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Dairojo! Samurai Defenders Review (DSiWare)

Game Review: Dairojo! Samurai Defenders
Release: December 6, 2010
Genre: Tower Defense
Developer: Abylight
Available Platforms: DSiWare
Players: 1-2
MSRP: 800 Nintendo Points
ESRB Rating: E
Website: http://www.abylight.com/dairojo/

The castles of Japan are under siege from ninjas from competing states. The Edo period was marked by shoguns fighting over control over the island nation, and each castle needs it’s own defenses. It’s up to you to set your army in specific locations to defend from incoming, opposing ninjas. They’ll attack from under ground, on the roads, and from the sky, and your goal is to strike them down.

Dairojo! Samurai Defenders is, undoubtedly, much like any other tower defense game. If you’ve never played such a game, they’ve dominated the casual play field on everything from web browsers to iPhones to South Park. With a usually defined path to a certain goal you have to defend, traditionally-known “creeps” will march their way to your target, and specifically-placed defense units will fight them off. Traditionally, these units have their own specific attributes; some can shoot from far, some can only attack nearby enemies, others can take out air creatures, and so forth.

This downloadable title pretty much takes the standard formula and swaps in the Edo period of Japan. You’re defending castles and gates from ninjas, flying in or digging their way to your base, alongside teleporting at times. Instead of a turret, you have your own army using spears, cannons, and such. A general can increase the abilities of your armies, and purchasable upgrades increase the powers of all around. The game has three main modes, a Score Attack one where you just try to defend for as long as possible without items, a Normal mode where you have full access to the items against a standard set of enemies, and a Random mode where various sets of enemies attack indiscriminately. You have six castles, each with different difficulties and levels, found in the game to tackle. A multiplayer mode exists, but we were unable to give it a try.

Dairojo! Samurai Defenders fully understands and embraces the tower defense concept, and adds a few novel tricks to it’s arsenal. Teleporting and digging enemies are a surprising novelty, and offer a unique challenge, if only separating it from other games. Graphically, the game doesn’t overstretch, and in fact, at best is reminiscent of classical Super Nintendo-era pixel art. While there are only six real maps, the game doesn’t let you fly through them with ease: there’s a decided challenge to each of them, given that you need to take down 99 waves to fully master them.

There is a definite difficulty to the game, which is only compounded by the rather long-lasting missions that seem to wear down on your drive and, honestly, interest, in defeating them. At some points, it’s hard to figure out where you can actually place your heroes, given the old-school graphics of the game sometimes make it hard to distinguish between what’s a gravel path you can’t stand on, and what’s the nearby side street you can. There is only six worlds, and no sort of simplistic map editor or anything, with the greatest change being the types and kinds of enemies attacking. Effectively, it’s more than a dollar per map, which is rather weak given the small and basic nature of the title.

The Samurai Defenders are definitely worth playing with, but you better like those few fields of gameplay. They’re decidedly a retro challenge, and with “challenge” being the operative word. For a good handful of minutes at time, though, it’s a pleasant battle awaiting players on their DSi.

  • Limited map selection
  • Classical 16-bit era graphics
  • Unique enemy movements

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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