Game Review: Samurai II: Vengeance
Release: October 21, 2010
Genre: Hack ‘n Slash Action RPG
Developer: Madfinger Games
Available Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Requires iOS 3.2 or later)
ESRB Rating: 12+ for Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor, Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence, Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence, Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes
Samurai II: Vengeance is the sequel to Samurai: Way of the Warrior, a game featured in Best Games of 2009 by Apple. You play the role of Daisuke, a nomadic samurai with unparalleled speed and skill with the blade. His quest for vengeance will take you across various lands in search of his nemesis, Orochi.
The game begins with an anime-style comic panel depicting a peasant being bullied by a giant man known as the Boss. After the Boss punts the innocent peasant away, he threatens a samurai…mistake. Daisuke slices the Boss in half (hamburger-wise) with one slash, prompting the lackeys to step up and attack en masse.
So begins Chapter One. There is a virtual joystick that works very well to maneuver Daisuke around the level. Your right thumb has three options at any given time: light attack (X), heavy attack (O), and roll. You begin the game with two partial combos, XXX or OOO, that can eventually be upgraded to full 5-hit combos with earned karma. You gain karma (aka experience points) by dispatching enemies and destroying barrels. You may also spend your accrued karma on new combos and increasing your maximum health.
Samurai II is graphically gifted. The environment is very neat and clean, with great detail in the buildings and lights. The bamboo shoots occasionally shed leaves that float down to the ground. The blood of slain enemies lingers long after the bodies disappear. There is always movement to create a dynamic environment, whether it is the sea below you or irrigation channels directing the flow of water.
You can also execute “critical deaths” which kill enemies in one blow. I don’t know if you can control when these occur, but they are extremely useful and cool-looking when they do happen. The camera zooms in, slow motion takes over, and Daisuke chops your foe into two pieces (hamburger or hotdog-wise(!), but sometimes just a decapitation).
I may be off-base here, but I wish you could control those critical death moments. Not just because of their efficiency in clearing out the hordes of enemies, but you also gain invincibility during that slow motion zoom-in.
On the flip-side, there are brief moments of complete vulnerability in the midst of performing a combo and completing a combo. You do have the ability to roll at any time, so I suppose if you were focused enough to anticipate enemy strikes you could roll out of danger. Practically speaking, this is not ideal, and a block or dodge mechanism would help out a lot.
Samurai II: Vengeance is a premium game at a moderate price. This is one of the pricier iPhone games I have reviewed at $2.99, but I feel like the price tag is justified. With the recent update that included achievements and leaderboards, I would recommend checking out Samurai II to see what the iPhone is capable of.