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Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword Review




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Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: February 2,

2012

Available On:

3DS

Sakura Samurai - Banner

Samurai Punch-Out!!

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword was released

on the Nintendo 3DS eShop a few months ago.

Despite being drawn to its inexplicably charming

style, I passed over the budget-priced action

title for a few weeks before finally giving into

the urge to play it.

Sakura Samurai - GameplayThe game is

basically Samurai Punch-Out!!, if you can

imagine such a thing: basically, the duel-style

combat boils down to the mastery of your katana

attacks and dodging the patterns of your foes.

Fortunately, the fluidity of the game and its

intuitive control scheme support the precision

required to skillfully evade and counterattack

your enemies. Basic attacks are carried out with

the A button, though you’ll tend to dodge more

often with the B button, waiting for the right

moment between an enemy’s attack patterns to

strike. Of course, there is a block/parry

function (Right trigger), though the use of this

ability takes away any of the valuable

“Precision Points” that you’ve collected in the

process of pulling off those last-second evasive

moves. In addition to collecting gold coins from

fallen foes, your Precision Points can be cashed

in at the shop located in each village, and

ultimately used to purchase useful items, among

other things.

More Than Meets The Eye?

The game design is

constantly rewarding, with a satisfying sense of

progression as you travel across the world map

in search of a kidnapped princess. There are

three general regions to explore, with the later

ones opening up after Sakura finishes each of

the levels and tackles a challenging castle

stage in each area. The castle levels,

naturally, serve as the “boss stages” – Sakura

must confront a difficult boss character at the

end of each castle to move forward. These

battles require you to pull off some of your

best moves, and it is also helpful to have an

inventory stocked with items. This is really

only possible if you re-visit the stages you’ve

already completed, stockpiling gold coins.

Sakura Samurai - Town

This may sound like

a tedious process of grinding, but it actually

makes Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword feel

slightly “RPG-lite”, and it never really gets

old because the gameplay is just so entertaining

to play. Sakura Samurai is certainly deeper than

what I expected from the $7.00 download price;

the rewarding sense of progression leads to an

expansiveness I never expected, though it is by

no means as robust as what you would expect from

the “upgrade systems” in deeper RPGs.

Sakura Samurai - Evasion

Still, the game is no slouch: using the gold

you’ve collected, you can forge your katana to

make it stronger, purchase several different

items in the shop, rest at the local inn, or

play a variety of mini-games in each of the

villages scattered throughout the world map. You

can chat with the local villagers, and though

they won’t have much to add to the story, there

is a feeling that Sakura Samurai could be so

much more – perhaps the IP could even be

expanded upon for a full retail release, with a

bigger map and more in-depth features.

A Lost Art, Or Fresh New IP?

I

walked away from Sakura Samurai: Art of the

Sword completely impressed and admittedly

surprised, regretting the time that it took for

me to finally invest in the download on the

eShop. I don’t think it warrants a purchase from

every 3DS owner out there, but Sakura Samurai is

certainly one of the finest games on the eShop

market – and I would go even further; Nintendo

should consider developing this new IP even

further.

The swordplay is solid, the combat is smooth,

the controls are as intuitive as you could

possibly hope for – not only that, Sakura

Samurai has an undeniably charming visual style

and plenty of components that could be expanded

upon. I fell in love with the title quickly

after picking it up for the very first time, and

I think anyone looking for something interesting

on the eShop will feel the same way.




Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 8.6 out of 10
Written by Cliff Bakehorn W

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