One look at the name Sengoku BASARA Samurai Heroes and it’s immediately apparent that the game in question hails from the East. You wouldn’t need to see the name to know that though, one look at this Dynasty Warriors style Samurai title is enough to prove that the distinctive style of Samurai Heroes isn’t for everyone.
As you’ll notice immediately, Sengoku BASARA Samurai Heroes resemblance to the never ending KOEI series Dynasty Warriors is striking. I personally have a problem with said series, namely that it’s a repetitive, one-note game where slashing through thousands of identical enemies is less fun than being forced to review 5 shovel-ware Wii games in a week. Despite this though, I actually enjoyed Samurai Heroes, even if the comparisons to said series are too many to count.
You begin the game by choosing one of around 15 characters, each of which uses a unique weapon throughout their story campaign. This increases the game’s length considerably, although most people will prefer to play as just one of the characters throughout. The weapons vary greatly, one character may be wielding a knife, another his bare fists or maybe even a huge ball and chain. The variety is welcome, as every player responds differently to different play styles, exactly what is needed to control some of the larger weapons on offer here.
What each weapons share however is the ability to hack through an endless amount of enemy units. Even when just using your fists, enemies drop like flies around you, your combo meter increasing with every death. This aspect of the game is where Dynasty Warriors fans will feel right at home, taking out enemy leaders spread across the map in order to defeat a central foe, taking down hundreds of nobodies on the way. But that said, tasks within each of the missions make this less of a chore than expected.
One early mission has you working your way around a central platform in order to lower bridges so you can reach the end goal. With enemy leaders that respawn as you move across the map, you have to carefully time which bridges to lower first in order to reduce your chances of being overwhelmed by foes. Another mission sees the final boss appearing in repeatedly more troublesome spots for you to defend yourself in. Here you have to use the huge amount of backup you have on your side throughout all missions, though their AI, like that of the enemies, leaves a lot to be desired.
This is where the game begins to break down, even when missions are slightly more interesting than others the combat never quite moves past the early one-note beginnings like you would hope. Motion controls are saved for special attacks which are too infrequent to be of much use anyway, which means you should be ready for mashing the A button repeatedly to continue your assault on these enemies. Your combo meter does little more than provide some more bright colours to the screen, this being taken to extremes every time you take over an enemy camp, the combo rocketing dramatically as and unexpected explosion knocks everything down.
It’s in these hectic moments where the game’s colour palate really shines, the most impressive aspect of the visuals here. The game has a distinctive anime style that’s suitable for the limitations of the platform. That said, no amount of vibrancy can cover sluggish combat animations and a set of enemies that look identical from start to end. Technically decent, the sound design achieves much the same level of quality as the graphics.
The overall feeling you are left with after playing Sengoku BASARA Samurai Heroes is that of a missed opportunity. Certain aspects of the game are genuinely enjoyable, such as the mission structure and experimenting with the different weapons on offer. But for the same reasons why a fair amount of people find Dynasty Warriors to be a painful experience, the button mashing that makes up most of Samurai Heroes will become a chore to play. There are people who will find a lot to enjoy here, just not enough to make it a must buy.
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