Samurai Warriors: KATANA Wii Review

Swinging a sword on the Wii is something which could be rather tiring given the consoles use of arm flailing motion sensing. Luckily, Samurai Warriors: KATANA involves button presses besides the usual silly remote waving, so at least all our favoured sword arms won’t get too weary as we clash steel with historical figures and their nameless underlings.

If you’ve played a Warriors game before then you might think you know what to expect, although KATANA actually has a few significant differences to set it apart from other games in the seemingly immortal Warriors series. One: the game is exclusive to the Wii and unsurprisingly uses motion control gestures, and two: it’s regularly on rails and is played from a more intimate first person perspective.

Yes you read that correctly, unlike Dynasty Warriors 6 where you have a nicely motion captured character in front of your eyes, here you have only a sword – what’s less unusual is that you have plenty of enemies to use that sharp and shiny bit of steel on.

The first person viewpoint makes serviceable use of the remote as a pointer, whilst attacking the A button with your finger results in a basic sword slash (see, pretending to use a blunt object as a sharp sword isn’t always required!), whilst gestures come into play for the more wild swings, which can cut through a bunch of enemies to take an attacking pack of them out that little bit quicker. The A button and gestures can be combined if you want to get the most out of the combat, although for the rest of us, slashing happily and thoughtlessly through troop after troop makes for some good brain cell destroying stress relief.

The musou gauge is still present and correct, although when it’s full a shake of the nunchuk brings it into play and then some wild movements of the remote. It has to be said that the musou attacks aren’t as satisfying in first person, I would rather witness my warrior do his deadly dance in flashy third person.

It’s not all flashes of steel though as you’ll be getting your hands on a spear and a hammer as well as long range weapons such as a crossbow, a canon, and a gun. They work similarly using the pointer and then firing away, although the crossbow requires reloading by taking the targeting reticule out of your sight and towards the side of your screen.

The Musou mode has you stabbing and shooting enemies through four different stories, and the amount of variety is a nice surprise. In one instance you may have to kill a requisite amount of enemies within a time limit, in the next you could be moving around freely opposed to the usual on-rails nature of the game, or even shooting it out Time Crisis style. Some may feel that it’s a mishmash of game design, although I felt it was a nice change of pace.

Between the short stages you can visit camp to upgrade your nameless and faceless warrior, buy items, and equip weapons and helpful skills. The skills are numerous and each one lends you a nice boosting benefit with up to three being able to be equipped at once. Perhaps you could equip an item that reduces your stun period when your defences are down, or equip another that increases the chance of striking an enemy with one of those nasty critical hits.

Other options include a rather good multiplayer mode for up to two players, and a trial mode that involves you accumulating as much cash as possible. It still doesn’t have the longevity of other titles in the series though.

Samurai Warriors: KATANA is fun for a little while, although rarely does it have the depth and sense of freedom of the usual Warriors games. Any changes to the Warriors formula will be applauded by some, but fans of Koei’s hack and slash series may not necessarily welcome these changes with open arms.