Following the rather disappointing Way of the Samurai 2, Samurai Western enters the series with a new developer and publisher. Out of Capcom's hands, the series has turned into nothing but a hack and slash title, fun in short bursts. Its lasting value depends on your patience for the genre and how much repetitiveness you can handle.
This is an obviously flawed title, featuring some sloppy coding and a frustrating camera. It's easy to become stuck in various sections of the levels, and the camera doesn't want to adjust when this happens. All it ends up doing is bringing the player closer to the bland, almost first generation graphics engine.
These ancient visuals only make the game frustrating, especially because of the nature of its design. A beat-em-up in this vein is expectedly repetitive. The genre works that way as it sells games on the thrill of taking down multiple opponents with a single slash. However, Samurai Western takes this too far.
Everything in it is repetitive. Stages, enemies, and moves are constantly recycled. This is made worse as the game moves quicker than the player can level up, leaving them helpless unless they replay stages they've already conquered for more experience.
Still, Western pulls through. It's wild, campy style and level up system makes earning the rewards for constantly beating those stages worthwhile. Goofy accessories like glasses, umbrellas, and guitars adorn lead character Gojiro as he fights, and also adds to the attributes. These can even be adjusted in various positions and sizes. The system allows multiple items to be included at once, but only if they stay within a weight limit. This adds about the only strategy to the game.
Slashing away at enemies and watching the absurdly funny blood sprays also levels the character up in more ways, which mixes things up slightly as weapons are added. The combo system used for combat is nothing but mashing away on a single button, the same thing Dynasty Warriors made its name on, just without the same amount of enemies or the major thrills.
That means this is a little more subdued, as enemies fire away with various guns, and Gojiro strikes back with his sword(s). It can be frustrating, especially with the boss fights. Their attacks rarely pull above cheap, and if you're unable to power-up with a number of special maneuvers, be prepared for a long, aggravating struggle.
This is all made worse by simply absurd voice samples, as all three taunts in the game fly every few seconds. That's in no way an exaggeration, and coming close to the games end, it could be too much to take. The only advantage it has is allowing players to locate enemies, though the radar does that just fine.
Even through all the complaints, all the aggravation, and all the frustrations, Samurai Western still does what it does better than most games. Yes, it's tough to go back to such simplistic action gaming like this after the expansive God of War, but Western proves there is still a place for this style of game. They're easy to pick up, maintain the retro feel of the genre, and are fast paced enough to maintain interest. If you're a fan of beat-em-ups from their heyday, this is the type of game you've been craving for some time.