Sengoku 3

Neo Geo

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

It's extremely rare for a third game (or even a movie) to be the series best, but that's exactly the situation we have here. The first "Sengoku" was an awful, awful beat-em-up while the sequel added in some much needed playability. Now with the third iteration is in an entirely different league, abandoning a few features the series is noted for while making the entire game more solid overall.

Gone is the ability to switch into other characters, but it's hardly a loss. Now four characters are available from the start, and two of the bosses make the switch after level 3 to the good side. All of these characters are easy to use with a plethora of brutal attacks and combos sent from the heavens.

The completely revamped and original system replaces the move set of old, all for the better. Each character has a weapon attack along with a punch/kick. They all also have the ability to throw projectiles. These three attacks can be intertwined in any way imaginable to cause maximum damage, though that's not their only purpose. This keeps things fresh for what is a rather long beat-em-up exercise and makes up for a small set of enemies. A combo meter is always available to tell players how many hits they have strung together.

To enhance the game further, each of the fighters has a set of two special moves (though the extra two characters have a few more) that are launched with a simple controller motion and button. Not only are these effective, but they can also significantly add to a combo string. Gaining power to put these moves in play is simply a matter of doing what the game does best, beating people, err, things up.

Character design on the player side is fine as each is perfectly useable in any situation, a rarity for the genre. A variety of attacking enemies is an infrequent occurrence as their numbers are small. Toss in a few that are highly annoying (like the frogs and pillars of heads) and there's little to like on the other side. Thankfully, that's really the games only major miss-fire in an otherwise near-perfect package.

As the final game from the original SNK, "Sengoku 3" looks fantastic, pushing the hardware with beautiful sprites and backgrounds. A few of the latter look a little blurry (many are digitized) and clash with the hand drawn sprites, though that's a minor quibble. Animation is strong, making each of those glorious combos seem as painful as they likely are. Slowdown is a non-issue even when playing in co-op mode.

A strong point for each game in the series, the soundtrack here is fantastic as a backdrop to the action. Both classical and modern at the same time, it sets the tone for each stage as the fight carries on. A few of the tracks end up being extremely catchy. Sound effects are somewhat standard fare, but they serve their purpose.

Part of a dying breed, "Sengoku 3" will likely end up being the best beat-em-up of the decade. There's not much competition left, but that doesn't mean you should sell this one short. This is a classic brawler, one that easily joins the ranks of the licensed Konami arcade and Capcom beat-em-ups of old. It's that good.


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Last updated: Monday, January 03, 2005 08:22 AM