Samurai Girl is one of those games that doesn’t really try to do anything new or innovative. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A side-scrolling action RPG heavy on the 16-bit influences, Samurai Girl is a surprisingly addictive button masher with charm to spare. If you can look past the somewhat monotonous combat and level grinding, it’s a game with plenty to offer.
You play as a princess who is having what can generously be described as a rough time. A giant transformer-style robot attacks her village, kills her father, and knocks her off of a cliff, all to find a mysteriously powerful sword. Worse still, the fall causes the princess to lose her memory and the rest of the game is spent following her journey to piece things back together and get some revenge.
The action plays out like a fairly traditional side-scrolling action game. There’s a virtual d-pad and buttons to control the combat, and though the controls can feel a bit loose at times, it’s good for some mindless, button-mashy fun. In addition to your standard attack you’ll have various special abilities, which you can upgrade as you gain experience. Though you’ll learn various special abilities as you play, you can only have two equipped at any given time, so figuring out what skills to focus on is an important strategy.
Time to “rock” and roll.
Though each stage is comprised of a series of platforms, calling Samurai Girl a platformer is a bit of a stretch. The level design is very simple, with few difficult jumps, especially when you factor in the princess’ double jump ability that makes navigating each level a breeze. The focus, instead, is on the combat. Each area is teeming with bad guys that respawn each time you re-enter the area. As you move from one area to the next the bad guys will grow stronger. So on one screen you could be facing similarly powerful foes, and just one stage over you’ll be up against enemies two experience levels higher than you.
This necessitates one of the more annoying aspects of Samurai Girl: grinding. Because you’ll regularly be coming up against foes stronger than yourself– including massive, multiple health bar wielding bosses– you’ll need to go back and re-play stages to beef up your experience level and upgrade your attacks. And because combat is mostly button-mashing with a few special attacks thrown in, it can grow tiring after a while.
Samurai Girl’s old-school feel isn’t just found in its gameplay, but also in its presentation. It sports the same neo-retro, pixelated look as games like Illusia, with charming character designs, surprisingly detailed environments, and silky smooth animation. It’s not just a great example of pixel art, it’s just a great looking game.
While it may not do much new, Samurai Girl is still a solid and addictive experience. The combat is simple but fun, and the RPG elements add a layer of depth that will make you want to keep playing. That is, so long as you don’t mind putting up with a bit of level grinding, which is a necessity to getting ahead in the game.