Samurai Warriors Chronicles Review

Gaming

Samurai Warriors Chronicles
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 27, 2011
Price: $39.99 US, £39.99 UK, $69.99 AUS

Overview:
Samurai Warriors as a series may not be as widely known as its counterpart Dynasty Warriors but it still draws upon much of what fans of the various Warriors series love. The Samurai Warriors series has seen a handful of titles released everywhere from the PlayStation 2, the Wii and the Xbox 360. But with the release of a new handheld comes the chance for Samurai Warriors to take a step in untested waters. With the new 3DS’ 3D capabilities Samurai Warriors Chronicles can bring itself into an entirely new dimension unseen in past Warrior titles, literally. Now the move to a hand held system can be a difficult thing to do, but does Samurai Warriors Chronicles suffer by being developed on the 3DS?

Story:
It is a period of much turmoil in 16th Century Japan. During the Sengoku Period, better known as the Warring States Period, there was almost constant warfare happening between rival lords and armies which lead to some of the most famous names in history being made and remembered today.

Players do not take the role of one of these heroes but instead are allowed to create either a male or female warrior who holds allegiance to no one but themselves. As a whole this means that your character will often be doing battle with one army and making friends with officers and in the next be doing battle against these same officers and actually helping out their former enemies.   Battles themselves offer little actual storytelling considering the objectives usually only revolve around defeating this enemy or defending this ally from enemies.

When you aren’t out on the battlefield you will have the chance to interact with officers who you fought with. Conversations based on the story only will often contain life lessons and examples of what each famous officer thinks a noble warrior is and you can choose from two different statements that can affect your friendship level with these officers.

This is also true with allies that you bring to battle outside of the story related ones. By fighting alongside and talking with allied officers you can gain their trust and friendship and even unlock character specific events which are a nice feature that will have the player choosing among their favorite warriors to befriend and even become one of the most liked warriors in history by befriending everyone.

Of course the actual story structure is told through lengthy narrations providing background information as to why you are about to enter your next battle and who you will be fighting with and why. The only problem is that the massive amount of knowledge that is talked about in these narrations is almost mind boggling. To truly understand the events that are happening, other than this army is fighting this army, you will require relatively in-depth knowledge of Japan’s history, including historical places, battles, fighters’ relationships with one another and more.

Sure in the end if this is something that you find truly interesting then this is right up your alley. On the other hand, players are unable to skip these narrations the first time they watch them which means there will often be times you will be eager to fight but still have to sit and listen to something akin to a history lesson.

Graphics & 3D Effects:
Samurai Warriors Chronicles places players in large open battlefields that are relatively well detailed though start to feel rather similar to one another due to only a few actual variations in level design. While character’s themselves and officers are often well designed and moderately detailed, enemy forces appear nearly identical to one another with the only variation being what soldier type they are. This means that you will spend most of your time hacking down countless enemies who appear exactly the same as the last batch and rather noticeably render into view as you grow close to them.

The 3D effects for Samurai Warriors Chronicles are truly impressive to say the least. The fully animated cut scenes with 3D turned on are truly a sight to behold. The opening cut scene is a stellar example of this with plenty of, albeit generic, 3D objects popping out of the screen in 3D. Something I found truly spectacular are the cherry blossom petals that often float through cut scenes as these appear to float just out of the screen.

The menus and all the text is obviously implemented with 3D but the battles themselves see a bit of depth added to them. This only helps to further the ability of the game to make players feel they are truly on a large battlefield. Another highlight of the 3D is when a character performs a successful Musou attack that looks spectacular with the 3D slider all the way up.

Audio:
Nearly the entire game is voiced by different voice actors from Japan, with the only exception being the player character. What this means however is that the entire game is in Japanese and will require players to read lots of subtitles to understand the storyline or specific commands on the battle field. This also may lead players to feel even more disillusioned about the story due to constant reading and listening to the Japanese voice track.

Gameplay:
Players are thrown into the battlefield with a few skills at their disposal. They are able to chain together normal quick attacks alongside powerful, albeit slower attacks to provide devastating combos. Unfortunately the combat devolves into nothing more than pressing Y as much as you can to defeat the enemies in front of you. The amount of enemies also suffers due to the 3DS’ limitations which means there will be few times you feel like you are truly surrounded as enemy numbers often feel less than they should be for the large scale battles.

Despite the fights devolving into pressing one button to kill everything players are also able to build up their Musou meter and when it is full they are able to unleash a powerful fighting-style specific attack that is not only visually impressive but devastates all enemies in the area. These Musou attacks provide a great addition to the rather standard button mashing experience and lets players dispatch enemy officers with some flair. Still in the end, fighting often devolves into rather repetitive button mashing experiences which can quickly turn the player off of long gaming experiences.

Being placed on the 3DS provides some unique game changes to the standard formula of the Samurai Warriors franchise. The touch screen is used to switch between the other allied officers whom are fighting alongside the player characters. Also shown on the bottom screen is the map which displays exactly where each officer is located and where enemy officers will be. This creates a very simple to use and quick to learn system that lets players create strategies by placing their officers in certain places of the map to switch to on the fly when they need to.

This is especially true when it comes to the fact that players are given various side missions during the battles. These missions vary between defeating a certain enemy officer with a specific ally officer, stop an enemy from escaping, or even capturing enemy bases within a certain time limit. These missions aren’t necessary but do provide bonuses such as equipable items, weapons and money and are often spaced far enough apart on the map that will require the player to quickly switch between their officers and finish the closest objective to that officer before switching yet again.

This feature makes it so that players truly feel like they are in the middle of a large battlefield where even the smallest victory can make a difference. Players will notice as they either succeed or fail bonus missions that the morale of ally and enemy forces fluctuates accordingly which also generates various boosts or debuffs to the forces on the field. The only problem with the fact you will fight alongside other warriors you must switch between is that you have more than your standard fighter to worry about. There are many times that players may have to end up returning to previous fought battles and grind out fights simply to level up other warriors so that they will not become a liability which may heighten the repetitious  feel of the title depending on your feeling of grinding and leveling up fighters.

There is unfortunately no multiplayer option to play online with a friend or even locally so there is a bit of a letdown to fans of the series who were hoping to play with others. Instead the game supports the StreetPass feature which lets players select four different officers and put them together in a team that will do “battle” with other peoples’ teams with the winner gaining increased friendship with their team and weapons while the loser only sees a small gain to friendship and one weapon that the winner pre-set to give out to anyone they StreetPass.

Overall:
Despite the fact that the storyline sounds like a history lesson being taught and combat feels repetitive as ever, Samurai Warriors Chronicles comes out with a few additions that help it struggle up from being a bland experience. Being able to shift between various officers on the battlefield provides a unique experience as well as being able to manage friendship levels with these officers which may make the repetetiveness of some battles tolerable.

Not to mention that the 3D is quite impressive in a title that has open field battles such as this one and is a great way to showcase what the 3DS’ 3D is capable of. Still, in the end, fans of the series will be relatively pleased with the shrunken down version of Samurai Warriors but will still feel that not a whole lot has changed in the experience and still be as repetitive as they remember.

I give Samurai Warriors Chronicles

7-0-capsules-out-of-10

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.
  • Hi there,

    Good review. I think it’s worth pointing out that the appeal of Warriors games is its historical context, and therefore the “sounds like a history lesson” isn’t so much of a bad thing – the people that will like this game are going to like that element of it! 🙂

    Matt

  • v8hilux

    not to keen on these kinda games especially english remakes of them too.

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