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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Nintendo is finally making downloadable games for the eShop. It's taken them long enough, but they're finally trying something new, and good for them. It's important to show the other guys how it's done. However, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword isn't a good way to do so.
Sakura Samurai isn't like other, more kinetic swordfighting games. It's a game of observation and reflexes: Watch the way your opponents move, dodge their attacks and then counter with one of your own. In that sense, it's a great approximation of how swordfighting really is rather than how it's made out to be in most video games and movies.

The mechanics of Sakura Samurai are beyond reproach. The problem is that there isn't much else to do. In every new level, you'll face off against a few enemies. You kill them and some more appear. That's it. Rinse and repeat in the next level.

I mean, imagine what they could have done with this premise! What about a battle where you need to use the terrain to your advantage! Attacking downhill gives you a bonus! Rocky terrain can cause poor footing, meaning you can't dodge repeatedly or risk falling over! Use rocks and trees to your advantage and back up your opponents against them! Anything else!

On top of that, my love for this game was cut off at the knees because of one particularly annoying level. It's a really long castle where you fight about 20 enemies before arriving at the big baddie, who's twice your size with a giant sword. Threatening! Imposing! The first time you fight the battle, it looks like a total setpiece battle that you'll remember for a long time! However, if you die (and you will die repeatedly), you have to begin at the very beginning of the level, fight all 20 opponents again, then get to the big bad, who might kill you again. Then you have to fight through the level again, get to the big bad, so on and so forth.

I lost about ten times to the boss and almost gave up, but decided to press onward in the off chance that the next series of levels were somehow more entertaining. Nope. Same thing, same repeated series of levels.

I love the mechanics in Sakura Samurai. However, until they use those mechanics in a game that does more than just rehashes them over and over, I can't recommend this game.

Final Grade: D+