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Hands-on With Sengoku BASARA HD

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Back in 2005 to combat the success of Koei's Dynasty Warriors series, Capcom released Sengoku BASARA on the PlayStation 2. Where Dynasty Warriors had always been focused on Chinese history, BASARA set out to do the same thing but with Japanese history. However, Koei had already done the same thing by releasing Samurai Warriors the year before. So Capcom made the story and characters as over the top as possible in hope of differentiating its game from Samurai Warriors. It worked. And now six games and a wildly popular anime later, Capcom has decided to go back and slap a coat of HD paint on the first three PS2 titles—Sengoku BASARA, Sengoku BASARA 2, and Sengoku BASARA 2 Heroes—for the Sengoku BASARA HD Collection.


This last weekend at the Capcom Summer Jam 2012, Kotaku East was able to get fifteen minutes with this samurai-filled collection—and the unfortunate news is, while it isn't terrible, it is a bit lackluster. Like most PS2 remaster titles seen this generation, nothing has changed gameplay-wise between the HD remaster and its original version; the changes are all visual.

At first glance, the HD looks very pretty: The frame rate is constant and the models are detailed and sharp. However, then you start to notice the problems that come from BASARA being a last-generation Dynasty Warriors clone. The draw distance is still terrible, with the scenery looking plain, dull, and muddy. The low amount of entities allowed on screen makes for a constant pop-in, pop-out of enemies mid-battle. Moreover, in the numerous in-game cutscenes, the characters' faces are completely static and have no lip movement nor change of expression. In the days of muddy PS2 SD, that might have been somewhat hidden; but in glorious HD, it stands out like a sore thumb.


So as far as HD remasters go, the Sengoku BASARA HD Collection is a competent one. The gameplay remains the same as always and the first three BASARA games have never looked better. Sadly though, as much as the HD coat of paint makes these games look their best, it serves to highlight the most dated aspects of the games as well.

The Sengoku BASARA HD Collection will be released in Japan on August 30, 2012 for the PlayStation 3. There is currently no word on an international release.

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I have a friend who's crazy about this series. She went all the way to Tokyo to see a live musical about it, and she's constantly posting her own sengoku basara artwork on FB. I've never heard of a girl being so infatuated with a videogame series before, so it's astonishing to me. What makes this one so special?