The Nintendo 3DS eShop has been growing rapidly over the last few months. Some of the novel download-only games — Denpa Men and Mighty Switch Force, for example –trump the majority of retail games for the handheld in ingenuity and enjoyability. For many of the developers, the dual screens and 3D effects that the handheld offers lead to plenty of innovative ideas or fresh spins on beloved genres.
UFO Interactive’s Samurai G tries hard to do that, but unfortunately falls flat.
The title is a free-runner akin to Canabalt or the iOS version of Mirror’s Edge, but based in feudal Japan when samurais and ninjas were mixing it up. It tasks players with collecting gold coins and avoiding obstacles as the character runs non-stop through six environments. The hero can jump over traps or slash at enemies, collect a power-up or two and… well, that’s it. It’s pretty cut and dry, with little in the way of innovation. I found myself slashing almost non-stop, as if my finger was on some turbo trigger with no care for aim or strategy. It wasn’t entertaining, at least not for more than a few minutes.
The game’s visuals are meant to be the selling point the hand-painted characters and backgrounds are attractive in the layered 3D effect, and reminded me of Muramasa for the Wii. But, pretty visuals are not enough to separate Samurai G from any other number of free-runners out there, especially when iOS has hundreds of them for free.
The game’s goal — to survive and collect as many coins as possible — is tracked through a local high score. Achievements unlock depending on how many coins are captured, enemies slashed, or length of time survived during one run. After playing the game for ten minutes or so I had already unlocked more than 50% of them, killing off any incentive to come back to the game later.
The biggest tragedy is the lack of any online leaderboard. Had I been able to see the scores of other players, I may have been tempted to try and best them. Unfortunately, no one else in my family is going to play this game, and so I have no reason to ever try and topple my own coin total.
Samurai G works fine at mixing pretty 3D visuals with a functional freerunning mechanic, but nothing more. It comes off as unoriginal and a bit shallow, and its relative shortness in length and gimmick removes any desire to come back to play it after the initial hour. The only saving grace is its $1.99 price, which puts it in the “I guess I’ll buy it for that car ride to Ohio” territory.
This review is based on a retail code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.