First Samurai

Title	       First Samurai
Game Type      Action Adventure
Players	       1
HD Installable Yes (With Patch)
Compatibility  All Amigas (With Patch available on Aminet)
Company	       Vivid Image/Imageworks/MirrorSoft
Submission     Seppo Typpö ( Profiled Reviewer

There is something glorious in the world of a samurai soldier. Not only
are these fighters extremely skillful with their razor-sharp swords but
they also conform to their own honor codes which dictate their (sometimes
brutal) destinies. As such they make extremely good fodder for arcade and
adventure game figures. Vivid Image took advantage of this and produced a
game which had both arcade action and adventure puzzles and which also
manages to convey some of the atmosphere of the old samurai movies.

First Samurai has a thin background story of a young apprentice warrior
who follows the Demon King, (the game's main villain who murdered his
master) through time itself. The game sees our hero battling through
four-way scrolling 2D levels, fighting various monsters while trying to
solve the puzzles and to find the level exit. His final goal is to catch
the murderer and then revenge the untimely and unjustified death of his

First Samurai comes on two disks with a manual that contains the
protection codes. The game has also disk protection but it can be
installed to hard disk with a WHDLoad patch (firstsamurai.lha) which can
be found from Aminet or from the excellent WHDLoad support page.

In the beginning of First Samurai our young hero is magically transported
to the close proximity of a "regeneration pot". These pots are scattered
around the level and serve as restart points. Player can activate any pot
the character finds by storing some Mystical Energy (ME) into it. If
the player dies the game is restarted from the last activated pot. This
eliminates the need to cover old ground after death and it can also be
used to quickly move the hero between different parts of the level.

After entering the first level, the player fights through the first
monsters with bare hands. The game sports an idea that each killed monster
releases some mystical energy. After the hero has collected enough ME he
gets a samurai sword which can be used to waste enemies more efficiently.

The sword is a life-safer in another way too - if the player fights poorly
he will first lose Magical Energy. If he continues to do poorly and
loses enough ME the sword is eventually lost. The neat trick is that the
lost sword transforms some ME into much needed physical energy - allowing
the player to survive and continue the fight with bare hands.

The game has a fairly sedate pace which means the main character slowly
walks around the level disposing of all sorts of enemies ranging from
monsters to other warriors. The main focus in the game are the fiendish
puzzles which must be solved before a player can progress to later levels.
The puzzles and levels are varied and well designed. There are secret
rooms to find, plenty of magical items to use and additional armament to

Magic plays a significant part in solving puzzles. The magic items can be
picked up only if enough ME is collected. These items can be used to
overcome some otherwise inpenetrable areas like walls of fire, rivers and
other similar stuff. There's also a Wizard Mage who can be summoned in
certain situations. The young warrior is not very skillful in magic but he
can at certain times call the old Master to help him.

Presentation-wise, the game sports well drawn 32-colour graphics with some
nice animation, especially in the main character with lots of fancy moves
at his disposal. The soundtrack also deserves an honorable mention with
excellent music and funny 'oriental' sampled sound effects.

What lifts First Samurai to 'Classic Amiga Game' status? First, it marries
action sequences perfectly into adventure puzzles. Unlike in most arcade
games First Samurai challenges the player to choose whether to fight or
try to find another way around the problem. It is more of a thinking man's
game than pure bred action arcade gore-fest.

Second, the fighting part is very good, with plenty of moves. The control
system takes a few moments to learn but after that the player is able to
slide through the hordes of enemies with a deadly grace. The additional
weapons vary from level to level. When suitably used they offer
considerable help in annihilating the monsters from a safe distance.

Finally, the game just oozes quality. Everything in this game is well
thought out and in the right place. It has excellent graphics and music
and perfectly balanced gameplay which is supported by the nicely adjusted
difficulty curve and the smart save game system which allows a
non-frustrating progression to further levels. The main character also has
true charisma (the way he yells "Oh no, my sword!" every time he loses his
sharp "friend" is bound to raise a smile on the face of even the most
jaded adventurer).

First Samurai might not please the people who want their hack'n'slash
games to contain only fast action and minimal brain work. The slow tempo
in this game takes some time to get used to as well as learning the
multitude of moves the player has at his (her) disposal but it is all worth
the pain. At the end, First Samurai offers an original and sometimes
humorous view to the world of samurai soldiers and is highly recommenned
to all fans of entertaining arcade adventure games.

Graphics : excellent graphics with nice character animation
Sound    : mix of brilliant music with good sound effects
Gameplay : challenging hack'n'slash with emphasis on puzzle solving

Tested on  A500 (from floppies)
           A1200 with 68040 (BlizzardPPC) (from hard disk with WHDLoad

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