Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as weapons seems like one of the most obvious uses of the system's unique control scheme. However, there haven't been too many games that have gotten it right yet, in part because no matter what weapon you wielded, they all felt the same in execution. Koei is looking to change that with the upcoming release of Samurai Warriors: Katana for the Nintendo Wii. We had a chance to try the game out for the first time at a recent Koei press event to get a feel for how this first-person combat game is coming together.
Samurai Warriors: Katana will feature eight different weapon types, which are split into short- or long-ranged subcategories. The short-ranged weapons include katana, spear, hammer and yo-yo; while the long-ranged weapons include the rifle, bow and arrow, cannon, and boomerang. In addition, as you progress through the game, you can purchase upgraded versions of each of these weapons that will perform more powerful attacks. Before you enter battle, you can choose one short-ranged weapon and one long-ranged weapon to carry with you. Each weapon can be accessed at any time as you make your way through the level simply by pushing the A or B button on the Wii Remote.
In true Samurai Warriors fashion, the game comprises various missions that will have you fighting hundreds of enemies. As your foes approach, they will have small illuminated circles on them. If the circle is red, it means they are within reach of your short-ranged weapons; if the circle is blue, you'll need to use your long-range weapons to attack them. Once you start taking on enemies, you can attack individual enemies simply by pointing your Wii Remote and pressing the appropriate button for your weapons. Or you can attack multiple foes at once using weapon-specific moves with your Wii Remote. For example, using the katana, you can slash vertically, diagonally, or horizontally to attack groups of enemies. When armed with a spear, you poke at your enemies or swipe the Wii Remote from side to side. The most interesting short-range weapon is the yo-yo, which you can whip in any direction in a flurry of deadly force.
Long-ranged weapons, such as the rifle or bow and arrow, are simple. You simply point and shoot to take down one enemy at a time. The cannon, on the other hand, has deadly splash damage that can impact surrounding enemies. However, we had the most fun with the boomerang, which you can whip at foes with a flicking motion of the Wii Remote (while holding down the B button). Not only will the boomerang hit foes on its way out, it will also take out a few bad guys on its return trip back to your hand. Each of the weapons in the game will also feature a special "musou" attack. Once you've built up enough musou energy, indicated by a gauge in the lower part of the screen, you can shake the Nunchuk to activate the attack then move your Wii Remote as indicated onscreen to really lay down the pain on your foes.
Other fun uses for the Wii controllers include riding a horse (where you control the reigns and direction of your horse by turning the Wii Remote then use the Nunchuk as a whip) or running on foot (where you'll need to shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuk vigorously to simulate the motion of your arms as you run).
Samurai Warriors: Katana will feature three game modes. Scenario mode has you playing as a samurai general through multiple chapters, each with five scenarios to beat. It's here that you'll earn the different weapons available in the game, as well as unlock new missions and games in both challenge and competition mode. Challenge mode give you a chance to earn money by completing missions, which you can then use to purchase new weapons and items that can be used on the battlefield (such as health or musou-replenishing items). Competition mode is the game's collection of minigames; there are eight minigames to play, and your performance on each will be saved to your Mii profile.
At its heart, Samurai Warriors: Katana is true to the series' roots, with the player facing an unending horde of enemies in a feudal Japanese setting. The first-person view and interesting control scheme of the Wii-controlled weapons looks to add a new layer of fun to the experience. From the looks of things, the game is heading in the right direction. It's due for release in the first quarter of 2008, and we'll be bringing you more on the game in the coming months.