"Knaber's Kyoto" is a remake of the ES mission of the same name. As I hadn't played the original in probably fifteen years I played them both back to back and was quite surprised to find the base gameplay was literally the exact same down to unit movements and attack timings.
The biggest problem with the original is its 75 pop limit;most ES scenarios are small scale affairs due to this, and this scenario was particularly bad. The enemy made hardly any units on Hard and the economy was slow paced due to lack of villagers. I found it a very boring B&D that fortunately has a loophole, in that you can win with a relic victory rather than pounding down the enemies town. Slow paced and tedious.
The scenario was a cakewalk with tons of resources on the map, a full tech tree, and anemic enemies. The blue enemy sent something like 4 long swordsmen to attack at a time when the player has hand cannons. The main enemy puts more effort into its fleet than its land based forces, and blunders cannon galleons directly into castles, with fire ships disposing of any inconvenient vessels. Landing a strike force to claim the 5 relics is a snap, with barely any resistance put up, and unless you deliberately place the monastery in a vulnerable spot its a surefire win. Winning the proper way is a bit tougher, but there is still inadequate resistance and tons of stone for castles to push across Kyoto with. Also sniping down the castles with trebs landed from the water is fairly simple.
Being a remake, you would expect the original but done better in every way, with its strengths accentuated while its weaknesses were addressed and smoothed over. That is not the case here, with the base gameplay being literally identical with no real changes. I don't get why modding was attempted;the only noticeable change was the addition of Silver Mines which didn't change things much. You can load the scenario into stock UP and it plays fine, albeit with less gold on the map. At least the mapping was good;indeed 99% of the authors effort was invested here. A lack of custom AI is certainly felt, as is any sound or music files. At 49MB anyway, you would expect something of the sort and its quite a missed opportunity.
Map Design 5-
The mapping is gorgeous, despite a few areas that seem not so finished. The balance between open areas for B&D activities and well detailed forests was quite good. The forests were nice with a mix of bamboo, pine and oak with a good usage of the gaia paths for undergrowth. The towns were well done with good building placement while fortresses looked the part. Elevation usage along with cliff usage was quite good. The transition from snowy areas into grassier zones was sometimes shaky but this is quite difficult. The coastlines were adequately detailed for the most part, though some areas were so spartan I again wondered if it was fully finished. Water mixing in general was good. The snowy areas of the map looked quite crisp. The map left a good impression and combined with its suitability for gameplay was enough to earn the high score;the minus is to acknowledge the weakness with a few unfinished and\or unpolished areas.
The story is interesting, though relying on the ES effort. Professional campaigns do well with high quality voice acting and their magnificent opening and exit cinematics, which are something amateur campaigns on the blacksmith could never equal. The ingame story isn't so impressive, with a so-so objectives, hints, scouts report etc. A bit of dialogue explains the opening before sending the player on his way to do as he likes.
Final Thoughts:I do recommend you download and play the scenario. Except instead of going through any cumbersome installation procedure, just use campaign manager to yoink out the Japanese scenario from the cpx file and just play it in normal userpatch. The mapping alone is worth the price of admission.