Games to look out for: Skulls of the Shogun
Recently I put up my thoughts about how too many fantasy based games, from both the east and west, center around traditional European troupes. While I was looking for a serious RPG that was built around another culture’s mythology, in some way a small downloadable title from the new developer 17-Bit Studios may fill that void. Skulls of The Shogun may not be an RPG or serious in any way, but it does draw its inspiration from Japanese lore and looks like it’s hella fun.
Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game that is attempting to change the way that we all think about turn-based strategy. Unlike most games in the genre, Skulls of the Shogun’s combat doesn’t consist of slow methodical turns but fast decisions made under the stress of a timer. The developers have said that they want to make the strategy more “arcadey” and designed the game to be played in short quick stints rather than the long hours that turn-based matches tend to be. From what I’ve seen, each match consist of players controlling a small army of units with which are used to capture rice patties and monk shrines which act like resources points and unit buildings respectfully. With rice you can purchase more units for you undead army and with the shrines you can build several different types of monks, which are the equivalence of mages in the game. The goal for both teams is to kill the other’s Shogun; the commander unit that has the ability to heal units and attack twice in a turn. As a big fan of traditional turn-based strategy, this new fast-paced take on the genre is one of the reasons I’m pretty excited to pick it up on XBLA this week.
The art and world design is the other reason why 17-bit’s first game interests me so much. The story goes that the armies that you control are samurai who have been killed and brought back as undead versions of themselves, hence the character design consist mostly of skeletons in samurai armor. The overall tone of the game seems to be highly comical in nature, with over-exaggerated animations and overtly sexualized (in a funny way IMO) geishas as side characters. Add in some funny looking designs for the gods that can be summed to fight for your side and I think you have a great unique look that should freshen the turn-based strategy landscape.
Check out the gamespot.com now playing of Skulls of the Shogun here: