Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Straw Hat Samurai

Straw Hat Samurai is an interesting game with a creative gameplay idea at its heart, but it doesn't quite develop that idea enough, instead opting to add a bunch of extraneous elements which kind of take away from the basic gameplay. It would probably benefit from some simplification and focusing on the heart of the game.

In Straw Hat Samurai, you play the titular samurai, and you battle against waves of enemy soldiers. The fighting, though, is accomplished in a very unorthodox way. To attack, just click and drag. This performs a sword slash along the line you've created, taking out all enemies in its path. In between battles, you move along an overworld map; most of the spaces on the map are simple fighting levels, but there are also powerups and some boss battles around the map, too. At the beginning of the game, enemies are easily defeated, and the real challenge is to try to kill a bunch of enemies at once (not too difficult, but since your sword stroke can only be so long, not completely trivial, either) and/or to go for headshots. As the game progresses, though, you encounter enemies with shields, which require a little more careful planning, and archers, which are quite annoying. (You can also acquire a bow of your own, but I never ended up using it except for a few specific cases.)

As the game progresses, it begins to acquire some strategy elements -- in the late game, you engage in an almost Risk-like battle for control of the map. Of course, you can always just take over a space yourself by defeating all of the enemies in the normal fighting, so the strategy ends up not playing terribly much of a role -- you can always just win some more fights even if your strategy is terrible. Dying doesn't cost you anything (except time); you just have to restart whatever level you were on from the beginning.

The graphics are not bad; the characters are well-drawn, though the animation is pretty minimal. The sound effects are pretty standard, while the music is OK. It's kind of stirring, but (as is so often the case) it's not long enough, so you probably will eventually become tired of it.

Overall, Straw Hat Samurai is a little too long -- since the basic gameplay mechanism is so simple, just clicking and dragging over enemies kind of wears out quickly. The additional strategic elements feel kind of misplaced, rather than enhancing the game. It's not a difficult game by any means (except the final boss, where I figured out the strategy quickly but had a very hard time actually executing that strategy -- apparently short strokes are key), but you'll definitely wish it was done with sooner. Really, it could benefit with some variation to the basic gameplay (just as an idea, you have to draw strokes in different shapes to execute different attacks); as it is, it's simply just too repetitive to be a great game.

1 comment:

ToastyKen said...

This game was pretty inventive! I liked the gameplay. The strategy part was like... wha-huh?! :)