The Ninja Varrior Strikes Back (Again)
by Tibe (2012)
No, really nothing could have players think that they would get a sequel to the best Beat them Up on the Neo Geo, I mean Sengoku 2 of course. The parent company SNK, being rebuilt after the bankruptcy, subcontracts the game's development to Noise Factory. A gamble. Knowing the players' level of exigency on the system, this baby will have to rock hard to convince, especially for a game designed by totally unknown subcontractors. Let's make no more suspense: the game's graphics are more than means, and the old-time player will make no mistake: this is not the SNK guys from Garou: Mark of the Wolves or The Last Blade 2 who still program the Neo Geo here. If the main characters are successfully designed and the overall presentation of the game and the intermediate screens look decent, all the rest has been botched. Most of the backgrounds are dull, empty, lazy.
For example, Burning Fight was looking better (in 1991!) without standing as a reference... The stages are quite small (we fight many opponents on two or three screens areas, before moving forward again) and almost always use the same colors and graphic process. The angle of view has much to do with this! Indeed, a large part of the screen is occupied by the ground. The playing area is bigger, but backgrounds are nonexistent... or almost! Only the last three levels are somewhat better, but that's still nothing special. Another regret: enemies. Regardless of which stage we are, they're always the same. Saying the game features only seven or eight different enemies (excluding bosses and special characters) might not be far from the truth! Quite disappointing for a 364 megs cart... As a result, some parts of the game are very repetitive, it's a real shame. I 'm done with the two negative points about Sengoku 3, let's now review the good ones! Six heroes are selectable (four plus two hidden ones) and such variety was rarely seen before in a Beat 'em Up. They're all different and have a wide range of moves (A = slash, B = blow punch/kick, C = jump, D = projectile) knowing that besides the basics, combinations of buttons perform special moves .
No more mutations and summons here. All the gameplay is based on the combinations. The sequences are excellent, can be done on multiple enemies at once, or one after the other without leaving the combo gauge empty! Combine dash (->->), attacks with bare hands, slashes, special moves, jumped kicks... it's a delight and the discoveries are numerous. It's a damn deep gameplay for a BTU, never seen before. And suddenly, you come back willingly with a friend, just to have a "combo competition"! Anyway, note that speaking of lifetime, Sengoku 3 is already doing very well. Six stages, progressively more difficult, and a game that takes over an hour to clear... if you ever clear! Animation is also one of the strengths of our game. All the main characters have smooth and very well-decomposed moves, a true benchmark. Great job, knowing that each character packs a large range of possibilities. The enemies are well animated too, and also die with class, but hey, since they are really few, it's the least they could do! The soundtrack is full with bass drums and japanese instruments for some exotism, peforming a warm 'punitive-ninja-expedition' theme. The sounds of blows and the cries of fighters are nice, we can say this part is fully mastered by Noise Factory.
Among the moves, the "Ninja Arts" are devastating attacks, during which your character focus and invokes magic. The background becomes an epic image, while your enemies are eating your full cum! A good idea with beautiful screens... Different projectiles can be collected, but also bombs, shuriken, etc., and some elements of the stages can be destroyed. Saying this, these are a bit too strong (several slashes are necessary to destroy a bike, a can or a wooden barrel) but these can be used in order to keep your combo chain between two enemies. Six characters, six stages, more than an hour of battle, combos, attacks galore, weapons... Noise Factory's baby is good, very good indeed. But still not a mega-hit, unfortunately. Come on, here's the recipe for Sengoku 4: graphics and soundtrack from Sengoku 2; variety of enemies and stages from Sengoku 1; animation, combos and characters from Sengoku 3, and a mix of the three episodes for the Bosses. Put all this into a 708 megs cartridge, pack it properly, and here it is! Le tour est joué! More seriously, Sengoku 3 is still an excellent game despite its few flaws, very pleasant to discover, packing a rich and addictive gameplay.
|Arts and characters are sublime, but the backgrounds are insipid, way inferior to Sengoku 2. Moreover, ennemies are always the same.|
|Characters are remarquably well animated and classy. On the other hand, backgrounds are really poor on animation, too bad.|
|FX, vocals, musics... The whole soundtrack is high-quality, while not too original.|
|More than one hour to clear is quite long for a BTU! Two players cooperative play, six different characters, combos: it's great!|
|Four buttons are used, there are multiple combos, weapons, throws, wide range of attacks for all characters. Gameplay is complete and fun, but sometimes a little repetitive.|
|An excellent Beat them Up for the Neo Geo, featuring a nice gameplay and lot of fun.|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2012)
With more than 450 euros of value for any version of the game, I imagine it's not easy to find points for convincing a pure "player" to buy it! Sengoku 3 is nonetheless a good Beat them Up, but way too high-priced.