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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:10 am    Post subject: Japanese Samurai History Video Game/Computer Game Releases Reply with quote
I'll be using this thread to post info about recent video game/computer game releases with a samurai based theme, both for Japan and North America/Europe/Oz. If there's something coming up not listed here, drop me a PM and I'll update the thread. One thing to keep in mind is that video games that work on one country's systems won't work on the same system for another country, with some exceptions (the Playstation 3, PSP, and Nintendo DS being the major ones-they'll play video games from the US or Japan). And, naturally enough, board/video games released in Japan rarely have English translations of their rules.

Out now is Warriors Orochi for PS2 and XBox 360 (released as Musou Orochi for the same 2 systems in Japan). This combines Koei's Sengoku Musou/Samurai Warriors and Shin Sangoku Musou/Dynasty Warriors franchises. The snake god Orochi had created a warp in time and space that combines ROT3K China and Sengoku Jidai Japan. The forces of the two team up to defeat the armies of Orochi. It's the typical beat-em-up action you get from these games, features 79 playable characters, mutiple weapons and personal items to find, and is immensely entertaining.

Also out is Sengoku Musou 2 Moushouden for the Japanese PS2. This will likely be released as Samurai Warriors 2 XL at some point in the West. This is an expansion disc for Sengoku Musou 2 and will port over your saved data from the original game. It introduces 3 new characters (Hosokowa Garasha, Chosokabe Motochika, and Maeda Toshiie), makes 2 NPC's playable (Sasaki Kojiro and Shibata Katsuie), and reinvents a character that had previously been dropped-Imagawa Yoshimoto. It also adds a new Mercenary Mode of gameplay.

Sengoku Musou:Katana is out for the Japanese Wii (and will be released for the US Wii in January). It features first person slashing action in the world of the Sengoku Jidai. This seems to be somewhat of a disappointment-the Wii's unique controls are not used to good advantage, and it has extremely repetitive button mashing gameplay. There's enough here to keep fans of the franchise interested, though.

Sengoku Musou Pachislot (PS3) is one of those oddball hybrid games that Japan is famous for. It uses the characters from the original Sengoku Musou to spice up what is essentially a slot machine/gambling game. Fans of the franchise (or slots!) may want to give it a look for novelty value-it does have a great soundtrack, too.

Kengo:Legend Of The Nine is out in the USA on Xbox 360 (it was released as Kengo Zero in Japan). It features (as the title suggests) nine playable legendary Edo period swordsmen (including Miyamoto Musashi, Chiba Sanako, and Kojiro Sasaki). Since only the original Kengo was released in the US (with two other entries in the series released in Japan), prospective buyers should know that it plays more like the game 'Way Of The Samurai' than the original Kengo, which was more about training at the dojo and competing in tournaments than the current entry (which has storylines and multiple 'real life' duels and attacks).

Sengoku Basara 2:Heroes-this is out for Japanese PS2 and Japanese Wii. The original Sengoku Basara was released in the USA in a mutated form called Devil Kings and failed miserably, so don't look for this to be released in the West. Heroes is a semi-expansion to Sengoku Basara 2-some of your save file from SB2 will port to Heroes, but not all. It makes 8 NPC's playable-Azai Nagamasa, Oichi, Katakura Kojiro, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hojo Ujimasa, Fuma Kotaro, Kennyo Kosa, and Imagawa Yoshimoto. Matsunaga Hisahide also turns up as an NPC enemy. 3 of them have full story lines, and 5 others in the game short ones. There are lots of modes to play, tons of items and weapons to unlock, an extensive gallery, and titles to earn that will take even an excellent player months to acquire. Sengoku Basara has somewhat similar gameplay to Sengoku Musou, but is even more simplistic and one dimensional (if you can imagine that). It has a high appeal to anime fans-the game has several anime sequences, the character models are whacked out, and the storylines have practically nothing to do with history and can get pretty bizarre. Just as an idea, Tokugawa Ieyasu is a young child who rides around on his giant Gundam-like mech Honda Tadakatsu. Zabi (Francis Xavier) is a hulking, stupid, slow, Jesuit with crossed bandoliers and two particle cannons. The Maeda family spends as much time getting their butts kicked by matriarch Matsu as they do facing the enemy. Maeda Matsu turns into a superhero in a Sailor Moon like transformation sequence, and Maeda Toshiie enters the battlefield with a swordfish as a weapon. Imagawa Yoshimoto invades Odani-jo to put on a festival, which leads to a level filled with dancing soldiers en masse amid the screechings of Yoshimoto. There's even more ridiculous stuff, but it's amusing as hell. While the gameplay is nothing special, the entertainment and reply value is high.


As far as Japanese wargames, most of them being released these days come as part of a magazine (much like the West's Strategy & Tactics mag).

Recent samurai games include 'Tactical Battles Of Nobunaga-Anegawa & Nagashino' in Game Journal #23. These are traditional hex and chits games that also add cards for a random element. You get both games in this issue along with extensive background articles.

Game Journal #21 features three games, two of which feature samurai. 'Yoshitsune' plays out the Gempei War. It's an area movement game. 'The Battle Of Ueno' simulates the battle of Ueno Hill in 1868 with the Shogitai forces of the Bakufu Loyalists versus the Imperial army. It's a hex based game. Again, both have nice background articles.

Finally, there's Command Magazine Japan #69 which has the two games 'History Of Nobunaga' (an area movement strategic game covering Nobunaga's career) and 'Invasion of Korean Peninsula 1592' (another area movement game). Extensive articles featuring the history behind the games are found within as well.


Upcoming video game releases include:

January 15, 2008-Samurai Warriors Katana (formerly known as 'Sengoku Action'-North American Wii)
February 5, 2008-the BIG one-Nobunaga's Ambition:Rise To Power (North American PS2)
March 4, 2008-Ninja Reflex (North American Nintendo Wii, DS)-goofball ninja minigames that are supoosed to train and test your ninjer skills
March 25, 2008-Ninja Gaiden:Dragon Sword (Nintendo DS)
June 2, 2008-Ninja Gaiden 2 (Xbox 360)

