbersome and it can feel like information overload at times. Various strategies like economics and politics can be employed which can make the game too complex for most casual players.

The systems employed in the game, while innovative, add another layer of complexity to focus on when there’s already so much that has to be taken into consideration already.

3. Romance of the Three Kingdoms X

PC cover of Romance of the Three Kingdoms X game
Developer Koei
Release Date 2 July 2004
Platforms PC, PS2

Romance of the Three Kingdoms X incorporates elements of Sangokushi VII and Sangokushi VIII, abandoning core gameplay elements of its predecessor. The Anniversary Box also included a desk calendar, soundtrack and history book.

Employing gameplay elements, one would expect from the series, there is also the option to create a unique character. With several ranks to choose from the player is given more scope to change the gameplay mechanics.

Player choice also forms a key part of the gameplay as players can be promoted, demoted, captured or even decide to rebel and form their own forces.

Because the game borrows heavily from its predecessors it might feel a bit rehashed and fails to add anything new to the series.

While the power up kit provides many new features and gaming upgrades, it does make one wonder why these features weren’t included in the original game to begin with, despite these same features appearing in the re-released PS2 version.

2. Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI

PS2 cover of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI game
Developer Koei
Release Date 17 March 2006
Platforms PC, PS2, Wii

With the release of a PC version in March 2006, there was also the release of a traditional Chinese version in July of the same year.

Some of the 3D models used in the game were borrowed from Dynasty Warriors 4 and those who purchased the premium version were treated to an orchestral soundtrack CD, tactical map, walkthrough and four cards illustrated by Tsuyoshi Nagano (who also does Star Wars artwork in Japan).

The game provides the same gameplay experience fans of the series have come to know and love. Upon completion of all the game tutorials, 32 historical figures from the Three Kingdoms era also become playable.

The game is praised for its storytelling and unique aesthetic. The power up kit adds dozens of new features like Mandarin or Japanese voice options, new military features, six new campaign scenarios and 10 new city facilities, making it a whole new game altogether.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI has been criticized for its excruciatingly slow pace, which won’t win it any new fans in a genre known for being fast-paced.

The learning curve is also quite intimidating with even seasoned turn-based strategy players finding it complex. It comes in at a close second on our list.

1: Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII

cover image of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII game
Developer Koei Tecmo
Release Date 28 January 2016
Platforms PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII was developed through the merger of two of Japan’s greatest gaming companies. This also saw the series finally making it on to next gen consoles with tons of upgrades and gameplay features. Well received by the general public, it sold 7719 copies in Japan on its week one release.

The game masterfully blends role-playing elements with strategy and the tutorial system is comprehensive enough to get newcomers up to speed in a short amount of time.

The game translates well in both the PC and console environment which stands as a testament to the level of work the developers put in. Controls do present a learning curve, but after committing some time it becomes second nature.

It does have its share of drawbacks where the AI is considered too easy to beat in some parts, the controls can be a bit daunting and the pacing appears off in some sections. All things considered, the pros far outweigh the cons.

If you’re in the mood for some turn-based strategy action, the thirteenth installment in the series is our top pick for the best Romance of the Three Kingdoms game.