Musashi: Mobile Samurai Hands-On

We sharpen our blades with Square Enix to bring you our hands-on impressions.

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SAN FRANCISCO--The Brave Fencer of yesteryear is gearing up for his PlayStation 2 sequel, entitled Musashi Samurai Legend. Square Enix is giving the little sword-toting fellow a shot on mobile phones, as well. Set to roughly coincide with its PS2 big brother's March 15 release date, Musashi: Mobile Samurai is a version of the action role-playing game sleeper, minus the RPG component. The game uses context-sensitive controls in strategic one-on-one confrontations with a series of robotic baddies.

Is it the shoes?
Is it the shoes?
Musashi is a three-dimensional game in which two polygonal models slash at each other from a consistent distance of about three paces. While that might sound reminiscent of games like Fight Hard 3D, we can assure you that Musashi is shaping up to be much more playable than that...or many other fighting games for the cell.

Despite its array of maneuvers and special attacks, Musashi doesn't use your handset's number keys at all. Instead, you play the game entirely with the navigation bar. This would be limiting, were these keys not context-sensitive. Fortunately, what performs a simple block in one situation might prompt Musashi to take a flying leap in another. While in midair, a simple slash might send Musashi crashing toward his foe, reducing his enemy's robotic rump into shrapnel.

The game is broken into several worlds, each of which contains a few baddies. Mobile Samurai seems to run out of new and exciting 3D models long before it exhausts its supply of artificial intelligence scripts. While the backgrounds seemed pretty unrefined, the game's models were excellent and full of character.

Musashi: Mobile Samurai is devoid of music but boasts some cool metal-on-metal sound effects. With the draconian file-size limitations of modern handsets, sound is the first thing to get the axe. So it's nice to hear some decent sound from this game.

Musashi: Mobile Samurai is unlikely to court the same few folks still following this beloved but neglected franchise. Instead, it will rely on its performance as a fun action game. From what we've seen, its prospects are pretty good.

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