iPhone Life magazine

Review: Samurai Tale by SteamPack

Samurai Tale is a simple combat game, and it had the potential to be rather interesting, especially if you’re looking for something with fighting that doesn’t have the complexities of a Street Fighter type game.  Unfortunately, there are enough little things wrong with it that the game becomes somewhat mediocre as a whole, and given the number of quality games available on the App Store, that’s not a good thing.  I would love to see some more work put into this to help it rise above its current level, because I’m one of those that really likes a casual fighter from time to time.

One Giant Leap...
 

In typical fantasy fashion, you play a samurai whose dojo has been slaughtered, and you take it upon yourself to avenge your master.  You’ll have to fight wave after wave of ninja and other assassin types until you make your way to the person behind the slaughter.  You can play the game in either story or unlimit mode, and while the setup is a bit different the game basically feels the same.  Story mode has 4 levels, and a good player will probably make it through these levels in half an hour.  There is a boss at the end of each level, but catching on to how the boss operates is easy, and the most I think it took to dispose of a boss was 6 hits.  In unlimit mode you can pick any one of the four stages, and you get three lives to dispose of as many villains as you can.

The game is about nothing more than timing.  With the exception of the bosses, the bad guys will just run at you from both sides.  The red ones will jump and the lumbering samurais take two hits to kill, but otherwise the only difference between opponents is their speed.  When the villains are close enough you execute a low or high attack as appropriate to deal with them.  If the bad guys aren’t really close enough you’ll miss and be penalized for a slight amount of time.  It’s short, but enough time to give a bad guy the one strike they need to kill you.  If the bad guys are really close when you strike you’ll execute a critical, though I’m not sure this makes any difference to game play.

Slice 'N Dice
 

Unlimit mode gives you three lives before the game is over and I wish something like this was implemented in story mode.  You do have infinite continues in story mode, but you have to sit through the results screen and a death screen, and then go back to the menu where you must choose start and then continue to play again.  Putting the continue on the results screen and only showing the death screen if the user chooses not to continue would have been much more friendly.

I also have a strong aversion towards games that use “areas” to determine which move you execute.  There were a lot of times where I was sure I tapped the portion of the screen required to execute a low move, and I know the bad guy was within range, but the game said I missed.  I’m certain it thought I was executing a high move.  If nothing else, give concrete buttons as an option.  Finally, and this is something I don’t usually pick on, but if there’s going to be so little text in a game, make sure it’s all translated correctly.  There were several errors, and even the game play mode is incorrect (unlimit is not a word).

The Story Unfolds
 

The visuals are probably the high point of the game.  They won’t blow you away, but they are definitely good looking.  They style reminds me of a cartoon network or MTV cartoon.  The backgrounds are sharp and the character designs are nice, especially when it comes to the boss characters.  I also love the comic book style cut scenes.  In fact, I think this would make a great comic book.  The sound effects are decent but pretty standard for this type of game.  The background music is somewhat repetitive, but the menu music is good.

I think Samurai Tale is on its way to becoming something cool, it’s just not quite there yet.  The controls aren’t great, the game is too short in story mode, and there isn’t enough variety to the bad guys.  Story mode could use an easier method for continuing, and a couple of lives per try wouldn’t hurt either.  Still, if you’re looking for a simple brawler to play for a few minutes at a time, you could do worse.  Then again, you could probably pick up some of the SEGA classics like Streets Of Rage to achieve the same goal to better effect.

Overall Score: 6/10
App Store Link

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.