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Samurai Warriors Katana (Wii) Review

Review for Samurai Warriors Katana on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

For the uninitiated, Samurai Warriors started on the Playstation 2 and Xbox back in 2004. It was a third person adventure spinoff from the Dynasty Warriors series and featured a few additional features with a different storyline. A sequel and a PSP port later, the series found its way onto Wii with a new gimmick: waggle. Omega Force, the developers, made sure there was plenty of Wii-ification applied to the formula and even changed it to a first person game (a bit like Metroid Prime) which turned the button mashing into a different beast altogether. And it isn't a very complex beast...

Samurai Warriors Katana. Well, a lot can be assumed from a name so bold. You wouldn't be chastised for expecting some Samurai, the odd bit of warring, maybe even some kind of Katana appearance. The game does exactly what it says on the tin, and manages somehow to disappoint. It plays in the style of an on-rails shooter gone oriental - mixing it up with some controllable sections and even horseback sections. Add in a limited split-screen multiplayer and "Trial mode" and it translates to a pretty diverse gameplay experience, but when your main aim is usually either beating the clock or killing hordes of enemies, you'll never really think to pay much attention to the scenery, which is...well, more on that later.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors Katana on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The aforementioned button-mashing reputation of the Warriors series was never going to translate well to the Wii, and this game is testament to how not to go about the transition. You swipe your sword by pointing at an enemy with a reticule and pressing A. You can also perform a move called a "charge attack", which knocks back your foe at the swish of a hand. Two motions in, however, and there's already something broken. Whenever you go to swing, the reticule has to start in the screen and finish off the screen with a relatively straight line in between, and that completely defeats the object of hacking away at nine enemies all vying for your blood at the same time. Sometimes, a swipe will not be recognised, and it's doubtful that its a flaw of the Wii remote itself. The programming can just feel a bit shoddy from time to time, and you'll often find yourself waggling to no avail.

There are 8 weapons altogether, starting with the sword and ranging from a bow to a cannon, each with its own quirk which determines things like how often you can swing/shoot/block. There is a mode called "Musou" whereby you receive no damage and can unleash a powerful series of attacks in bullet-time, and much like the swinging problems, this mode sometimes feels a little bit broken. It is fun, nonetheless, to get cornered by 10 enemies and push them all away with the jerk of an arm. Shooting is handled with the B trigger and IR targeting, and can be quite frustrating when the screen gets a bit packed. Each enemy has a little marker (a bit like a weak point that can be attacked for massive damage) that you point at to attack and if you fail to hit the marker, you fail to cause any harm. Logic would say that shooting an arrow at a person's head, regardless of whether or not they have a mark on their thigh, will harm them, but apparently not in feudal Japan...which brings us to another slight niggle.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors Katana on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The game just lacks intelligence. AI seems to be absolutely non-existent - an enemy standing right in front of you will happily wait for you to attack it four or five times before it decides to slash back, and whilst different difficulty levels offer slightly different experiences, realism (in a broad sense) shouldn't have to be sacrificed in order to make the game easier. A guilty pleasure which cannot be denied, thus, is merely hacking and hacking in this game until sundown. It is oddly satisfying killing enemy clone #422, even if all of his brothers died and disappeared in exactly the same way, because Omega Force just gets it right. It's nothing explicit - it's more of a style choice. The dying sound effects are generally well done, and even if you will hear the sound forty million times again in the next few sessions, it doesn't detract from the experience.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors Katana on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Voice acting, however, is a little weak, and whilst you should never expect a massive budget for a game so...shallow...you have to giggle at the verbal anachronisms. The generic techno music fits the mood well, as the sheer busyness of the scenarios is reflected in the somewhat lively music. It is suitably modified to fit the setting, too. You'll not walk away humming the tunes and you won't look up the artists on YouTube weeks later - you'll just hear some slightly superfluous sound and nothing more. This is the problem with quite a lot of the game's aspects - nothing is terribly interesting. The story won't have you sitting at the edge of your seat and its unlikely you'll play through the game to see it progress. You'll play through for completion status; to get the high scores on each level; to acquire new weapons. And even still, this isn't really a criticism, but rather a disappointment. The game has its moments, but they're usually over too quickly for you to really care.

Visually, the game performs poorly. A selling point of the Warriors games was never its graphical prowess, but rather showing how much could happen at the same time on one screen. In such a limited, on-rails environment, you'd expect a few breathtaking views or cleverly placed camera angles, but everything looks low-res and muddy - something the N64 was doing quite well 7+ years ago. Even still, the graphics aren't what ruin this game, because frankly it isn't ever ruined. Its mediocrity just surpasses any glimpse of brilliance and eventually causes what could be great to be merely uninspiring.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors Katana on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

A stronger aspect of the game. It always manages to feel rather enjoyable; killing an enemy, but only because you're now making an action instead of a button press. Still sadly broken in areas, though.

Graphics

Functional and nothing more. Nothing special, but nothing that'll make your eyes bleed. Just bland and muddy.

Sound

A decent soundtrack marred by poor voice acting and repetitious sound effects.

Value

The story mode will keep you going for a decent amount of time and might tempt you back to improve high scores. Boring multiplayer and a few other options don't add much replay value, however.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

Samurai Warriors Katana is not a bad game. Heck, it verges on being decent, but is ruined by a couple of poor design choices. You'll probably be wasting your money paying full whack for this, but if you're a fan of the series on last-gen consoles, it's definitely worth a rental. Wait 'til it's gone down to half-price and then it becomes quite a good deal.

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05.04.2008

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Developer

Koei

Publisher

Koei

Genre

Action

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think this was destined to be a disappointment to long-term fans, especially given how it completely fell off the radar for quite a while due to development issues. Never a good sign!

Cheers for the honest review, Ben Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Yeah, I'm not sure whether they maybe had to shift focus to something else halfway through or kinda left it on the back burner for a while but it's just not as good as it could be, and it has so much potential in a pretty much untapped section of the Wii software library.


twitter: @bensoutham

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