Developer: Tecmo Koei| Publisher: Tecmo Koei| Platform: 3DS| Genre: Action/Hack n Slash| RRP: £39.99
The Musou/Warriors franchise tends to get a bad rap in the west, they’re derided as button mashers. Despite this the games are well received in Japan and maintain a steady, dedicated fanbase worldwide. Despite the low review scores being a bit offputting I decided to take chance on Chronicles. This was my first Musou game so I was really interested in how the gameplay worked and why there’s such divided opinions.
The gameplay to Samurai Warriors: Chronicles is very simple at the base level, you have one button for melee attacks and one for ranged(Correction: There is a weak attack and a strong attack, which often takes the form of ranged attacks). At the beginning it seems that button mashing is all you need but throughout the game new combos and specials(activated with a tap of the a button) are introduced and the difficulty ramps up to a point where button mashing means death. The mission structure also adds a lot of options to the game with only one mandatory objective.
The game then throws a variety of missions at you at a rapid pace and the timing for some can seem impossible at first. This is where the unique feature of Samurai Warriors: Chronicles comes into play; the bottom screen. The bottom screen has a map which operates in real time, showing you where your four generals, officers and objectives are. You can switch between any of the four generals at any time but you can also send them to target specific enemy officers or just to a location. In later levels mastering this can be essential and adds a lot of strategy. The most important part of the gameplay is that it can make you feel like a total badass; you can ride into a castle, leap from a horse and massacre an entire squadron. It’s really entertaining.
Visually the game is a bit mixed. There’s some superb modelling when it comes to the visual novel sections, when you have close ups. Understandably the models are downgraded when you get into battle, with the general fodder being pretty blocky. However there’s a good amount of enemies on screen and potentially a lot of flashy moves. Pop in is also an issue with some enemies not appearing until they’re right in your face. The visuals aren’t bad in any event and the 3D in the title is very comfortable and helps the player judge how close they need to be to their enemies. The rest of the presentation is very high quality with tons of (Japanese) voice acting, excellent music, high quality 3D CG and some nice art pieces and renders. It’s obvious that Omega Force put a lot of effort into the game.
Content has to be the main selling point for this game, because there is a massive amount. The bulk of the content is in the story which guides you through the Sengoku period as a wandering warrior(which you get to customise), interacting with historical figures and shaping Japanese history; The story is interesting if you want to learn about Japanese history but the colourful, not entirely accurate, characters are also appealing. The story mode easily lasts twenty or more hours and due to the mission structure, customisation and visual novel sections there’s a lot of replayability. Gaiden missions supplement the main story with some alternate history scenarios; some of these missions were even distributed through SpotPass. StreetPass and Playcoins are also well utilised here with StreetPass duels and Playcoins used to buy equipment for the Story mode. Omega Force even planned to include Online Multiplayer but sadly they were unable.
Overall, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles is a lengthy experience with gameplay that eases you in but becomes a lot more complex with excellent use of the secondary touch screen. The game’s presentation is top notch, even if the visuals take a hit due to the amount of action on show but pop in can be detrimental. It isn’t perfect but the game is very entertaining and has been treated unfairly, I would recommend it to any 3DS owner.