Rekishi Gunzou, publishers of the lavishly illustrated history series we all love, have come out with Rekishi Gunzou Presents:Monoshiri Sengoku Ou (歴史群像 Presents ものしり戦国王)for the Nintendo DS. Ayame just sent me this (she has her own copy too), and this game rocks! If you're interested in learning some real Japanese history while being entertained, you'll want to check it out.
It starts off much like an early version of Nobunaga's Ambition-choose a daimyo/province or make up your own daimyo, and set out to conquer Sengoku Japan province by province as your enemies try to do the same. However, when you need to fight a battle, recruit generals, etc, you do so by answering Sengoku Jidai history questions. There's a huge variety, too-identify the banner, name the different parts of armor, pick the correct mon, matching daimyo with generals or provinces, mutilple choice, give the correct reading of a kanji term by writing the kana with the onscreen touchpad, put lists in a logical order, and more. Get it right and the enemy loses troops-get it wrong and you lose some of your own. All the while, your supplies (ie, the timer) are running down. When the enemy reaches zero, you win-or die when yours reach zero. Occasionaly your daimyo will charge onto the screen with a bonus question that rips a huge hole in the enemy (with the enemy daimyo usually doing the same at some point).
The game is aimed at teens, which means the Japanese is just right for intermediate readers (like me). A great learning tool, especially with that timer meaning you have to hurry up and read (or write). There's also a special section that unlocks as you play with historical information on the generals, battles, and events along with some portraits. After your first time through the game, the '1000 Question Challenge' is unlocked. Answer 1000 questions in a row correctly and win. Not as hard as it sounds, as it reuses questions from the game. The entire package is hugely entertaining.
Since it's the DS, you can play it on either the Japanese or North American DS unit. No English, though, sorry-it's all in Japanese.




Step By Step Photo Guide to signing up for the Japanese PS3 Network from a North American PS3


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Rekishi Gunzou Presents Monoshiri Bakumatsu Ou is a new video game/quiz program release for the Nintendo DS from Rekishi Gunzou, producers of the historical series of books we all love. 歴史群像 presents ものしり幕末王, like its predecessor Monoshiri Sengoku Ou, will be a quiz program presented within the framework of a game. This time, though, it'll be focused on the Bakumatsu era. If it's anything like Sengoku, it'll be entertaining as well as highly informative and a test of your historical knowledge, and also just perfect for those with intermediate Japanese skills. It comes out May 1 in Japan (Japanese language only, although it'll run on a North American DS), and I'll have more info on it then.


Across the Pacific, Samurai Warriors:Katana for the Nintendo Wii is now out. This is the North American version of the Japanese game Sengoku Musou Katana, and was formerly under the development name of Sengoku Action. It takes the characters from the popular Samurai Warriors franchise and puts them into a first person perspective shooter/slasher. It doesn't seem to be very popular among the fans, as it really doesn't take advantage of the unique Wii controls to their fullest and the first person perspective takes much of the individuality away from the characters (they all fight pretty much the same).



Finally, I'm a bit late on this, but there's the Age Of Empires III expansion "The Asian Dynasties" for PC/Mac. You can take the role of Japan (or also China or India-but why would you Just Kidding?) and conquer the known world with unique new wonders, fighting styles, technology, and superb graphics. The Japanese special scenario is of course the Sengoku-the Chinese special scenario actually looks pretty interesting, postulating that they arrived in the Western US before the Europeans and began to claim it as their own.



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nobunaga's Ambition:Rise To Power for the PS2 is now out for your North American gaming pleasure. While this game has been in release in Japan for several years (as part of a long running series of Nobunaga's Ambition games), this is the first taste Western gamers have had since "Nobunaga's Ambition:Lord Of Darkness" for the old Super Nintendo (SNES). The translation work on the game is well done, and the general flow will be familiar to any NES/SNES/Genesis veteran of the earlier games. There's also a well done tutorial mode to brush up your skills or introduce them for the first time.
The big difference from the older versions is that now the game is castle based rather than province based, meaning it takes longer to win. Battles are far more involved and better looking than the earlier versions, with more variables (while still using the field battle/30 day siege framework). Likewise, now you can see your fief develop rather than just watch numbers on a screen rise. The game is a tried and true winner, and still considered by many in Japan to be the best of the series.

I picked up the game Wednesday. Since I had played the Japanese version several years back, I figured I'd start on the hardest level with one of the smallest clans-the Chiba. I wasted no time making myself into an officer (in 'create-an-officer' mode), sticking him into the gameline, and then having him force dear 'ol dad into retirement so he could tend to the business of conquering Japan:




Well, I just told the old coot what he wanted to hear. Wonder what the weather's like in Kyoto? I figure my 1,500 man army should have no problem taking down Nobunaga's 100,000. After they wade through the Hojo. And Takeda. Uesugi. Tokugawa.......
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Gakken M Bunko Presents Monoshiri Edo Meijin (Edo Expert) is a new video game/quiz program release for the Nintendo DS. 学研M文庫 presents ものしり 江戸名人, like its two predecessors will be a quiz program presented within the framework of a game. This time, though, it'll be focused on the Edo period. If it's anything like the other two, it'll be entertaining as well as highly informative and a test of your historical knowledge, and also just perfect for those with intermediate Japanese skills. It comes out April 10th in Japan (Japanese language only, although it'll run on a North American DS), and I'll have more info on it then.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Edo Period DS games seem to be a hot item this month. New and out now for the Nintendo DS (Japanese language, will run on North American DS) is Edo Bunka Rekishi Kentei (江戸文化歴史検定-Edo Culture History Test).



Here's the manufacturer's description:

"The Edo period was an era where order has been established in Japanese society and when culture flourished. Although highly developed, the Japanese are facing an urgent identity crisis that comes with other social problems such as environmental disasters and energy crisis. The Japanese decide that the path to self-rediscovery has to start from the Edo period, and so the Edo Culture and History Committee designed an assessment to encourage the Japanese to learn.

Edo Bunka Rekishi Kentei DS combines education with fun as it walks you through the preparation stages for the assessment. The mascot puppy Tsuneyoshi takes you through lessons in art, history, geography and culture. The traditional artwork is animated and can be obtained to put into your own museum in your DS.

After your lessons, take the test! There are 500+ pass paper questions to be attempted, complete with detailed explanations at the end of the test. There is even a cyber certificate for you if you score well in this assessment simulation game. "

I hadn't been planning on buying this (since it's so similar to the Gakken version coming out next month) until I saw the part about the 'mascot puppy Tsunayoshi'-then I just had to have it.

Props to LT.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Koei has been (or will be) releasing a spate of samurai related video games.
1)

New for PS2 in North America is ‘Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends’ (previously released as Sengoku Musou 2: Moushouden in Japan). This is an expansion disc for the original Samurai Warriors 2 game. It features 3 new characters (Maeda Toshiie, Hosokawa Gracia, and Chosokabe Motochika), 2 former NPC’s made playable (Sasaki Kojiro and Shibata Katsuie), and a reworked version of Imagawa Yoshimoto. There are 36 new scenarios with two new battlefields (Okehazama and Shikoku), and a new Mercenary Mode (with exclusive mercenary skills) that challenges the player to survive 100+ levels of carnage in an effort to rule Japan. There are two new difficulty levels, 2 player co-op in story and free modes, a new weapons power up system, new skills, 5th weapons for all the characters new and old along with expanded character level maximums (from 50 to 70). The player is also given the option to upload his Samurai Warriors 2 memory card data to use the original characters at their enhanced levels, and the option to mix in the original SW2 game disc to open up the original gameplay maps and special modes. Don’t expect any real history here, but you will get addictive beat-em’up fun.

2)

For XBOX 360 users, you’ll be able to buy Sengoku Musou 2 Moushouden as a download for your system in a few weeks-there are no plans to release the XBOX version of SW2: XL in a hard disc version, despite what you may read elsewhere. However, the game HAS been released on disc in Japan for the XBOX 360 under the name of Sengoku Musou 2 With Moushouden (a boxed set).

3)

Warriors Orochi (in North America) will be coming out shortly in the US for PSP, and Musou Orochi was released in Japan for the PSP last month (since the PSP is region free, either version will work in whatever PSP you have). Both of these games are simple ports of the original PS2 console game and feature nothing new. You can read more about the game in a post earlier in this thread.

4) Musou Orochi has also been released in Japan for PC-in the USA, you can download the PC version in English at the Koei store.

5) Koei is releasing an expansion disc in early April for Musou Orochi on PS2 in Japan-it’s called Musou Orochi Maou Sairin (無双Orochi魔王再臨...Rebirth Of The Devil). It features a new Orochi story mode, a couple of gameplay tweaks, a few new Chinese characters including the Monkey King, the six Japanese characters from SW2:XL, but best of all, two Japanese characters from the Genpei war-Taira Kiyomori and Minamoto Yoshitsune. There are now over 90 playable characters to choose from in this ultimate bust up game!

6)

Finally, there's Nobunaga No Yabou Online:Souha No Shou Online (信長の野望Online:争覇の章). As the name indicates, this is more of an Online RPG played in conjunction with other players. It comes in PC or PS2 versions that will allow you to access the official online site and sign up for an ongoing game. Rather than a military based game, these are mainly sword and sorcery type games with a huge fantasy element. They're available now.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's a follow up on the DS game mentioned a couple of posts earlier, Edo Bunka Rekishi Kentei.
It works well as both a game and a quiz program. 'Mascot puppy Tsunayoshi' is guided around a sprawling historically correct map of period Edo by the stylus. The map comprises several screens and is divided into several districts. It also points out many of the noteworthy locales of the day. There are period notice boards that can be stopped at to engage in pretty simple mini games (unscramble the picture, identify the mon, keep track of coming and going traffic and goods through a gate with an abacus, hit the ninjer with throwing stars, whack the daruma, an iwase type concentration game, etc). These games unlock multiple choice/spell out simple words quiz questions which in turn earn you scrolls and unlock artwork (not to mention live action photos of 'Tsunayoshi', a cute dog in a robe and hakama). Occasionally, while wandering around Edo the player will be stopped and given the opportunity to answer bonus questions. One of the cooler aspects is switching the game map to a mode where at certain locales, you can compare a woodblock print of the historical Edo to the exact same location in modern day Tokyo. There are also modes to test your accumulated knowledge once you're tired of wandering around Edo (which I'm currently getting trashed at, since while I know a decent amount about politics and the economy of the era, my cultural knowledge is limited). Well worth the money for anyone with a DS, intermediate Japanese language skills, and an interest in the Edo period. It'll be interesting to see how Gakken's similar Edo period game will stack up when it is released early in April.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Here’s a follow up on Musou Orochi Maou Sairin (無双Orochi魔王再臨...Rebirth Of The Devil) for PS2 (Japanese language and systems only). Instead of an expansion disc to the original Musou Orochi as first reported, it is instead a direct sequel. Here, Taira Kiyomori (the ‘villain’ of the 13th century Japanese war tale Heike Monogatari) enlists the aid of Orochi’s surviving minions in an attempt to resurrect the scaly demon. As before, the resultant rip in the time-space continuum results in the greatest heroes of the Sengoku Jidai and China’s Three Kingdoms era teaming up to defeat the demonic armies of Orochi (or in some cases, joining them).
If you’re a fan of the Musou series, you know what to expect-hordes of enemy soldiers, allies that couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag that need constant protection, and your own bad self dishing out punishment to thousands of the opposition. Here, you can switch between three members of a team that you select prebattle. What’s new this time around?

1) Story Mode-5 new story modes of eight levels each-Samurai, Shu, Wei, Wu, and Orochi. The first four comprise the new storyline while the Orochi story is a prequel, showing how the demon lord put together his initial army.
2) Dramatic Mode-levels comprised of pre-set three man teams that feature the toughest enemy AI in the game.
3) Survival Mode-see how many rounds you can survive with your three man team of fighters.
4) Vs. Mode-Compete against the computer or a human opponent in a series of tests.
5) New Weapon Power Up System-mix ingredients and items to produce skills that will make characters well-nigh invincible.
6) As if things weren’t goofy enough, comedic new third costumes for most characters.
7) Best of all, new playable characters-a few new Chinese characters (Taigong Wang, Fu Xi, Nu Wa, Sun Wukong) along with 8 new Japanese characters-Maeda Toshiie, Chosokabe Motochika, Hosokawa Gracia, Sasaki Kojiro, Shibata Katsuie, Taira No Kiyomori, Minamoto No Yoshitsune, and Himiko (with her haniwa of death). There’s also a new version of Imagawa Yoshimoto, and in certain modes you can play as Orochi super-soldiers (Demon Ninja and Demon Boar).
8 ) Personal items have been eliminated. Items are now level specific (not character specific) and are used in weapon upgrades.
9) Quite a few new battlefields (20) that weren't in the original Orochi game, over a dozen of which were based on Chinese levels from Shin Sangoku Musou 4 Moushouden. New levels of interest to samurai fans are Shikoku and Okehazama from Sengoku Musou 2 Moushouden, and two levels exclusive to this game-Itsukushima (Taira Kiyomori) and Yamatai (Himiko). Even the old levels have all new enemy layouts and allied strategies.
10) Difficulty seems to have been lowered from the original Musou Orochi.

In addition to the regular version, there’s also the Musou Orochi Maou Sairin Premium Box. This handsome looking box contains a copy of the game along with a binder that houses a set of cards featuring the game characters.
If you have a Musou Orochi save file on your memory card, you’ll be able to start with each character’s first earned ability unlocked (assuming you had unlocked it in the first place). That’s all you get, but it’s very helpful in making your characters noticeably tougher from the beginning.
Don’t expect the characters or situations to have the slightest thing to do with history (other than the names). If you can accept it for what it is (the ultimate brainless bust up game), then it’s well worth a play.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here’s a follow-up on the Nintendo DS Game, 'Gakken M Bunko Presents Monoshiri Edo Meijin ('Edo Expert'-学研M文庫 presents ものしり 江戸名人)'. It'll work on any DS, Japanese or North American-but the game is in Japanese language only. It has much in common with Global A’s initial release in the historical quiz genre, ‘Monoshiri Sengoku Ou’. The formats for the questions are the same, including true-false, multiple choice, matching, putting lists in order, and writing out answers using the DS stylus. This time around, though, the tougher question formats (such as the written answers) don’t appear until later in the game and you don’t have to work against a timer until the game has progressed a bit.
Edo Meijin features three levels (easy, medium, and advanced) of questions in each of four categories covering the Edo, or Tokugawa, period of Japanese history (roughly 1603-1868). A level requires multiple rounds to clear, and each round consists of 5-15 questions. The player enters their name and sex, and the ensuing conversions will reflect these choices. A character suited to each category is interacted with at each stop-a laborer/merchant, sword master (Yagyu Jubei), entertainer (Izumo Okuni), or yakuza. Occasionally, a challenge will interrupt the rounds of questions, with a hostile character appearing to hinder the player’s progress. These range from inept sumo wrestlers to master swordsmen (both real and fictional-such as Okita Soji and Tange Sazen), annoying ronin (Oishi Kuranosuke and various others of the 47 Ronin), and other historical figures (including one of my favorites, Amakusa Shiro) with the enemies becoming more competent as the game moves along. Winning the challenge (by answering a question correctly) will allow the player to use that character's help later on. The goal of the game is to clear each level for each of the four categories-for example, once all four easy levels are cleared, the player will be allowed by a Bakufu inspector to pass through the outer gates of Edo castle-eventually, I assume you’ll end up as a respected scholar in the Edo castle keep (although I haven’t gotten that far yet). Once the game is cleared, it unlocks a straightforward quiz game where the object is to answer as many questions as possible without getting one wrong.
How does ‘Meijin’ compare with the other recent DS Edo period quiz game release, Edo Bunka Rekishi Kentei (江戸文化歴史検定)? It works better as a game, with entertaining conversations and interaction. The variety of question formats (Kentei only uses multiple choice) and the timer make it more challenging as well. It’s also nice not to have to access each question by beating repetitive time consuming mini-games as must be done in Kentei. However, Kentei is better as a learning tool. There is a lot more historical background given in both questions and answers and the graded tests work better than a ‘miss one and it’s over’ format in gauging your knowledge. There’s a bigger emphasis on culture as well. The maps and different views of both contemporary and historical Edo that the game plays out against are informative on their own. Finally, Kentei has a lot of things to unlock and ‘buy’ for your personal museum. Both games are interesting and worthwhile takes on the same subject. Both have options to review your past performance and look over all the questions you have (or haven’t) answered.
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Ayame sent me Rekishi Gunzou Presents Monoshiri Bakamatsu Ou last week, so here’s a report on how this informative quiz program plays out. 歴史群像 presents ものしり幕末王 is a new Japanese language video game/quiz program release for the Nintendo DS focused on the Bakumatsu era.

Rather than take the role of an historical figure, the player gets a generic character whose name and sex can be changed. I chose a woman and gave her Ayame’s name, since I can easily picture her lecturing Loyalists to death Just Kidding. Rather than having stated difficulty levels, the game instead has the player choose which of three factions to throw in with. The Bakufu is the easiest faction to win with, since the majority of the areas begin firmly under their control. The Loyalists (the faction actually being called ‘attack the Bakufu’ in the game) are of medium difficulty to win with. The ‘Peaceful Reform’ faction (likely representing the Union Of Camp And Court followers) is the toughest to win at, since it requires you to balance the other two factions. I threw in with the Bakufu, not just because it’s the easiest, but because it’s the right thing to do.

The game provides an interesting framework where the player visits different areas of Japan, with each having different percentages of factions represented by flames. The blue flames represent predominantly Bakufu controlled areas (such as Aizu and even Mito), grey a mixed bag (like Edo and Tosa), yellow the reformers (like Satsuma), and orange signifies the hard core Loyalists (like Kyoto and Choshu). Since loyalties change, even the spots under your control need to be constantly monitored. The goal is to either ‘fan the flames of rebellion’ or put them out, eventually bringing the map completely under your control. This is done by attempting to convert members of the opposing camp to your side by reasoning with them-and this is done by answering historical trivia questions. Answer them correctly and turn the poor deluded souls to your cause-answer incorrectly and they’ll become even more determined to oppose you. Occasionally you’ll run across a leader who can’t be turned, and in this case answering enough questions simply kills them. I was lucky enough to run into Katsura Kogoro in Kyoto, and managed to bring Kyoto back under Bakufu control by demonstrating the Bakufu’s spiritual wisdom and moral superiority (by guessing right on the multiple choice final question), causing the surly Loyalist’s death. I figure my strategy from here is to track down Sakamoto Ryoma’s spider hole, punch his ticket to the Pure Land, and then go pre-empt all the ‘Last Samurai’ crap by whacking Saigo Takamori 20 years early.

There are lots of nice gameplay touches. There’s a rudimentary financial aspect, as traveling and recruiting costs money, which must be watched closely. You can petition faction leaders for additional funding (and, again, get it by answering history questions). There are dozens of historical figures to aid you, oppose you, or be turned to your cause. You can recruit many of these to aid you by providing you with rumors and intelligence, which is critical to smoking out enemies. I’ve found sending out high ranking members of the Shinsengumi to look for Loyalists is a great tactic for figuring out which rock they’ve crawled under. As the Monk Gyonyo said in the TV series The Mountain Aesthetic, “Where the wisdom of Buddha does not suffice, cracking heads usually does the trick.”
At the heart of the game, though, is the quiz program. As in prior games of the series, there are a nice variety of question formats. There’s normal multiple choice, pictoral multiple choice (see example), list matching (such as matching 4 Shinsengumi members with their given names), list ordering (such as putting 4 eras of Japanese history into chronological order), and the toughest-written answers, which require you to use the DS stylus to write in your answer. The number of questions needed to turn or kill your opponent increases with their historical significance. So far the questions have been pretty basic (the first question I had was ‘What family held the title of Shogun?’ followed by “Who last held the title of Shogun?”) and not difficult at all, but it’s still early in the game. There are a lot of questions dealing with foreign participation in the Bakumatsu, Shinsengumi trivia, and a boatload of photo-based questions as well. These photo based questions will either show you a photo of a person with some background and ask you to supply the name, or give you some background and ask you to choose which of the four people pictured it is (like this):

Which of these four historical figures is popularly known as ‘The Last Samurai’?



