Sengoku Basara: Samurai Warriors Review

Battlefield-poseOkay, time for a bit of history, seeing as How I like doing that when digging up fossils.  Originally a series that began on the PS2, Sengoku Basara was originally brought over to the English world as Devil Kings, which tried to remove the Japanese from a game named after the Sengoku period.  Why?  Because Capcom, I suppose.  So they decided to remove the three from the third game in the series and hope they could make some money.  Not that it stopped it from getting 4.5s, which I can’t help but laugh at.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Warriors Review

Release Date:12/10/2010

Platforms: Wii(Reviewed), Playstation 3

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

 

Let me begin by saying Dynasty Warriors.  Why?  Because despite never playing any of the games, Warrior’s Orochi 3 is on my list, it is clearly imitating the idea of going through Asian mythology while being as tongue and cheek as possible.  Placing historical figures as colorful, weapon wielding, and quad-digit combo starting parodies of themselves.  However, my school didn’t think anyone outside of Asia would care about the Warring States period, and I just kept on looking at it and mentally comparing it to Pokemon Conquest, because that’s the most similar setting I’ve played.

 

Not that it helps the actual story of this game from being very hard to follow when it comes to the specifics.  With over 25 names to learn, a lot of history tied to them, and a story structure that could make one’s definition of beating the game range from taking 2-3 hours, to lasting them over 100.  Seeing as how there are at least 50 “endings” spread over 16 characters and 38 stages.  I use the term because from an objective standpoint, Sengoku Basara’s story is pretty crappy.  But that does not matter because it is a stable of voice actors shouting at each other while overacting just the right amount to make me kick my feet in joy as I punched a tiger into coins.

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This is the kind of game where a fortune telling bow wielding shrine girl can somehow take out armies single handedly.  The word Basara loosely translates to “over-the-top”, it’d be weird if the game didn’t have giant men in robotic suits armed with electric spears and jetpacks.  While Troy Baker cries out for the blood of a hoodie wearing monk as he slows down time as he punches a man on a floating table because he kept on throwing magical beads.

 

Taking off the furnishings, Sengoku Basara is a simple 3D beat ‘em up with the KOs for every stage being in the hundreds, and combos being a frequent partner.  But instead of focusing on the player to be skilled with button inputs, the game gives you three combos to start, and eventually brings that up to six, spread across four buttons.  With the only cause to breed a different move being something like doing it while in the air.

 

However, after playing enough to get 26% done with this massive game, the very likely outcome of repetition only appeared after I played one character for two campaigns straight.  There is something about juggling together twenty faceless thugs and hit them until they fade away, their life bars go down, and the KO counter adds one more.  However, my description also make the game sound easy, which it is, but you’d be screwed if you popped in the game and tried hard right from the get go.

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Yes, enemies health bars light up as they prepare to attack, your block is very potent, and you have two different forms of super moves that can be combined into a super duper move.  But why would you want the game to be especially challenging?  It is cathartic to swing a sword through baddies until you get to a man you can make explode in this game’ weird version of base capturing.  Even more so to have money pop out of people as your combo counter surpasses one thousand.

 

With the level capping boss resembling or being another playable character, uninterruptible super move and all, being the closest thing to a challenge.  But you’ve got a human brain and can dodge more than they do, so it is more of a spectacle than anything, but one that still holds after a good 20 hours.  Even the environment designs stay fun enough in most stages, with the worst thing to note about most of them being related to the secondary objectives in the stage.

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Every level in the game has two tasks that if you complete, you get a nice bit of bonus experience to get more health and moves, since you only start with three attacks.  However, you are not told these objectives, and need to look up that there is an alternate route or secret goal in a level.  And then there are the fugitives that sometimes appear in a level, and sometimes not.  Always being tucked away in a small local, with no help given by the minimap in most instances, and the prize of getting a permanent stat boost obviously sending players on a goose chase, before they realize that the fugitive always blocks your attacks, unless you use up a super.

 

It’s another method to incentivise players to go through levels ad nauseum, when often having two level specific collectables are enough.  All to fill an accessory crafting system, while you replay levels and beat bosses in order to get new weapons or upgrades for current ones.  It’s trying very hard to make the prospect of replaying levels appealing, which works somewhat, but there is already a meaty story mode for that, and the levels are fun for the most part, and hunting for a fugitive is hard enough, even with a method to locate them on the minimap.

 

It is not a huge issue, but it seems like something that should have been filtered out as one.  Not unlike how trekking through the stages can often take half an hour with a heavier character.  Or how the system for tracking multiple playthroughs is poorly tracked at best, with a very unappealing series of lines and circles explaining your progress.  It was probably made by the same people in charge of most of the endings, which more or less stop as the falling action begins with a minute long cutscene.  Not even a bit of text to explain the results, just sad credits music before you’re given some accessories that are useless unless you get a set’s worth.

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Which is certainly odd, considering how much the game’s soundtrack resembles and energetic dog.  Which flare up the scope of the stages and set pieces nicely.  It calms down during more dialog heavy scenes, still keeping a character’s theme in place, where you cna very oddly not pause the cutscenes.  Yes, they never go past three minutes or so, but why would you specifically design a game so that pressing the console’s menu button does not pause the game?

 

It’s not like the game’s lip syncing, or lack thereof, which I like to assume was kept unaltered from the original Japanese in order to secure a better cast, because I can’t think of one performance that didn’t make me smirk a little bit.  Although, I would have liked to have the option to hear the Japanese cast, or just get subtitles for the English one.  Because that’s just inexcusable in my book.

 

Kinda like how several of the cutscenes, even ones that seem to use the in game models, are prerendered.  With the character’s weapons reverting back to their old ones, as their unlockable outfits, or outfit based on what I saw, are unaltered.  I kinda get why this happened, because it is a Wii game.

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Speaking of which, I actually am rather fond of how the title looks.  Yes, for whatever reason I can only get rubbish quality with the WIi I own, but I never once noticed something that was being done in a manner that seemed like it was made with more modern system in mind.  Focusing far more on just making everything flow nicely, although I haven’t the slightest clue what its frames per second is, because my eyes can’t tell the difference unless I’m comparing the two.

 

At its core, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is a camp little romp that managed to keep me engaged for about two weeks before I decided I should go play something else.  While repetition is a very easy to predict issue, the variety of characters and stages help flesh out a very energetic and cathartic blast through turbo stylized Japan as an electric guitar roars in the background.  How it compares to the subgenre 85% monopolized by Tecmo Koei, I cannot say, but as its own title, it is the best kind of stupid fun.

 

Great! (16/20)

An impressive product, but won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws that are difficult to ignore.  Still worth your cash and a few hours of your time.

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