Rapidfire Review: Sengoku Basara

Hi, videogame fans. Today we’ve got an update for you about the PS3 title Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, or SBSH. (It’s also been converted into an anime and a manga title.)

I’m still trying to recover from the discovery that this game was developed by Capcom, not Koei, because it smells, tastes, feels, and plays just like a “Dynasty Warriors” game, except with a squirlier camera.

Dynasty Warriors is an evergreen (or interminable, depending on your perspective) series out of Japan in which you play a hero on a vast battlefield, “leading” your army to take strategic camps as part of a larger battles. Each stage basically plays out like capture-the-flag as you try to hold camps and eventually win the battle. The scale of the battles can be invigorating, with dozens of AI characters on screen, but DW has been criticized for its relatively simplistic “button-mashing” gameplay. Frankly, I think the series would be fairly well-accepted if this same formula had a different IP behind it — a Marvel comic book, for example.

Anyhow, SBSH is very similar, even down to the sheeplike AI of the minor NPCs, who have a tendency to trot around the battlefield and stare numbly at their opponents, waiting ages before taking tentative stabs using their weapons. At first I thought the difficulty on SBSH was cranked down, because I got most of the way through the first level in the demo without ever taking damage. Then I encountered the first major boss, who immediately used his nijitsu skills to split into three devilishly nimble selves, none of which dissolved when first being hit. No, these chaps were definitely tangible. I passed them on the second try, but only after limping around the level and scarfing up all the healing and magic powerups I could find.

SBSH isn’t terribly impressive except for its slavish imitation of DW. Save your ducats for the real thing.


Scifi/Humor Rag Publishes on Clay Tablets

scifi humor rag on clayThe scifi/humor ‘zine Space Squid has just released a special edition of their latest issue on clay tablets. As trendy as clay tablets are these days, they don’t get enough cred. One of the editors created the tablets using a cuneiform stylus like an ancient Sumerian (Iraqi) scribe and then created a hard polyurethane plate to press the double-sided copies. The regular edition is also out, and at its core are images of the same two clay tablets, surrounded by pages of extra PDF goodness. Check it out at their Free Scifi page.

Everyone is going on about how “print is dead” these days, so it’s particularly amusing to see this publication pushing the idea the opposite way and “printing on the deadest media available.” The project got some great press at WIRED, on Bruce Sterling’s blog, and at various webby spots. You can see the blog on how to make your own clay tablet publication and the YouTube clay tablet guide.

Space Squid is based in Austin, but claims to contain “your puny planet’s finest scifi and hijinx.” The issue contains stories from several foreign contributors.