It attempts to introduce concepts and abstractions as well as dates, people, and events so you not only get the points of history but also a sense of the threads that connect them. As you play, you’ll unlock a biographical dictionary that gives accurate information on the figures in the game. You’ll also be able to later review all the questions you’ve answered. As the game is aimed at teenagers, anyone with intermediate Japanese reading skills should be able to handle it. Overall, Bakumatsu Ou is an excellent blend of gaming and learning. While the game shows that video game politics and problems are far more easily resolved than in real life, it also shows they’re a lot more fun as well.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Ookuki (大奥記-Chronicle Of The Shogun's Inner Chambers) is a new Edo period game fot the PS2 (Japanese language, Japanese PS2 only), but this time with a twist. Instead of taking the part of a sword swinging samurai, this time you'll be playing the daughter (Tokiko) of a minor daimyo who is set up and forced to commit seppuku by the Edo bakufu. Tokiko then joins the Shogun's 'harem' (the Ooku) inside Edo castle as a maid in order to exact her revenge. Instead of doing so through the obvious means of slicing her enemies up with a sword, Tokiko instead uses her position to gather information and evidence of the dirty dealings of the samurai who had set up her father while making allies of authority figures in and around the castle. Once enough intelligence is gathered, she turns over the proof to her new allies and lets them perform the task of disgacing the corrupt samurai and bringing them to justice. While it's not for fans of action games, what I've played so far is incredibly fun and involving-like an episode of Abarenbo Shogun without the swordfighting (although I suppose there'll be a bit at some point). There's a lot of RPG elements and interacting with different people and objects, along with quite a lot of detective work. It's from Global A Entertainment, the company that's produced the Rekishi Gunzou series of quiz games so it's well grounded in history without a lot of ridiculous fantasy elements. Very much recommended!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
New on the video game front this week in Japan are two new games: Sengoku Basara X (Cross) and Kunitouri Zunou Batoru Nobungaga No Yabou.



Sengoku Basara X (Cross) from Capcom (戦国 Basara X, roughly Warring States Style) is a pretty standard Street Fighter clone fighting game pitting the denizens of the Sengoku Basara franchise against each other, and it's taken from the arcade machine of the same name. It’s for the Japanese PS2 (and is of course Japanese language). While you’ll see Sanada Yukimura, Date Masamune, Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and a host of other historical figures, the names are about the only thing this game has that is historical. Ridiculous non-historical costuming, exaggerated manga-type physiques, bizarre voice acting, and oddball weaponry is the rule here. If you like fast paced fighting games with outlandish, impossible but spectacular moves and flashy action where style points count as much as results, you may want to give it a try. I can’t say I care for it too much-as the name implies, it’s all about style over substance.



Much better is Kunitouri Zunou Batoru Nobungaga No Yabou (国盗り頭脳バトル 信長の野望-Nobunaga’s Ambition: National Domination Leader Battle) by Koei for the Nintendo DS (will work on any DS system, but is in Japanese language only). You might see this on assorted game sites as Owari Zunou Battle-not really sure where they came up with Owari, though, as that’s clearly wrong. This is a portable version of Koei’s extremely popular Nobunaga’s Ambition series, and is a bit different than the regular entries in the series. Here, you push ‘chess pieces’ representing famous generals over a map of Japan (board game style) in order to fight battles and conquer provinces. The elaborate province and government development of the normal games is absent, but it’s a fast moving, involving, and fun game. I’m finding it very enjoyable-nice graphics and portraits for such a small unit as well. An interesting possible addition is Chinese forces-they're pictured on the box and ads, but I have yet to find any in-game.

You can download a trial playable demo for the game here.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Coming out July 31st for the Nintendo DS (any system, but Japanese language only) is Nobunaga No Yabou 2 (信長の野望 2-Nobunaga's Ambition 2). Looks like it's going to be a port of the old Super Nintendo game Nobunaga's Ambition:Lord Of Darkness and will be back to the traditional province grabbing and developing routine. We'll have more on it after its release.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Just out for the Japanese XBOX 360 is 無双OROCHI 魔王再臨 (Musou Orochi Maou Sarin-'Rebirth Of The Devil'), a port of the earlier PS2 game of the same name. It's also coming to North America later this month on September 23rd for both the US PS2 and the US XBOX 360 under the name 'Warriors Orochi 2'. You can learn more about these releases by going to the earlier post dealing with the Japanese PS2 version.



Also out for the Japanese Wii and Japanese PS2 systems is the popular SNK fighting game, Samurai Spirits: 六番勝負 (Samurai Spirits: Rokuban Shoubu-'Sixth Match'). As the title would indicate, it's a compilation of five previous entires in the Samurai Spirits franchise along with an all-new sixth entry (天下一剣客伝-Tenka Ichi Kenkakuden-'The Legend Of The Country's Greatest Swordsman'). It's like getting six games in one! Online play is also a strong component of the release (at least for the PS2 version) along with lots of options to customize characters, along with extra training and versus modes in addition to the games. I haven't tried it myself since I usually don't care for fighting games, but it seems like a great value for a very storied line of games.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

New for the Sony PSP (Playstation Portable) is 侍道 Portable (Samurai Dou Portable, or Way Of The Samurai Portable). This comes only in a Japanese language version but will work with any PSP. It's a handheld version of the popular series (with part three of the console version due to hit this November). It puts the player in the sandals of a ronin who drifts into town, and allowing them to choose his role in a conflict brewing between rival samurai clans, merchants, thugs, and townspeople. This is done by having conversations with various people you meet around town, and the path the game takes branches depending on your answer. You can join any faction, join them all and play one against the other, or screw over all of them. There are lots of swordfights along with many missions and tasks given (depending on the faction you ally with), not to mention a multitude of different swords to collect.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There haven't been any tabletop samurai/Japanese history war games/simulations for the past several months, but for the upcoming holiday season there are a slew of new samurai themed vid games, most being released in Japan. All of these have been released. I'll be adding more info on the Japanese games as soon as my wife sends them along.


Onimusha Essentials-Released by Capcom only for PS2 in North America, this is just a compilation of the first three Onimusha games on the Playstation 2. Cheap and nice to have all in one package, but absolutely nothing new. Join Akechi Samanosuke, Yagyu Jubei, and French loser from the future Jacques as they take on the undead Oda Nobunaga and his horde of demons.

