Nobunaga'a Ambition is largely a menu driven game. As such, you do not directly control the action with your control pad, rather, you input commands or make selections, and the result is displayed. There are a few different ways in which you can use the control pad to enter choices.
- Yes/No or similar choice between two options
- To choose between yes or no or two other options, you simply press to select "Yes" or the first available option, or press to select "No" or the second available option.
- Selection menu
- When choosing among more than two options, you will be presented with a list of choices. Press and to move the selection cursor to your desired choice, and press to enter your selection.
- Single or double digit numbers
- When entering a single digit number, press and to change the value of the number, and press to enter your selection. If you wish to enter a two digit number, press and to enter the tens digits, then press to move over and begin entering the ones digit. You may push to return to the tens digit and make alterations before pressing to enter your selection.
If you are entering a series of selections, you may press to go back to the previous entry and change your original selection. Once you complete a series of selections, your choices are locked in and cannot be undone.
Starting a new game
Before a new game begins, you must make a series of selections that dictate the flow and difficulty of the game. The following list will walk you through the steps taken to set up a new game.
- New Game / Load Data
- Press if you wish to begin a new game, or press if you wish to resume the progress of a previously saved game.
- Scenario Select
- Choose either a battle between the 17 central fiefs of Japan, or all 50 fiefs across the nation. Understand that a 50 fief game will take considerably longer to complete and is not recommended for new players.
- View non-player battles
- This option allows you to choose whether or not you wish to observe battles taking place between two computer-controlled opponents. Press if you wish to watch them, or press if you do not. Ordinarily, this options is not recommended as it slows the progress of the game down tremendously; however, players who wish to improve their strategy may want to observe how the computer deals with particular situations.
- Number of players
- The game actually allows for up to eight people to play together, with each player taking control of a different daimyo. Each player's turn is taken using the first control pad, while two daimyos who battle each other use separate controllers. In some versions, this value may actually be set to 0 to allow an entirely computer-controlled game to take place.
- Selecting a fief
- Next, you must select the fief where you wish to begin your campaign. In the 17 fief game, you may choose only among the 17 fiefs available on a small portion of the map; in the 50 fief game, you will be able to choose any of the fiefs available across many sections of the map of Japan. When entering a two digit number, don't forget to use and to alternate between digits, and use and to change the value.
- Setting your daimyo's abilities
- The five attributes that define your daimyo are now selected in a random roulette-type manner. These attributes are described in detail below. For each attribute, a random number will continue to change rapidly until you press . Whatever number was showing when you press A will become that attribute's score, and random number will appear by the next attribute. You must continue to do this until all five attributes have been assigned a value. The random values can range between 60 and 110. After all five values have been assigned, you have the final option to keep the assignments, or start back over with the first attribute.
- Difficulty level
- Finally, you must choose one of five difficulty levels. Level 1 is the easiest, while level 5 is the hardest. Level 1 is considered quite difficult to begin with, while level 5 is so difficult that it's possible to lose the game before you even have the opportunity to take your first turn.
- Final confirmation
- Before a new game can begin, you must confirm that all of your selections are to your liking. If you are ready to begin, press to select yes. If there is any setting that you are unhappy with, press to select no, and you will be taken back to the beginning of the process.
At the beginning of the game, each of these five attributes is assigned a number between 30 and 110. Throughout the game, these values will rise and fall depending on the outcome of various actions and situations. The highest value possible for any attribute is 210.
- Health determines how likely your daimyo is to become ill. If your daimyo is sick, he may not issue certain commands such as going to war, so it's important to keep a daimyo's health as high as possible. Health decreases with the coming of each spring, as well as any time a plague visits your fief. It's possible to increase health by selecting the Rest command. Once your daimyo's health reaches zero, he will die.
- A daimyo's drive is an indication of how motivated he is in achieving the goal of uniting Japan. Drive increases with each successful battle.
- The luck of a daimyo helps to predict — but not determine — how successful certain actions will be. Luck will influence odds of things happening in the game, and not always for the better. Luck decreases whenever a marriage proposal is turned down, but it will also fluctuate on its own throughout the game.
- A charming daimyo is a more popular daimyo. When charm is high, a daimyo can command greater loyalty of his peasants and soldiers. You will also be more successful at bribery when you are more charming. Your charm will increase whenever you win a battle, but you can also increase it by giving rice and / or gold to your subjects.
- When a daimyo's IQ is higher, many of his commands will be more effective. IQ will rise and fall with the success or failure of your battles respectively.
A sixth attribute — Age — is set depending upon the daimyo that you choose in the beginning of the game. It will increase by one year every spring. All daimyos can die of old age, but a higher health attribute will allow a daimyo to live longer.