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Sword-swinging Sakura a great value

Feb 3, 2012

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Sakura Samurai: Art of the SwordA princess is missing and everyone's favourite mustached plumber is not coming to the rescue? It's the truth, gentle readers.

Step aside Mario. Sakura Samurai is on the case.

The namesake of Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is a death-dealing samurai who does their talking with the point of their blade. Hired by master samurai Kappa, your mission is to locate and save the kidnapped Princess Cherry Blossom. As you travel from point to point on the map of the kingdom, you will run into baddies out to stop you in your tracks, towns and villages and castles housing big, bad, nasty bosses who would like nothing better to cut you down to size.

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword The battles themselves pit you against groups of enemies or solo combatants. Some carry swords while others attack with assorted weapons which have a greater reach like Yaris (straight-headed Japanese spears). Sakura isn't your typical hack and slash fest. You will get nowhere madly swinging your Katana wildly. You must time your attacks, blocks and dodges properly or you will end up in tiny bits.

You do have a special attack though. You need to build it up but you can execute it in case you are being overwhelmed by opponents. As you advance across the sprawling landscape your enemies will adopt more aggressive attacks and even use fake-outs to draw you out into danger so they can chip away at you with unexpected slashes.

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword The other but extremely important facet is your sword and its strikes become weaker if attacks are improperly timed. If you don't study your foe's attack patterns and the best ways to take them down, battles grow tougher and tougher the longer they drag on. It really does pay to observe your foes and their attack patterns.

Perfectly countering attacks or executing strikes gains you special Precision Points which can be traded for gold in the villages. In those villages, you can spend gold on improving your sword and buy healing items. You can also participate in unique challenges, side-missions granted to you by the inhabitants.

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword While Sakura's sounds provide for great atmosphere from the clang of the swords to the gentle music, its sights are a bit of a jumble. The Japanese stylings are beautiful, especially during the cut scenes. The character models and the settings seem a bit dated though as if the game was ported over from the Nintendo 64.

Sakura is an excellent example of good things coming in small packages. Available for only $6.99 at the Nintendo eShop, the game has so much depth and so much gameplay for a simple downloadable title. For the price alone, you just cannot go wrong.


Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword
Format: Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: T for teen
Official Site:
Rating: 8 / 10

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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see