The following four releases are all Japanese language:


Tenchu 4: (天誅4-Wrath Of Heaven 4)-from From Software (yah, rlly) and released only for the Japanese Wii (which is NOT mutli-region, so Americans will want to wait for the stateside release in January of 2009). This longstanding favorite series is back, with Rikimaru returning to the storyline-and the setting has been moved to where it began in the Sengoku Jidai (last time around, it was Edo period). More of the delightful stealth and slash tactics that are the hallmark of this series, rewarding silence, patience and craftiness over brute force and fighting ability. Sneak up behind an unattentive guard and send his head rolling across the screen with a twist of your sword. Wheeeee!!!! The special Wii controllers are used to further immerse the player into the onscreen action. It appears that the game is yet another quasi-remake of the original Tenchu, pitting Rikimaru and Ayame against the evil Onikage.



Samurai Dou 3: (侍道3-Way Of The Samurai 3)-by Spike for the Playstation 3, so you can play it on any PS3 system. The action this time moves from the Bakumatsu/Meiji periods to the Sengoku, where samurai were real men instead of whining crybabies. If you've played the first two, you'll know exactly what to expect-interact with the leaders, soldiers, merchants, and townspeople you run across, join different factions, collect all kinds of different swords, fight hordes of enemies with no sword skills, complete tasks, earn gold, and try to find all the vastly different endings. The interactive, branching storylines are the real selling point of the game-it's like being in control of the actors in your favorite chanbara movie. A nice new touch is the ability to 'flip' your blade (ala Wise Shogun Yoshimune in Abarenbo Shogun) to wound and disable foes rather than kill them.



Sengoku Efuda Yuugi: Hototogisu Ran (戦国絵札遊戯 不如帰 -HOTOTOGISU- 乱-Age of Warring States Picture Card Play:Cuckoo Incident) Irem's effort for the PSP (can be played on any system) is among the myriad of Japanese card playing video games. It has over 280 virtual cards drawn by 40 popular artists, and looks to be a video game version of the type of samurai wargames run in Game Journal magazine-board strategy mixed with cardplay to introduce a random element into things. Looks like it may be a lot of fun.



Saihai no Yukue: (采配のゆくえ-The Command Baton's Whereabouts)-for the Nintendo DS (any system). I normally wouldn't have bothered with this game except that it's by Koei, which rarely produces a lemon. As it turns out, it's a fun little game with the flavor of the old PS2 game Kessen (this time around with anime character models) and a large dose of the popular 'Phoenix Wright' game system thrown in. You take the role of Ishida Mitsunari at the battle of Sekigahara-the battle is broken down into several levels (for example, level one has Ukita and Akashi versus Kani, Fukushima, and Ii). You take part in a pre-battle mode to plot strategy with help from Sakon Shima, evaluate your general's mindsets, and then fight. Combat is carried out on a board divided into squares-it's a lot like a tabletop wargame. Many of your choices revolve around conversing with commanders and picking the right dialogue to motivate them to fight and carry out orders. Having them carry out the appropriate battlefield manuevers is also critical-waste too many commands, and the army loses faith in your abilities and you lose. Win and be the one to grasp the baton of command for a unified Japan. Gameplay is geared towards younger adults and the Japanese used is easy to understand for anyone with an intermediate grasp of the language. I'm glad I decided to give this game a chance, as it's quickly become one of my favorites.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There were a couple of new samurai related videogames released for Japanese systems this week (Japanese language, but all will work on Western systems).


First is 無双OROCHI 魔王再臨 (Musou Orochi Maou Sairin), the PSP port of the PS2 game released earlier in the year featuring characters from both the Sengoku Musou and Sangoku Musou series. You can read more about the game in the review done for the PS2 version further up the page.

Then there's this little gem... I doubt it



Bakumatsu Renka/Shinsengumi (幕末恋華/新撰組, Bakumatsu Flower Of Love: Shinsengumi) for the Nintendo DS. You'll see this on a lot of vid game sites as Bakumatsu Koihana Shinsengumi, but that's wrong (and the reading of renka here doesn't use the kanji for 'love poetry', but it should have). While I haven't played the game, I think the title along with a listing of the contents in the special edition (pictured on the left) should give you an idea of what the story is That's gay : 1 Game, 10 Love Letters, 2 Piece Postcard Set, and Special Message CD. This screen shot (on a pink DS, no less) pretty much seals the deal:



Gameplay (using anime style and also superdeformed characters) looks to be largely interaction with the other characters via choosing dialogue options. A perfect gift for that yaoi fan on your holiday shopping list.

EDIT: oops, I stand corrected. My wife Ayame informs me that it's a dating sim for girls based on the idea that the Shinsengumi have one female member (the one in the yellow in the screen shot) and that all the male members are vying for her affections (as if). Still all pretty boys, though.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coming to the shores of North America is Koei's latest addition to the 'Nobunaga No Yabou' series-Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle for the Playstation 2 (which was released in Japan as Nobunaga No Yabou Kakushin). The 'Iron Triangle' refers to the military, political, and technological skills needed in order to suceed at the game. It's pretty much the same province (now castle based instead of province based) grabbing-developing-recruiting game that has kept gamers engrossed for the last 20 years or so, with original scenarios and some new twists like the ability to develop a navy. There's over a thousand historical officers and women of note. If you liked last year's PS2 offering (Nobunaga's Ambition: Rise To Power), you'll love this one-it's the most recent entry in the series (unlike 'Rise' which was released quite a few years ago). It's due for release January 27th.


I only mention 'Afro Samurai' (also released January 27th for the North America PS2 and XBOX360) because it has the word 'Samurai' in the title-but it obviously has next to nothing to do with history or samurai. It's based on the original 2007 Afro Samurai animated series (and the upcoming Afro Samurai: Resurrection movie being aired on SpikeTV on the 25th). I didn't care for the plot, character models, animation, music, or voice overs from the original-and games based on licensed properties are almost always bad. And all gamers know there's only one TRUE Afro Samurai...'Dona Dona' from the Samurai Dou game series. But, if you're a fan, now's your chance to step into the role of Afro Samurai as he cuts through hordes of enemies during his quest for the #1 headband in this '3D Final Fight' styled game.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The stateside port of the new Tenchu game for the Nintendo Wii, TENCHU: SHADOW ASSASSINS, has been released (for North American Wii systems only-you’d need to get the earlier Japanese release if you want to play it on the Japanese Wii). It continues the popular series of games that began on the original Playstation and spread to the PS2, Xbox, Xbox360, PSP, Nintendo DS, and mobile phones. The series has slipped of late, following up on the excellent Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven (yes, Tenchu does mean Wrath of Heaven, making the English title redundant) with the weak Tenchu: Fatal Shadows, the bad DS game Tenchu: Dark Secret, the poorly received Tenchu Z for the Xbox360, and the PSP’s Tenchu: Time Of the Assassins (whose release was cancelled in North America). You’ll notice they replaced the cool Japanese box artwork (seen a few posts prior to this) with a garish and clunky looking one. Anyway, it’s good to see that unlike the vast majority of Wii games (since the system is aimed primarily at kids) this baby carries its accustomed ‘M’ rating with promises of blood, suggestive themes, and violence. Not much has changed in the Tenchu universe-tree-hugging daimyo Goda Matsunoshin is still in control of the realm, and once again, his daughter Kiku has been kidnapped. Kiku HAS to be kidnapped a minimum of once a game-it’s a Tenchu tradition. And speaking of traditions, the first mission is ‘Kill the Evil Merchant’-ring any bells? It’s time once again for Azuma ninja Rikimaru and his faithful sidekick Ayame to set things right. It’s the same sneaking around and stealth killing the enemy type gameplay that has been the series’ trademark, this time using the Wii’s unique control system.

There are lots of new wrinkles-in past games, players were rarely under a time constraint, being given the luxury of taking their time, being careful, and going for sure kills. Not so this time. If you want Grand Master titles and the in-game rewards that go with them, you’ll have to speed through the levels now as well as killing all the enemies and not being detected. Your ninja can now hide in plain sight in areas that are draped in shadows or mist. There are more interactive items in the environment, allowing players to move them around, use them to hide bodies, and gain access to otherwise out-of-reach spots. That’s good, since the signature item of the series-the Tenchu grapple-is no longer around. Sure, it was totally unrealistic-a lot like Batman’s grappling gun. But it’s been replaced by the much more historically ‘accurate’ Shinobi Cat-“…an adorable and useful ally…They can retrieve items and detect hidden enemy ninja with their acute senses.” Thankfully, most of the new items are not quite so goofy-there are simple but effective tools like the bamboo tube, which can be used to breathe underwater, filled with water to douse candles (light sources can be extinguished from afar to create much needed shadow cover), or even used to deal with a ninja’s thirst.

You can now stealth kill 2 or 3 closely grouped enemies in one move. The biggest change in the series seems to be in the area of direct combat-in previous games, it was your typical third person real time combat with as many guards as you alerted ganging up. Now it’s a first person battle with each guard in sequence-and the fights are conducted in an unrealistic manner. First your enemy attempts to strike you-you need to parry the strikes with your Wiimote and build up your Tenchu gauge with each block. When it’s filled, it’s your turn to deal out the punishment, swinging the Wiimote like you’re flailing away at insects. If you do a poor job of parrying, you either are struck (and three strikes equals death), or your sword breaks-and if that happens, you use secret ninja techniques to appear at the level’s beginning and start all over. Beat the enemy, and the next one will take his place until you’ve killed them all. Obviously, going the stealth kill route is the key to success.

Despite the drawbacks, the game is a lot of fun and a personal favorite. There’s lots of replay value in trying to find hidden map pieces in each level that, when combined, lead you to an ultimate weapon. There’s also a ‘shadow’ (tougher) version of each level that features even more map pieces that lead to an even better prize.



It’s a good week for lovers of swordplay games, as in a few days the first North American versions of Oneechanbara will be hitting the shelves-two completely different versions for Xbox 360 and the Wii-but more on them next week.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right on the heels of last week’s release of Tenchu: Shadow Assassins for the Wii (which was released as Tenchu 4 in Japan) comes Tenchu 4 for the PSP (Japanese language, but will work in any Playstation Portable). I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but it looks like it’s a scaled down version of the Wii game with a more traditional Tenchu-type control scheme. As with all Tenchu games, the stealth kill is the focal point of interest and the game features both of the series’ signature characters, Rikimaru and Ayame. It’ll be interesting to see if there will be an English language version done for North America-the previous PSP Tenchu, Time of the Assassins, was cancelled in America (although it did see a European release-many ‘samurai/ninja’ games that don’t see release in the States get released across the pond). I suppose that’s because for some reason American gamers are obsessed with first person shooters and driving games-but if the Wii game hits big, look for the PSP version to make it here as well.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


The latest in the Takeda series of historical simulation games for the PC from Magitech, Takeda 3, is now available for purchase. In my opinion, this is the best and most historically accurate simulation of Sengoku era samurai warfare in circulation. It eschews many of the 'arcade' conventions and ahistorical units of Shogun-Total War and is far more accurate in simulating warfare than the Nobunaga No Yabou/Nobunaga's Ambition series.
Gameplay features a castle based (rather than province based) world map where the player moves his armies, transfers troops, sets up alliances and marriages, and sends out spies to gather information on enemy troops and movements. If two armies collide, you'll enter battle mode and fight it out.
It sets the bar high as far as challenge is concerned, and will convincingly drive home to armchair generals the really important factors of warfare of the time (with a well secured and stocked supply line being the most important with capable commanders being a close second). In fact, past entries have featured battles that DARE you to even try to win-such as Takeda Katsuyori at Temmokuzan, a battle even the designers could never emerge victorious on. Creating a good simulation of the historical action is the prime factor here, not making the player feel good about their tactical genius. Risk too much in one battle by losing a couple of skilled commanders (or be unable to replace lost guns or horses), and watch your army get shellacked in every subsequent fight.
The newest entry looks sharp with extensive bios for the officers and great looking new portraits. You can order the game or download a playable demo here. Highly recommended.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Musou Orochi Z is this year’s entry in the Musou Orochi franchise and features the first appearance of the Sengoku Musou (Samurai Warriors) characters on the PS3. This Japanese language release combines elements from the two earlier entries in the series (Musou Orochi and Musou Orochi Maou Sairin) and adds a couple of new characters (including legendary warrior monk Musashibo Benkei), new costumes for all the characters, vastly upgraded graphics, and new battlefields. It’s still the same bizarre crossover action combining the Sangoku and Sengoku Musou characters against themselves, each other, and the forces of the evil serpent king Orochi. It’s mindless bust-up action at its finest as your team of three swappable characters cut down hundreds, even thousands, of the enemy. Check out the posts on the earlier entries for more information.



Samurai Dou 3 (侍道3-Way of the Samurai 3) has also been ported from the PS3 to the Japanese Xbox 360. You can find out more about this Japanese language release under the entry for its PS3 version earlier in the thread.



Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 with Izayoiki Aizouban (遙かなる時空の中で3 with 十六夜記, In A Distant Time 3 with Chronicle of the 16 Day Moon) is an otome rpg game for girls and yaoi fans that puts the player in the role of a teenage girl transported back in time to the age of the Genpei wars. Players must find true love with one of the many gay looking historical figures populating the landscape while helping the Minamoto clan to victory. Weren't any of the Taira or Minamoto masculine looking? Sheesh.The series is insanely popular in Japan and has toys, drama CD's, manga, anime, and all sorts of other tie-ins. It comes in regular (left) and Premium Box (right-contains a drama CD and some CG art) versions.



