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Captivate 2010: What is Sengoku Basara? / Hand-on Preview

Posted by: Jeremy at 4/21/2010 11:59 AM
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes was one of the huge focus titles at Capcom’s Captivate event this year, but most people don’t know much about the game. While the North American audience is really getting their first taste of the series, the earlier games have seen a ton of success in Japan. Let’s look at just how popular the game is in Japan and talk about what it plays like…


The Sengoku Basara series started in Japan back in 2005 on the Playstation 2. The series, starting with the first game, was deeply rooted in actual Japanese history. The game is set in and around actual events in Japan’s history, though the actual events of the game are purely fictional. Sengoku Basara takes place in 16th century Japan during the Warring States period. During this time, Japan was split in to numerous states that were all fighting for power and land. The main characters that are used in the series are based on actual historic figures from that period of time. While fictional liberties have obviously been taken with them regarding things such as their look and powers, the characters that they are based on hold major historic significance for the Japanese culture.

In order to relate the significance that the game holds over seas, imagine a game rooted in U.S. culture where you controlled buffed-up, over powered versions of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It’s over the top; its outlandish, but ultimately, it is fun. The lead producer on the project and of the series, Hiroyuki Kobiyashi expressed this as being his goal with the series: take a serious and “relative” topic and make it fun.

There has been a constant flow of games in the series for Japanese gamers. The first game came out back in 2005, as I mentioned above, but numerous other titles have followed. The full list of titles, and their respective changes include the following:
  • Sengoku Basara, 2005, PlayStation 2- original title that launched the series
  • Sengoku Basara 2, 2006, PlayStation 2- sequel, added Story Mode
  • Sengoku Basara 2 Heroes, 2007, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii- inclusion of additional characters and side stories
  • Sengoku Basara X (Cross), 2008, PlayStation 2- 2D fighter from the studio that created Guilty Gear
  • Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes, 2009, PlayStation Portable- first portable rendition and focused on team / 2-on-2 battles
  • Sengoku Basara 3, 2009, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii- being ported to North America as Sengoku Basara- Samurai Heroes
It should also be noted that while the series did receive a US release previously under the title Devil Kings, Kobiyahi-san prefers to think that game never happened. He was not happy with the quality of that particular game and does not acknowledge it as a part of the Sengoku Basara lineage.

The series has been so big in Japan that it has spawned other ventures based on the story such as an anime series, manga publications, and a live action stage production. One of the characters from the series (Masamune Date) was used as a figurehead for a mayoral campaign in a Japanese city; the gentleman who used the character was eventually elected mayor. Needless to say, it is a well known and widely admired series for Japan.

The newest version of the game takes everything from the previous games and improves it exponentially. The campaign mode of the game will include over 15 playable characters, each with their own individual stories and quests. There are also new features such as the Basara Arts and Hero Time. Basara Arts are basically super moves that are specific to each character which can be triggered once you have defeated enough enemies to fill a specific gauge. The Hero Time feature allows you to slow down time of everything around you while your character will remain at “normal” speed. All of these features will be included in over 35 stages of battle throughout both the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii versions.

As I mentioned in the announcement post yesterday, both versions of the game will include identical content. The only difference between the two games will be the graphic capabilities. The PlayStation3 version (obviously) will run at a much higher resolution than the Wii version. That isn’t to say that the Wii version does not look good though; many people who past by the kiosk at Captivate could be heard mentioning how good the title looked. Many people were shocked that this was the Wii version and in fact, had a hard time telling a difference between the two unless you were right up on the screen (playing distance). From a distance, they looked almost identical.

During the course of your adventure, you will earn currency that you can use to level up your character’s weapons and armor, helping to make you better suited for the later battles. This, along with the fast paced gameplay, adds a major replay value to the game. Oddly enough, Sengoku Basara was the game that I spent the most time playing at the event. Something just kept bringing me back for more… it had a fun factor to it that many games lack.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is bound to be met with comparison to games like Dynasty Warriors and Ninety Nine Nights, and rightfully so. The difference in the games, speaking from my experience with all of them, is the pacing. While Dynasty Warrios and N3 had a slower, methodical pacing, Sengoku Basara is all action all of the time. The gameplay focuses on camp occupation, which is far from an original concept, but it occurs and happens at a furious pace. You will not be wondering around endlessly looking for your next batch of enemies to attack, they are everywhere. There was very little downtime in the numerous levels that I played through. It is a fun action game, and one that is sure to satisfy any hack’n’slash needs you may have. It truly has that old, arcade action game feel, which is welcomed by me. I you enjoy mindless battles at a furious pace, Sengoku Basara is a game that you may want to consider checking out…