Great visuals and over-the-top hack-n-slash awesomeness
Too much hack-n-slash awesomeness for some; no online co-op
I know what you are probably thinking…
“I really want an action-packed game based on Japan’s Sengoku era, but Samurai Warriors 3 is far too slow and historically accurate.”
Luckily, Capcom has your back with Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes for Wii.
The premise is nearly identical to the recently released Samurai Warriors 3: take control of a highly exaggerated historical warrior from Japan’s tumultuous warring state period and partake in highly exaggerated battles in which you cut, shoot, bash, and stab your way through hundreds of helpless foes and the occasional enemy hero who is slightly less helpless. The similarities continue: battles earn you experience, items, weapons, and money, all of which go towards powering up your character.
But wait, there’s more!
100% Historically Accurate
The controls are also darn near identical, with a button for normal atttacks, one for strong attacks (or “Arts: as they are called), one for Special Arts, one for jumping, and another for your super-awesome Basara Art attack, which works almost exactly the same as Samurai Warrior’s musou attack. The only major difference is that while Samurai Warriors 3 features set combos that grow in length and power as your character progresses, Sengoku Basara’s combos and special moves are shorter but more customizable with unique attacks that are unlocked via leveling up.
The rest of the differences between the two games are best summed up by saying that Sengoku Basara is a much more focused game than its competition. A great example of this is in graphics, because Sengoku Basara is an absolutely gorgeous looking game. By focusing on smaller, more linear battlefields, Capcom was able to pack in much more detail in a variety of different environments that manage to possess more unique qualities. One level featuring a haunted mountain particularly stands out; the texture work and overall design gives the environment a slightly animated appearance, while the darkened sky and purplish lighting gives it all an otherworldly glow. Altogether, this more focused approach makes the game feel much more lively.
One double-edged counter of this focused experience is the amount of content. While every character’s campaign is more dynamic thanks to a greater variety of objectives, environments, and the ability to choose from multiple levels at a time; the stages themselves are much more straightforward and involve significantly less strategy. However, this also makes the levels faster paced and quicker to get through, allowing you to move onto the next level all the sooner. Then there is the number of characters. Sengoku Basara offers less than half the number in Samurai Warriors 3‘s roster, but this has also allowed the developers to make each campaign more involving and put more detail into each character in terms of overall aesthetics and animations. Also, outside of each character’s campaign, there is only a free play mode that allows you to revisit previously played levels. Multiplayer is limited to local split-screen only.
A common sight on the battlefields of medieval Japan
On aspect that could be seen as either positive or negative by the player is the game’s overall dedication to being totally over the top. Like in Samurai Warriors, this means that the soundtrack is quite shred guitar-heavy and the voice acting is hammed up more than a pig wearing a suit made of bacon. However, Sengoku Basara goes an extra step further when it comes to presenting the game’s action; combos go into the thousands quite regularly, every special move is ridiculous, and the character designs are almost laughably absurd. Tadakatsu Honda, a big, armor-clad badass wielding a giant spear in Samurai Warriors has somehow been turned into a giant, mechanized robo-samurai with rocket boosters and, at least in the opening cinematic, the ability to fly. Another character has even experienced a major genetic mutation, turning the factually male figure of Magoichi Saica into a gun-toting femme fatale. Of course much of this can be attributed to Sengoku Basara’s origins as an equally exaggerated anime.
Sengoku Basara is quite interesting in that it definitely does enough to stand on its own two feet, but the similarities are inescapable. Where one game might stand out, the other is lacking, and in many places, such as the core gameplay, they are nearly identical. Sengoku Basara features superior graphics and customization and more unique level design, but Samurai Warriors 3 offers many more characters, levels, and overall a towering mountain of content that isn’t particularly original but still impresses with its sheer mass. Considering all the differences and similarities, I think it’s a draw.
However, just like with Samurai Warriors, Sengoku Basara isn’t necessarily for everybody. First and foremost, to enjoy either of these games you have to be able to not just endure but enjoy hours and hours of relatively mindless, repetitive hack and slash action. If you are really only interested in getting one, then that depends on what you value more. If you prefer a more traditional action experience, then Sengoku Basara is likely your cup of tea, but addicts of endless grinding and overwhelming amounts of things to do should go with Samurai Warriors 3.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.