PS Vita Review: Samurai Warriors 4

Samurai Warriors 4
Samurai Warriors 4

(Note: This review is my own personal opinion. This is not a paid review. All pictures have been captured in game on my PS Vita.)

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SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 is a third person hack-and-slash developed by Omega-Force and published by TECMO KOEI. It is the latest installment in their SAMURAI WARRIORS series and is also available on PS3, PS4 and PS Vita The version reviewed is the PS Vita copy.

Battles can take place in open fields to walled castles
Battles can take place in open fields to walled castles

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4, like the previous versions of the series presents a fictionalized account of Japan’s Sengoku period from 1555 to 1615 A.D. Most of the characters are based on real people; some might have not have actually been in the battles they are featured in due to their age at the time or, in case of the female characters, their sex as the women did not fight. Some didn’t really exist. Each character has a stylized costume and weapon to stand them apart for others. Each has a special Musou attack. when they magically bring down fire, ice, move as super speed etc to destroy the enemy.  So, you know, not historically accurate.

Helynne preforms a Musou attack
Helynne preforms a Musou attack

The game play feature levels with a large map with a main objective (usually defeat a certain enemy or get to a certain area) and defeat conditions (die, enemy commander escapes etc.). You battle through hundreds of enemy soldiers with the occasional named officer or one of the opposing faction’s main characters. As you defeat your enemies, you get experience and level up, becoming stronger and harder to kill, which carries over to the next battle. You can also get more powerful version of your weapons for fallen enemies or buy or upgrade them between battles.

Custom Characters are back!
Custom Characters are back!

There are three modes to this game: Story Mode, Free Mode and Conquest Mode. Story Mode has you play each of the factions story, sometimes replaying the same battle on different sides as it goes through the period. Free Mode lets you replay any level you have completed as any character that you have. Conquest mode lets you create your own character and travel through feudal Japan, meeting the famous warriors of the period and fighting in battles to gain fame.

As for the creation mode, you get about 20 slots for created characters. You can customize their sex, face, costume and name.   You can choose for 6 different weapons at first, unlocking new ones as you complete the relationship quest for the many characters from the main game in Conquest Mode. You can even use pictures from you PS Vita’s memory and create custom character portraits and Musou Kanji for your created characters.

You can upload jpegs for custom portraits or Musou kanji.
You can upload jpegs for custom portraits or Musou kanji.

SAMURAI WARRIORS, much like all of TECMO KOEI’s WARRIOR games, hack and slash game with some historical depth but not much. They keep retreading this period with each installment, much like Dynasty Warriors and Three Kingdoms-era China, adding more quasi-historical characters. Still, I find them fun and I like the option of custom characters. I really liked Samurai Warriors 2 Empires on my Xbox 360 back in the day and though 4 does not have the Empire mode (maybe a future iteration?), the conquest mode lets you take your created character into this world.

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 also features cross-save and cross goods compatibility. You can upload you save from on platform and download and play it on another (i.e. PS4 to PS Vita). Buying extra costumes and weapon DLC entitles you to goods for all three versions. This is good as I can take my game with me on PS Vita when I travel, then upload it them download it on the PS4 and continue where I left off.

 

Just a screen shot of an unrelated game (VANGUARD PRINCESS) used as a Musou Attack Kanji.  Nothing to see...
Just a screen shot of an unrelated game (VANGUARD PRINCESS) used as a Musou Attack Kanji. Nothing to see…

SAMURAI WARRIORS for the PS Vita is available in physical media or as a download for all three Sony platforms. The game costs $39.00 on the PS Store for the PS Vita. A physical copy for the PS4 costs $69.99 CDN.

4/5

PS Vita Review: Muramasa Rebirth

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Muramasa: Rebirth is a new game for the PS Vita that is a remake of a 2009 Wii game called Muramasa The Demon Blade.  The game is by Vanillaware games and is published by Aksys games in North America

Monohime, the possessed princess
Monohime, the possessed princess

The game follows two separate but connected storylines.  Set in a mystical version of Feudal Japan, you play as either Monohime, a Han princess possessed by the spirit of a brutal warrior named Jinkuro, or as Kisuke, a ninja with no memory of his past.  Both will have to face waves of enemies, from ninja and samurai to monsters and demons.

Kisuke battles giant bugs.  Note: Not historically accurate
Kisuke battles giant bugs. Note: Not historically accurate

While the two characters have different goals, Monohime forced to go to Kyo to find a way to transfer Junkuro to a more suitable body, Kisuke is trying to regain his memory, they have two things in common.  Both are guided by a Ktisune, a fox spirit and both seek out the swords of Muramasa Sengo,  a famous sword maker who can forge new weapons for the player.

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One of the fox-y spirits

The graphics are beautiful on the Vita.  The OLED screen really shows off the hand-drawn sprites and colourful backgrounds in the game.  The gameplay is smooth and clear and the game uses visual tricks like a fish-eye lens to great effectiveness.

The visuals are really quite stunning.
The visuals are really quite stunning.

The gameplay is simple, yet fun.  You have a basic attack button, a jump button, a special button and a button to change swords.  The swords, which you collect from defeated bosses or have forged by Murasama, each have their own special attack, which cost spirit energy.  If the sword runs out, either by using specials or blocking, the sword can break, forcing you to switch swords.  The weapon repairs automatically when not in use.

The blue bar underneath the weapon icon indicates the amount of power left.
The blue bar underneath the weapon icon indicates the amount of power left.

When you weapon icon is flashing you are able to do a draw attach.  When you switch weapons at this time, you will do an attack which hits every enemy onscreen.  The amount of damage varies with each swords.  Your character will also increase in level as you play, unlocking new areas and new swords to make.

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Monohime unleashes a devastating Draw Attack

The game is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.  The translation is well dome, with the character’s personalities matching the tone of the game.  Some of the lines in the game are definitely tongue-in-cheek, but is fits well in the game.

The mouth on that girl!
Monohime says, “Stop eye-humping me, you sleazy degenerate! You aren’t fit to mate with a radish, let alone a human being!”

All in all, this is another great addition to the PS Vita library.  The only negative point I can think of is that you back track a lot to get to the various objectives in the game  Sometimes the path to the next chapter is not clear and you find yourself seemingly bypassing the objective marker.  The game does not use any of the touch features on the Vita as well, which is not much of a problem, but it shows that the game was a port from another system.

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I would recommend this game to fans of action RPGs, hack and slash games and fans of Japanese art direction

4/5