Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Samurai Warriors 2 (Playstation 2, 2006)

 Samurai Warriors and I go way back. In 2008 or so I played the first game in the series and enjoyed the hell out of it. This is basically the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors, featuring mythical Japanese characters instead of Three Kingdoms era Chinese characters. All things considered, I prefer Samurai Warriors a bit because the soundtrack is more my liking (less anachronistic rock and roll, more atmospheric stuff). I was excited to finally get around to the second Samurai Warriors, but I couldn't have foreseen the abysmal black hole that awaited as I progressed in the game. Read on.

Much like your typical Dynasty Warriors game, this one has a story mode and a bunch of other side-modes. For the purposes of this post I'll be playing around with story mode. I'd say that I wouldn't mind playing around with the pants-deficient, supple miss in this picture, but knowing Japan she's probably like 12. In Japanese games, a 17 year old is usually a wily old combat veteran.

 I chose this guy to be my main character. He's a punch throwing badass vampire, or something along those lines. Also, he features extendable rubber arms. Truly, he is The Japanese Dhalsim.

Hideyoshi here plans to conquer all of Japan! Moments after this picture was taken, he was slain, probably by another guy named Hideyoshi. Lots of Hideyoshis in this game. "Not anymore you're not!" said the 24 episode of South Park when reached for comment.

Here's another character I like. She's got a sword with electricity arcing across it. While it's nice to have to earn things, it's fun that this game gives you badass looking weaponry right from the start.

The game has area maps, Dynasty Warriors style. I usually use this to find the enemy officers and take them out. If you're not familiar with this style of game, it's basically the three-dimensional evolution of beat 'em ups like Final Fight.

Here's the pantless babe from the select screen. She's rough to play as, though I presume practice would fix that. In this case, practice won't be forthcoming, because I'm only spending a maximum of a few hours with the game.

Gameplay shot with the first character it suggests, who I'd presume is the "hero" of the game. Lots of beating-up of foes to be had here, which is fun-tastic. I like that these Koei games know exactly what they are: lots of mindless, fun brawling. If you want heavy plot, play an RPG. If you want lots of cutscenes, play Metal Gear Solid. If you want yaoi hentai, play Square's upcoming spinoff, Tidus Presents: Final Fantasy Beach Volleyball Starring Vaan In A Sports Bra Featuring Boco.

This guy is definitely the Zhao Yun of the game, the default hero-type. Interesting that these games default their hero-type to a spear-wielder rather than something more knightly (a sword) like most games would.

As he goes all Musuo on the nearest foes, we see one of the big problems with this game: "do not let allied officers be eliminated". This is an objective a lot. It means if you lose any of them, it's game over. Usually in a game of this nature, you just need to worry about yourself and the commander on your side. Battles where you lose if one of your allies falls are lame as hell, especially when said allies don't regenerate and charge ahead of you into battle even when they're at 5% health. Also, they're usually spread all over the map. You can't save all of them at once.

Damn it, Sephiroth! Stop burning things! First the Fable town, now this!

There's the villain of this game. Well, "villain". You can be him later on if you want. He's probably the coolest character in this game.

For now, I stick with Japanese Dhalsim. You get experience points and level-ups post-battle, which is a noteworthy change. It cuts out the need to grab stat increases from fallen officers.

Kotaro, the demonic fellow I'm playing as, is a bad dude. He turns on nearly everyone he works with.

Most importantly, the Hojo Clan, his lords. Kotaro is a walking Nine Inch Nails video, and has some great quotes.

I like the way the screen shifts into bright slow-mo when you take out an enemy officer. In some ways, this game improves over earlier Koei beat-em-ups. In other ways, it takes big steps back.

Kotaro's dialogue is most humorous when he's talking to Hanzo Hattori, the legendary ninja. Kotaro basically makes Hanzo out to be his bitch, and the usually-badass Hanzo just silently takes it.

The battles in this game get a little repetitive, and it also makes the mistake of having enemies charge you in groups of five most of the time. One of the major appeals of these games is charging into a huge mob of foes and letting loose on them, but it's harder to have that feeling of excitement when you're battling these tiny groups of foes.

Lot of big names here from Japanese history. Masamune... has twin pistols and constantly talks about making his foes bleed. What is this, Devil May Cry?

Taking out Reserve Captains is a good thing to do, as it keeps enemy troops from continuing to pour onto the battlefield.

Another superstar, perhaps the greatest out of all of them, shows up in the final battle. Unfortunately, he isn't on my side. Definitely had the most difficult time taking this guy down of any of the officers I fought in the game. He isn't the final boss (sort of, he and five other officers are collectively the final boss) but he might as well be.

Musashi is defeated. FUN FACT: This guy is the inspiration behind Square's Brave Fencer Musashi, an awesome game from 1998. And that game inspired the name of this site.

This dude has a very Cloud-esque sword and a Seifer-esque coat. Did Tetsuya Nomura design the characters in this game? I can tell what gender most of them are, so probably not.

There's the lightning sword lady I almost played as. She's a tough one.

