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Sengoku Basara may not sound familiar to those living in the U.S.A., but the gaming franchise has thrived in Japan spawning several sequels on the PS2, PSP and Wii consoles and even received a 2-D fighting game adaptation. The game series also developed into an insanely popular anime that is wrapping up its second season. Americans may need to dive back into 2005 and search for a game called Devil Kings; this was the first installment of the Sengoku Basara series as well as the last title released outside of Japan. Today, fans can check out Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, Capcom’s latest answer to the Samurai Warrior’s genre of hack n’ slash and large-scale warfare.
The game takes place during the Sengoku period in Japan. Many warring states are challenging one another for control of the country. The demo focuses on two factions. The first army is from the East and is lead by Ieyasu Tokugawa. As a charismatic brawler who fights with only his gauntlets, Tokugawa wishes only to unite all the states under a banner of serenity and spikey hair. He is the stereotypical, bright-eyed champion of peace who spends most of his day punching the ground, elbow-dropping crowds and unleashing his giant lightning-powered robot samurai. The other army is lead by the evil-looking Mitsunari Ishida. He seems to hate Tokugawa for reasons that are unclear but are no doubt valid. If his crescent shaped hair and tight, black attire are any indication, Tokugawa is one no-nonsense dude. Both warriors use the same basic controls, but their attacks have different properties. Since Ishida uses a katana, his attacks are faster, sleeker and hit more of the surrounding enemy soldiers at once. Tokugawa punches people so he can only inflict attacks on a narrower focus of enemies, but he seems to do more damage than Ishida.
For a game that is immersed in such a bleak period in Japan’s history, the presentation couldn’t be more upbeat and robust. Some characters even crack jokes while you are hacking through literally hundreds of swarming samurais. The characters retain their anime look with bold colors and stylized special attacks. The game draws most of its inspiration from other titles like Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors developed by Tecmo Koei. These games appeal to a specific niche of gamers who love Asian military history spiced up with magic and foolishness. At its core, the game is a hack n’ slash that lets the player mow down a seemingly endless amount of warriors while maintaining a strategic element that influences how one best topples an opposing force. During Tokugawa’s mission, you are shown sites on the map that are heavily guarded flood gate controls. By releasing the gates you can not only lower flood waters allowing for faster mobility, but you can also wash away enemies occupying or blocking certain territories.
The game promises several playable characters and hours of gameplay. Each character presents a different view of the battlefield that will ultimately shape the game’s epic narrative. Will these heroes’ stories reveal a mutual enemy? Sure, why not? You too can unite the warring states of Feudal Japan in North America this October.