Friday, May 1, 2009

Takeda Shingen


I'll be frank here. This is one of those, uh, "rough around the edges" games that I seem to have an affinity for--I'm talking stuff like Legion, Energy, Deep Blue, and Jimmu Denshou. If you happen to be sane, unlike me, and aren't into the aforementioned "classics," then forget about Takeda Shingen. It's not for you.

The maniacal who are still interested in the title might think it's a brawler along the lines of Golden Axe. It sure does look like one in screenshots, but it doesn't play like one at all. If you so much as graze an enemy (or come close to grazing an enemy, as the collision detection is somewhat "off"), you will take damage, so there's none of that "moving in close for throws and grabs" stuff. In fact, pretty much all you can do initially is take a simple hack with your sword--a hack that your foes will block more often than not.

The early going is rough.

But then you level up a bit and learn a couple of new techniques and earn some cash and upgrade your blade, and all of a sudden, the action feels a lot smoother; and amazingly, the game becomes pretty darn enjoyable.

You've gotta work hard for those advancements and purchases, though there might seem to be an easy way out: Unlike most old-school brawlers, TS doesn't force you to clear the screen of enemies before allowing you to move on, so you can simply jaunt along past all the adversarial foot soldiers, eschewing the idea of gaining money and experience while enjoying a pain-free trip to the boss.

But then, of course, the boss will ANNIHILATE you.

Really though, by the time you reach Stage 2, things should be going considerably better than they were initially. It's a good thing that TS makes an early turnaround, as it provides players with only four stages to play through.

Perhaps you'll find the 8-bit-quality graphics and tunes off-putting, but I like them. The sprites are quite large, especially the boss ones, and there are certain visual elements such as pretty blue streams, snow-covered steps, and scarlet skies that make the foregrounds and backdrops quaintly appealing.

Also appealing is the mellow music, which contains some really nice hooks and has a heavy nostalgia-inducing effect on me.

That's just me, though. I know a lot of people won't like the game. But if you're willing to persevere through the troublesome early going, who knows...

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