Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

Review: Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

8:00 AM on 02.12.2012 // Ian Bonds

It's always a pleasant surprise to go into a game with little to no expectations beforehand and come out of it with a completely positive opinion. Such was the case with the recent downloadable title Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword.

The game wasn't even really on my radar, but after playing it, I realized I should be paying more attention to Nintendo's eShop library.

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword (Nintendo eShop)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: February 2, 2012
MSRP: $6.99

The game begins with the titular hero, the unassuming Sakura Samurai, charged with rescuing Princess Cherry Blossom from the clutches of an evil force. This task, as well as the sword for which our hero is named, is given to our hero by a frog-like mystic creature called a kappa. It's a simple beginning, but across the game's 30 areas (including three boss levels and three villages), the player requires a daunting amount of skill and precision.

The gameplay's structure is simple in design but increasingly difficult in execution. Sakura travels to different areas on the map, where he's thrust into battle with various types of foes. Each foe has a few different attack types which you can block with the shoulder buttons or dodge with the B button plus a direction on the analog nub -- left or right to dodge stabs, back for slashes. The precision of your dodges is key, as timing them properly will award you precision points that can be traded in towns for gold.

Attacking is done with A, resulting in a quick slash followed immediately sheathing the sword. As you perform blocks or as foes block your attacks, your will wear down your blade, which can be sharpened back to full strength with a whetstone. Blades can be improved at shops in towns as well, granting stronger attacks against foes. Once enough attack energy has been gathered from well placed blows, you can execute special attacks with the press of Y. After an area of the map is completed, half of a cherry blossom petal is awarded, with every two halves resulting in an increase in health.

The enemy variety is fantastic. You'll first encounter general sword-happy baddies then continue with archers, throwing-star ninjas, bomb-tossers, and more, each who mix up their attacks and may require multiple dodges before you can land a counter. While most attacks from enemies are easily telegraphed, later levels contain quicker, deadlier foes. The difficulty increase as you progress almost feels like a reward for sticking with and honing your tactics.

Graphically, the game is simple yet beautiful almost like a painting. The 3D effects are sparse, but the depth of field is used well with only the occasional visual gimmick thrown in (such as a boss making a stabbing motion towards the camera). The visual detail helps highlight enemy attacks, allowing for (initial) ease in anticipating which dodge to perform.

In towns, you'll encounter inns and "Frog Plus" shops, where you can save your game, buy items with the coins you've collected or traded your precision points for, and upgrade your sword. Items (which are mapped to the D-pad) include whetstones, rice cakes for restoring health, throwing blades, and frogs, which are used to distract foes. There are also NPCs that engage the player in mini-games with skill-advancing prizes. There's tons of personality in the towns, a welcome change from the straight-forwardness of the battle areas.

Once you've beaten the game, more gameplay modes unlock, such as 30-, 50-, and 100-thug challenges where you're tasked with a set number of foes to defeat per wave. There's also a hard mode where you have tougher enemies but only three units of health and no way to restore damage other than staying at an inn. There's even a rock garden, which takes the steps from the system's sleep mode pedometer and "dedicates" them to blooming cherry blossom trees.

If there were any negatives to be had, it would be that, initially, there is no way to save your progress until you reach the town, which doesn't occur until you've defeated the first four or five levels on the map. After that, I found myself backtracking to the town after each level was completed, but that may be just because I tend to want to constantly save my game. Also, for the first few levels, enemy attacks seem rote until the introduction of new enemies, after which then the original enemy types learn new attacks. Because of this, I was almost lulled into a false "dodge, fight, repeat" pattern until I realized that my tactics would have to change further along.

For such a little title, I wasn't expecting to pour so much time and effort into Sakura Samurai. From its simple story yet compelling tactical gameplay to its gorgeous graphics and controls, I was hooked. This is possibly one of the best downloadable titles on the eShop, one that will draw players in with its ever-increasing depth. A must have!



Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword - Reviewed by Ian Bonds
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Ian Bonds, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Ian is Dtoid's resident review monkey. If there is a game no one else wants to review, it usually goes to Ian. As a reviewer, Ian has been writing for close to ten years for various sites, starti... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Virtua Memories: Virtua Fighter/Remix (Virtua Fighter Month)

FNF: Christmas toime is hear

Tales of Zestiria Review (PC)

Xenoblade X Squad?

Cblogs of 11/29/15 + Scott Pilgrim You Nefarious Swine!

Sexism in video games culture: social science says it’s real

How YOU can save DOAX3 (with diagrams)

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 2

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

My beef with Sony

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
ModDb's MOTY (Mod of the Year) votes are up, there's quite a TON of interesting mods this year, give it a look and vote for your favorite! ---
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Hey, US Pokemon fans! Apparently if you just rename your SSID to Mcdonalds Free Wifi, you don't even need to go anywhere to get your Hoopas. Seems like they could've just made this one a normal download.
Archelon avatarArchelon
It may have been a war of attrition, but I just took out a Snowspeeder on foot in Battlefront. Aww, yeah.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, for one reason or another I watched the endings of bloodborne via vaatividya, and in so doing made myself sad that I will never get to play it. Still cool that they seem to have really nailed that lovecraftian exestential horror and despair.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] やらないか?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
If I were a rhino, I'd be horny.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I don't want DOAX, but it does make me realize... There aren't actually a lot of volleyball games out there, are there? Or tennis, even? At least golf has a little competition, but still. That's golf.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Well, everyone is throwing in their opinion on women and games, and here I am... writing a blog about being aroused by female characters in games as a kid... Perhaps I should hold off, I have a feeling it may just be taken the wrong way.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Thinking about getting my sister yokai watch or animal crossing Happy Home designer(comes with nfc reader). I already got a copy of Tales of xillia for her ps3, this is just a bonus for when she's on the road or at someones house. any suggestions?
Dalek Sex avatarDalek Sex
Dark Souls 2. Dem builds.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Posted image I promised Flanx, didn't get response from him. Heart forever broken.
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: What game have you played through to completion the most number of times?
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
ProTip for UK Nintendo gamers: Twilight Princess HD is finally up for pre-order on Amazon. Unfortunately, it won't ship to anywhere outside of the UK. Dammit Amazon Italy! Get on this!!!
extatix avatarextatix
It's the best time of the year again! Finally we get to listen to Wham and Chris Rea over and over again!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
The Unofficial Destructoid Christmas Card has been ordered. If you claimed one, you should probably PM me your address now.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Started playing Wonderful 101 and it's good, but pretty overwhelming. Think I'll put it down for now. Also sad that there is no penis formation. [img][/img]
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
What the hell happened to Arcade racing games?
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Red from Transistor has joined Indivisible! many thanks to Supergiant Games for their support to this game.
JBroXNari99 avatarJBroXNari99
Does anyone know if Advent of Indies is happening this year? I looked it up today and didn't find any updates on their Twitter since January.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I brought that cake I made into work and it disappeared fast. Maybe if I lose my job I can just make a living selling cakes on the end of my street.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -