Samurai Sword Destiny
Nintendo 3DS (3DSWare)
Action, Hack 'n Slash
January 5th, 2012
Bushido hits the 3DS with the release of Samurai Sword Destiny. This is the first release by UFO Interactive on the eShop, but is by no means their first stroll in the woods. Can UFO, previous recipient of several awards for family friendly games, make a splash with this bloody tale of samurai vengeance?
Akane is a Samurai in search of her kidnapped brother, Tetsuo. Unfortunately, those who have him seem incredibly reluctant to let him go and Akane must put her sword skills to use, dispatching feudal Japan's most heinous bandits, ronins, and crime lords. Her brother's life, and her own, depend on it!
What originally caught my eye about this title was its design and graphics With a beautiful anime style character design for Akane, crisp character animations, and wonderful background environments, it's easy to get pulled into the aesthetic beauty of Samurai Sword Destiny. The levels range from a noir bamboo forest to a dark and evil cave, and although all the backgrounds are black and white, they impress more than they sound. The 3D even splits the top screen into background, middle ground, and foreground.
In fact, the only lacking part of the visuals in this game is the repetitive use of enemy designs throughout levels. This is forgivable, to an extent, due to the number of enemies per level (which is a lot). Still, I do wish that UFO would have mixed it up more to make slashing these enemies more interesting. Not considering bosses there are only four different types of enemies, and not counting color schemes there's no variation at all between a ninja in the first level, and the last.
The music in Samurai Sword Destiny, just like the graphics, are a high point to the title. The unique combination of Japanese feudal period style music with techno works amazingly well. There are different tracks for each major area, with slightly different music during intros the level and another for the title screen and main menu. The title theme is by far my favorite. In fact, if I could have paid the same $5.99 simply for the songs to this game I would have been perfectly happy.
Gameplay is certainly the most disappointing aspect of Samurai Sword Destiny. Swiping the stylus from left to right over and over is the bulk of what you can expect from this title. When you aren't swiping back and forth like a madman you'll be pressing buttons in time to deflect arrows, and moving back and forth to avoid boulders (yes, even indoors). Occasionally there are also boss levels, some with enemies that will not stop spawning until the boss is defeated. That's basically it!
To make the hackin' and slashin' more bearable (or at least was the intent) upgrades can be purchased to enhance Akane and her sword. Her HP can be raised as well as her swords attack. Aside from that, a dodge roll can be unlocked; a charge-up ability for her sword, even a slow health regeneration can be purchased. The only problem is many of these do nothing to change the fact you'll still spend 99% of this game slashing back and forth with your stylus. Ok, that's an exaggeration considering the boulder/arrow missions but I think 75% is a good approximation. Either way I was very disappointed with the fact upgrades like the dodge roll are completely ineffective to use in this game (even the final boss's moves can be dodged with a well-timed sword swipe).
The game can also be unnecessarily difficult at times. There is a button press three hit combo but it is completely useless as enemy attacks are not interrupt when you hit them, meaning if you stand still you will be hit by enemies no matter what. This is a frustrating fact and not only renders that combo unusable but adds a tedious and unnecessary difficulty to the game.
Combine all of that with the fact the game takes awhile to build up coins to purchase upgrades really forces you to grind often. When grinding is as enjoyable as it is in this game, it really is no wonder the term is such a dirty word among gamers.
Aside from the story mode there is also a Challenge mode and Survival Mode. These alternate play modes are unlocked as you play through the games story mode, and require certain missions to completed before more levels are added to them. These modes are 100% stylus swiping and makes you wonder why they would add more repetitious gameplay to a title already plagued by repetitiveness.
Lasting appeal for Samurai Sword Destiny is dependent on your pain tolerance. I literally spent the entire time playing this game hoping and praying that it would get better. It did not. If you were to find this game enjoyable however, I expect you could spend a chunk of time trying to complete the alternate modes and unlock all of Akane's upgrades but even still the game's story missions are only an hour long, making this a painfully short title.
Samurai Sword Destiny is one of those titles that looks and sounds great, but leaves much to be desired. In fact, if this game could sell just about anyone on those two points, only to find out that's basically all you get. All but horribly clichéd and unoriginal gameplay that’s only real redeeming value is that is it isn't horribly glitched as well. eShop fans, you would do well to save your hard earned money. That is, unless you really just want a boring and receptive, albeit beautiful, poor Muramasa wannabe.