You are one of a select band of fighting warriors attempting to become a Samurai War Lord in this martial-arts simulation (see Run It Again this issue for all the others!).
To prove you worthy of the title, your fighting and mental skills must be tested in three Oriental disciplines: karate, kendo (a form of fencing) and samurai. In each of these techniques you need to overcome an acknowledged master - such as the terrifying Ta Ling, who catches cobras and makes stew from their remains to increase his fitness.
Each opponent has a favourite means of attack; he might rely upon strength, speed or skill, and you must respond with the best defensive strategy. For instance, your speed might neutralize his strength, or your skill might help you beat a very fast opponent. The choice is yours. You can also choose the skill level of your opponent; the better he is, the more points you'll earn if you emerge the victor.
Preparation is essential before every contest, to improve your abilities through circuit and weight training, running, isometrics, breathing, brick-breaking, sparring and meditation.
After each phase of combat, attack and defence tactics must be chosen by allocating five points among four key attributes: skill, stamina, strength and speed. An unsuccessful defence strategy or wasteful attacking can diminish you in all four areas, but wise fighting and sound training can earn you extra attack strength from the watching Supreme Master Chu Yu.
After the first rounds of karate and kendo you may meditate or change tactics - but during samurai the action is continuous, and you must defeat four opponents as you fight to the death to become a Samurai War Lord.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston,
Graphics: well-defined characters against a simple background
Sound: no tune, a few spot FX
Options: playable in four languages; opponent's skill definable; joystick control only (no keys)
'Gremlin's first martial-arts simulations had a strong atmosphere, usually created by lifelike graphics and effective sound. But both are absent from this latest (and hopefully last, if they keep coming like this...) wireframe slant-eyed game. The graphical presentation is hopeless - it's obvious that more time has been spent on the character set than on designing the game. The moves are quite easy to carry out, but they all look the same. It's all a bit old hat.'
PAUL ... 41%
'Samurai Trilogy is simply three Way Of The Exploding Fist-type games on one tape. The graphics aren't anything to shout about, and when your warrior jumps over the background his head changes colour This is just another run-of -the-mill martial-arts game.'
NICK ... 85%
'This is one of the worst beat- 'em-ups around. The graphics are poor, and there's not much playability or addictivity -Samurai Trilogy seems like nothing more than a program put together hastily to satisfy orders. The character set is nice, though.'
MIKE ... 41%
The latest in a long line of bash 'n slash simulations to hit the TV screen. This time it's Samurai Trilogy from Gremlin Graphics. It's been out on the Commodore for some time but now Speccy users have the dubious honour of sampling the delights of Eastern promise. Frankly I'm surprised that the Samurai legend has never been chosen before for conversion to computer, the oriental tough guy image is perfect for a realistic punch 'em' up. Unfortunately you have to wade through an ordinary Karate sim, and a Kendo adaptation to get to the Samurai fight itself - but it's worth waiting for.
The program begins with a smart front end which leads to the language selection bit. Try Deutsch just for a giggle! Then you have to choose whether to practice or fight in one of three martial arts. But now comes the dreaded multi-load system that takes a lot of the addictivity out of the game. Each event has to be loaded separately, so be prepared to wait a while. Before each fight you have the chance to assess, though it's only guess work, your opponent's key attributes, and adjust your own accordingly. There's a long list of opponents to choose from, but selecting weaker chaps will lose you favour points from your trainer, Chu Yu (Same to you! Ed)
Once a selection has been made, you begin your training program by selecting three of the twelve fitness routines. These include Meditation, Sparring and Reflex training. It's a pity that you only get to choose the routine and not to actually watch it. Next your fight tactics have to be chosen. Distribute five given points between four defence tactics, then do the same for attack.
After all this messing about it's time to begin combat. To reach the position of Samurai Warrior, several opponents in each of the three events must be fully defeated. A program such as this stands or falls by the quality of the animation, and I am afraid that Samurai is a touch too slow and jerky for my taste. But the chunky size of the well drawn characters and the natty oriental backdrops lend a touch of class to this otherwise ordinary, slash 'n' hack game. Me? I'll stick to Barbarian. See you at Chopemup Temple sometime.
|Value For Money||6/10|
If you're going to have another bash at a chop-'n'-slash combat game, the only way to make it attractive is to make sure that it's bigger, faster and more violent than any of the other fifteen thousand on the market.
Samurai Trilogy from Gremlin succeeds on count one but not on the other two, which are probably more important.
Indeed one of the most annoying aspects of the game is that it's multiload, with each stage of your progress as a ninja assassin having to be loaded from tape separately.
The worst bit, though, is that the steelhard warriors look about as threatening as a flock of sheep. Although the backgrounds are nice, there's no real sense of skill or speed in the movements of the characters.
Before starting you have to go through all sorts of character definition routines, when all you really want is to get chopping. You can select which form of training you prefer - Makihara, Kihon, Ibuki and so on - allocate five fighting points between your skill, speed, stamina and strength - first in attack, then in defence, and finally choose your opponent.
The problem is that whoever you choose, they all look very much the same and fight the same. The various joystick controlled chops and kicks are similar to those of any other martial arts game, but without the novelty value of some of the killer blows in, say, Barbarian or Sai Combat.
Each fighting bout has a time limit in which you must chop your opponent, or, in the case of the later levels, kick or batter him.
So dull is the action that I was expecting a little note saying "The master has gone home. You'll never make a ninja warrior. Stick to embroidery".
A great chance to add a strategic element to the chop-'n'-slash genre, muffed by poor gameplay and inadequate action.
Label: Gremlin Graphics
Memory: 48K/128K (multi-load)
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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