Genre : Strategy
Developer: Sammy Studios
Release Date: March 10, 2004
Buy 'SEVEN SAMURAI 20XX': PlayStation 2
If the name Seven Samurai doesn’t ring a bell, you have probably missed out on one of the better action flicks around. Okay, I admit that I’m one of the people who have not seen the movie, but I hear a lot of good things about it. The Seven Samurai story is set in the 16th century where a village is under attack; the farmers ask an unnamed wandering Samurai to protect them, only offering food as a reward. Knowing that it was an impossible task to perform by himself, he went to search for more help finding himself “Seven Samurai.” So what is Seven Samurai 20xx?
Seven Samurai 20xx is Sammy’s adaptation of the movie, set in the distant future with a nearly identical story line. Your character, Natoe, has been asked by Kambei and the farmers to protect the village from the Humanoids. The Humanoids are a futuristic race of enemies that I simply classify as robots, and they are after Hinata (the sacred girl with the sacred treasure). In order to protect this village, you have been assigned to seek out Samurai who will assist you, and for some odd reason, you must find seven (that must be a lucky number or something).
Well, as you would have guessed, most of the missions involve you trying to find Samurai who are insane enough to fight the humanoids and are willing to work just for food. The few that agreed to this are first Tatsuma, a guy who looks more like a punk ninja then a samurai; Rojie, a big and powerful bodyguard who uses his fists as weapons; Eight, a comedian who is a bit chubby and uses a spear; Kambei, the eldest Samurai of the troop and leader; Cue, a female swordsman with a special power required to activate the sacred treasure; and lastly, Jodie, Natoe’s best friend and the girl he wishes with all his heart to protect.
Some of these Samurai start off in your group while others are left for you to find. In order to find these fellow comrades, you will undergo a barrage of battles, fighting up to maybe a thousand or more enemies in each chapter. The first Samurai you find is Tatsuma, as mentioned above; his sister gets kidnapped, and the two of you head off to retrieve her. Even though you go together, it seems your comrade never faces any of the enemies in battle, leaving all of the tough work for you (so much for teamwork).
When facing these enemies, Natoe is usually trapped in a confined space, forcing you to defeat them all before moving on. At times, this can be such an arduous task since they just constantly keep throwing them at you, and it’s excruciating when the roller blade enemies come into play – they tend to utilize a very cheap hit-and-run tactic that makes it hard to destroy them. However, my most hated battle would be in chapter 9, where you are trying to protect the town; the enemy sure knows how to utilize its entire army to attack. My thumbs started going numb from mashing the square button so many times.
By now, you should assume Square is the attack button. Well, you are correct, but that isn’t the only button that is crucial in beating these extremely drawn-out battles; you will also need to guard using Triangle, step using X, talk to NPCs with Circle(when not in battle), and use L1 and R1 to utilize Nitoh-Ryu (an attack employing two swords). One of the many interesting things about Seven Samurai is the Triangle/guard system. Most of the time, we would think it’s best to guard when you are about to be hit; in Seven Samurai, the guard is actually stored up until you are hit, parrying them or getting a so-called Just Guard. This was quite a wise idea by Sammy, because it then moves the focus from having to watch enemies’ attacks to just watching which enemy you wish to attack.
The attack system is a mix between Dynasty Warriors and Shinobi. If you don’t already know, this game plays almost identically to Dynasty Warriors (aside from the slowdowns), with you having to fight massive amounts of enemies continuously. Rather than using famous Chinese generals, though, Seven Samurai utilizes Japanese Samurai who seem to move and fight as in Shinobi. If you’ve played Shinobi, you know the instant kill attacks. Well, Sammy has placed a similar type attack in this system, and in order to dramatize it, they placed a “slow down” to emphasize the power of that one hit kill (or as they would call it, Just Attack). If the enemy is far away, Natoe will utilize a dash attack, moving him to the enemies’ position (another great idea). Although these normal attacks can get you through a majority of the game, beating the game with just these attacks will probably take an insane amount of time and also become quite boring (since Natoe doesn’t have that many attacks, you end up with a lot of repetition). This is where I utilize the Nitoh-Ryu system: the ability to use two swords at the same time and give Natoe a massive speed boost, annihilating enemies faster then Superman can save Louis Lane.
