Sunday, July 29, 2012

Samurai Warriors 4 is a Thing That is Probably Happening, Don't Care

So, Siliconera had a piece that said Tecmo-KOEI is sort of planning on a February 2014 release for Samurai Warriors 4 (for Japan only, of course), and I realized something sort of terrible when I read it:  I had not a single shit to give about it.  Honestly, I read it, moved on as I do when the cursory skimming of news titles and such doesn't interest me, and only a few minutes later did I realize what it actually said and go back to it.  The post itself is pretty insubstantial:  Samurai Warriors 4 is going to be a thing which surprises nobody, and they're aiming for a release date in 2014 because it will mark the 10th anniversary of Samurai Warriors being a series which is truly a momentous occasion and certainly everybody should care.  While I'm dismissing it like pretty much everyone else who isn't a fan of the series, I imagine you folks understand that I sort of have a reason to be bitter with the series, considering the debacle that was Samurai Warriors 3 and every recent release KOEI has put out for North America (and announced).

It's really kind of a shame.  I really liked the first two Samurai Warriors games; in fact Samurai Warriors 2 with Xtreme Legends is probably one of the better Warriors experiences you could ask for.  There's a lot of stages, a lot of characters, and yet pretty much everyone manages to maintain a certain individuality, which is certainly a strange and foreign concept where it concerns Dynasty Warriors as a series instead.  Also Samurai Warriors 2 features Musashi Miyamoto as a character who is as goddamn broken as he deserves to be, as well as Kojiro Sasaki who is fairly underrated but has a pretty fantastic weapon and moveset.  Samurai Warriors 2 + Xtreme Legends does a lot and remains a solid, solid entry for the series, for the overarching Warriors franchise as a whole.  The fact that it's so good is probably why Samurai Warriors 3 was such a let-down in concept, if not just the execution from what I've seen.

Samurai Warriors 2 was such a step up from the original in so many ways, and the Xtreme Legends for it only helped with that, never detracted from it, which is fairly impressive on its own really.  I, perhaps foolishly, imagined a similar step-up for Samurai Warriors 3, something akin to the step up from 5 to 7 (we're ignoring 6 for the argument) where not only was there the same cast plus some which is customary (Minus Pang De, again for the sake of argument, but really nobody cares about Pang De, that much has been made clear), but there are actual, genuine gameplay changes for the better introduced as well.  I was expecting bigger things as well, in terms of the scope of the game itself which, again, might have just been foolish on my part.  But it didn't help at all when the game was announced and showed off looking....well, looking like Samurai Warriors 2.  But not as good.  The whole Wii-exclusive bit kind of necessitated that, I realize, since, without offending anyone's sensibilities, there's not a whole lot of a power gap or ways to get a Warriors game of a higher calibur than the PS2 versions on a Wii.

I have talked about the whole Wii-exclusive move in passing in the past and don't really intend to retread the topic much, but I will say that something that honestly disappointed me about the game is that from Samurai Warriors 2 to 3, they removed Musashi and Sasaki.  I....can't even defend the move, because -sure-, Musashi might not have even been old enough to do anything at Sekigahara which is kind of where 2 tended to climax at, but there was other stuff after that.  A -lot- of stuff, really.  As well as a lot of stuff between Hideyoshi dying and the start of the vying for power between East and West that didn't get covered either.  And yes, Sasaki did nothing but die famously to Musashi in a way that can't even be proven, but it's not like they were the only superfluous characters in the game in terms of actually existing/doing things.  For one, they -did- actually exist, as opposed to....well, just take 90% of the female warriors and then those 10% generally get cut down as well for not doing anything battle-wise.  And Musashi and Sasaki are incredibly popular characters regardless.  So, much like the platform jump, it was an excessively weird move, but a decidedly negative one as well.

What I honestly really wanted out of a Samurai Warriors 3 was a focus on the generations.  For all that it mattered, there were honestly three 'eras' to the Sengoku Jidai that could have been played out in their own ways without focusing on trying to do all three in 80% of the characters' storylines, especially when they were not in it.  Nobunaga's Rise to power got a lot of coverage, as it should have, Hideyoshi's unification of Japan got....not that much attention, but more than a token effort, and the unification of Japan under Tokugawa got, essentially, one single battle, that being Sekigahara.  Sure, it was big, but it wasn't the -entirety of that time-.  Focusing on all three eras individually would have been a much nicer balance and would have introduced -several- instances for new characters that would only be vital to that era.  The entire Saito clan, or at least the ones that mattered (Dosan and his sons that killed him and ruined his land basically) could be in Nobunaga's Rise, Hideyoshi's failed Korean invasions could offer an entirely new aspect and roster of characters as well, and the entirety of the Sekigahara era could be expanded, which means renewed focus on the participants that mattered, and perhaps even some that didn't, but Basara has popularized anyway like Otani Yoshitsugu.

Maybe Samurai Warriors 4, considering that it will be 'forced' to go Next Gen (perhaps even Next Next Gen, ala Wii U which would make me grumble all the more) will be able to do these lofty things.  With two years to work on it, I expect that it will make the visual leap that Dynasty Warriors 7 made, but I have no clue what else it will include.  Given that weapon switching would be entirely more thematic with Sengoku Jidai era warfare, I hope to see it in SW4, but I have zero expectations for the game.  I will probably not follow a whole lot of the development for it unless something pops out at me.  And that's....that's something that really gets me down, since I should, in theory be all -about- Samurai Warriors 4.  But the knowledge that it's so far off, might be dumb, will probably be on a system I don't own currently, and might not even see a retail release if it gets localized in the first place....well, it sort of kills enthusiasm that one could have for the game.  I guess we'll see, but I'm not about to hold my breath.

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