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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Sci-fi samurai game lacks style
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Take a classic of Japanese cinema, fast-forward the setting into the future and pack it with intense swordsplay.

Screenshot from Seven Samurai 20XX game
You take on the role of dashing samurai, Natoe
Unfortunately Seven Samurai 20XX is a pale reflection of the source of its inspiration, Akira Kurosawa's 1954 epic, The Seven Samurai.

The game is a slash and hack fest, with little of the sophistication or subtlety of the film.

The cutsy feel and simple controls of Seven Samurai 20XX will appeal to children, but adults may find it lacking in substance.

Mashing buttons

The third-person game by developers Sammy follows a similar plot - a band of unemployed samurai join forces to protect villagers from marauding bandits.

But in 20XX, the threat comes from evil mechanical humanoids.

Screenshot from Seven Samurai 20XX game
The fighting sequences are fierce and intense
Gamers take on the role of the dashing lead character, Natoe. He has some nifty moves and combination of attacks. Essentially it all comes down to mashing one attack button repeatedly.

The simplicity and the speed of the combat help when facing multiple opponents at the same time.

And the fights are adrenalin-pumping moments to be savoured, packed with flamboyant swordplay and slo-mo camera sweeps.

But once the enemies have been slain, the game starts to feels rather tired.

Essentially the game play boils down to fighting, walking down a passage, watching a cut scene, another little walk and then another battle.

It gets a rather tedious after a while. There is just more of the same to look forward to, with a distinct lack of variety and spice.

Generic look

As for the look of the game, it is set in an anonymous, futuristic city - think of it like the world of Blade Runner but clean of any immorality and dirt.

Screenshot from Seven Samurai 20XX game
The characters look like generic anime figures
The characters are similarly child-friendly. They are cute but generic anime figures which would not be out of place in a Japanese animation TV series.

It does not help that the dialogue also sounds like it came from a discarded TV script.

The games industry has a poor track record when it comes to transferring films from the celluloid to the TV screen.

Seven Samurai 20XX serves to reinforce the view that some movies should be left undisturbed in the film vaults.

Seven Samurai 20XX, published by Sega, is out now for the PlayStation 2


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