Impressions: Samurai Warriors Chronicles on the 3DS

Ok, confession time. Hey, don’t judge me, we all have guilty pleasures. Mine just so happen to include Yellowcard and Zack Snyder movies (except Sucker Punch, that movie is the Rebecca Black’s Friday of action movies), but that’s besides the point! Don’t stop reading yet!

This confession is about VIDEO GAMES. So just… don’t go anywhere yet.

I loves me some Dynasty Warriors. Technically speaking, I’m actually a bigger fan of the Samurai Warriors spin-off series, but the sub-genre as a whole keeps me on the edge of my seat. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Q,” your brain is postulating, “don’t Warriors games always get bad reviews?”

Consider this for a moment, my furry little friends. How many hours a day do you think a game reviewer plays video games? At least 6, do you think? Maybe more? Now how many in a week? In a month? Do the math real quick, I’ll wait for you.

Now, what do you think someone like that would think when they had a 30-hour-plus two-button-festival plopped into their lap? They’re bound to be displeased, because they are going to be playing that game until it’s done, and then writing about their experience. In their shoes, I’d probably be unhappy too. But I am not in their shoes, and neither are you, good sir/madam. We, as non-full-time-gamers, get a couple hours a day, on average, and in chunks like that, a game like Samurai Warriors is infinitely more enjoyable.

On that note, hit the jump and I’ll give you the D-L on this brand-spanking new entry to the Warriors series, and how it fares on Nintendo’s latest heavenly hardware.

Tried and Tested Gameplay: Sure it’s another Warriors game. If you like Warriors games, though, you’re in for a treat. The Samurai Warriors series has always been somewhat less repetitive than its Dynasty brethren due to its Mission system which changes the objectives of the level on-the-fly. Sure, you can still hack and slash endlessly through a level ignoring all but your final objectives and killing everything in sight, but you’d only be doing yourself a disservice. The emphasis is on dealing with the changing flow of the battlefield but working the various missions that are handed to you in the middle of your fight.

The Heroine lays down some Shoryuken-with-two-swords hurt.

SW:C throws an additional twist into the formula by displaying the battlefield map on the lower screen and giving you the option of switching between 4 different characters instantaneously, which can all be at completely different positions on the map. While you’re not controlling a character directly, you can give them an objective, thus letting you plan out further strategy for completing your missions and objectives. Overall, the new feature set for this Samurai Warriors entry turns out to be one of the best of the series, if not the best. I miss the Skill system from SW1, but SW:C lets you build up other characters to use in your battles, and each character has a pre-defined set of limited-use skills they can use on the battlefield, such as healing or temporarily giving a boost to the speed of your troops.

Those new to the Warriors series should be forewarned: this is not an easy game. Veterans will be able to come in on Normal, but if you’ve been away from the series for a time or are new to it, don’t be disheartened when you have to play through a level on Easy just to survive. The levels are designed to be played through again and again on increasing difficulties, earning better equipment as you go. In the meantime, don’t let the seemingly simple gameplay deceive you; this game is a challenge.

Runs… Pretty Good…: I’d be lying if I said the graphics on this game were fantastic. Most of the gameplay graphics are roughly equivalent to the PS2, which is disheartening. I expected more of Nintendo’s new hardware, but this is a launch game after all. The system is still able to push out more troops visually than any of its PSP or DS predecessors, but it still hits limits. When the player focuses on the missions, they’re likely to ignore most of the generic troops and go straight for the officers, and the result can be a battalion that has followed you across the battlefield, only to clog up your personal space and prevent rendering of objects further away. It’s not as frustrating as previous portable versions, but it’s there.

Screw you, Toshiie! There can be only one!

One area that I am impressed with is how it renders the interactions you have with the other officers once the battle is over. These sequences show very finely-detailed characters, which are a stark contrast to the somewhat blocky gameplay graphics. This says to me that the 3DS is certainly capable of rendering high-quality, and just wasn’t done for the battlefield itself this time around.

Knows How to Use Its Hardware: That’s what she said. But seriously folks, SW:C actually has a major advantage over other launch games in that it uses the features of the 3DS to great effect. The 3D effects look fantastic, and when an enemy is standing between your character and you, you can tell instantly, letting you with instinctive speed that you’ve got an enemy at your back. Plus, watching hordes of minions be tossed about by huge strokes of your weapon is hugely pleasing. (That’s right, I went there.)

Also, SW:C is one of the few 3DS games so far to use Play Coins in-game. You can exchange them for gold, which you can use to buy new mounts and upgrade your weapons. Granted, you’ll probably have more than enough gold anyway, but it’s the thought that counts.

The Sweet Sound of Foreign Language: Some might say this is a disadvantage, but I claim it as a huge check in the win column. There is no English language audio track in SW:C. Thank the Maker! It was a huge downturn in the series when they removed the Japanese language option altogether from domestic releases, partly because the voice acting was always so god-awful. Now your only option is Japanese, which a purist like me can appreciate. Some might miss the English audio, but to you I say “Fie! Fie on you, sir!”

Surprising in Length: That’s what she said. Zing! No, really, I don’t recall any other Warriors game having this many levels with the possible exception of Samurai Warriors 3 or 3Z. This is a launch title, yet it contains about 30 levels, each of which will likely take you at least 15-20 minutes to complete. That’s a lot of content. It’s so big, that I can’t finish the game in time to do a review!

Final Judgment: My final word on SW:C, this far in, is that it is a must-own for any fan of the Warriors series which happens to find themselves in possession of a 3DS. Don’t overlook this title because you think it’s just another Warriors game. For those who are new to the Warriors games, this is the one to get started on. If you don’t enjoy this one, then Koei can’t do anything for you there.

Samurai Warriors: Chronicles was played 1/3 to completion. Official review will be completed upon completion. Available now on the Nintendo 3DS.

  • Andrew Allen

    Because you said “Thank the Maker!” in there, I must now reply with, “This oil bath is going to feel SO good!”

  • Eric Robbins

    Thank god they removed the English voice actors. If you’re not going to shell out for quality talent, than just keep it in a language where I can’t judge performance by voice alone.