Hello everybody and welcome back to another section of Sengoku Compare. Since we’re going through the Three Unifiers, we’ll now take a look at the second one, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The very crafty monkey who succeeded Nobunaga and completed his conquest to unify Japan, and probably his most resourceful subordinate. One is a flawed, but well-meaning guy, the other one is a tyrant that somehow treats his subordinates with respect.
Which version is ultimately the better one? Let’s try to find out.
Brief History Bio
Born as just a commoner under the name Kinoshita Tokichiro, this man was once just a sandal bearer for Nobunaga, who had an eye for talents which he found in the hard-working Tokichiro. He proceeded to promote him and make use of his talent, so Tokichiro changed his name to better present himself, firstly into Hashiba Hideyoshi, and he served into Nobunaga’s campaigns as one of his most trusted generals. When Nobunaga was slain by his other subordinate Akechi Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi rallied his men to intercept Mitsuhide’s army and scored a major victory to avenge Nobunaga. From then on, after eventually being named Nobunaga’s official successor, Hideyoshi continued Nobunaga’s conquest until Japan is united, and also changed his name to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. But due to his commoner status, the best he could attain was just a regent, not a shogun, but his position was still a powerful one as he proceeded to manage the unified Japan to create a system that benefits the people. He then had dreams to invade China through Korea, but his army was beaten back and forced to retreat due to his untimely death. He’s mostly known for his craftiness in manipulating things and diplomacy.
“If the cuckoo does not sing, make it sing.”
I won’t say that Hideyoshi made the best impression when he debuted in the franchise. Which is to say, the first game. As a unique NPC. He’s smug as hell, rather greedy, has several perverted creeper tendencies. Not very different from how a certain other series got him as. It’s not until the first game’s expansion and Hideyoshi is finally given some good traits, while severely downplaying his negative traits. He’s resourceful, kind of happy-go-lucky, has his more monkey-ish features more on display (including a staff for a weapon, just like Sun Wukong) and ultimately, his desire is that he wanted a land where people there can be happy. His old traits end up becoming some character flaws in future games and even that was also downplayed since his first debut.
In fact, with the addition of his wife Nene, Hideyoshi’s flaws can become really bearable, since any moment his perverted tendencies come about, there comes Nene to smack him back to normal senses that he’s a MARRIED MAN. His relations on others expanded as well, you can feel that it’s not just Nene, the Oda clan and eventually the retainers of his own clan felt like his own family that he’ll do his best to make them happy. It wouldn’t have been possible if he was still a very smug ass just like when he was in the first vanilla game.
Now people may say it’s kind of whitewashing, especially because Koei tried to make everything to at least be sympathetic, which was the problem of historical Hideyoshi, not to mention omitting the Korean Campaign, which was started because of his own personal megalomania. But… I’m OK with this. Hideyoshi is aware that if left alone, he’ll start taking down the dark path, but that’s what his friends are for, and by all that’s good, it’s working.
This picture’s zoom size did not do Basara Hideyoshi justice, because here, he’s HUGE. So, Hideyoshi is usually portrayed as slimy small monkey. Let’s replace that with another species… gorilla. And there we go. And this is probably just me, but if you look at Hideyoshi’s facial structure here, I think you can make an easier case that his head structure and face look like a monkey’s. A menacing monkey, but still.
… Did I say menacing? Oh yes, now we’re getting to the main meat. Safe to say that instead of Musou’s version, Hideyoshi here is rightfully billed as a VILLAIN. Rather than a subordinate of Nobunaga, he’s instead an independent force on his own, bent on conquering the whole nation with his own strength and subjugating those who resist with his hands. And… those hands? He uses it to either smack people, separate the sky or sea or grab people and swing them around. He’s pretty much a tyrant, kind of similar to the real life Hideyoshi near the end of his life, though still no plans to invade Korea. Yeah, even Capcom wouldn’t go that far.
Hideyoshi’s people problem here is… a little complicated. First, let it be known that unlike Nobunaga who is pure megalomania and only using others, even his own men, as pawns for his ambitions… Hideyoshi actually values the friendship he has for those under his commands, making them very loyal, slavishly so to him. Takenaka Hanbei and Ishida Mitsunari most especially. His verdict is that as long as you’re strong, you’re worthy of being under his service and getting his respect and being allowed to help him shape Japan into a powerful country. Sure, it’s kind of a law of the jungle style that everyone rightfully opposes, but it’s kind of gray rather than complete black morality when compared to Nobunaga. Of course, Hideyoshi has probably crossed the line of unforgivable to be in this position of power and strength, since he was at first more friendly, but after he got humiliated by Matsunaga Hisahide, he resented his own weakness and strove to be as strong as possible to never repeat it, and in process, he has to willingly sacrifice his emotion of love, killing his wife Nene, much to the consternation of his old friend Maeda Keiji.
Whew. For a tyrant, there’s a surprisingly deeper stuff for Hideyoshi, even when done by Capcom, that company who likes over the top things. Of course, this is over the top as well, but… well, you get the idea.
I like good guys, and Musou-Hideyoshi underwent a pretty good development from a smug-as-hell guy into a much more sympathetic person. So he automatically wins this one, right? I’ll admit that Musou-Hideyoshi can be one of the best friends you can have. But ultimately and personally… I just can’t seem to rate him that high because there are other characters that I like better in the game.
Basara-Hideyoshi actually fascinated me. It’s obvious that he’s a bad guy and some of the lines he crossed made him not sympathetic at all, but… When you look into how he became like that, his obsession with power becomes understandable. And you gotta give props that he’s actually committing himself for the improvement of Japan instead of being “LOL IMMA EVIL” like Nobunaga, even if he’ll have to be a tyrant without regrets. A gray side of evil is much welcome in my books. For a setting that tends to shove everything in your face, Basara-Hideyoshi actually has a lot of depths and intrigue that makes him a very interesting character. Sure, he’s not exactly the friendliest guy, he just have a high standards on who he’d consider friend (just make sure you’re strong), but if you do fulfill it, he’s actually kind of nice to them (while pounding on those unworthy).
And then this is compounded with his gameplay. Now when it comes to beat-em-ups, one of the things I like is to grab some guy and then throw them. Basara-Hideyoshi is that, personified, it just gets really fun to grab someone, smack them to the ground so hard that rocks came out from the ground, or even better, piledriver your way to enemy crowds that Zangief would be proud. It makes you feel REALLY powerful and deliver the essence of Basara. I really had fun playing him. Musou-Hideyoshi does really good with his staff, but to me it just felt… kind of there, and not exactly showing craftiness he’s known for. Yes, Basara-Hideyoshi isn’t exactly showing craftiness, but that’s because he wasn’t designed with craftiness or sneakiness in mind, but pure strength.
So by the end of it, both of them have their layers of personality, all of it are good and in Musou’s case, it didn’t betray their usual philosophy, but for once, Basara goes against their usual ‘in your face’ style, and created a deeper-than-usual villain. With past excuse, actually benevolent goal… Who wins this time?
In the end, the winning point goes to Basara-Hideyoshi. Because slamming and jamming, piledriving your way in the battlefield has never been more fun and he’s actually not an ‘Evulz’ type villain that other people likes to proclaim to be ‘the only good type of villain’ (HELL NO, IT ISN’T! Complex villain with good origins and reasons can be good!), which can be very compelling, even moreso than the typical good guy. And so, the Basara version of Hideyoshi wins this round
Samurai Warriors – 2
Sengoku Basara – 1 + 1 -> 2
Tune in next time for the final unifier, Tokugawa Ieyasu.