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Kessen III takes place between the years of 1560 to 1590 and is based on the life of the legendary Nobunaga Oda. Nobunaga rose in power and notoriety from fairly modest origins with a series of military victories that gave him a great deal of power and influence. His greatest achievement was defeating a third of the rival daimyo in all of Japan. He was well on his way to unifying the nation under his rule before he was killed in 1582 when he was betrayed by Mitsuhide Akechi and assassinated.
Kessen III retells the events of Nobunaga's military life in a romantic light that departs from historical reality. In the game, Nobunaga survives Mitsuhide's betrayal, allowing the plot to turn toward a what-if scenario, rewriting the flow of history.
Kessen III brings along the mechanics of the previous games and introducing some new battle mechanics. Each mission is chosen from the available maps, just like in the previous games. Prior to each battle, the player is briefed on the mission and its objective. The player then selects which units to bring into the battle. During the battle, the player is in control of an individual unit and can switch between friendly units at any time while other units in the game are controlled by AI.
Over the course of the game, each unit can have their special skills upgraded. The specific skills available to learn are based on class, such as ninja, spearmen, or cavalry. Officers can also learn more powerful tricks and skills as the game progresses.
A battle ends when the main objective has been completed. The missions very in style and objective, and include such mission types as scaping enemy attacks, annihilating enemy forces, and escort missions. After a battle ends, the game rewards the player with points and items. These points are based upon how well the player did and how many friendly troopers survived. The accrued items and points can then be used to upgrade the troops' gear and skills.