My knowledge of anime is limited to all of two shows – Samurai Champloo and Afro Samurai.  In both of them Samurais are shown as lone rangers, badass dudes who take crap from no one, slicing and dicing any one foolish to stand in their path. Samurai II: Vengeance follows the same clichéd plot as players step into the skilled shoes of Daisuke, a Samurai on the lookout for a demon named Orochi. This demon probably wronged him in the prequel so now he obviously will have hell to pay for.

Off with his head

Off with his head

Like all Samurais in modern day media, Daisuke takes lip from no one. The story unfolds via static, story board-esque images so there’s no voice acting to praise or criticize. For me personally the game’s art-style steals the show. I admit I’ve not played a lot of iOS games in my life but this one right here is like the Okami of iPhone games. The game packs in a ludicrous amount of detail, wrapping it all up in gorgeous cel-shaded visuals. As Daisuke passes from one scenario to another you’ll come across backdrops that feel like they’ve stepped straight out of a Japanese fairy tale. It’s insanely pretty and has to be witnessed first-hand to be appreciated. On the flip side, I did encounter quite a bit of stuttering, mainly during the first level.

The bigger they are

The bigger they are

Besides staring at all the pretty visuals you’ll spend a lot of time slicing bad dudes up. Like Spiderman (and I’m guessing most action games on the iPhone/iPod Touch now) you have three keys – Light attack, Heavy attack and Evade. Killing enemies will award you Karma points that can be used to upgrade your abilities and increase your health bar. I strongly suggest you go straight after the health bar first as Samurai II is one tough game. Even on the Easy difficulty the game piles up a crazy amount of enemies at one time. Initially you’ll only encounter slow moving grunts, but as you progress through the game you’ll come across tougher foes, mini-bosses and archers who can be a real pain in the backside. The combat’s broken up by some minor platforming elements that mostly revolve around dodging traps using Daisuke’s rolling abilities.

Combat in this game wasn’t as fluid as I expected it to be. It felt fairly generic and there were times I did get a bit bored of mowing through wave after wave of foes. Like DMC or God of War, every time you encounter enemies the game locks you into a particular area and its only after you defeat everyone can you proceed. This works well for most of the game but after a while it does get a bit repetitive. Thankfully the combat’s uber-violent and Daisuke constantly slices enemies in two or cuts off hands, legs and heads with reckless abandon dousing the combat zone in gorgeous crimson.   

Don't mess with Daisuke

Don't mess with Daisuke

Samurai II may not be a perfect game but it has a lot going for it. The game’s gorgeous art style and violent gameplay is thankfully strong enough to keep you hooked through some of the game’s issues like repetitive gameplay, frame rate issues and an erratic difficulty level.

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