Ishi Sengoku Den Sadame: Nintendo 3DS Review


Ishi Sengoku Den Sadame, or just Sadame for short, is a new game out on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. It’s based off a bunch of Asian myths and legends, including the legend of Nobunaga. You may know the legend of the general who wanted to conquer Japan from an Asian studies class or Pokemon Conquest. Throw in a story based around evil karma and four warriors (well, a samurai, ninja, rogue, and monk) that are immune to becoming evil monsters when they kill a being filled karma.

I’ll be honest, if you’re looking for an involved plot-line or  interesting story, I wouldn’t look here. It has a story, yes, but it’s pretty loose and at some points a little confusing. However, the gameplay, for the most part, is pretty awesome. It’s got skill trees out the wazoo, spells attacks, attacks you earn from defeating bosses, loads of equipment decisions and all the trappings of an RPG that isn’t here to waste your time. That said, it isn’t completely a strategist’s game. Have no fear my fellow brute force players, you can charge right through each level as much as you’d like because while you lose some of the items you find when you die, you keep the EXP. The only thing you really have to fear are bosses and getting ganked. If you die at the hands of a boss then you’ll have to start the whole level over again to further the story. In each area of the level, enemies can spawn multiple times and if you end up in the middle of a bunch of enemies when they spawn you might get ganked as you get stunned for a moment when you are attacked. There’s no invincibility time either, so you’ll just get pounded until you die.

If you’re looking for an epic story look elsewhere, but if you feel like button-mashing and customizing your character’s abilities to the max then go right ahead and download it from the eShop. Here’s my breakdown of Sadame‘s rating.

The music is charming and certainly gives that ancient Eastern vibe – however, it’s also repetitive. The music sounds similar in many different instances. It gets old, but isn’t overbearing. I’m giving the audio a solid 3.

The graphics make me think of old Japanese rogue-likes and RPG Maker games. The monsters are interesting to look at and the bosses are even better. They’re no spectacular pixel masterpieces, but they’re cool nonetheless. The scenery is good quality art too and the characters have a little personality in their appearance. The professional pixel art earned it a 4.

While the gameplay could certainly be better, I appreciate that this game doesn’t want to waste your time in some ways. I could’ve used a proper tutorial and I literally figured out the equipment requirements an hour or two before I wrote this article. The skill tree, called go-gyo, is based off a Chinese concept, rather than Japanese, named Wu Xing. It gets translated as ‘Five Elements’ and it’s the complicated skill tree you get to work with in Sadame. Go-gyo and the special attacks called spells and karma, as well as the assist system, are the highlights of the game. Other than your weapons, you can equip almost any equipment, but the best will give you spells for your character class. One of my favorite spells is for rogues, called Soul Strike that makes allies out of any monsters that are killed with it on. It could be said that the makers of Sadame mashed together every form of character customization with the skill tree, spells, karma, equipment, and gem placement mechanics. You might like it or you might hate it, but either way I think you’ll like the assist system.

Sadame Go-Gyo aka Wu Xing
The skill tree is based off a Chinese, Taoist philosophy called Wu Xing.

While you usually find the assist system just a StreetPass feature, in Sadame, you can have your other saves help you. For example, my main was a level 16 monk. When I got stuck on a level, I brought in my level 10 samurai to help. It also makes getting through the initial levels a piece of cake if you want to play through as each class. That means your hard work in one save is rewarded in others. This also goes for equipment considering you share an inventory with all your save files. If you get a great item for a rogue in your samurai save then you can just switch saves and equip it. The interesting and complex mechanics earned Sadame a 4 for gamplay.

Lastly, the charm got a full 5. Why? It was fun! Sure, it has choices that aren’t well explained and maybe the customization system is a little too complicated, but I haven’t had this much fun button-mashing since Super Smash Bros. and I usually lost to my strategist brother when it came to that. I think this is a game I’ll find myself coming back to when I least expect it – or when I need to get some frustration out.

Have you played Sadame? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments!