Samurais are the Japanese cowboys, and cowboys are the American samurai. They are both the best of two worlds of action entertainment. So, what would happen if you combined both worlds? In my opinion, it would be a thing that you couldn’t miss in the world. Let’s look at some great movies to give an example for both worlds. 7 Samurai is one of the best films of all time and is a personal favorite of mine. Representing the cowboy side is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Now, what happens if you combine both worlds into a game? Well, the result is the game known as Samurai Western for the Playstation 2. Just a heads up, I will be making a reference from my Mad World review, so make sure to read that before reading this one.
The story takes place in the Wild West in the 1800’s in America. A samurai by the name of Gojiro Kiryu is looking for his brother who has come here, and has gone missing. Later in the game though, you find out that an evil tyrant named Goldberg has taken over a small town, and wishes to turn the ranch into a vision he thinks as a Utopia. It is up to Gojiro and his friends to take him down and save the West from the grasp of Goldberg’s iron fist. During the game, you will find a couple of different twists, like Gojiro’s Brother isn’t actually missing, one of your friends is actually a military personnel and etc. The best part of the story is that it takes the best of two different plots. The first part of the plot is of a samurai movie and the second part is of a cowboy western movie. I really like how it’s set up, and the execution is pretty well done and doesn’t get confusing.
This unique game was made by Acquire, is responsible for the Way of the Samurai series and the Tenchu series. If you are fans of any of these series of games, then you won’t feel left out of this game, since this is actually a side story of the Way of the Samurai series. If you’re a fan of that, you will feel right at home. Even though this isn’t a well known game, the voice cast has pretty much a 5-star voice cast including Jennifer Hale who is the voice of Anne Barret. She is famous for doing the voices of Avatar Kyoshi from Avatar: Last Airbender, Zatanna from Justice League Unlimited, Naomi Hunter from Metal Gear Solid 4, and Tira from Soul Calibur 4 to name a few. One of my favorite voice actors in this game is Phil LaMarr, who is famous for being part of the MADTV cast, and famous for doing voices for Jack from Samurai Jack, Hermes from Futurama, and John Stewart the Green Lantern from Justice League Unlimited. Of course, Steve Blum, who if you read my Madworld Review, has done multiple voices and he is the voice for your Cowboy friend. The one voice actor who surprised me the most was Paul Eiding, who the young kids might recognize as Max Tennyson from the Ben 10 series, and for the more hardcore gamers out there, you will recognize him as Roy ‘freaking’ Campbell from the Metal Gear Solid series. This whole voice cast is one of the best in the industry, and I’m happy to know that they were in this game.
The whole game is kind of like the Way of the Samurai, Gungrave, and Genji Dawn of the Samurai games. What I mean by that is it’s a hack and slash beat ‘em up. You go through small areas in the Wild West, and cut down on enemies until you come to the end of the level and fight one of the unique bosses in the game. You can also choose what kind of sword style your character uses, depending on what kind of sword you wield. When you hold two swords, you have quick multiple strikes, and when you use a heavier sword, you use a slow but strong attack style. This game also gives you an RPG-like element, where you can equip your character with items to increase whatever stats the item gives them. One of my favorite parts of the game has to be the boss fights. They are typically of the cowboy movie variety, but sometimes, they have a samurai-esque vibe coming from them, which is pretty cool. Each fight is unique, varying from a guy with a gatling gun, two midgets who are fast and annoying to kill, and a quick machine gun wielding cowboy. Since you can’t use a shield or anything to defend yourself, you are forced to do a rolling maneuver, which adds personality to the game. You get a cute little surprise if you dodge a lot of bullets when you do the rolling maneuver
The graphics are pretty good. I mean, if you like graphics from games like Dynasty Warriors, the Tenchu series, and Way of the Samurai series, then you will like the style this game provides. Everything is detailed, and the characters are well designed and likeable. You also get some great western music while you cut through hordes of grunts and when you fight a boss. The execution and timing of the game is pretty well done, like I said above. It is one of the few games that defiantly pulls you into the story and doesn’t drag itself along like some stories do.
Now, it is time to draw your sword or gun and attack the bad parts of the game. The enemy variety isn’t that huge, meaning you will be attacking the same kind of enemies through all the levels. The game itself has suffered from what a lot of games suffer: The game is too short. There are multiple unlockable items and weapons, but since the game is too short, you won’t have enough time to get them all. Since you are a samurai, you don’t use long-range weapons, meaning you are forced to use short-range combat. It can get pretty difficult during the first part of the game, but you will get used to it. The game itself gets repetitious since most of the levels are the same. Though 5% of the levels have you do something different like getting rid of bombs, 95% of the game is just beat up everyone and fight a boss. Sometimes, the difficulty at the beginning of the game can get pretty hard if you don’t know what your doing, and it just isn’t fair since later bosses are just too easy.
All and all, this is a pretty good game. I mean, I enjoyed it, and everyone might not like it. For that reason, I will say rent it and see what you think. Though if you are a fan of hack and slash games or the Way of the Samurai games I would recommend it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sort of spiritual sequel or just a plain sequel being made for this game. Like I said above, it combines the best from samurais and cowboys.
This game gets a 7.8 out of 10