A Chronicle We’ve Seen Before
Samurai Warriors, like sister series Dynasty Warriors, is a franchise that never changes. It’s a lot like Pokémon, except instead of adding new creatures and areas, these Musou games keep rehashing the same old stories and inserting new avatars for you to use to beat up the legions of cookie-cutter enemies that are thrown at you. While spamming all the buttons on your 3DS unit does have a certain charm to it, after a while it gets pretty boring. And boredom is the chief issue you’ll have with Samurai Warriors Chronicles.
The story is…well, do I even have to repeat it at this point? It’s like every other campaign from a Samurai Warriors game ever. You are an up-and-coming warrior during the warring-states period in Japan, and you get a mercenaries’-eye-view of the action as you switch sides and fight for various factions in the region. The game features the same warlords you’ve seen in other iterations, and although the dialogue has been re-worked to make your warlord friends (and enemies) seem a bit more personable, they really have nothing interesting to say that you haven’t heard already. To add insult to injury, the game often thrusts you into pointless cutscenes that you can’t skip and last way too long (especially for a portable title). It’s like being forced to watch the same old movie over and over again, and you can’t even skip the ten-year old previews!
Though the story is definitely a snooze-fest, the combat doesn’t make it any better. The game absolutely stays true to the Musou formula, and you can count on spamming all of your new 3DS’ face buttons with reckless abandon. The standard attack button is going to be your best friend, until you can charge up your character enough to perform a Musou attack. Then it’s back to hitting A like your life depends on it. Though I suppose you could use this game as a test for how durable those re-designed buttons are, I can’t really think of any other reason why you would want to play a game where the only challenge is how fast you can press a single button.
The only bright spot here is that the game does have a strategic objective system that allows you to use just a little bit of tactics as you complete optional missions. While you are wailing on the warlord of the southwest camp, you may receive a notification that a samurai has invaded the western area of the map. As you can’t really stop what you’re doing, you are able to bring up a menu and direct any friends you’ve made (talking to NPCs for a little bit will get you a long way in this game) towards the enemy. You can map out different strategies using the surprisingly deep menu-based tactics system, and though it won’t make hammering the A button any more interesting, it does provide a nice distraction from the main action and gives the game a little bit of staying power.
Of course, this doesn’t stay too interesting for long, and it certainly isn’t enough to break up the monotony of the relentless “PRESS A!” gameplay. Still, for all its foibles in the realm of gameplay, I have to admit that Samurai Warriors Chronicles is a good-looking game. Character models are highly detailed, and environments look surprisingly good. Though the repetitive elements that have come to define the series are omnipresent, the 3D cutscenes and character animations are all done extremely well, placing this title at the higher end of the 3DS launch spectrum, visually.
In addition to taking advantage of the 3DS’ 3D capability, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles also uses the 3DS StreetPass feature in a way similar to Super Street Fighter IV. You are able to assemble a team of allies, each with their own equipped weapons and gear, and when you pass by someone who is also playing the game, your parties will clash, and you’ll be able to check the results next time you start up the game. Though tricking out your party for eventual StreetPass meetings can be fun, it lacks the depth of the Street Fighter version of this mode. However, if you are expecting to go somewhere with a bunch of Musou fans, this mode can be fun.
The enjoyment you get out of Samurai Warriors: Chronicles really depends upon your individual expectations. If you want yet another Musou game, and love repeatedly hitting a single button for glory, then this will likely be your favorite 3DS title ever. Though the game does inject some strategic elements into the mix with the menu-based objective system, and the StreetPass mode does have potential, Samurai Warriors Chronicles is yet another Musou title that disappoints. While I would never want the series to completely change its DNA and go in a different direction, I think there is more to the melee-fighter genre than just a new visual forum in which you can spam the A button. Samurai Warriors Chronicles had a great opportunity to do something a little different on Nintendo’s new handheld, but instead they went with the exact same approach to the same content that we’ve seen on consoles for the past decade. What a shame.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Visuals are highly detailed, and 3D is extremely well done. 2.7 Control
Control is easy to use, but never goes beyond the “PRESS A!” motif. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is repetitive, but Japanese voiceover is done well. 2.3 Play Value
Though the campaign is of decent length, the lack of new content really hurts this title. 2.7 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best