If someone were to turn to me and ask me to tell them the first stereotypical Japanese game that came to mind, I would swiftly reply ‘Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes’ Despite being set in the Sengoku Era (if the name didn’t clue you in) the game features a Samurai who wields six swords at once, advanced weaponry like rocket launchers, shotguns and machineguns and even a giant Mecha named Honda.
In my time gaming I’ve noticed that most Dynasty Warriors-esque games have near identical graphical styles, which is to say they all look rather dated.
However, in Samurai Heroes’ case I think the fact that it was released on the Wii as well as the PS3 is the reason for this, the Wii seemed to be the main focus. Looking at a gameplay video on the PS3 disc that showcases all the characters is footage of the Wii version of the game. Despite this; the animations are simply amazing, with the exception of the basic soldiers that you’ll be killing left and right, no two characters move or attack in the same way and it’s incredibly refreshing to see after playing Dynasty Warriors 7, where they all move exactly the same and all have the exact same attacks.
The music in Samurai Heroes is great, every character has their own distinctive theme song, and the opening theme of the game is even done by big J-pop band T.M Revolution. For those who don’t know, they did the opening themes for animes like Rurouni Kenshin, Gundam SEED and Soul Eater.
On top of the Magnificently Marvellous music there’s also the Voice Acting, which is rather hit and miss. The Main Characters have excellent voice actors, but the voice actors for basic soldiers and generals is incredibly lacking. Adding to this there are even times where the spoken dialogue just makes no sense.
One of the characters I played as would say ‘thank you’ whenever I picked up a healing item. Was he thanking the box I destroyed? Was he thanking me? It wouldn’t surprise me if he was thanking me, given the game’s tenancy to playfully poke at the fourth wall by having bosses playing around with the camera in their introductions, one of them even accidentally bumps into it.
Speaking of Bosses, that’s something else that’s very nicely varied, no two bosses are the same and they’re all very challenging and fun to fight, however all of them do this odd thing where they’ll speak to you during the battle, saying random things about themselves like “I like to read” and “I don’t like people who attack from behind” it’s rather distracting at times, and it gets pretty annoying when they continually repeat things as you try to defeat them.
Something else I noticed is if you take a glance at the back of the game’s box it says proudly in large, yellow letters ‘FROM THE CREATOR OF DEVIL MAY CRY 4’ which becomes rather evident as Dante’s voice actor is in the game, and the three characters that I played with played almost exactly like Dante. Masamune Date even has Dante’s stinger attack, it isn’t actually called ‘Stinger’ but it may as well be. Masamune is also the character voiced by Reuben Langdon (Dante)I’m just going to assume that this was done on purpose, it certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence.
This is the disappointing part of the review where I speak about the game’s biggest weak points, the first is more annoying than just bad. If you have a weapon equipped with an accessory you want, you have to have the weapon equipped and replace the accessory with another one before you can use the first accessory on a different weapon. This is may be rather nitpick-y of me, but it’s incredibly annoying to not have the ability to just have a sort of ‘This accessory is equipped to another weapon, remove it and equip it to this weapon?’ feature.
The other large fault is the game’s battles. They’re all nicely varied and fun to play on…the first time, that is. When playing through a character’s story mode the levels will always be exactly the same, dialogue may be changed here and there but at the very base, it’s exactly the same. Characters have about one or two unique levels depending on the route you take in Story Mode, but other than that the levels are all repeated, and it makes the replay value rather low.
The replay value is boosted again by the fact that the game includes co-op, while I didn’t get a chance to test the co-op myself I can safely assume that it’s exactly like the Dynasty Warriors co-op, split screen fun. This game would definitely become much more amusing if you were playing it with a friend, alone you will probably get bored quickly.
While the rather low replay value doesn’t stop the game from being great, it could certainly be much better. For instance you could have levels become slightly different depending on which character you’re playing as, have characters act differently, alternate routes open up, little things like that would really spice up the experience. Hopefully this will be rectified in the next Sengoku Basara game.