HAR HAR HAR. Man, the Stewie-like Kotaro serving Hanzo really is the best thing about this game for me.

So, I played this game for 4 and a half hours. The last two hours of that were spent failing the final battle repeatedly. Why? Stuff like this. The finale is another one of those battles where you can't let any of your officers die. Unfortunately, you can't be everywhere on the battlefield at once, so those officers are going to take damage and a lot of it while you're saving other officers. To make matters worse, these officers can barely hold off small groups of regular soldiers. Yes, they need to be completely enemy-free or else they take heavy damage and send out help messages constantly. And the best part is, once saved from their respective immediate threats, all of them immediately proceed to CHARGE THE ENEMY again even if they're at almost no health. Naomasa Li here is the worst offender.

It got to the point where I barely managed to finish off the last enemy officer while spending 100% of my time protecting Naomasa from getting attacked, since one good round of attacks would do him in and fail the level. If you're spending all of your time being a bodyguard for your inept officers, you're not really playing this the way these games are meant to be played.

Just when I think I have the game won, ALL SIX enemy officers suddenly return by materializing around my commander and giving him an LAPD-style beat-down. I get over there and save the day. The six hardest foes in the game against my character? That's pretty damn slanted in their favor, but I might be able to pull this off...

...oh, wait. You know who else got over here to save the day? Fuckin' Naomasa Li and the rest of my beaten-up officers who aren't allowed to die. They all basically ran in and got stomped, and one of them (probably Li) quickly died, so I lose. Again. I may be at the final battle of the game, but I'm done. I like these kinds of games, repetitive as they have gotten over the years, but Koei really screwed up with this one. The "officer death = mission over" rule just ruins it. I'm sure if I keep at it I can figure out a way to somehow keep any officers from dying, but I'm not going to keep at it. Onward.

Random noteworthy posts from around the site:
Chosen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Retrospective)

I later went back to get revenge on the last level. Read that post HERE.


  1. Hate to say it buddy, but Koei didn't screw up here... you did. This is the best PS2 game of the series. If I had to guess the biggest mistake you made, it was likely playing as Fuma for your first character. Most battles in the game don't have the "any officer death = game over" requirement. I've been through the game as most of the cast and it happened so rarely I didn't even remember it ever being in the game until now.

    Something else that is strangely off is your claim of being attacked by groups of five enemies at a time. This was a huge problem in Dynasty Warriors 4, but something that was fixed for DW5 and SW2. You should be able to rack up crazy high KO counts in this game against dozens of soldiers at a time.

    Getting back to Fuma, given the extreme difficulty of a challenge like "keep all officers alive", I have to assume that he's one of the hardest characters to start fresh as, if not the hardest. This would be much less of a problem if you played as other characters before this and thus had nice items to equip when starting anew with Fuma. This would even include fast horses to go from officer to officer and save the day.

    I'm gonna go play a fresh file of SW2 as Fuma and investigate this for myself.

    1. I'll give this game another shot later on. I want to at least clear that final battle and see what unlocks after that.

      The enemies rushed me five-at-a-time, but they usually did crowd up into much larger groups. I probably didn't give the game enough credit because of the disappointing way it crashed and burned for me at the end.

    2. I moved forward into the first big area with Musashi and Sakon. There’s some jobbers too. I fight hard and kill them all, though I lose my bodyguard for the first time. I save, check the map, and see combat to the north and south. I hit up the north, take out Ginchiyo, then head south. This might have been a mistake as it was to the south where my Naomasa Ii was fighting. His health bar was halfway down by the time I got to him and killed Yoshimazu. I saved again, then looked the area over. I decided to leave him with the few enemies/gate captain in the area to keep him busy. So far none of my other guys had moved anywhere, which was good. This was a mistake though, as he started losing life and getting in trouble. I’m pretty sure this was because he had no soldiers left. Eventually I went to babysit him when his health was pretty low. He’s a moron that goes all over the map, so I killed everyone he was heading towards. When I got to Mitsunari’s area, he actually trapped me inside... and Naomasa outside, which ruled. I took all of them out, then rushed down to Nene to help Hanzo (his health was fine). After killing Nene is when everyone else comes back and attacks the main camp. Naomasa was still pretty far from it, and I rushed back on my horse (had the speed horse the whole map, though I should have bought the level 2 speed horse which became available before this). I drew all of the officers I could away from Tokugawa and fought Musashi, Ginchiyo, Mitsunari, and Sakon w/jobbers myself. Tough, but doable. In the meantime, one subgeneral enemy type I left alone on the map near the middle because he never moved. Well, Naomasa came across him on his way back to fight. Throughout the whole brawl I was getting warning messages for him. Going to help him would just make things worse and I might not have had time, so I finished the fight. Checked the map, Yoshimazu was still fighting Tokugawa nearby. I rushed back into the camp, fought Yoshimazu, and killed him. Victory.

    3. Sounds like you started with one of the hardest characters, and having a fast horse would've made a huge difference. That's unfortunate!

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