Samurai Warriors is one of those video game staple series that pretty much every gamer worth his salt has dabbled in at least once. The latest game in the series, Chronicles, is rightly at home on Nintendo 3DS.
After finally tracking down a copy in Australia, we were able to spend some quality time with the game. Since it’s been some time separating the launch of the game and our review, we’ve been able to build up a few questions regarding the gameplay; does it build on the series already established platform? Is it engaging enough despite being on a handheld?
Let’s find out.
Samurai Warriors: Chronicles takes players back to the historical Sengoku Period of feudal Japan where every man and his donkey are either running or involved in a clan of warlords, bent on waging for for reasons known only to the respective leader, though mostly over land.
As a young warrior with an unexplained knack for fighting in wars, you embark on a journey to find where you “fit in” to this trying time in history. Of course, this means you’ll be travelling the country, taking part in a raft of battles, often against the team you were just fighting for.
The story in Chronicles is tedious for those who aren’t interested in history as it’s told in long reams of text, complete with a Japanese voice over. After each battle, the story continues and you will often get the chance to slightly change the way the overall story unfolds. This is done by answering questions and forming friendships with characters in the game.
Although, even this element feels tacked on because the game is about one thing; fighting in long, well made battle scenarios. You will be tasked with training up a character the same way you would in any RPG, the more KO’s you get, the more experience. This will unlock new combos and allow you to unlock more weapons.
There’s no shortage of opportunity, with literally hundreds of enemies swarming you, waiting to be taken down by stylish combo attacks. Each battle has a set plan that can change if you fail missions, or if the story decides to take a turn for the worse. This element is what makes Chronicles feel so alive and dynamic – it might seem like you’re going to come out on top, but suddenly you’re out of time and a key character has escaped the battlefield! The ability to switch between warriors mid battle often means you’re fighting four or more battles at once, adding to the feeling of urgency. A strategic mind will go a long way here.
Chronicles also uses some of the unique Nintendo 3DS features well. SpotPass is used to send new battle scenarios to the console every week, whereas StreetPass is used to engage in battles with random people you pass by on the street. The game also allows you to set up your battle strategy, which is a neat feature. Chronicles also allows you to use Game Coins that are earned by walking around with your console to buy money which can be spent in the shop on weapons, upgrades or mounts.
Visually, the game is well made. Animations are smooth, the battlefields are massive (if all samey). Unfortunately, the endless onslaught of enemy characters all look identical, and they’re all faceless. This one element makes the game feel a little unfinished, but personally I’d rather faceless enemies over frame rate slowdown and I’m happy to report the game plays out silky smooth, even with a lot of on-screen action. Officers and main characters are thankfully more detailed, as is your own character.
Samurai Warriors: Chronicles is a finely paced, deeply engaging video game that embraces senseless fun and tosses in some history lessons while it’s at it. The game is probably not suitable for short train rides into work, as battles can last up to 45 minutes at times, but Tecmo Koei has delivered a solid, home console-like experience to the handheld masses. The icing on the cake is, of course, that it’s in full naked 3D!