Saturday, June 2

Review: Samurai Defender - Ninja Warfare [Nintendo Switch eShop]

There are games that start out in the mobile space and convert over to the Switch pretty successfully, either filling a void of some kind or carrying along enough personality and gameplay to seem worthwhile. Then there are those that, for whichever reason, really make you wonder who thought this was a great idea. Unfortunately Samura Defender: Ninja Warfare falls into the latter category, offering gameplay that isn’t necessarily inherently horrible, but at a minimum retains far too many of its brethren’s excessive grinding before anything gets interesting.

To start you’ll have a castle you’ll defend with a lone archer. In a semi-active way you’ll be able to aim where he’ll shoot his arrows at a relatively slow rate to pick off enemies that move from the right of the screen and are looking to storm the walls. At the close of each round your coins will be tallied, copper tied to the points you accumulate and typically one gold as well, and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase upgrades. With copper you can enhance your archer stats to deal more damage or fire faster, but you’ll also have options to increase your castle’s HP, your collective MP, or for a more substantial cost add another archer. As you level up the gold coins can be used for adding or enhancing secondary defenders of various types or even units that will repair you walls when they’ve been damaged.

Every 10 levels you’ll then face a more formidable foe, and they’ll have unique attacks for you to deal with. There’s also a slow trickle of new types of enemy units over the course of the game, though many of them are simply stronger variants of those you’ve already faced. The trick is to try to take out as many as you can with arrows but then make judicious use of your secondary attackers since you have limited MP resources and they all have their own cooldowns as well. In general you should be able to coast for a while through the levels without stopping but once you begin to struggle bear in mind that grinding previous levels will still give you rewards.

My biggest issue with the game is that its pacing and setup still feel like a free-to-play game, only in the case of the Switch you don’t have an option to purchase a bunch of coins with real money so you’re instead left with what people trying to grind it out would be doing. The pace of gameplay is absolutely glacial, overall the degree of accuracy you’re capable of isn’t very good, and while eventually things no doubt do get a bit more interesting the path to get there is terribly dull. To boot (at least playing in docked mode) precisely what you’re supposed to be doing or how isn’t conveyed at all by the game, you’re more left with loading screen hints and an expectation that you’ll work it out.

While there’s an edge of unique gameplay here it’s hard to find anything specifically redeeming about Samurai Defender’s place on the Switch. If things had been restructured more significantly and you got to the meatier part of the gameplay more quickly perhaps it wouldn’t be so boring. Unfortunately, it takes far too long for anything of real interest to get rolling and even then the style of gameplay as a whole lacks real excitement, even if it has a budget-friendly price. If you’re seeking the experience it offers I’m failing to see the case for doing so on the Switch.

Score: 4

  • Once you get far enough there can be some more interesting strategies involved
  • If you get stuck you can always grind levels to power yourself up further

  • It plays like a free-to-play mobile port without an ability to purchase in-game currency so you’re simply left to grind for everything
  • Your degree of control isn’t terribly good
  • It takes far too long before anything remotely interesting happens
  • Very little guidance as you begin the game, though over time you’ll see enough load screen hints to piece everything together