Samurai Beatdown Review—Out of Tune

SAMURAIZ

I have to apologize for the delay of the launch title reviews. I had to wait for Sony’s six-week PlayStation Mobile promo to expire before I could review the games so that there wouldn’t be duplicates in our two review accounts as well as our own personal accounts. Honestly, PlayStation Mobile titles are priced out of the market; a free game is a free game, and it would ease up on our review accounts’ funds if we could play the games for review without having to pay for them. We are not begging the developers to give us free copies, but just simmer down on the prices, geez.

All right, we have here Samurai Beatdown, which supposedly our regular site visitor Takao volunteered to review, but since he had problems with his Wi-Fi and PlayStation Mobile’s unpredictable security checks, he couldn’t proceed in doing so. So I picked up the game and played it. I’ve been hearing (more like seeing) good things about this all over the Internet. I don’t get the praise, or maybe I have different tastes compared to the majority, but for me, Samurai Beatdown is one of the more mediocre PlayStation Mobile launch games. I am glad I got it for free.

SAMURAIZZZ

I give Beatnik Games credit for having appealing graphics; the animations are fluid albeit limited, the art is detailed, and the music is pretty good. The gameplay, however, is the downer. It gets boring quick. Samurai Beatdown is a rhythm game, but it is vastly inferior to the other PlayStation Mobile launch rhythm game, Frederic – Resurrection of Music. Granted, they are very different games in a sense, Frederic being a pure rhythm game and Samurai Beatdown being a hybrid arcade-combat-rhythm game which doesn’t excel in rhythm, arcade, or combat mechanics.

Samurai Beatdown is like a runner game in the vein of Canabalt. Instead of jumping over pits and drums, though, you are slashing enemies that block your way or sneak up behind your back. The game disguises itself as being a rhythm game in which you have to precisely attack the enemies in time with the tunes. But this is never fully realized.

The game holds your hand by highlighting the enemies in white at the moment when you should tap the screen on that enemy’s side. True, the beat does coincide with the highlight, but you can always just time it perfectly without the help of the beat. The gameplay itself is rather limited, with just timing your tap on either side. There is a “super attack,” but it’s nothing really special. There is a chain-based score multiplier, but you can basically chain everything up without problems. You can also time your attacks slightly early, and though you will be graded with “Poor,” it doesn’t give you any form of punishment whatsoever. I don’t mean by the score, but at least the game should have other implementations to further give challenge to the players.

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Samurai Beatdown is laughably easy, and you can blaze your way through the five levels without much challenge. Rhythm game fans will surely be disappointed with the shallow gameplay. As a freebie, though, it is a nice distraction once in a while.

3/10

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Comments

10 Responses to “Samurai Beatdown Review—Out of Tune”
  1. JeremyR says:

    I honestly believe that most Vita owners have something like Stockholm syndrome. They are so desperate for games, anything that comes along is good, no matter how terrible it really is.

  2. onmode-ky says:

    Personally, I think the rating is a bit on the harsh side. While I agree that the gameplay is too simple, the execution is well done, and it’s actually decently challenging if you play on Master difficulty. The Novice difficulty is definitely a bit like a “My First Rhythm Game,” but Master keeps you on your toes. Maybe Beatnik shouldn’t have locked it away at the start. My opinion of the game was certainly lower before I did Master.

    Here are some other points I disagree with:

    “the beat does coincide with the highlight”

    This is not really true. The highlights, that is, the moments when you’re supposed to tap the screen, correspond to the notes being played by an instrument in the level’s music. And, naturally, notes aren’t always right on beats, particularly in the fourth level’s funky piece of music. If you expect all the screen tapping to occur on beats, you’ll be slightly off (i.e., get “Good” or “Poor” instead of “Perfect” hits).

    “There is a ’super attack,’ but it’s nothing really special.”

    Actually, the super attack (which I believe is termed “frenzy mode” by the developers) is the key to high scores. Once you activate the mode, all your attacks have their point values doubled. That is, the score multiplier in the upper right corner of the screen goes from, say, 3x to 6x. The multiplier max goes from 4x to 8x. Proper timing of frenzy mode activation, as well as activating it as often as possible, gives you higher scores.

    “There is a chain-based score multiplier, but you can basically chain everything up without problems.”

    In the two lower difficulty modes, it is indeed fairly easy to avoid breaking your chain (which happens if you get hit by an enemy or totally mistime your attack and get a “Miss”; maybe a “Poor” breaks it, too). Things can get dicey enough to botch your performance up in Master, though, so that you go from a nice 4x back down to 1x.

