Review by xenodolf
Though lacking the flair of some of its comparison titles, this beat 'em up still implements a few interesting game-play mechanics.
Originally a NEO GEO title, Sengoku (called Sengoku Denshou here) was ported to the SNES/SFC. It was the only port the Super Nintendo / Super Famicom ever received from that console, giving it a little footnote in gaming history.
Although the environments were nice looking and more animated that most SNES/SFC beat 'em ups, the character graphics could have used more polish. There isn't a tremendous amount of animation in the bodies, and the "astral plane" levels were sometimes pretty barren. If this had been released a year earlier than it was, I would have given the visuals an 8.
The music was decent enough, in the "Earth" stages at least. The "astral plane" levels all had the same music, which became kind of boring after a while since you were beamed up there every five minutes. There were some serious glitches in the death cries when you fought in the "astral plane" levels, and almost every moan was mangled by a loud discharge of static. I'm not sure why this flaw was limited to those levels in particular, but I never heard it in the regular "Earth" area.
I don't think I had any problems in this category. Despite being a port from superior processing hardware, slowdowns never occurred in game-play. The button placement was pretty good too, and the movement of the characters didn't have any snags or input miscommunication.
Similar to Altered Beast, the characters in this game can morph into different bodies each attributed with special attacks. In addition to this, you normal persona can upgrade its abilities by collecting orbs that grant it weapons or projectile blasts. The battlefields are fought in normal-looking "Earth" stages that resemble streets and regular beat 'em up areas. However, upon stepping onto a portal - your character is beamed into the "astral stages". These are kind of Heaven-ish landscapes that don't seem to serve any purpose other than establish a kind of Zen storyline the game is built around. Although all these additions make it sound like the game deserves a 10/10 rating, they don't enhance the brawling that much. The core of the fighting isn't tremendously exciting, with only an average amount of enemy types and somewhat slow battle pacing. This is, however, only the second game I can recall of that you fight on the backs of stampeding animals. The first was the classic Konami run-n-gun title, Sunset Riders.
Replay value 4/10
I've only had the urge to go through this game twice: when I first bought and and prior to making this review. Although the playing mechanics aren't a carbon copy of Final Fight or any other major beat 'em up, the fighting itself just didn't grab my interest like a lot of other brawler titles. If you're playing by yourself, I guess you could try the other character out and see if it spruces up the experience any.
Not a bad beat 'em up by any means, especially if you're bored of all the generic titles clogging the arcades. While the brawling itself didn't really rope me in, I did appreciate the unusual transformations and weapon acquirement. My verdict? I can't recommend you buying this without testing an emulated version of it first. Its rather hard to find a physical copy, and I ended up having to shell out $25 bucks for the one I bought in 2006. There's also a chance the Wii Virtual Console may be picking up the superior AES or NEO GEO-CD version eventually. Take whatever approach fits your budget and enthusiasm for this game.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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