Jan 15, 2008
Samurai Warriors Katana is finally here, and after several so-so earlier titles, it pretty much has the ‘remote as sword’ field to itself.
In Campaign mode this is basically Time Crisis with a sword. This is a very good thing. Relentlessly on-rails fighting can get boring, but Katana mixes up the missions in imaginative ways - you’ll have to creep through forests filled with archers, spotting them before they can shoot you in the back, hide behind fences and shoot onrushing cavalry, or simply hack away at ninjas. It works well, although there are only so many variations before missions begin repeating patterns.
Above: Translation - "What are you staring at!? My hat is awesome!"
The controls respond quickly, although forceful swishing is better than subtle strokes, and after extended play you’ll be a very tired samurai indeed. There are various weapons with different abilities to choose from, and aside from the obvious swinging you can block attacks, move within limits and fire your secondary weapon.
Other touches include sprinting by pumping the remote and Nunchuk up and down, before finishing with exhausted arms and being beaten up by a girl in a pink dress (and watch out for the early boss that plays football with exploding melons), but every motion has been carefully thought-out and none seems like pointless dressing.
The only real disappointment is that Katana doesn’t stretch the Wii’s capabilities with its visuals - in part, however, this must be compensation for the excellent framerate. But it’s a big game, with at least 100 missions and plenty of bonus content, including the dreaded minigames. It isn’t going to set the world alight, but it’s good fun and the most accomplished sword-swinger currently on the Wii.