By: Matthew Striplen
Sadame brings us back to one of Japan’s most storied eras: the Sengoku period, which saw the rise and fall of many fearsome warlords. Using one of four playable characters, our hero must face innumerable monsters to exact revenge.
Each of Sadame‘s four character classes functions very differently, so let’s do a quick rundown:
- The Samurai specializes in close quarters combat. He strikes with both a long sword for heavy damage and a short sword for faster blows.
- The Ninja speeds around the arena, dealing light damage with long-range projectiles and heavier damage with medium-range weapons. The Ninja also is an expert spell caster.
- The Monk is adept at both close- and long-range combat. His standard punch has virtually no range but moves fast and deals a decent amount of damage. However, he also wields a staff that fires energy balls to incinerate foes from afar.
- The Rogue excels in long-range combat. With a bow and halberd, she prefers to keep her distance when slaying her enemies.
All characters handle in a similar manner, with light attacks assigned to the “A” button, medium attacks to “B” and the strongest to “X.” Since each character has unique moves, the way they feel in combat is different, but they’re all very well crafted. The only issue comes when any character receives damage in combat.
Regardless of the type of attack, the player receives a massive amount of hit stun, which means all commands given during this time will be ignored. Should the player be surrounded by enemies, it becomes very easy to take a huge amount of damage, or be killed outright. Since no defensive options exist, the only way to escape is by chance.
Sadame‘s graphical style is basic yet still well done. The in-game sprites and environments appear to be rendered in 16-bit, which may hold some nostalgic appeal for older players. These sprites have plenty of detail to them, despite their small size.
Bosses are much larger than the player or any normal enemies, so they have much more personality to them. All the enemies are based on Yokai, which are mythological Japanese monsters, ranging from the foreboding Kappa to fearsome ogres.
Sound design is equally basic, but it doesn’t quite have the charm of the graphics. The music, which features influences from western and Japanese traditions, is definitely the high point.
Aspects of the sound design, however, such as the weapon strikes, sound a bit generic. Although finding a completely new sound for a sword strike is not an easy task, I feel like I’ve heard these exact sounds before. Dialogue is very sparse, and no voice acting is present.
Sadame places players into a mythical version of Sengoku/Warring States era Japan. The hero must defeat countless demons to eventually slay Nobunaga, the most powerful warlord.
Each stage follows a similar formula: kill all the monsters, then kill the boss. Unfortunately, there’s not much more to the game than that. Depending on the stage, players need to traverse various areas, but they don’t serve much of a purpose other than visual variety.
Once you enter an area, monsters will spawn in large groups. Usually more than one group of monsters will spawn in each area, so don’t get too eager to leave. Also, all monsters must be killed in order to move forward.
Certain monsters drop an assortment of items, which leads to one of the best parts of the game. Sadame features extensive equipment and customization options that greatly improve combat performance. Weapons and armor can be switched at will and also upgraded with special gems. Spells and karma abilities, which function in a similar manner but use two different gauges, can be managed as well.
In addition, each character has access to a slightly different set of spells. Players will be awarded a skill point at the end of each level to complete a skill tree, which grants more life, stronger spells, etc.
One of the game’s best features is the ability to collect items that are valid for the other character classes. Although it might be frustrating to not have access to everything that you’ve found right away, this increases replay value by offering powerful items earlier in the game.
Although it might be fun to plow through enemies, this is ultimately the game’s greatest flaw. After you learn a few tricks very little can threaten you. Each character possesses a move clearly more powerful than the rest, which is usually the heaviest attack. If you keep your items and abilities up to date, it’s possible to just mash the heavy attack button until victory is achieved.
Unfortunately, this is true even for boss battles. While I don’t claim to be a Sadame prodigy, I managed to beat many bosses with hardly a dent to my health. While the combos and spells are obviously designed to give variety to the gameplay, it’s hard to want to use anything other than the heavy attack.
A unique feature comes in the form of Assists. Selecting this option will let the player choose either a different save file or a StreetPass character. This other character will be controlled by the computer and will help you defeat the enemies.
AI is pretty strong, so if the assist character is a significantly higher level than the current player, the game basically plays itself. While this function has fantastic potential, it would have been more fun to have a multiplayer option instead of just allying with the computer.
Sadame offers a fun adventure through a mystical version of ancient Japan. Easily the most fun is had customizing your character, but sadly battles are often won by simply equipping the best weapons and armor. Although different character classes offer four distinct ways to play, they all end up feeling equally unchallenging.