Samurai Warriors 3 Hands-On Impressions

The war over feudal Japan will be won with a Wii Remote.


It’s been three years since the last full installment in the Samurai Warriors franchise, and though Koei has recently grown fond of using the "Warriors" moniker on games featuring flying space robots battling with other flying space robots, don’t take that to mean Koei has given up exploring the history of feudal Japan. The publisher-developer is hard at work on Samurai Warriors 3 for the Nintendo Wii, which is due out for release next year in North America and Europe.

With the exception of the experimental spin-off Samurai Warriors: Katana, Samurai Warriors 3 marks the first entry in the series to be released on the Wii. According to producer Hisashi Koinuma, the move from the PlayStation 2 to the Wii was rooted more in a desire to take advantage of the system’s added power with spruced-up graphics than to add Wii Remote motion controls to the series. In fact, Samurai Warriors 3 features no motion controls at all. However, it will give you plenty of options for controlling the game, with support for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, GameCube controller, and Classic Controller. In Japan, the game will even ship with a specially branded Classic Controller Pro bundled alongside the software.

After our hands-on session with the game, it’s fair to say that the gameplay in Samurai Warriors 3 should feel familiar to fans of the series. Once again, you control a character capable of slicing his way through an entire battle more or less by himself and dealing out combo attacks that take out enough people to make up the population of a small nation. As the battle goes on, you’ll level up your character and pick up new equipment that can later be used to upgrade your character’s stats. In short: This is very much a traditional Warriors game.

And while the gameplay will feel warm and familiar to those who’ve kept up with the series over the years, there are some new elements that have been added to the battle system to help keep things fresh. One new element is a special attack called the kaiden, which is similar to the standard musou special attack but far more powerful and effective. Not only that, but the animation that occurs onscreen as you trigger the kaiden attack is also more dramatic than the regular musou attack. There’s also a new technique called the eigi attack, which is something that allows you to string together longer combos by effectively rending yourself invincible during a sequence of attacks.

The mission we played took place in a stretch of rural countryside called Oshijo. We played as Yukimura Sanada and dealt death to our enemies using a spear weapon. This part of the game has players fighting their way through recently flooded terrain and has different routes opening up on the map as the water crashes through various gates. As we picked up the Classic Controller Pro, it was easy to see where the appeal lies in this series, with simple but rewarding controls that let you take out dozens of enemies at a time. The kaiden also proved very useful against the level’s minibosses.

The story in Samurai Warriors 3 will be a direct continuation of the two previous installments in the series. According to Koei, it will focus on the three main lords Hideyoshi Toyetomi, Nobunaga Oda, and Ieyasu Tokugawa and their relationships with each other, which is a bit of a departure from how the last game focused on the lords dealing with their respective underlings. This story unfolds in prerendered cutscenes that play before and during each story battle. In total, there’s about 110 minutes worth of this animation over the course of the game, detailing the 35-plus characters featured.

Samurai Warriors 3 is currently scheduled for release next year. There is currently no word yet on whether the aforementioned Classic Controller Pro carrying the Samurai Warriors 3 branding will make it stateside.

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