An adventure that begins with a single step...and credit card.
At first glance, Samurai Girl resembles something from the Super Nintendo's import library, a cool looking game that never hit western shores and was therefore coveted by hardcore fans. It certainly looks the part, with attractive 16-bit graphics, huge bosses and a sexy heroine that knows her way around a blade. The more we played this promising App, though, the more it annoyed us. So close to greatness, yet so very far.
Over the years, the term "action RPG" has been tossed around loosely to describe any game with an item shop. Samurai Girl, though, lives up to the genre. Although it features real time hack and slash combat, complete with sweet attacks to destroy the tougher enemies, it's a total grind. Monsters drop less coinage than a homeless guy, forcing you to repeatedly kill the same enemies to accumulate gold.
Meanwhile, the game has hundreds of items, some of which increase hero Hikaru's attack and defense. Bottom line, there's a ton of stuff to grab. Conversely, you'll also find an equal amount of loot at the store, where you can also sell useless junk you acquired.
On top of that, the game has well over 50 different quests, 15 bosses, 13 sword fighting skills to master and a pet system that lets you raise a critter that'll aid you in battle. Suffice to say, you get a lot of content for $2.99.
That said, Samurai Girl falls short for several reasons, starting with the story, which is so ill conceived you may laugh aloud while reading the dialogue. Square Enix, CJ Internet Corp. isn't.
We'll tell you one they are: greedy. Despite shelling out three bucks to download the game, the developers encourage you to spend more, selling 10,000 and 200,000 MIFA (the game's currency) for $0.99 and $9.99, respectively, with other amounts in between.
That would be OK if they didn't make Samurai Girl so unfair. Everything in this game is ridiculously expensive. Want an HP potion? That'll be 2,000 MIFA. Don't feel like spending real cash to revive Hikaru after she croaks? Then you'll return to the central hub town with a temporary 20 percent decrease in defense. Teleporting back to the town also means you'll backtrack through the same old areas, all of which have regenerating enemies.
Then we have the HUD and menu screens, which are just too cluttered for an iPhone release. Pausing the game and cycling through available items is a pain, as the scroll bar simply doesn't work properly. At least there's an on screen button to save on the fly. We like that.
As for the combat, it's quite satisfying, at least until the cheap bosses appear, all of which decimate Hikaru's health bar as she blocks. We died right before killing one boss (after realizing we were out of potions) and the mere thought of redoing the battle essentially killed our interest in the game.
It's a shame, because Samurai Girl has loads of potential. In the right hands, it could've been great. For now, though, it's much too frustrating to enjoy.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
What's Hot: Fast-paced hack and slash combat, slick 16-bit graphics, hundreds of items, cool pet system.
What's Not: Everything's too expensive, developers too greedy, lots of backtracking, cheap enemies, unimpressive story, no HD version.