Nitoh-Ryu is, as far as I’m concerned, the entire basis of the game, since you must abuse it as much as possible, or else you may never get to see the cool lighting effects Sammy placed into the game. The lighting effects begin when you start pulling off insane combos; you get these quite easily using Nitoh-Ryu, and I personally get a kick hitting a 100+ combo. When you hit such a high combo count, however, the game will sometimes slow down, something that Sammy would need to work on if they plan to release another (something Koei has finely-tuned in their Dynasty Warrior series).
Well, Nitoh-Ryu and the guard will not get you through all the levels. A majority of them, sure, but you can’t forget that both of these run out at times. This is when I use step, which allows you to side step left, right, back, and through the enemy if timed correctly. It’s great to use against bosses whose attacks you can’t block (mainly their magical attacks), or use it to escape from the mob of enemies.
Boss battles are usually mano-a-mano, where (like in other fights) you will be secluded in a certain circular area and mercilessly attack each other (which is extremely easy most of the time). On the menu screen, you will see the boss’s block gauge and remaining life. This HID is the same for you whenever you enter battle, displaying your guard, life and time left to charge or use Nitoh-Ryu. As a side note, some of the bosses are really cheap, especially the flying boss who goes flying every time you hit her, making it impossible to attack her until she comes back down. And they have some really corny bosses – who ever thought about a rapping duo who look like they should be in N’sync or BSB?
Aside from that, the music quality in the game is superb, hosting a wide variety of different techno tracks and some instrumentals that I think most people will like. The sound definitely gives the game the futuristic feel that the creators were aiming for, changing the pitch and tone of the song whenever in battle or in a stationary position as well as for every scene change. The music is clearly the dominant feature of the game; while you may hear the slightly lower sound of your attacks and the enemy exploding, it doesn’t compare to the music. The war cries would have especially gotten on my nerves if those had been the dominant feature. These war cries are only annoying because some of the other characters’ vocal artists aren’t that great. Like in other games I’ve reviewed, it would seem the major characters have voices that match more, while the less important ones were left with some of the crappiest voices ever. I personally hate Martha’s voice since he sounds like a girl.
Well, not only does Martha sound like a girl, but his character model also makes it extremely hard to distinguish if he is a guy or a very flat woman. Thankfully, the character models are only bad for certain characters; the others match their descriptions pretty well and are equipped with slightly more futuristic attire (good job, Sammy). The entire background has this sense of futurism. And let me make this clear: the backgrounds in the game are absolutely incredible! The detail level looks as if you are running through an elaborately-decorated hotel. Also, the final battle actually gives us the feeling that we are witnessing the end of the world. To make it even better, the CG sequences in the game are pretty amazing to watch. It almost seems like Sammy can give Square a run for its money.
Overall, I am actually quite mixed about the game. Sometimes I like it, but at other times I don’t. It’s really hard for me to say. I enjoyed the system’s blocking and Nitoh-Ryu, but the slowdowns really bother me. The game is also relatively short with ten chapters – I beat it within five hours, and it is very repetitive (with a lot of continues, sadly; you can continue whenever they load the next section which was a pretty cool feature). Chapter 3 is probably the worst, since that level is very large and is the only level which offers optional bosses. As a warning, don’t get frustrated about not understanding the story from the beginning, because you won’t understand it until midway where it unfolds. This was not the wisest idea, but everything needs time to develop. Another thing that makes me mixed about the game is the fact that the entire game is linear, always showing you the direction you should be going. But I definitely think you should try this game, maybe start by renting it first because it’s so short, and then consider buying it. Sammy, if you fix up the system and implement a multiplayer mode, this game may be a smash hit. I would like to say more about the story, but it may ruin the game for you, so I’ll hold out. I will say this, though: Natoe and Jodie …. Play to find out. Freedom is the way of the Samurai. I will eagerly await a sequel.
Score : 8.0 / 10
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