Sengoku 3 review by Yukuridanshi
On February 24, 2001, the third game in the Sengoku series was unveiled at the AOU convention under the name "Sengoku Legends 2001." Nightmare in the Dark was also at the show, but Sengoku was receiving comparatively much more attention from both the press and the gamers lined up to play, and deservedly so.
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View the Sengoku 3 promo flyer
I begin by providing a rough translation of a conversation I had with an SNK employee (it would be a stretch to call it an "interview") which took place while witnessing Japanese players partake in the action.
Yukuri: So this is Sengoku 3, right?
SNK: Yes, that's correct, this will make the third game in the series. But since we've changed the game so much from the previous installment, there's no reason for anyone to refer to this as "just another Sengoku title."
Yukuri: I'll say. Would I be correct in assuming that this uses the MVS?
Yukuri: Maybe it's called something different in Japan. For example, the same hardware the original Samurai Spirits--
SNK: Yes, yes, right. Yes, this uses the same cartridge-based hardware; of course, the only thing different about it is the game itself.
Yukuri: So therefore could we expect a conversion to the Neo-Geo home system?
SNK: (pauses) Well, we've really stopped using that. Of course, anything is possible if the game is popular enough upon release, so there's no way to tell at this moment. [Ed. This is a polite "maybe" answer. Typically, in the Japanese culture, "maybe" means "no."]
Yukuri: Well, considering the lines it already looks to be popular! The graphics have become MUCH prettier since the last Sengoku...
SNK: (smiles) I guess you could say that.
Yukuri: Thank you very much for your time, sir. (bows)
SNK: You're welcome. (bows)
The game has three main stages: China, Japan and Italy which can be done in any order you choose. Each area is full of detail, complete with decent background animation and a style which is faithful to that of which the area after which it was modeled. The character design is also decent, but perhaps overly reminiscent of what we've seen in previous beat 'em ups. You have your typical strong, but slow "Mr. Clean" look-alike, along with a samurai character and a fiesty girl with a speed advantage. Not bad, but nothing we haven't seen before. Enemy design is a bit fresher but there isn't a lot of variation among them.
Graphically, the game is a quantum leap over Sengoku 1 and 2. The characters are not only much larger but considerably more detailed with reasonably fluid animation. The special effects for certain attacks are also extremely well done, particularly the samurai's bolt attacks.
The soundtrack adds further to the game's flair, as perhaps one of the better ones we've heard out the Neo recently. The sound effects are very good, clear with every punch, slash, and groan.
Control is where the game excels the most. The setup works extremely well, A is used to punch, and B is to slash; C is to jump and D is to toss special items that you find along the way, which may consist of bombs, plates or shurikens and prove to be quite useful. Special moves are done with joystick/button combinations (ex. down, down, A, or up, up, B) and each character has several in their reportoire. Using a wide variety of techniques and multiple hit combinations is necessary, particularly when fighting the bosses (which have a easy-to-learn pattern, making defeating them an accomplishable task, what's actually more of a problem is their cronies which you fight at the same time)
This, rather than NitD, is the type of game which is needed to really revitalize the MVS in the way that it should be in this era of Neo-Geo games. Perhaps SNK was right when they said that "this is not just another Sengoku" (although an obvious marketing pitch) about this game, at it blows its predecessors away in every category. No, there is not a great deal of innovation here, but what is here is an extremely well done side-scrolling beat-'em-up, and, being devout Neo fans, given the hardcore 2D traditionalists we are, when all is said and done, Sengoku 2001 leaves us little room to complain.
also provided by: Yukuridanshi
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