Chambara is an arena deathmatch game with a quirky visual design (we’ll get to that later). It’s available on Playstation 4 at $9.99 and is coming soon to Xbox One. Chambara is a local multiplayer game, so you’re going to need to play split screen. Also, you can only play with either two or four players.
You both play as birds (Dove and Raven) with the aim being to hit the other player. Get hit five times and you’re done. The gameplay is fun and enjoyable, but it can take a bit of time to pick it up. There’s a tutorial at the start of the game, which teaches you the basic controls and gives you a task to try and help you learn a few tactics for spotting players. I suggest you take it in turns practicing, as I also tried the tutorial in split screen and it just stopped working halfway through every time, but if you try it one at a time it’s fine.
The part of the game that separates Chambara from all the other games like this that I’ve played is that this game’s visual design is best described as two-tone. That means that in each game you’ll have a light colour and a dark colour, one for each player. The colour scheme for each map matches the characters perfectly, meaning if you are the dark character stood against a dark wall, you’re 100% invisible, but stood against a light wall you stand out from a mile away. Your main weapon is a simple melee attack that causes the other player to burst into feathers; you can choose from various items such as a walking stick, an umbrella and a fish, to name a few. You also get a ninja star, which highlights the player it hits with a third (and very obvious) colour, as well as slowing the player’s movement. You can pick your ninja star back up and throw it again.
One of the most useful moves in the game is dashing, which can be used to evade a player, zip from one spot of cover to another or strike an enemy who’s just a little out of range (you take a swing at the end of a dash). As well as the customisable melee weapons, you also choose a piece of headgear (like a top hat, viking helmet or a halo) and ‘feathers’ that fall to the ground when you get hit (you can drop things like stars, hearts or numbers) but there are lots more options to choose from.
Because the game is local multiplayer only, lag isn’t really an issue, and the game is well designed, so the game is fluid and plays really well. When you start the game, you can choose either arcade mode or custom mode. Arcade mode sets up a random playlist of rounds. The custom game mode allows you to choose your own map rotation of up to ten rounds and you can choose the colours for each round too by pressing up or down on a map. The layouts of each map are good, having locations like a library, mansion and a radio tower. There are a few different levels to play on, so you can try and take the high ground or you could lurk in the shadows below.
Another great mechanic is that because you’ll be playing split screen you can see your opponent’s screen. How do we fix this issue? Press the left trigger and you close your eyes, preventing your opponent (and you) from seeing your location.
Now, like I mentioned earlier, Chambara is on the PSN store for $9.99, coming soon to Xbox One. There’s no current info for a release outside of the states unfortunately. Now, it’s a very fun game for a few dollars; if you’re having people round this might be a fun game, but you won’t play it all night long. The lack of an ability to play this game over the internet or play against bots is a bit of a letdown, but it’s still worthwhile. There’s a lot of customisation options so you can really make this game your own. It’s the kind of game you’ll have a few rounds of here and there; it’s hard to find a decent split screen multiplayer game, but when you do, you wish it was online too – I think this is a catch twenty-two that developers must run into from time to time, but then you’ll never please every gamer.
Overall I do think Chambara is well deserving of a total score of eight. I think the game could perhaps benefit from AI bots to play against, but it’s very well presented and there is a lot of variety to keep things entertain for a while.
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