Addictive gameplay keeps you coming back for more dodging and attack.

User Rating: 8 | Hirari: Sakura Samurai 3DS
On the surface, Sakura Samurai really has little adventure and repetitive gameplay. Yet, it never crossed into boring to tedious.

You go from point to point on a map and at each location you will fight a group of enemies or two. During the fights you will be automatically locked on to the enemy who is going to attack you next. You are clued in on when their attack will start and then you must watch them closely to predict the direction of their attack and dodge to either side or backwards. Only then are they open for your attack. The enemies will have a small variety of attacks as you progress. While it is the same attacks over and over, they are more fun to handle once enemies start giving you a flurry of attacks. In a single attack their weapon will have a flash of red, but if you see a flash of yellow you will need to stay on your toes to dodge succession of attacks before you can land your blow. You also build up precision points but dodging with good timing and not taking any hits yourself. It is very satisfying to collect a large number or precision points. You will also build up sword power to allow you to activate a special attack, but this was rarely useful or as fun to use.

As you move for spot to spot attacking enemies you will collect coins and the occasional item. You will also be rewarded with half a heart container after each spot allowing you to increase your life. The overall map is divided into three sections divided by a wall that you can pass until finishing that section. Each section has a number of spots you fight at and each one will open the path to others. You are welcome to revisit any spots to battle there again.

Each section will also contain a village where you can rest an inn to heal up and save your game. There will also be a shop to buy additional items such as healing items and throwing daggers but you can also sell your current record of precision points for good amounts of money. You can talk to a few NPC's for light info on the story and take part in street challenges to wage gold or earn prizes. Each village will have two street challenges which usually involve slicing through flying fruit. You can also visit the sword maker to forge your sword and make it stronger.

To complete each section and remove the wall blocking your way to the next sections you will have to complete the temple in that section. You will go through a succession of battles with no break leading up to a boss fight. The boss fight features some great pop out 3D moments reminding you that the game sometimes looks really nice. The boss fights will play out like an extended battle with a single flow. You will have to dodge and attack to whittle down the bosses life meter as he uses a variety attacks that increasingly get harder. After defeating the boss, the wall blocking your path to the next section will crumble and you can move on.

To extend gameplay, finishing the game will also unlock a harder mode to make enemies stronger and remove the ability to get heart containers after the battles.

While battles are repetitive in nature, it is still satisfying to dodge and attack while racking up the precision points to sell so you can afford to strengthen your sword. The game is short and could have handled to be longer. I also wouldn't have minded more exploration and adventure in areas or larger villages with more variety. But I can hope for these in a sequel which would probably have to be a full retail game to contain all that. But for a downloadable game at a cheap price, Sakura Samurai is fun and challenging.