Six characters are initially selectable in the story mode, set within the Japanese civil war in the Sengoku period. Each character has a different reason for fighting in the war, each working towards a separate outcome at the conclusion of their tale, and plough through enemies with their own unique weapon and fighting technique. Take Ieyasu Tokugawa, for example, who battles like a boxer using just his fists...enhanced with brass knuckles. The weapons vary from character to character - whether it’s samurai swords, gloves, guns, or even a giant frying pan, there’s plenty to choose from, each offering a different style of play. You can also upgrade to increase your attack power and certain other abilities. If you’re familiar with the Sengoku period of Japan, you’ll notice that every warlord you can play as is based on a real historical figure or faction - though fictional twist has been attributed to each to fit in with the game.
The story mode is set up rather like the story of a fighting game, with your character having to smash their way through nine stages, the last being a final boss. The final boss varies between each character, and with some you can choose from multiple paths to affect the outcome of the war, as well as who you fight last, and who your allies are. After or during certain battles you will trigger cut scenes that tell the story. The voice acting is done well, although some of the story doesn’t really make much sense... Each character’s story will take about two hours to complete, and after you’ve finished the story mode, there’s a quick battle mode in which you can select a stage to play through with any unlocked character at a difficulty of your choosing.
During each stage you usually have a certain mission to accomplish before moving on to the bosses. These can include opening some gates or defending a boat by killing a certain base commander, or simply just hacking and slashing through hordes of enemies until you get to the boss on the map. Sometimes the boss is available straight off the mark; they’ll just hide from you by running away in cut scenes every so often.
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Hero’s gameplay is very straightforward, with each character playing slightly different from the others. You can just mash the A button on the Wii Remote, or do combo moves to unlock special attacks - though, as the normal enemy grunts don’t offer much of a challenge, you won’t really need to use these special moves until you reach a boss or secondary boss. There are three types of special moves: an elemental attack activated by pressing a combination of buttons at the same time (usually Z + A + B); the Hero mode allows you to slow down time to hit the enemy as many times as you want; the third is the Basara move, which is a special, unstoppable attack that can take half of a boss’ life away. You can also combine these attacks, such as using the Hero Time and Basara moves at the same time.
After each stage your character will level up, as well as gain a collection of new items and materials which can help with attack, defence, or building the Basara and Hero moves up. Depending on what you equip to your weapon, you can also create new items out of materials by spending coins that you collect throughout the stages or selling off redundant weapons or items. Every so often you’ll collect a new ally to fight by your side, each of whom helps out with your Basara attack, as well as having their own special abilities. Whether you need help from these characters is quite another matter, as the game can be got through very easily - the bosses aside, there isn’t much in the way of challenge, and if you want to be pushed in any way the hard mode is your best option. There are, however, no checkpoints, so if you get to the very end of the level and then die against a boss, you’ll have to start that level all over again, which can get very frustrating.