Sunday, February 3, 2013

Demo Friday: I tried it two of three ways

Shut up, I know that it is Sunday.

I tried to awaken. It never happened.

Skulls of the Shogun came out for every platform Microsoft could throw it at simultaneously. The obvious one is XBLA, but it squeaked out for Windows and Windows Phone as well. This would be meaningful if saves moved across from one version to the other or if buying one game gave you access to all three. Instead  it is just a game that was designed for one platform and then show horned into the other two.

But which came first?

I tried it on the 360 first because that is where my biggest screen is and it has the most comfortable place to sit. I honestly didn't know what kind of game it was when I started. The art style, which I do like, looked like a good fit for an action RPG. In spite of just finishing Torchlight 2 I was ready for another one. Nope, this is turn based strategy, reminiscent of the last (I think?) Arc the Lad game that came out for the PS2. You do manually control the basic movement of the characters, just within a restricted range. It was so by the numbers that I got bored very quickly: choose a unit, move, attack, back off. I literally fell asleep before I finished the demo level.

Writing off the game that quickly because I am not a fan of the genre is not fair. Plus, there was another version to try. My swiftly aging desktop has Windows 8 shoehorned on to it and proved, thankfully, up to the task of running Skulls of the Shogun. It looked a little better thanks to a higher resolution. The sound took a restart to get working, but I can hardly blame the game for that. Moving units with the mouse worked slightly better than using a controller thanks to its accuracy, but there were a few telling UI quirks that proved more irritating the longer I played. I could not advance dialogue or end a turn without manually clicking on an icon on the screen. These icons were on opposite corners to keep them from obscuring the action, but this also made clicking them a chore. It sounds petty, because it is, but it was the clue I needed to figure out which version came first.

Skulls of the Shogun is a tablet game. I wish I had one to try it on and I may yet give it a shot on my phone just to see how it runs. The desktop and Xbox versions were afterthoughts and it shows. The problems don't really effect how enjoyable the game is. It is, in my opinion, a very vanilla turn based strategy. In other words: boring. I just hope this 'reverse' design direction is not the norm.

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