Review: SAMURAI RIOT

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Samurai Riot aims to deliver a fun, new beat-em up game set in Japan’s age of ninja and samurai.

Story

I haven’t gotten too far into the story (for reasons I’ll explain later), but it’s pretty standard for these beat-em-up games. You are Tsurumaru (a samurai) or Sukane (a ninja) trying to subdue revolting peasants so that you can focus your attention on the enemy army instead. As you get to the end of the levels you will sometimes have choices to make which then potentially steer the story in other directions. A great thing about the choices is that if you are playing multiplayer, you can each make separate choices, and if you do, you then fight each other and whoever wins gets their way. The story is there if you want it, but it’s easy to just press buttons to get through the story scenes if you want to get to the action.

Gameplay

Samurai Riot is a classic beat-em up game similar to the likes of Double Dragon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, and many other classic arcade games. You have four difficulty levels to choose from and two characters. Each character can then choose a school to be part of which affects the color of your outfit as well as your stats. What’s more is that in multiplayer you can both be the same character, but you do have to choose different schools.

The multiplayer mode is a lot of fun. It’s local, too! I asked my wife to team up with me on the keyboard and it was a blast. The default controls for a keyboard aren’t the most comfortable though, so you may want to take some time to personalize those before starting. The multiplayer plays just like the single player, but you’re working as a team to get to the end where you get scored based on your combos and coins picked up, etc. so you can be competitive if you’d like. The big changes are really the fact that you can fight over the story and there are special team attacks you can do by pressing the right buttons at the right time.

One problem I did have with the gameplay is that each character has two Fury Attacks (think powerful moves for hordes or big enemies), but they seem to be the same for both characters. One unleashes a flurry of your normal attack and the other drops a row of bombs from the sky. I would have liked to see these moves be more varied between the two characters.

Graphics

The game looks great. I love the style it is drawn in and nothing looks bad. Everything looks hand drawn and it makes me happy to see this animation in a medium so filled with more 3D animation styles. The art style helps you feel pulled into the Japanese theme of the game.

Sound

How does this game sound? Think Samurai Champloo music. Traditional sounding Japanese instrumentals combined with elements of hip hop beats and turntable scratches. Overall, this sound is great, my only problem was that each level runs 10-15 minutes and it felt like the same 20 seconds was looping for each level which made it get old after about the 5-minute mark. I would’ve loved a longer sample looped or maybe 2 or 3 samples per level.

Replayability

Remember those schools I was talking about earlier? You don’t get access to them all at the start. That’s right, you have to trade in coins to unlock additional schools which helps add to the replay value. Also, there are so many schools to choose from, 2 characters, and choices to make in the story that you’ll be able to play this game for a while. Plus, you can always play through it with different friends! It is easy to rack up hours of gameplay on Samurai Riot.

What Could Be Better

This is not a perfect game. My biggest problem with it is the reason why I wasn’t able to get very far in the story. There are no save slots or anything similar. Once you start a game you either play it to the end or erase it. I would play for an hour and then decide I want to try the multiplayer feature, but I had to sacrifice all the progress I had made in my single player campaign to do so. Then, I wanted to try out the ninja character, but once again I had to delete my progress. I can understand why you might make the game this way; it provides you with the feeling from the arcade versions of these games where there are no save slots. However, it would be nice to at the very least be able to have a single player game and a multiplayer game saved. That way, I could work on the story on my own and then when my wife or friend has a few minutes we could beat a level together before I go back to single player. When you quit the game, it saves your progress so far, so it already slightly destroys that feeling from the arcade games of, “I must finish this in one sitting!”

Other than that, I ran into a problem running two monitors. It kept going to my secondary monitor and wouldn’t switch over to my higher resolution one. The first time I went to play it switched fine once I changed the resolution for the game, but the next time I loaded it up, it wouldn’t get off my second monitor unless I forced it (there’s no window mode to drag-and-drop it over), and then it wouldn’t get to the correct size for my screen so it only took up about half of it. Don’t know what caused it, but fair warning.

Verdict

I liked this game. It is flawed, but now that I know the flaws I can navigate them better. One of my favorite parts is the local multiplayer. I don’t think enough games offer that anymore. Some of us miss couch co-op games a lot, so this was very refreshing. The gameplay is familiar and the visuals are fantastic. The story is interesting so far and I love that you have to make choices. It is great when the game has you make choices and try to become more invested in what is going on. I also see the potential for DLC characters and stories that would be fun to explore. If they ever allow me to have a single player and multiplayer game saved at the same time I will be even happier and that like may turn to love, but even with its flaws, I think it is worth checking out for beat-em up fans.