Among the line-up of 3DS games are some absolute pieces of filth, with the exception of titles like Pilotwings and Street Fighter, there really isn’t much out there that offers a quality experience on Nintendos 3D Handheld. Samurai Warriors Chronicles at least looks like a solid product if the box is any indication, however is the final game worth shelling out for? Read on to find out;
If you’ve played any of Koei’s “Warrior” games, you’ll know exactly what this is. Run around an expansive battlefield, smashing through mobs of trashy weakling soldiers and engaging in battle with opposing generals. The games have had a stigma attached to them, as most of the time you will be hitting one button to completely decimate piles of unworthy footmen, but as our editor Dave Oshry states, the games require a certain taste. So if Samurai/Dynasty warriors is your type of Caviar, then Samurai Warriors on the 3DS shouldn’t disappoint you, well, too much.
The games main offering is it’s campaign mode. Here you will choose from either a Male or Female general, name them to your liking and commence your journey into the world of Samurai Warriors, and what a forgettable world it is. The main quest for the most part, will have your general traveling around between different armies searching for a reason to fight. Sometimes you’ll fight along side the Hojo clan, then in the next chapter you could very well be fighting against them. It doesn’t convey a sense of real loyalty or lasting consequence. You’re basically the town whore, running from army to army looking for a place to make yourself useful. Of course the story gets a little more focus as you keep playing, but the early hours are downright painful.
Story has never been the strongest point in the Warriors franchise however, it’s about the sheer amount of units on-screen you can mercilessly kill. Surprisingly, developer Omega Force got the gameplay packed onto the 3DS without much sacrifice. The controls are superb, though the camera can sometimes be a pain, a simple click of the L shoulder button will center it. Jumping, slashing, shooting and rushing are all done with the face buttons, whilst the D-Pad is used for calling your horse. The touch screen is also used intuitively, as you can switch between generals on the fly – no matter where they are on the map. This helps you spread your forces to manage different goals throughout the map, instead of running from one corner to the other. The map is also displayed on the touch screen, as well as your generals special abilities.
So the basic flow of Samurai Warriors is to view a story cut-scene, interact in a quick dialogue with the General you’re helping out, then it’s onto the battlefield. When displayed in 3D, the battlefield’s sense of depth is fantastic, it really helps bring the war to life. As you’re fighting the trashy footmen, Missions will be given to you. Some may be closer to another General, so it’s as easy as tapping on his portrait, and you’re there. Missions come in varieties like hunting down Ninja’s, killing Generals or defending a castle. It helps break the action up into small focused pieces, but who am I kidding? You’ll still be beating the living crap out of everything you see. Thankfully beating the crap out of units is done right.
The combos are intuitive, combining your slash and gun buttons will generate graceful combos which bounce enemies around like pinballs. “Musou” attacks are also present, which is an attack somewhat comparable to Street Fighter’s Ultra combos. An insane flashy attack that does tonnes of damage against opposing Generals, and obliterates regular footmen and archers that surround you. Your general can also earn Ability orbs, which when you earn enough of them, you can trigger an ability such as Refilling your Musou gauge, or inspiring your troops to fight harder. Kessen fans like myself, will really appreciate these abilities, as it adds a hint of strategy to the warfare.
The performance of Samurai Warriors can often be hit and miss however. Generally, the game runs at a solid framerate, however a few too many troops on screen can send the game plummeting into what can only be described as a slideshow. It’s not only frame-rate drops however, Footmen will often pop-in out of nowhere, especially if you’re running through the battlefield at a fast pace. Graphically the game looks fine, while nothing stands out amazingly, the 3D models look convincing, even the regular joes of the army look well detailed for a handheld game. The intense flashes look great when performing Musou and special combos and the landscapes themselves have a convincing quality to them. It’s a beautiful looking game, especially this early into the 3Ds’ lifespan.
Yet, the audio in Samurai Warriors left me feeling underwhelmed. The Voice acting for the most part is fine, however a few generals often sound out of place, especially with the emotion their faces are trying to convey. The music is traditional Oriental styled battle ballads, throw a flute here, a guitar there, you get the idea. It’s not enough to get the blood pumping – but it does the trick.
If there’s one thing Samurai Warriors does right, it’s the lasting value. It has the Diablo styled loot craze going for it. Often times when you defeat a general, you’ll earn experience points and weapons. You can combine, sell, augment and improve every weapon you own, as well as equipping new gear and mounts. Fans of the series will find no shortage of collectible items here, and it’s one of the reasons I kept coming back to this title.
Though it’s obvious that Samurai Warriors feels a little rushed if only to sneak into the launch line-up, not all aspects of it are bad. Sure, the performance is not always top-notch, and the story is possibly one of the most boring things you could put yourself through (depending on your love for oriental legend), but the constant leveling of generals and weapons, as well as the feeling you get when decimating an entire army – There’s nothing quite like it in the palm of your hands. If you’re one of the people proclaiming the Warriors series has hidden depth, and you’d like to take the epic scale battles with you in handheld form, go ahead and pull the trigger. However if you’re a Koei hater, there’s nothing Samurai Warriors will do to change your mind – Samurai Warriors is a Warrior game through and through. Although it’s not the best showcase of the series best features, it’s certainly not the worst 3DS title on the market either.
Here’s The Rundown:
+ The lasting value of Samurai Warriors is immense
+ Good solid “Warriors” gameplay, for fans of the series
– Too many performance drops, can hinder playability badly
– Story? What Story. Oh.. “Now I fight you guys instead!”
Samurai Warriors: Chronicles was developed by Omega Force and published by Tecmo Koei as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS. The copy used for review purposes was purchased by Aaron, of which he played for 16 hours before writing the review. It was like $70 bucks or something in Australia dollars. ($40 US) and was released on March 27th, 2011.