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3DS  header logo

Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword

For: 3DS

Sidestepping the genre

Product: Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword 3DS, thumbnail 1
Feudal Japan has been romanticised in countless books, films, and video games. The mysterious ways of the ninja and the honour of the samurai are woven into Japanese fairytales to create a quasi-mythical world.

With Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword, Grounding Inc. takes the hack ‘n’ slash genre and pleasingly wraps the moral samurai code around it to create something rather refreshing for 3DS owners.

A right royal feud

Hana Samurai may have unusual gameplay, but its story doesn’t go against the grain too much, as you step into the shoes of a young warrior known only as ‘The Sakura Samurai’.

Trained by an old Kappa, you head out into the Land of the Rising Sun to rescue Princess Cherry Blossom after an evil demon has kidnapped her for his own evil plans.

This may not be the most original of plots, but it’s also largely irrelevant to the action as you work your way through the game world striking down foes with your sword.

Working from an overworld map akin to that of Super Mario Bros, you’ll move between levels engaging in skirmishes in order to progress towards a Castle Lord.

Instead of progressing down the Ninja Gaiden route of combat, Hana Samurai is all about testing your patience and reactions. Fighting involves assessing your opponent’s attacks before deftly dodging and going in for the kill.

It may make some of the longer battles rather repetitive, but because Hana Samurai can be a rather difficult game it actually gives you a chance to think about your actions first. As I said, it definitely tests your patience.

When the sword is sheathed

When you’re done cutting up foes in the Story mode, Hana Samurai still has plenty to offer. Paying a visit to any one of the three in-game towns gives you an opportunity to play some Challenge games.

These are all based around the idea of slicing, and they unlock some hidden bonuses for you to enjoy. Alongside that are three unlockable survival challenges and a Rock Garden, which utilises the 3DS pedometer to let you grow cherry blossoms in your garden as you walk.

It isn’t too shabby in the looks department, either. The 3D is rarely used as a gimmick and, in some situations, it helps you to time your dodges.

It also helps with the sense of scale in the larger-than-life boss confrontations. It is a bit of a shame that none of the 3DS’s touchscreen capabilities are used, though.

Hana Samura may feel rather understated, but it offers up an engaging and enjoyable adventure that pleasingly shakes up your preconceptions of the hack ‘n’ slash genre.
Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword
Reviewer photo
Vaughn Highfield | 23 October 2012
Plenty of bang for your buck here. It may not be the longest of games, nor overly feature rich, but it’s as enjoyable as it is refreshing to play. Every 3DS owner should give this a go
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