As Gojiro Kiryu youíll make your way through
16 missions, tracking down your brother and helping others that you
happen to meet along the way. Unfortunately thereís very little
variety to the missions, as the objective for all but a few is to
simply kill as many bad guys as possible. As the player progresses,
Gojiro will level up allowing additional points to be assigned
RPG-style to his four main attributes (Life, MP, Power, and
Defense). Depending on performance, a number of accessories
(standard Old West gear and even wacky ones such as a parrot that
rests on your backpack and an umbrella) and new swords will be
unlocked as well that alter these core stats. The different swords
allow for different types of stances and corresponding moves in
Master Mode (which Iíll explain in a bit), as well as some other
special abilities such as double jumping.
The main problem is that Samurai Western is essentially
Double Dragon set in the Old West, with slash slash slash
replacing punch punch punch. The A.I. is almost at the level of
that 8-bit classic, with enemies often firing into empty space and
showing virtually no sense of self-preservation. To compensate the
game throws dozens of cookie cutter enemies at you in each level,
although the fact that they appear out of thin air makes it hard to
employ even the most basic of strategies. For example, you canít
plan to take out all of one type of enemy first (usually the guys
with machine guns mess you up the worst) when you donít know how
many more might materialize. While itís all good fun for a while,
it doesnít take long for the repetitive nature of the gameplay to
To its credit the developer did try to liven the formula up a bit.
Gojiro has some special moves at his disposal, including a dodge
move and the ability to deflect bullets back at enemies with his
sword. There are also ďcombosĒ, which donít require any actual
skill and are simply counted as Gojiro connects with multiple
slashes. Gojiro can also grab objects in the environment (such as
chairs and boxes) and use them as shields or to throw into the
Defeating enemies and collecting items add MP to your MP gauge, and
when itís partially full different Master Mode moves (based on the
type of attack stance Gojiroís using) can be utilized by pressing
L1. Let the gauge fill up all the way and Ultimate Master Mode can
be engaged, which allows for brutal one-hit kills as long as any MP
remains. As entertaining as these things are, the gameplay still
basically boils down to hitting the same button over and over again
while throwing in an occasional dodge or jump attack.
Thereís also a two-player mode, which allows the second player to
play as a local cowboy named Ralph. Of course Ralph carries a gun
instead of a sword, and can also punch instead of picking up objects
in the environment. Additionally, once Hard Mode is unlocked Wanted
Posters can be found that will unlock additional playable
characters. Each of these extends the replay value of the game
quite a bit, although again the repetitive gameplay will likely
derail many gamers before they get that far.
Much like the gameplay, the graphics are basic as well. Throughout
the game the player will kill the same few basic enemy types and
pass the same brown buildings (or brown desert) over and over
again. Even primary character models arenít up to par, with angular
polygon bodies full of seams and blurry textures. Other than
character movement the environments are completely lifeless (save
for a ďdust overlayĒ, basically a more realistic version of that
found in Wild Arms 3), with not even stray tumbleweed to be
found. Enemy animations are stiff, and the fountain of blood after
every single enemy death is unrealistic and becomes ridiculous
quickly. There are also a number of minor glitches, as the player
can often fall (or walk) straight through objects such as stairs and
the camera repeatedly loses sight of the player in tight spaces.
The music is generic Wild West stuff, with an occasional bit of
Eastern sound mixed in. Itís not the most thrilling soundtrack of
all-time, but it works well for what itís trying to do. On the
other hand, the hundreds of enemies repeat the same few phrases over
and over again (such as ďWho are you?Ē and ďStand still!Ē) and that
grows old very quickly. The voice acting isnít terrible, but not
exactly MGS3 either.
The action rarely slows down, as the game sends wave after wave of
bad guys to die by your sword.
The East/West mix is interesting, and the quirky nature of the game
itself livens things up a bit.
First-generation graphics with dull textures, blocky characters,
and most levels set in the same few areas.
The enemies say the exact same things over and over again until
Extremely basic gameplay. The special moves and other extras add
a bit of variety, but I imagine most people will find it hard to
play through more than two levels in a single sitting.
While the gameplay in Samurai Western is repetitive, the
sheer number of unlockable accessories and weapons, mild RPG
elements, and quirky nature of the game make it an acceptable action
title. Definitely worth a rental for fans of Spike's other
of the Samurai,
Tenchu, etc.), but most people should wait until it reaches a budget $19.99
price point before considering a purchase.