Reviewed: March 6, 2008
Released: January 15, 2008
I have been a big fan of the dynasty/samurai warriorís video game series for years. The simplistic gameplay and slaying of thousands of soldiers is relaxing at times. It is a game that doesnít make you think, it is pure action.
That type of game is not for everyone. Pressing one button over and over again, hundreds of times gets old after a few hours even to the hardest of hardcore warriorís fans. Maybe if KOEI released a Nintendo Wii version of the cult franchise that would allow people to physically fight the battles, more people would be interested in playing.
The Samurai Warriors video game series has been around a since 2004 when it appeared on the Playstation 2 and original Xbox systems. Now it is making its unfortunate Wii debut with the title Samurai Warriors Katana.
First and foremost, this is a first person (on-rails) action game (like Time Crysis). You are propelled around the world by the camera and you only proceed after all the enemies are defeated. There is at least on instance in the game where you are allowed to move about freely, but it is limited.
Much like the other Samuri Warrior games, Katana is set in the Sengoku era of Japan History. This took place between the middle of the 15th century and the beginning of the 17th century. It was a time of social upheaval and constant military conflicts.
You begin the game as a generic soldier in an army of thousands. You do not have an option to change your character either. You play through the game as an unknown, nameless soldier. Why KOEI decided you shouldnít be able to play as one of the legendary figures in the game is beyond me.
Simple, is the best way for me to describe Katanaís combat system. Playing this game is relatively easy; you just need to know when to time your block. If you canít master blocking, you probably wonít make it through the first chapter. Usually when facing bosses it is a matter of memorizing their attack patterns so you know when to block. Blocking during ordinary combat is very difficult and it takes a lot of guesswork.
Otherwise it is just a matter of swinging your arms over and over again (up, down, left, and right). You can press ďAĒ to do an aimed slice attack, but doing so is slow. I found it much more effect to swing my arm around. After doing that for a chapter or so your arms will be extremely sore.
I realize that pressing the ďAĒ buttons works, but it is slow and it generally only targets individual enemies as opposed to the swing attacks.
The game begins by giving you the option to go through training. It is worth doing once and is really short. After doing so you will begin the story mode. The stories range from you becoming a master ninja to collecting pretty women. Thatís right, collecting the most beautiful girls by simply fighting the ugly ones.
The missions you will go on have objectives like breaking into an enemy camp or trying to stop a cavalry with a musket. There isnít a whole lot of variety other than that and you will get to enjoy doing similar (near identical) missions throughout your story mode adventure.
Musou attacks make their appearance one again in Katana. Once activated, you will have to swing your Wiimote as fast as you can in whatever direction you want. It is a workout to say the least and you may have to pause the game after using it. Mosou attacks play an important role because of how powerful they are. Choosing to save it for when your health is low can really pull you out a jam.
Other returning features are the upgrades to your weapons and the ability to buy items. Upgrading your currently equipped weapon is a good idea, it adds some nice abilities and strengthens it. On the other hand, you seem to go through various weapons pretty frequently so itís hard to make the investment into your weapon early on.
Getting money to upgrade your weapons is as easy as going back and replaying previous missions. You will want to do this frequently to keep your weapons upgraded.
Nothing special here, just your below par graphics that canít come close to matching the original Samurai Warriors on the PS2 four years ago.
Although the game supports 16:9 widescreen TVís and runs at 480p, the graphics are still extremely disappointing. They are almost comparable to Playstation one graphics, but more likely first generation PS2.
The level designs are unimaginative and boring. They also begin to look the same after only a few hours. The variety of enemies is extremely limited and they pretty much all look like clones. The only distinct characters in the game are bosses and main story characters.
The sound effects are also unimaginative. I think they took some of their old sound effects from their previous games and pasted them into Katana. There is nothing really original here and everything is repeated over and over again until you want kill something. And no, I donít mean killing more enemies while playing Katana.
That is probably being a little too harsh, but the sound is not even close to the quality it should be. However, the background music was really well done and is a blend of classical Japanese instruments mixed with electronica. It fits the environments and setting well.
You will not a whole lot of value here. I played the game for over four hours and I had to force myself to do it. I donít like this game and I find it boring. But if you stick it out, you can get a solid 10-15 hours in with the single player campaign.
Donít be surprised like I was. There is not a co-op mode in Katana like I thought. Instead there are a number of various split-screen modes to choose from.
Besides replaying missions to build up your weapons, I fail to see the value here. Katana offers you a boring, repetitive single player campaign and extra modes that no one will care about.
There really is not a lot to talk about when it comes to this game. It is a very simple ďslice and diceĒ game that will wear your arm out in a matter of minutes. If Katana doesnít bore you to death first you can always get a few good laughs out of it by watching your friends play. This has to be one of the worst Wii games available today, hopefully KOEI can learn from this big mistake.
If you enjoy flailing your arms around aimlessly for hours, then this Wii game is for you.