With the launch of the iPad, Apple has given game developers a new platform on which to stretch their prowess for mobile gaming. The iPad offers several key improvements over the iPhone that make it a different and certainly better gaming platform. The combination of the large multitouch screen, fast processor, the finely tuned OS, and the ubiquitous App Store offer a fantastic platform for both established and indie game developers to create a name for themselves. Today, we review an indie effort called Samurai: Way of the Warrior HD by MadFinger Games.
WotW HD is the iPad version of the critically acclaimed iPhone game. The game is a hack-n-squash title whose story is set in ancient, feudal Japan and involves Samurai, Shoguns and Ronins. You play a wandering Ronin named Daisuke, who is pulled into a local village’s battle against a ruthless Shogun, Hattoro. You set out on a quest to rescue the village by defeating the evil Shogun and his henchmen, equipped with your trusty man-kimono and Samurai sword. The game is presented in a 3/4th top down perspective and Daisuke can be moved freely in 360 degrees either by tapping a spot on the map or by keeping your finger pressed in the direction of travel. Attacks are unleashed by swiping your finger in three directions – left, right and up. Combos can be made by mixing up the sequence of swipes and there is a handy combo list that can be looked up at any time during the game. Racking up kills builds up your experience points and combos are automatically unlocked as your XP score rises.
Gameplay is very simple and can get repetitive. You find yourself in a small area or a sequence of areas connected by bridges or pathways. The exit from the area is locked till you clear the area of all enemies. You move from enemy to enemy, using strikes and combos to dispose of them till the path to the next area is unlocked. While this may sound like a recipe for boredom, what keeps the game interesting is the combat system and the astounding visual experience.
The game’s difficulty scales up dramatically, even in easy mode, through the placement of clusters of enemies as the game progresses, as well as a mixture of high agility and high hit count enemies. Getting yourself surrounded by enemies is a sure shot way to see the Game Over screen since Daisuke doesn’t have an extremely long health bar and your health regenerates only after you have unlocked the next area. Therefore, you are forced to think tactically and encouraged to draw out enemies, one or two at a time, from their clusters in order to take them all down. Combo execution is fairly simple and you can dodge enemy attacks by swiping to either side just before the enemy attacks. Chaining combos does require skill, however, and when faced with high agility enemies, it’s important not to waste combos, since it leaves you open to counterattacks. This dynamic livens up what could have been a dull slogfest.