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Skulls of the Shogun Preview

Samurais have honor, even in death.

Skulls of the Shogun is a new 2D turn based strategy game from first time developer 17-Bit. Comprised in part of former employees of EA LA (responsible for the Command and Conquer series), the game aims to please fans of titles like Shining Force with a light-hearted presentation and skull collecting. I know those two don't go together but trust me, it will  all make sense.

In this game, you play as a decorated Samurai general who's killed just before a major battle. No longer counted among the living, he must make his way through the Samurai afterlife. With only a handful of undead samurai at his disposal, this new title focuses on small skirmishes instead of giant battles. This focus makes for shorter but more intense battle where every move matters. Each unit slain in battle is a severe loss, not an expected casualty.

The title has an anime graphical style that gives a light tone to the isometric battlefield and the soundtrack is comprised of music from classic Samurai films to further the Japanese wartime aesthetic. Gameplay consists of rounds in which you position up to five of your units around the battlefield and instruct them to do various commands, such as attacking and gathering resources. As you defeat enemies you can collect their skulls and use them to turn your units into the more powerful War Demons. Each side has a general and the match ends when these shoguns of the undead are defeated.

The combat looks decent if uninspired at this time, but therein lies the potential for more depth. What kinds of abilities the different unit types have, not to mention the War Demons could diversify the battles and make for an interesting system. This remains to be seen as not many more details about the combat is known at this time but from what's been shown, the game has a lot in common with the Advance Wars series. It's certainly been a touchstone for the 17-bit team in interviews.

The game will feature a single player campaign as well as both co-op and competitive play, that can be dropped in and out of at any time. Matches can also be saved at any time and continued later. A mode called Skulls Everywhere is also known but hasn't been talked about yet. There isn't much known about this title yet but if you enjoy simple strategy games and / or colorful graphics, keep an eye on Skulls of the Shogun when it's released on the Xbox Live Arcade and PC later this year.



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