After the dust settles and the blades are withdrawn into their sheathes, only the strongest of warriors remain standing. Those who litter the ground are swiftly forgotten, while those who stand tall bring honor upon themselves, and the glory of history to their family name. The Sanada clan is one such family, known in Japanese history as brave and strong warriors.
If the Sanada family members collected the thousands of kills per battle that occur in Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, then I can certainly see why they would be revered. This Samurai Warriors title is slightly different in its approach and focus, but in the end, Spirit of Sanada represents just another reliable, fun, and incredibly unbalanced adventure in the Samurai Warriors realm.
Spirit of Sanada focuses its story on the Sanada Clan, first on the legendary warrior “Masayuki Sanada” and then later his son. The goal is to war and win, defending and attacking your way across Japan. There are historical accuracies throughout, and small instances where the game attempts to teach some Japanese lore, but the game also takes some liberties with certain events.
If you have ever played a Samurai Warriors title before, you’re going to find a lot of similarities here. There isn’t much difference from game to game, but the style and function is very smooth and fits into a “not broke, don’t fix it” sorta category. Combat is done on foot or on horseback, with horseback combat being less effective but great for dispersing groups. You are able to attack with a standard move, and the characters also have a pair of special moves that can be triggered at different instances during each battle.
Battles are lengthy, with each instance happening over several zones with fights against multiple bosses. Time flows while you are in battle, meaning you’ll travel during the day with full visibility and map clarity, and at night the map is obscured and you’ll be attacked randomly by ninjas and their small armies. I like the ninja attacks; they provide an additional challenge along with the overall objectives and are a nice way to get some easy experience.
The game levels you in your abilities and your weapon proficiency, and as you level the weapon you’ll be able to upgrade it through a blacksmith. Along your travels in town you’ll also meet with several people who may have interesting or important information to provide to you.
Each time you receive this information you fill a “Sanada Six Coin”, and when you have six of those, you are able to unlock a stratagem which changes the actual flow of battle on the field. This will be something like a door being left unlocked, or a certain knowledge of an army hidden from sight that gives you an upper hand while fighting.
The fighting itself is very smooth, and allows for nice movement while attacking. It can become easy to be overwhelmed, so you are always expected to be on the offensive. Any defensive measure is quickly broken by the sheer numbers of attackers on screen. The gameplay can quickly feel like button mashing, and that gets old after a while. It is also very frustrating to be overtaken by one enemy, only to then be blitzed on all sides and given no chance to recover.
I really like the graphics, as the game gives a very real-life look to scenery and does a good job with the character models as well. I’m not impressed with the very linear and corridor-esque battle maps. The game doesn’t do a very good job or pointing out items or powerups on the field, but that just adds to the challenge in a way. The overall presentation of the game here is passable, but the little issues mentioned above really can bog enjoyment down.