Samurai Warriors: Chronicles Playtest: Sengoku Fighting And Friendships

By Jenni . April 15, 2011 . 4:33pm

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Anyone familiar with the Samurai Warriors series should have a general idea of how this game goes. Players relive various battles from the Sengoku (Warring States) period of Japanese history. This means you’ll experience events between the mid 1400′s to 1500′s, fighting for various sides to unite Japan. One minute you’ll be on one side and then you’ll befriend the generals you just defeated. After you create your custom avatar (male or female), you get to fight around the country. The differences between male and female avatars isn’t that big – armor and your initial weapon will look different plus you’ll sometimes have different dialogue options with certain characters.

 

Before I get into the gameplay, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles is one of the prettiest 3DS games out now. It looks fantastic. These screenshots you’re seeing alongside this playtest do not do the game justice. You have to actually see it in action on a 3DS to appreciate how amazing it looks. I’d say these are practically PS2 quality graphics and the 3D effects are implemented perfectly. With the 3D on, it provides the perfect amount of depth. The characters’ faces during the dialogue segments look especially good, and quite realistic.

 

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Back on how Samurai Warriors: Chronicles works. You fight. Don’t overthink it – your in-game companions don’t. Initially, you’ll have other teammate generals/warriors assigned to you, but later you can choose who you want to fight with you depending on who your friends are. Up to four player controlled characters appear on the map, with the player controlling one and computer AI managing the others until you switch over to them. As the battle goes on, you’ll be assigned various goals that you need to either clear within a few minutes or before an enemy character reaches a designated location. Keep an eye on AI controlled characters, as they aren’t too bright and tend to roam, sometimes all clustering together in one area of the map.

 

It’s pure hack-and-slash, button mashing goodness. If you see a character that actually has a name above his head, even something generic like guard or defense captain, take that dude down. Even if it isn’t part of the current mission, sometimes spotting and attacking an enemy with a name will trigger another mission requiring you to take him or her down. Aside from the general attack, you can also build up a gauge to use special abilities or a special attack. For the most part, unless you’re surrounded or facing a "boss," you’ll be fine with button mashing. Defeated enemies drop equipment, items or gold.

 

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After a battle in Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, you get the opportunity to build friendships with your comrades. There will be a chance to talk to one of three different people. You then see an event scene where you talk to the person and usually get to answer a question or two. Answer correctly and you’ll become friends. If you build a close rapport, then that character can fight in battles with you, even if he or she normally wouldn’t, and you may be able to have your avatar wear his/her armor or use his/her weapon.

 

That brings us to customization options. You can collect and fuse weapons for all characters to build stronger ones with better attributes. You can also change your avatar’s appearance and equipment. There are quite a few mounts to choose from, and have registered for your character too. In addition, when you start the game you take a brief personality test to determine a "type" for your avatar that loosely determines initial stats. It’s fun and provides a bit more replay incentive.

 

While Samurai Warriors: Chronicles doesn’t have a true multiplayer mode, it supports StreetPass. You can unlock this mode after reaching a certain point in the game. This lets you put together a team of warriors who will battle against other people’s warriors if you pass them by. You don’t really do anything though, aside from deciding the battle formation and team members. You do get rewards and friendship levels with the selected team members increase when you win, so it is a nice little supplement. You can also choose one weapon to exchange with the other player. Unfortunately, you have to find and defeat a supply captain character in the next battle you participate in to actually get that weapon.

 

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Samurai Warriors: Chronicles does not have massive armies of enemies facing you, simply because the 3DS can’t handle it. You will encounter a few squadrons of faceless troops as you run around the maps, but they really aren’t too much of a threat. The only danger to you are characters with names over their heads. If you see one of those, then take him or her down immediately. They’re trouble. The faceless ones are usually content to just stand around though, acting as occasional combo-fodder.

 

Horseback riding can also be an exercise in frustration. You can purchase mounts for your character and they do have their good points. If you need to get a character from one side of the map to another, then bit’s great to just press on the d-pad and summon a horse so you can get there a little faster, but battling on horseback is absolutely annoying. You have to position your character just so, otherwise you’re flailing your weapon at air and hoping the enemies are stupid enough to walk towards you. Maybe I’m just not doing it right, but it just seemed easier to use horses to get from point A to point B, then hop off to crush enemies in standard hand-to-hand combat.

 

Samurai Warriors: Chronicles is going to be an acquired taste. This is my first experience with the series and I loved it. I enjoyed the hack-and-slash missions and didn’t mind replaying missions repeatedly to acquire new items, level up and build friendships with the other characters. It may not be for people with short attention spans though, since redoing missions for extra points is practically required.

