Sengoku Basara 4: Drop the Anime, Play the Game

Sengoku Basara

Obligatory “PUT YA GUNS ON” introduction!

Yes, this is a review of a game that came out at least 2 years ago. Despite knowing full well that Capcom had no plans to localize any future installments in the Sengoku Basara series outside of Japan, I desperately hoped we’d get an English version if I waited long enough. I waited so long that I forgot about the game entirely.

At this point, Capcom is already set to release an expansion of the original (Sengoku Basara 4: Sumeragi). Seeing a Japanese copy of the game at an anime convention jogged my memory and my pipe dreams of Capcom ever translating the phonebook-sized script of Sengoku Basara 4 washed away. I finally bought the game I should have just ordered online in the first place and all was right in the world. The only thing left to do now is share my pure, unbridled joy with you.

Much like the anime (which I’m guessing most of you are probably more familiar with), the Sengoku Basara games mix an equal amount of serious and silly. The combat aspect is insanely fun, allowing you to pull off crazy Devil May Cry-esque combos by figuring out which moves transition well into others to create an endless amount of possibilities. It’s an intense game that you can’t beat just by having a seizure on your controller. The beauty of SB4 is that it’s deep enough for you to take everything to heart…but then it starts tickling you and making weird noises like a big dork, making you involuntarily laugh at how goofy it is. There’s a guy whose weapon is basically a deer, a stage based on scantily clad muscle men celebrating a festival, another stage based on cooking a hot pot the size of a swimming pool, and a giant Gundam flying around like it’s no big deal in feudal Japan.

Sengoku Basara4

I unlocked this costume after brainwashing all of Japan into following my made-up religion. That was his story.

I’m trying to move more towards reviewing things based on the experience I had since not everyone wants to hear about the minutae of gameplay mechanics. So how is playing Sengoku Basara 4 after not touching Utage or SB3 for a few years? I’ve fallen hopelessly in love all over again! There’s something I love about games that are fun to play and don’t take themselves seriously. They don’t have to be all grimdark and edgy – they’re content just being as ridiculous as possible. How else would I get to wield 6 swords at once or take over Japan with a kingdom of women who don’t want men in control?

Another bonus of SB4 is that it feeds my love for all things Sengoku Basara that the recent anime adaptation was not able to do. Season 1 and 2 were great, but the staff shuffled around for Judge End and IG Production were no longer on board. After that, things took a nosedive and I simply couldn’t bring myself to finish the series. It was extremely depressing. Now my only hope is to play the games and see the stories play out as I go through them myself. Actually, SB4 has an option of picking an “anime route” when you’re playing the campaign mode, and it usually shows you an original anime clip at the end. It’s a really nice touch, and having anime cutscenes in a game is better than pumping out an entire mediocre anime. I was very pleased.

Sengoku Basara3

Almost everyone else rides a horse and then this guy comes in on his Gundam like an asshole

I don’t claim to understand everything that’s going on (it’s a Japanese game and they’re speaking in old timey Japanese to make matters worse), but man am I having a great time. I may have lost my faith in the anime, but I can keep enjoying the franchise through games. And in a way, it’s better like this. I’ll spend more time playing this than I would watching a 2 or even 4 cour anime. I can play with my friends and communicate with them instead of just quietly watching an anime. I can replay it over and over again and always expect something slightly different since there so many different story routes (up to 3 per character and there’s a shit ton of characters) and every level plays out a little bit differently.

This is making me think that maybe I should play more anime-based games. It immerses you fully into the universe of whatever the show is and allows you to experience that with your friends. In that vein of thinking, I recently caved into the PSN Flash Sale and bought a SAO game for my Vita. It’s a series I didn’t particularly enjoy watching, but I feel like it may do better as a game where I’m left to carve my own path. Maybe only crappy anime have good video game adaptations, and only good games have crappy anime adaptations. I can’t think of a single anime adaptation of a good video game in recent memory that did the game justice. I’ll need to do more testing to be sure of this hypothesis. But if SAO is a good game when the anime was so iffy, then I know I can start building a case here.

Let’s hope the upcoming God Eater anime isn’t a flop though, because I really liked that game…

Sengoku Basara2

Joke weapon throwing stars for only the most discerning ninjas.


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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6 Responses to “Sengoku Basara 4: Drop the Anime, Play the Game”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Aha, so this is the game title that shows up under your name every time you’ve been signing in to PSN.

    You really seem to like this series. Not that I can blame you since I’m a franchise nut myself. Check my trophy list and you’ll see that I’ve played the two inFAMOUS games, the Batman: Arkham series (Asylum, City, Origins) and nearly every Assassin’s Creed game available for the PS3. Even Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for PS Vita is in my possession. I’m currently working on the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. That Barthandelus boss for the first game has me at a standstill.

    Sengoku Basara 4 looks like an interesting game. All those random happenings make it sound wacky and if it allows Devil May Cry-esque moves, than it’s a nice bonus. Speaking of that and Capcom in general, what did you think of DmC: Devil May Cry after playing it?

    I’ve yet to make comparisons but I’m wary any time I hear there’s an anime out based on whatever genre of video game. It shoots hopes and expectations full of holes. I watched “BlazBlue: Alter Memory” without playing any of the games and it was dreadfully weak.

    • Overcooled says:

      Yeah, I’ve been playing it a ton. My friends are addicted now too!

      How’s the final fantasy trilogy? I haven’t played an FF game in ages.

      Sengoku Basara is probably the best beat-em-up style game I’ve seen. It’s really fun and all the characters are completely different from each other…impressive considering the huge cast. As for DmC I really enjoyed it. I actually forget a lot about it but I remember liking it!

      • BlackBriar says:

        How’s the final fantasy trilogy? I haven’t played an FF game in ages.

        I’m still on the first entry, the original Final Fantasy XIII. It’s a good and interesting game although frustrating at times. Mainly because I always have to shuffle characters and methods to win boss battles. A strategy that works on one boss won’t on another, especially when it’s of a completely different class. Like I mentioned above, the boss named “Barthandelus” who’ve encountered for the second time is giving me a headache.

        It’s just as bad with the Eidolith challenges, the summoning monsters that partner up with each character. What’s needed to beat a boss applies here as well. Each time you encounter one assigned to a certain character, the assigned is poisoned and time trialed. You have to beat them before the timer runs out. If they die, everyone loses and you’re right back where you were before facing it.

  2. Samsura says:

    Don’t forget Bahamut was based on a shitty mobile game, but the anime exceeded all expectations. I think you cracked the matrix Overcooled.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Well, there are exceptions. For a game with a bad reputation (I’ve never played it), the Bahamut anime was awesome so I was more than happy to find out a second season is in the works.

    • Overcooled says:

      Oh my gosh. It’s true. I might really have something here with this theory!

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