    “it doesn’t give you any form of punishment whatsoever”

    A “Poor” doesn’t hurt anything except your score (maybe also the multiplier; again, I don’t remember), but if your timing is even worse off, then it counts as a “Miss.” A Miss is just as bad as getting hit by an enemy. Enough Misses, and the song will end early with a Game Over, after the screen progressively gets redder and redder.

    While I agree that the gameplay is too shallow, the comparison to Canabalt was very apt; the game is an extremely simple, straightforward dilution of the rhythm game concept. Like Canabalt, there are no distractions from the single goal, which in the case of Samurai Beatdown is the score. If you’re not playing the game in order to go for a high score, it will not be fun. If you’re playing the game just to survive to the end of each song, it will definitely feel much too easy (a little less so in Master mode).

    So, for anyone out there who really does want to get high scores in the game, here is how scoring works:

    - Hit accuracy determines how many points you get on each tap of the screen. “Perfect” gives the most points, while “Poor” is the least, I think. I don’t exactly recall, but it was something like 100 points, 50 points, and 25 points for Perfect, Good, Poor.

    - Not getting hit and not getting Misses builds the circular meters in the upper corners of the screen. I believe the amount of build varies from Poor through Perfect hits—or maybe it was that only Perfects build the left meter. Anyway, the left meter gets you closer to activating the score-doubling frenzy mode. The right meter builds the multiplier to 2x, 3x, and finally 4x (there’s a sound effect when the multiplier increases; there’s also a sound effect when the frenzy mode is available, so you don’t really have to keep an eye on that meter). Getting hit or Missing drops the multiplier back to 1x.

    So, for best results, get all the Perfects you can, and activate frenzy mode only when you’re already at 4x and know you have a big bunch of enemies coming up (outside of Master mode, go ahead and activate it before you have 4x, or else you’ll be waiting too long for it to be worthwhile). If you want to compare scores, I started a high scores topic in our forum for the game.

    It looks like most videos on YouTube of the game don’t have it on Master mode, but here is one posted by the developers. Enemies are much more prone to ganging up on you than in the lower difficulties, so there is actual challenge.

  3. O says:

    Sounds like somebody has Stockholm syndrome.

  4. Aaron Jean says:

    I found that the game is very polished, and the Drum and Bass tunes are my sort of thing, but the design of the game is so reductionist that it becomes boring within minutes. It really needs more depth, not in terms of scoring, but in terms of interaction, because tapping two sides of a screen never gets interesting.

  5. Shazbots says:

    This game is sooooo boring! It would had been better if we had control of the characters instead of been on rails and just slash like an idiot.

  6. onmode-ky says:

    “Sounds like somebody has Stockholm syndrome.”

    More like someone has a known tendency to embark on boring activities and see how far he can take them. Did you play HAL-21 non-stop just to see whether it looped? Did you start a high score topic for M.O.Z.O.X. Space Salvager, despite disliking everything about it and writing an essay on everything wrong with it? Did you dislike Who’s That Flying?! within minutes of playing it for the first time, yet still force yourself through the entire campaign? No, of course not. That’s not you; that’s me! I don’t have to enjoy a game to feel compelled to “finish” it in some fashion. In the case of Samurai Beatdown, I went for maxing my scores as much as possible before removing it from my memory card.

    Besides, you’ll recall that I’ve spent only 2 whole dollars on games for my PSV (Life of Pixel, which I have yet to play). Not a whole lot of desperation for games there.

    “It really needs more depth, not in terms of scoring, but in terms of interaction, because tapping two sides of a screen never gets interesting.”

    Very much agreed (though it could also use more scoring depth; I don’t like how frenzy mode is activated, for example, as it doesn’t mesh well with it being a rhythm game). It’s strange that it’s only 2 buttons, because there are both air and ground enemies. It feels like it was originally meant to be 4 buttons, yet they scrapped that for some reason.

    “It would had been better if we had control of the characters instead of been on rails and just slash like an idiot.”

    I don’t think you can do a rhythm game where the player can decide when buttons are supposed to be pressed, though. How would you match anything to the tempo? Rhythm games = on rails, no?

  7. Aaron Jean says:

    Well… Seeing as this is a rhythm game, I don’t think direct control would be possible.

  8. Takao says:

    For what it’s worth, I would’ve given the game a 4/10. Production values are pretty good, but I often gre bored of the game long before a level completion, as the game doesn’t introduce new mechanics at all.

  9. O says:

    Hehe. It figures onmode-ky would be the only one to get any sort of joy from this.

  10. Aaron Jean says:

    I got some fun out of this, but it wore off in about five minutes.

    At least the idea isn’t without merit.

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