First look at Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes

You’d be forgiven for not knowing what a Sengoku Basara Samurai is. Like Samurai Warriors 3 from Koei it’s a military action title set in ancient Japan, its legendary heroes loosely based on real figures.

At first glance this looks a lot like any entry in Koei’s fragmented warring franchise, chock-full as it is of flamboyantly dressed heroes, outlandish special moves and thousands of dumb enemies to use them on. At second glance it looks exactly like Samurai Warriors, only with more outright-ridiculous dialogue and… no, it’s no good, we can’t think of a second thing. PS3 and 360 owners have become used to enduring countless indentikit Koei titles, now it seems the Wii is getting in on the dubious honour.

In the game’s favour, it does look slightly more fun than most of Koei’s output, the lunacy forever lurking at their borders brought a bit further inland. The best thing about Dynasty/Samurai Warriors is the stylish, often bizarre characterisation; a similar game with more charm and less slavish devotion to history sounds right up our street.

Masamune Date, the character who’s come to epitomise the series, wears a rather nifty eyepatch, and has a talent for wielding no less than six swords at once (we assume that’s how he ended up needing the eyepatch). Each successful battle sees you claiming another swath of territory, which can then be stripped of its natural resources. Sure, hundreds of farmers will be driven out of business, but you get to upgrade your swords.

Your eventual goal is to conquer the entirety of Japan and sit on a big throne made from the skulls of your enemies. Well, perhaps. We’re guessing that’s what happens. We’d start a bit smaller, to be honest.

It’s difficult to rouse any strong feelings either way for another game in the Dynasty Warriors mould, as that series’ main characteristic is its stubborn refusal to move with the times. We’ll reserve a smidgen of hope for Sengoku, however, as it seems to be a bit more playful than Koei’s button-mashing franchise and because, well, it’s got a robot in it and you get to use six swords at once. Sometimes the obvious reasons are the best.

May 29, 2010