||Developer: Nintendo||Publisher: Nintendo|
|Release Date: February 2, 2012||Available On: 3DS|
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Replay Value/Game Length:||6|
|Final:||8.6 out of 10|
|Written by Cliff Bakehorn||W rite a User Review|