Samurai Warriors Chronicles

Samurai Warriors Chronicles review: In our opinion this is the standout title in the Nintendo 3DS launch line-up

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Tecmo Koei Samurai Warriors Chronicles
  • Tecmo Koei Samurai Warriors Chronicles
  • Tecmo Koei Samurai Warriors Chronicles
  • Tecmo Koei Samurai Warriors Chronicles

Pros

  • Looks and plays great in 3D, offers up a few new twists to the formula to make the game even more hectic, StreetPass feature is really good fun

Cons

  • It's going to be hard to find other people with copies of this game to StreetPass

Bottom Line

If you haven't given a Warriors game a chance, and have a shiny new Nintendo 3DS, then please do give Samurai Warriors Chronicles a whirl. It'll surprise and delight you.

Would you buy this?

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Forget Nintendogs, forget Pilot Wings. The Nintendo 3DS launch title that you really should be buying into is Samurai Warriors Chronicles. It's a spectacular effort that makes brilliant use of all of the 3DS' unique features, and brings them together into a mature and self-assured title from a company now very comfortable with its key franchise.

On the surface, Chronicles looks a lot like Samurai Warriors 3 on the Nintendo Wii — using the same character models, level assets and soundtrack. In 3D, though, it's much more impressive. When action is literally coming at you from all angles, you can't help but be immersed within a battle. Though the 3DS is not able to handle hordes of enemies of quite the same size as the Wii, you'll still be slaughtering at a comfortable clip.

The cutscenes make superb use of the 3D for cosmetic effect. It's clear that Tecmo Koei put a great deal of effort in understanding the differences between 2D and 3D imagery, and has cleverly constructed the cut scenes to give us something not possible on conventional technology. In battle, the 3D is not just a cosmetic effect. Being able to gauge distances more easily helps when judging the timing and movement of attacks. It's a subtle difference, but it helps prevent attacking thin air because of assuming the enemy is closer than they really are.

Digging further into the game, Chronicles is a very different title to Samurai Warriors 3. In the Wii game, Tecmo Koei constructed a story for each and every playable character — there were more than 30 stories, of four to five missions each. This time around, the story is told from the perspective of just one character — one you make yourself, who travels through the Sengoku period of medieval Japan, participating in all the major conflicts.

It feels a little contrived at times to have this 'nameless' character pop up at each and every battle — and on random sides to boot — but at the same time, it provides a historical insight into the era that previous games in the series have struggled with. For the first time, even people who haven't read into Japanese history will get a detailed snapshot of the battles, their importance, and the people who fought them. It's cohesive, understandable, and has the bonus side effect of providing a 'campaign' that lasts for many, many hours.

That doesn't mean you'll be stuck controlling the one hero, though. On each battlefield, you'll take control of up to three historical characters, in addition to the one you created. They'll be placed around the battlefield, and you're free to swap between them.

You'll need to do it a lot, too, because the mission structure will have you managing objectives from one side of the battlefield to the other, usually simultaneously. On the harder levels in the later stages of the game, it's a hectic system indeed, and requires many of the same 'on the fly' strategic decisions that would be applicable in a real battlefield.

This system also makes up for the somewhat limited action buttons. Warriors veterans will be familiar with the two-button attack style that is the default for the series, but when you're going to be handling the different combos of four different characters simultaneously, you won't have the time to stop and think about whether these games really do quality for "button masher" status or not.

Beyond the campaign, there's the ability to tackle any map you've already completed, with any combination of heroes you'd like — so the "dream team" can really happen in this game. But more addictive is the StreetPass mode. Here, you'll select a combination of four heroes, and one of four battle formations. Then, when you pass someone else with a copy of the game, data will be exchanged and you'll find out whether your team building skills are up to scratch.

Unfortunately, wandering past other people in Australia with copies of this game might prove difficult. Despite being the highest quality game in the 3DS launch line-up, Samurai Warriors Chronicles is destined to be forgotten and undeservedly dismissed.

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