Review by megaslush
"Pretty decent for a launch game, but still feels a bit rushed."
With the Nintendo 3DS out, many seem to be turned off by the lack of a first-party launch title. However, if they look at it from a different perspective, Nintendo is actually giving third-party developers a chance. Koei's Samurai Warrior Chronicles is, arguably, one of the better launch titles out there.
It's hard to pay attention to the story. It's basically Japanese history, in a nutshell. Character interactions post-battle (and friendship-based scenarios) are more interesting, however, as they're usually humorous, or bring up good points morally. Nothing special here, unless you're interested in history.
The concept should be familiar for anyone who's played any Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors games previously. Basically, you play as an officer in a historic war. There are two armies, with lots of officers on each side. Victory/Defeat conditions usually involve the leading ones, but they may vary from battle to battle.
The gameplay seems like a button-masher at first; but since the rest of the games are button-mashers too, no one's to blame. You basically use normal attacks and charged attacks, and combo with them. Each character has a special ability/attack/buff exclusive to them as well. You can use musou/spirit gauges to use other special abilities. What Chronicles adds is the slight strategic side to battles.
Mid-battles, lots of missions will come up. Some of them are easy, others are ridiculous. Since you have control of 2-4 officers (you can switch via the touch screen), you are expected to take care of the missions. Otherwise, the battle will turn HORRIBLY against you. It's a good way to get to know the style of other characters (as every character is unique), and to get some bonuses. Better than just using your main character alone to bum-rush through the game, like some games expect you to do.
Speaking of the main character, if you raise other characters' friendship levels enough, you can copy their weapons/fighting styles. Normally, the male main character uses a katana and a rifle, and the female one uses dual swords. Even if they're good enough that way, you will feel refreshed if you take the time to change styles every once in a while.
When it comes to presentation, it feels like it could have been better. The voices weren't dubbed for Western releases, which may or may not be a good thing. The music, however, fits the mood of the battles a lot, especially being affected by your morale and/or success with missions. As for the visuals, characters and objects look good from afar, but they're not very detailed if you get closer. The 3D usage is fine; it makes the battlefield wider (as it should), and you can feel the depth between everything. Cinematics have pop-out 3D, where they should belong. One of my problems with this game is the fact it can't display a large number of people at once, so some enemies (or even allies) don't show up unless you get really close, or take out some soldiers first.
The game is not that hard if you know what you're doing. You can select Easy, Normal or Hard before each battle (which affects your exp. gain and gained items/weapons), but it usually depends on how well you do. As I said previously, taking care of missions and keeping your morale high are key elements to winning each battle. The later ones, especially from chapter 4, give you NO chance to control everything while taking care of missions, so don't get too comfortable because the beginning is easy.
Other than the fact some parts of this game feel rushed (voices, visuals, etc.), it's still pretty great for a 3DS launch title. It can potentially last for a while, what with all the collectibles, StreetPass, and character scenarios to uncover. If you're a fan of Koei's games, make sure you give this title some love!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/18/11
Game Release: Samurai Warriors Chronicles (US, 03/27/11)
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