If you're a fan of the Warriors series and you're scratching your head thinking what happened to Samurai Warriors Chronicles 2 on the 3DS, don't worry, you didn't miss out on it. Despite us getting Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, the second title in the series never made it to the US, as it was simply an updated version of the original with a lot of fan requested changes. So what is Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, and how does it distinguish itself from the other titles in the series?
That's actually a somewhat difficult question. If we're simply talking about the Nintendo 3DS version, the main distinguishing factor is that gamers will finally be able to play a Samurai Warriors game on the system, since the handheld's debut. Outside of that though, it seems like it's a more portable version of Samurai Warriors 4. That in itself is confusing since Chronicles 3 also has a release on Vita, which already has a port of Samurai Warriors 4.
A large portion of Chronicles 3 is very similar to last year's Samurai Warriors 4. From the varied moves per characters to the larger focus on switching characters during a mission in order to complete as many objectives as possible. Chronicles 3 though makes things a little more convenient by letting you swap between four different characters instead of simply two, as it was in the previous core entry. There is a lot of convenience that stems from this. Not only are you able to cover larger portions of the map easier with four different characters, you also get a bigger sense of variety combat-wise.
The main focus here is playing through a large chunk of the Sengoku era as your original character, making various conversational choices pre-battle that will earn you honor and favor among other warriors, further increasing your bonds. The bonds are mostly useful for unlocking side content like extra missions, but you'll mostly be traversing the 8-10 hour long linear campaign.
For a portable game, the structure works very well. There isn't a huge focus on micro-managing individual characters outside of strengthening their weapons between stages. To make things even more convenient, there is an auto-equip button that chooses the best equipment you currently have and automatically outfits you with it for the next battle.
The combat itself is rather unchanged from Samurai Warriors 4, with a bigger emphasis on changing up attack patterns per weapon class. Each weapon has a special attribute and attack attached to the R button which genuinely adds some flavor each to character's attack patterns. Like in Samurai Warriors 4, the Strong Attack button by default is now a distance-covering dash attack that can take out multiple enemies in an area. It's like Koei Tecmo finally realized we just want to take out pawns as fast as inhumanly possible and finally gave us that ability.
You'll also be able to activate various War Arts that can alter your character's stats like giving increased speed, boosted attack, invulnerability, and even restoring Musou units. While these are trivial on the lower difficulty levels, they are very useful, if not downright necessary on hard difficulty levels.
Eventually you'll also gain access to the Castle Town which will grant you various benefits like being able to buy armor, fortify your weapons, having tea with other officers to strengthen bonds and even gain some bonus XP. Each of these facilities can also be invested in to raise their level, and that way raise their effectiveness. The Tea House for example will be able to host larger parties while the shop will reduce prices on various goods.
The 3DS version benefits from the lower screen which continuously displays the map, as well as the four character portraits which simply need to be tapped in order to switch to them. It also allows quick access to War Arts as well as the ability to lock-on to enemy officers. However, even though the top screen is less cluttered due to this, the graphics certainly aren't that amazing, though that might not be the case for the Vita version, which we didn't get a code for. The game's framerate does actually hold up, even with a bunch of characters on screen, but that's assuming you have the 3D effect down completely. Trust me when I say it's a game that doesn't really benefit from it. The voice acting is all in native Japanese, which I've already come to expect from this series, and given the Samurai storyline, find completely fitting.
There certainly seems to be enough content in the game to justify the
$29.99 $39.99 price tag, but do keep in mind that this is a digital-only download. At that price though, it's easier to recommend to Nintendo 3DS owners who have been without a Samurai Warriors game since 2011. Fans of the series who don't have a Vita and longed for another Warriors game on the go, and don't want to wait for the fantastic Hyrule Warriors should certainly give it a shot. Vita owners might be better off sticking with Samurai Warriors 4, as the minor differences in gameplay don't seem to make this a more definitive edition.
For 3DS owners, it's a treat since the only other Samurai Warriors game came out when the system first launched. For Vita owners, it's a little too much deja vu.