Stateside, March saw the release of the Samurai Shodown Anthology for the Nintendo Wii, the PS2 and the PSP. These are the English language versions of the Japanese released a while back under their Japanese titles, 'Samurai Spirits'. You get all 7 of the Samurai Shodown games dating back to 1993 in a nice, affordable package. Get more details in their Japanese listings earlier in the thread.

And finally, here’s a screenshot from a recent playthrough of Takeda 3. After project director Ming-Sheng Lee told me how to modify the banners and general portraits for the game, I decided it was time for the Samurai-Archives Clan to enter the fray on behalf of Nagao Kagetora:



We’ve already allied ourselves with the forces of Mt. Hiei and Ishiyama Hongan-ji, destroyed the Takeda, wiped the floor with Oda Nobunaga’s mug, executed him, burned his castles, married his sister, and replaced the mon on his battle flag with happy faces.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While releases for the PS2 have slowed to a crawl, there are still strong efforts being developed for the platform. New from SystemSoft is Sengoku Tenka Touitsu (戦国天下統一, Warring States Unification). It’s a Japanese language release for both the Japanese PS2 and the PSP (any version). Much like ‘Nobunaga’s Ambition’ but with a far greater emphasis on battle (including naval combat) than developing your lands, the game boasts over 600 historical characters and 5 major scenarios (Imagawa in 1537, Takeda in 1541, Oda in 1557, Uesugi in 1561, and Hashiba Hideyoshi in 1582). It’s quite involving and has lots of replay value, with even one playthrough providing a large amount of game hours.


Also new for the PSP is Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes (戦国BASARA バトルヒーローズ). This is an expanded version of the rather mundane PS2 fighting game Sengoku Basara X, which you can read about in previous posts. Fans of the heavily manga/anime-influenced Sengoku Basara franchise (and they are legion) along with those who enjoy fighting games will find something worthwhile to check out here, but I’ll pass for now. It does have a lot more playability and variety than Basara X, with 30 warriors, 180 storylines, 150 missions, and the ability to link up with with friends on the PSP network.


A surprise release for the PSP was Tenchu: Shadow Assassins, which is pretty much a direct port of the earlier Wii version (see previous posts) with a modified control scheme and is a direct port of the Japanese PSP’s Tenchu 4 (with the exception, of course, of being in English). After getting used to the Wii’s controllers, trying to play it on the PSP is a royal pain.


For the Japanese Wii (and coming in July to the US as Muramasa: The Demon Blade) is Oboro Muramasa (朧村正, Gloom of Muramasa). It appears to be your basic ‘swing the Wiimote around like a sword’ game, and tells the tale of the wielders of the cursed sword Muramasa. Murumasa takes place in the Genroku era, ruled by Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. However, the Tokugawa thirst for power leads to a conflict over the enormously powerful, though cursed, Demon Blades. Used in hatred, drenched in blood, the cursed blades condemn those who use them to tragedy, madness, and untimely deaths. As chaos spreads, denizens from the netherworld breach their realm as these malevolent swords summon evil spirits-and the Dragon and Demon Gods as well. Take up the sword as either a male or female ninja (it's ALWAYS ninja) and commence to hacking. While this all sounds very cool, it appears the game is a pretty typical 2D platformer, long on graphics and short on story. Still, being a Wii game, it might be a lot of fun.


Finally, while not really a samurai themed game, is Ninja Blade for the XBOX 360 for both Japanese (left) and US (right) 360’s. It does have plenty of high tech modern ninja, though, and brings to mind games such as the Ninja Gaiden series and the PS2 versions of Shinobi and Nightshade. Mutated creatures have infested Tokyo and it’s up to Ogawa Ken and his merry band of ninja pals to clean up the mess. It features some innovative gameplay, outstanding graphics, and some screens (including a giant creature bursting out of the side of a building to pursue your character) that are real show-stoppers.


Last edited by Tatsunoshi on Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fuuun! Daisoujyou (風雲大籠城-Adventure! The Great Castle Siege) for the Nintendo DS (Japanese language, works with any DS system) is another game I was initially going to pass on, but was glad I picked up. Despite the goofy looking anime type characters and superdeformed in-game sprites, it’s an extremely entertaining game that puts the player in charge of a series of castles that are under siege from the enemy. Under the tutelage of Ninjer master Tsukumo Hanbee, Komori Shiromori (the ‘Komori Shiro’ part of the name using the same kanji as ‘Soujou’ from the title in a nice touch) must deploy his cannon, archers, arquebusiers, ashigaru, samurai, and special forces (laying traps such as pits and bombs) to defend the castles of the hapless Oooka Tadayoshi. Each castle requires the player to defend the Sannomaru, the Ninomaru, and the Honmaru where the tenshu is located. Waves of enemy forces must be eliminated before they reach the gate to the next area (or the tenshu). These range from ashigaru to ninja, kunoichi, samurai, miners, and yes, even the fabled hang gliding Kuze Ninja. At the end, the general in command of the opposing forces will emerge and his forces are much tougher than earlier waves. Enemies operate differently depending on the personality of their commanders, ranging from typical samurai commanders to skeletal ninja Muu, bandit Maruhashi Chuya, monk Nankaihou Tenkai, strategist Yui Hyousetsu, and geisha Mizuwa Dayuu. Most of the castles used are historical edifices such as Edo, Nagoya, Kumamoto, Osaka, etc. Despite some of the fanciful elements, you can actually learn a few things about proper placement of certain weapons types to defend a medieval castle. Might come in handy if you ever find yourself sent back in time. Anyway, it’s an addicting and fun game that gets quite challenging at the higher levels.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
New for the PSP (any system, Japanese language only) is Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke (己の信ずる道を征け, Conquer The Road Of Your Beliefs).



This is a puzzle action game set in the Edo period where a ninja must rescue a Princess that's been spirited away by supernatural beings. Game action features minute long levels that the ninja must traverse by stepping on switches, activating, cannon, dropping statues to set off switches, attacking beings in the way with special attacks, using a horde of shadow familiars to help out, and the like. Many of the levels are themed around images seen on old woodcuts and scroll paintings, and make heavy use of beings from Japanese mythology (hence the 'Your Beliefs' part). The emphasis is on puzzle solving more than combat, so it isn't for button mashers-but it's a fun little game in it's own right. It has a detailed and helpful tutorial to help get you started on the right foot as well. It also has a mission mode and Wi-Fi multiplayer for those who like that sort of thing.
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