Western audiences may have missed out on the marginally improved Sengoku Musou Chronicle 2nd, but Koei Tecmo’s storied hack ‘n’ slash series makes another fearless charge toward Nintendo 3DS in Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3.
With developer Omega Force’s tenure showing no signs of waning, Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 faithfully delivers on much of what long-term fans have come to expect from the series. Using Samurai Warriors 4 as a foundation from which to build, players once again experience an alternate take on the Sengoku era in Japan’s illustrious history.
In short, that will largely see players bellow war cries as they boundlessly charge across battlefields. And while victory may never seem certain, your strategic efforts are supported by real-life generals that will fight should-to-shoulder with you as you coordinate your attacks to complete objectives.
However, your first port of call is to create your own playable character. There are a plethora of options here, firstly selecting from either a Male or Female character before moving on to name them, and select their face, body type and voice. You will then face a barrage of questions that will determine your character’s soul, which in turn assigns them with a Special Skill governed by their deemed personality.
This helps to personalise your journey through Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3‘s main Story Mode, although you will still have the chance to switch to other generals in battle.
Sadly, Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3‘s narrative is rather plainly delivered by minimally animated characters that loosely interact with one another. Tecmo Koei’s localisation has seen reams of text diligently translated into English, with voice dialogue remaining in Japanese – inadvertently helping to portray more authenticity to the game’s time period.
In any case, most of your time will be spent on the battlefield. Here, players are primarily tasked with slicing their way through advancing troops as they accomplish objectives to sway the battle in their favour. These are clearly displayed on the touch screen alongside a detailed map screen, and players are regularly provided with shifting their battle perspective by switching to another character. This not only saves you time in recklessly leaping across the battlefield to respond to an ally requesting help but lets you try out other weapons to hopefully find one that suits your playstyle.
The basic gist of combat is that players are able to chain Normal, Power and Hyper Attacks that sweep wider areas surrounding your character, with a unique Special Skill delivering additional benefits. Progression will unlock additional combos that will vary your attack patterns, and successive attacks fill your Musou Gauge that can be used to unleash a devastating attack. This is an upgrade to a True Musou Attack when the player is low on health, whereas a Multi Musou Attack can be performed to combine your power with a nearby ally.
War Arts may also be used when a separate Art Gauge is filled, which is simply restored over time rather than requiring players to do anything. These Arts have varying effects, such as weakening an enemy’s abilities for a short period or restoring the Musou Gauge.
Ultimately, combat remains as divisive as it ever has been. More seasoned samurai will argue that there is plenty of depth but takes time to master, whereas to the majority longer play sessions will soon near on boredom in large part to button-bashing repetition. This isn’t particularly helped by the mission structure, which still fails to recognise the need for more distinction from one another.
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 stands its ground in the graphical department, a reasonable draw distance allowing you to easily leap between groups of soldiers as you carve your way toward your objective. Frame rate inconsistencies can occur when stereoscopic 3D is activated, but I didn’t particularly feel that the visual depth added very much to the experience.
In trying to maintain interest, Omega Force also serves up a separate Challenge Mode where you compete to set high scores by completing objectives as efficiently as you can. That attempt to diversify the experience can also be seen in Castle Town, where players can buy materials to craft and upgrade weapons at the Blacksmith. There’s also a Tea House where you can host tea parties with generals, building friendships in the hope that they will be less wary in siding with your battle plans.
Those that like to revisit unlocked event scenes will enjoy the Vault’s inclusion, with an Encyclopedia presenting a more educational standpoint. Whereas StreetPass and SpotPass support sees you receive Challenge Mode points from those that you pass, and notifications distributed by the development team.
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 won’t convert those still unswayed by the lure of battle but marks a welcome return for the series on Nintendo 3DS. A faithful conversion for portable, there’s certainly plenty of content to mindlessly slash your way through.