Skulls of the Shogun – Impressions

17 Bit’s Skulls of the Shogun is the game that the Xbox ecosystem has been waiting for; appearing on Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows 8.  While iOS and Android have had blockbuster mobile titles like Robot Entertainment’s Hero Academy and Epic’s Infinity Blade, Microosft has had trouble just getting the older, less deep games onto Windows Phone.  The games that Windows Phone is missing is not the Fruit Ninja’s and Temple Runs of the world; they are deep, complex games that in many ways have come to challenge console gaming for superiority.

Skulls of the Shogun is one of those games.  While easy to to approach, it is a deep turn based strategy game with beautiful hand drawn graphics that look just as good on Windows Phone as they do on the flagship Xbox 360 arcade version.  This is the first game that people on other platforms will be jealous of, and they have every right to be.  Inspired by Advanced Wars, 17 Bit has moved away from the grid system that most games of this type employ and has moved to a direct move system.  Each unit has a circle that it can move within and the player has full control to move anywhere in that circle.  The simplicity of the game carries over to unit design.  Not including the General, there are 3 different units: Archer, Infantry and Calvary.   Added to these are 3 different Monks which can be summoned by possessing shrines.  The game also has a mineral system which involves haunting rice paddies and using the rice gained to summon new units.

The game itself has brought a very interesting and hopefully copied multiplayer element to Xbox Live.  Asynchronus games can be played on all platforms and one can jump from platform to platform while playing the same game.  Here windows phone has an advantage with game notifications, where on Xbox 360 the only way to see your current games seemed to be by opening up Skulls and manually checking.  Campaigns can also be saved to the cloud and can be continued on any of the 3 platforms.  The Xbox 360 arcade version does have one advantage as it has a real time multiplayer that can be played from xbox to xbox.

Since 17 Bit was unable to give me a Windows Phone review copy before the launch day (I’m looking at you Microsoft!) I will only give these impressions of the game.  This is Windows Phone site, so I can’t give my full review without spending some quality time with the Windows Phone version.  I will however say that this is going to be a definite buy recommendation, especially because the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions are out with a price cut now.  So far I have had a chance to play through a large portion of the game on the Xbox 360 and it really shines.  Unlike most fps games where the campaign has little to do with skill in multiplayer, the campaign of skulls teaches important strategy skills that directly translate to the multiplayer game.  So I recommend that before starting multiplayer get through at least a portion of the campaign.  Soon I will have a full review of this title, but if anyone has specific questions about the game please enumerate them in the comments.


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