Waiting To Attack –
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is a variant on Punch-Out’s! parry-and-counter combat mechanics but allows free movement on the battlefield instead of being stationary in a boxing ring. However, these precision attacks grow repetitive as each fight against the common enemy is ultimately a battle of patience and repetition.
The ability to freely run around the battlefield does not really make a difference when it comes to strategy as enemies will still attack one at a time and will move toward you regardless. Most fights are best completed by standing still, waiting for an attack, dodging said attack, and then counterattacking until all are dead. Occasionally, ranged attackers, like the arrow shooting samurai or bomb throwing ninjas, will need to be taken out first to avoid taking a cheap shot to the back. Unfortunately, this is the game’s variety. In comparison, Punch-Out! for example, forced players to learn a new tactic with each and every battle. It becomes busy work to re-use the same tactics over and over when taking out legions of the same enemies.
Since the game does not feature checkpoints and the life bar doesn’t refill when completing each stage, the game artificially adds time to the game clock. Also, saving can only be done by visiting a town that could be several locations away, removing an element of portability. The biggest pain however resides during the game’s few boss fights. You must first fight through a throng of repetitive baddies then go up against the boss. But players will most likely die on the first or even second encounter before the boss pattern is learned. Each time, however, the player must tediously fight through the same waves of common enemies all over again. Also, sharpening a dull blade, used by spending difficult to find coins, seems to happen a little too often. Optional mini games like Fruit Ninja-ing watermelon are also mindless distractions.
Sakura Samurai has an Okami aesthetic but with N64 quality graphics. Each NPC has some charm with big heads and Japanese voice quips but the empty backdrops and disproportioned overhead map leaves something to be desired even if this is a downloadable eShop game. The main character also has pink petals on his kimono… it is hard to be a samurai badass when wearing such a dorky outfit.
I obtained a download code for this game via my Platinum Status of the 2013 Club Nintendo promotion. I am kind of wishing I got those posters instead.
Not As Good As: Crimson Shroud
Better Than: Samurai G
Wait For It: 2014 Club Nintendo prizes
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com