Samurai Western Review

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Graphics: 5.0
Sound : 6.5
Gameplay : 5.5
Multiplayer : 6.5
Overall : 5.7
Review by Andy Levine
Samurai Western, as the name implies, puts a samurai master known as Gojiro Kiryuu out in the Old West on a quest for revenge. This non-stop button masher will bore you with its simplistic gameplay, amateurish graphics, and redundancy persistent throughout the entire fifteen stages. Even though slashing through enemies, dodging bullets, and tearing up the cowboy homeland seems like a great idea, Samurai Western fails to deliver an entertaining action experience.

Despite having a terrible combat system, the foundation behind Samurai Western is actually decent. During battles, you gain experience by killing enemies, linking combos together, and shielding yourself from incoming bullets. With this experience, you can level your character up to increase his damage given, damage received, HP, and MP. When in combat, your MP meter will slowly rise as you pick up whiskey bottles and hack and slash your way through the hordes of cowboys. Once it is full, you can enter a super Samurai Master mode that will allow you to obliterate anything in your path. Health pickups also occur randomly in the form of meat rations allowing you to go from low health to full health almost instantly. After completing each stage, you can unlock new accessories such as cowboy hats, lassos, parrots, bandanas, and other apparel in order to give your character a distinct look while also increasing his attributes.

Different classes of swords can also be unlocked; high-stance swords will knock enemies off their feet, low-stance swords can deflect bullets easily, dual wield swords prevent you from falling of your feet, and sheath-stance swords can inflict massive amounts of damage but offer very little defense. There are also a handful of unlockable characters that can be selected during the cooperative two-player mode who also know the ways of the Samurai. However, the abundant amount of unlockable secrets and character customization hardly make up for the ensuing gameplay issues.

While you can expect to be slightly entertained from the start because of all of the cutthroat action, several stages deep into Samurai Western you will be struck with the repetitive level designs, weak AI, and tedious battles. There are only five different areas for the fifteen different stages, so you’ll be forced to revisit some of the earlier levels later on in the game. The environments are also terribly cramped and include very little space for users to explore. The entire game revolves around slashing cowboys that appear right before your eyes. Even though a man with a sword should be at a great disadvantage in a gunfight, repeatedly tapping the dodge button will make you invulnerable from hailing bullets no matter what. If you simply roll yourself over to an enemy, you can slice him up and quickly leave him lifeless.

All of your attacks are performed using the ‘square’ button, and combos involve pressing square in succession. Whether you are performing jumping attacks or landing combos, constantly tapping the same attack key repeatedly loses its appeal after a short amount of time. Some enemies carry machine guns or even dynamite instead of the traditional six-shooter, but they can all be annihilated with a quick dodge-and-stab combo. Computer opponents rarely move around on the battlefield, and if there is an object blocking you from their crosshairs they won’t even do anything about it. Although this title looks promising after the first few opening menus, the horrid gameplay is hardly worth anybody’s time.

Visually, Samurai Western is filled with a few bland special effects, rough looking models, and very unimaginative environments. When Gojiro dodges bullets, an opaque replica will appear for a few seconds, and although this visual is very simple it has a powerful effect. Once you actually make your way towards an enemy, a few quick slashes will always leave your foe on the ground with blood spurting out of him. At first this seems very grotesque and violent, but after seeing the same animation hundreds of times it begins to lose its effect. You do have the option to select a first-person view, but it is a complete joke. All you can see is a sword floating in mid air, and when you attack it makes a slow swooping motion across the screen. The character models, during both cinematics and gameplay, have very jagged and jerky motions that will almost make you gag. The levels are also lacking a lot of detail, and when the camera isn’t getting stuck behind an object it will only show off the uninspiring environment. Overall, you can respect Samurai Western aesthetically for maintaining a genuine Western look, but other than that there is absolutely nothing to praise.

The audio performance is also lacking in many fields, but is still distant from making your ears bleed. The background music, which is comprised of a banjo, whistling, and a few other random sound effects, adds nothing to the game except for filling in moments of awkward silence. The voice actors do an average job in expressing their emotions, but I would still expect people fighting for their lives to be a little more enthusiastic in battle. The swords have a wimpy sheathing sound, and the guns don’t sound forceful either. Because of this, Samurai Western’s audio fulfillment will not impress anyone.

There is a cooperative mode that allows another player to participate in the exact same missions as those in the story mode, but it is still plagued with the aforementioned gameplay issues. Working together, you will still rapidly press the dodge buttons as you tuck and roll towards your enemies, then perform some cheap combo that is completed by briskly tapping the attack key. With no real benefits of having a second player by your side, the multiplayer aspect is not worthy of your time.

Ultimately, Samurai Western contains a few cheap thrills that make this game worthy of a rent, but definitely not of a purchase. The plentitude of unlockable content will be enough to keep some gamers on the edge of their seats, but if you aren’t looking for a tawdry blend of the action and RPG genres, then Samurai Western is not the game for you.