Skulls of the Shogun Review
Windows 8 has many games, some of them being good ones, however, the brand new Xbox for Windows marketplace has yet to find its “killer app”, or the one software title to convince you to upgrade that Windows 7 running PC of yours to Microsoft’s controversial new OS, or to invest in purchasing a Windows 8/RT tablet. I am very happy to say that such a title has arrived, and it is known as Skulls of the Shogun, available now for Xbox 360, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.
Skulls of the Shogun is a revitalization of the age-old turn based strategy genre, one which Nintendo dominates with their Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars franchises. The premises of these games are simple, you have a set amount of turns to move your players around the map in a grid, and attack the enemy team. Each player has a limited movement range, and unique attacking abilities. Skulls of the Shogun ditches the later, allowing for a completely unlocked and “grid free” game, which surprisingly turns out excellently. Each player is given a turn to move their players within a limited area as well as the options to either attack, haunt rice fields to gain rice, haunt statues to summon units, and even eat the skulls of your fallen enemies to gain stamina and power. This allows for much varied gameplay, especially in the multiplayer department, which we will get to later. The controls work great using an Xbox controller, keyboard and mouse, or a touchscreen, and the game plays smoothly on every device I have used.
You take the role of a general, about to become the Shogun of all Japan, only to be betrayed by one of your followers. When the general arrives in the land of the dead, he does not want to wait in line more than 200 years to have a chance at an afterlife, and chaos ensues. If just looking at the game does not prove enough, it has a fantastic presentation. With its slick animated style, it tries to emulate old samurai movies, which is evident when the game uses a film grain the cut scenes. The soundtrack is the star, with a combination of classic Japanese music and modern guitar riffs.
The campaign is long and great. There are long missions which involve you progressing through a large level with story and more, and then there are matches against the AI as missions. . While the campaign is nothing amazing, it is a great way to learn how to play the game, as it teaches you the basics well. In fact, I have never played a turn based strategy game in my life and this taught me how to in Originally, I was disappointed that an AI skirmish mode did not exist, however I realized that AI skirmishes can be accessed by using Skulls Local under the Versus menu and not adding a hot seat player. Skipping to cloud functions real quick, the campaign will automatically save and sync to your Xbox Live profile. You can pick up where you left off on all of the major devices, which is much-needed, and extremely satisfying to be able to pick up and go.