 

Food for Thought

  • I really like that Tecmo Koei made sure StreetPass and SpotPass compatibility were added, but unfortunately I’ve only passed one person who also was playing Samurai Warriors: Chronicles. Also, we won’t see extra SpotPass missions until probably May.
  • If you’re interested in grabbing it, prepare for a bit of a search. I had to check three GameStops, two of which said they had it online – one even mistakenly saying it was in stock on the phone, before finally acquiring a copy.
  • Be prepared to read a lot, if you can’t understand Japanese. There’s no English voice acting. I see this as a plus though, as it makes the game feel more authentic.
  • Each mission has three difficulty levels. I recommend playing it on Easy the first time, so you can see what the goals will be and get a feel for the area and characters you’ll control, then go through it on normal or hard.

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  • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

    Nice for the comments on sound options. A shame, but wow, I wish we had demos so I could check it out. Is it comparable to Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes, that is the characters and story actually makes you care for them and want to play through it? I was afraid the non anime based games like these dont really have good character interactions like that.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I have no idea. This is the first Samurai Warriors game I’ve ever played. I found I didn’t really start caring about the characters until I’d seen at least 3 or 4 of their dialogue segments.

      The dialogue parts with characters are interesting. I enjoyed unlocking them.

      • andref

        I would have mentioned about the guns in the game for anyone who only played DW and never SW, its a bit awkward using your sword and then switching to the gun to try to hit someone in the distance

        • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

          I haven’t honestly noticed the ability to switch to guns. Is it even there? My avatar character only had dual swords, unless I switched to Motohari’s (I think that’s his name… he was the leader from the second mission and I don’t have my 3DS nearby…) weapon set for my character. And even then, it just made his bow-arrow thing into the primary weapon for her.

          Oh, and one other general had a cannon-style weapon, but I haven’t unlocked that for my avatar yet.

          • andref

            So I suppose that personality test has more of an effect than I thought, I only use 1 long sword and my charge attack has my character pulling out a rifle

          • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

            Is your character a hero or a heroine? They have different base weapons. I’m not sure what the hero has, but the heroine wields dual blades. (Her special attack combines them into some kind of knife-staff.)

          • andref

            Hero, my special is a long sword and rifle. Special is three swings and then he pulls out his rifle and shoots one large flame bullet that explodes

          • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

            It isn’t the personality test. The hero character uses a sword and rifle. The heroine character uses two swords. So that’s why there’s a difference. :D

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S2UKKIGGOA4V5EIFXAD7BQQOV4 Heehee

      Are you ready to party?

    • andref

      You only have one story which is your custom made character but I would say the dialogue options after battles can be pretty cool. I have the game and I was constantly replaying some missions to be able to further my friendship with some characters and some have some funny dialogue.

  • andref

    For anyone who gets this game, I would not recommend starting any mission on hard thinking you will be able to beat the missions as easily as the previous difficulty. Some missions require keeping certain characters alive or else the mission automatically ends and some don’t level up and able to be able to upgrade their weapons. I would recommend replaying previous missions constantly to gain more money to upgrade weapons for both yourself and characters you’ll fight alongside so they can be prepared too for hard mode.

    • andref

      Adding to this post, hard mode isn’t a walk in the park, I found myself often having to hold onto the block button so I could stay alive long enough to use a true musou or whatever its called in this game.

      • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

        Oh, definitely. Hard mode isn’t joking around. I was only able to beat the first four missions on it, and I think that’s because I’ve practically memorized what you have to do for them.

        (I’ve mainly been playing, then replaying, the easy and normal variations.)

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    I might get this game once i get the 3DS, is the only one that called my attention of the first releases

  • neo_firenze

    Easily my favorite 3DS game so far. Not really saying a ton since the competition isn’t that strong, but Samurai Warriors is legitimately fun and technically very polished. I like how the battles keep things flowing with lots of small objectives and you can jump from one character to another by touching them on the touchscreen (which also has a map that changes in real time).

    I’d really recommend it to anyone looking for a 3DS game who doesn’t hate the concept of a hack and slash game. Don’t buy into the lazy reviews you see in some places where they pre-judge every Koei game as the same.

    • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

      I agree, for the time it’s the only 3DS game I have, and I’m quite positively surprised by it. :D

  • Zenkito

    To be honest it’s the only reason I brought a 3DS. <3 Samurai Warroirs Chronicles!

  • thebanditking

    I really like the warriors series so naturally this one is no different. I was really pleased with the way the 3D was implemented (subtle depth with out too much eye straining elements) the graphics were quite impressive (especially the character portraits) for a launch title. I picked this up as my second game along with Ridge Racer, since Amazon was nice enough to run that promotion I ended up getting this game for $5.00.

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