Samurai Something

With the advent of a PS2, recieved broken and repaired by me, some new options in terms of video games presented themselves for me. Namely, all those PS2 games I wished I could get years ago. Oddly enough, it was not any of these that I found in a CD Warehouse but a few much more recent games for only ten bucks each. Seeing as how I'd seen them each for at least thirty apiece at a local Gamestop, I went for them.

I'll only deal with the one for now, since the other has not yet been played. The one to be dealth with is Samurai Warriors.

For anyone familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series, it's basically the same thing set in Japan during its unification period. For the rest of you, it's a game involving a superhuman person slaughtering vast amounts of enemy forces single handedly while watching your own forces fail to do the simplest of tasks.

The first major difference between the games is that instead of leveling up character attributes (attack, defense, life, and for all intents and purposes magic) by collecting items from defeated enemies, you gain them (and a lot more of them) through your performance throughout the stages. By beating levels quickly, fulfilling objectives, killing a lot of foes through magic and picking up special items, you get better ranking in each category and thus, more stats.

The next major difference is that of a skill system. Based on the same rankings, you'll get skill points to spend on various abilities. These generally help your character in all sorts of neat ways that really only make sense if you've played Dynasty Warriors games.

Most everything else is the same, except for one thing. As your stats go up, the enemies are scaled to be more powerful.

This has long been a concept that never, ever made sense to me in a game world where most of the point of playing was to level up characters. What is the point of leveling up a character if the enemies only get stronger to match? Samurai Warriors takes it a step further, wherein the ratio of your strength to enemy strength as you get stronger actually tips heavily against you.

For every FAQ I've read on how to get through difficult points of the game or complete difficult tasks, there have always been two answers. One is a complicated character setup and strategy that requires precision, luck and hope. The other is always, "reset the character" meaning utilize a nifty option you're given whereby you can reset a character statistics and skills to default.

While I applaud Koei, the makers of Samurai Warriors, for trying something different than an exact cookie cutter copy of a Dynasty Warriors game, the scaling of enemy strength is a big negative. If I wanted a challenge as I got excessively strong, I could always just use your Chaos difficulty mode (Chaos is harder than very hard). Sometimes I'm a glutton for punishment, but most people I know are far more casual in their gaming. The great thing about Dynasty Warriors was that you could just run around on easy mode killing things easily regardless of character strength, or set the difficulty up and have a truly difficult challenge. This is lost from Samurai Warriors.

This wouldn't be such a problem if the skill system was set up differently. From what I've read, a character maxed out on skills can do much better with high stats and be quite fun. Unfortunately what it takes to max out the skills on a character is beyond what any casual gamer would enjoy.

The problem lies in that, after a point, you can't gain any more skill points. Every character has experience points they gain every level, and once that maxes out at 99999 no more skill points can be gained. For a casual player, this can occur before a single skill is maxed out (as happened to me my first time through). The are multiple ways to manage to max out all skills, but they involve long, repetitive, and time consuming activities.

If maxing out skills really makes all the difference, it would have been nice if a player could continue playing stages to get more skill points after maxing out experience points. Then the whole scaling thing wouldn't be a problem.

As it is, meh.

It's still a good game, just not really as fun as it could have been.


Anonymous said...

Strange experience you had there...in my opinion.

I played Samurai Warriors plus the Xtreme Legends expansion, and I never had serious problems with the difficulty. I did not even notice that my enemies also turned stronger while I did. My warriors waded through enemy troops with ease, once they reached a level around 15. I actually had the feeling DW3 (+XL) was harder than SW (on highest diffulty).

I enjoyed SW a lot more than DW (and I love DW)! SW has all the features I would have liked to find in DW5 (longer charge-strings with fancier animations and more attack-variety, skill points to spend on freely selectable skills, secondary costumes that completely alter a chars appearance [not just a change of color and adornments], a bigger variety of [weak] opponents, a more interesting map design, a create-an-officer mode, more weapons [up to 6th weapon in SW-XL] and characters that seem more interesting to me [many DW characters seem identical in personality...with just a different appearance].

Matoushin said...

I didn't have the expansion. I found out much later that the expansion changed a number of the game mechanics for the better, including the scaling enemies. That why your experience was different.

More recently, I've been saddened by the lack of Japanese voice acting in the latest DW and SW games. If the next iteration still lacks them, I'll probably just pick up an older game and stick with it.