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Skulls of the Shogun (Video Game Review)

By : Amanda Dyar on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | 11:37 AM

Skulls of the Shogun is an all new strategy title from independent developer 17-Bit. The release of Skulls of the Shogun is a noteworthy release to be sure. Not only is the game an addictive downloadable title, but it's actually the first release from publisher Microsoft Studios that will take advantage of asynchronous play that allows players to pick up and play the game across multiple Microsoft platforms in both single player campaign and online multiplayer. Fans of the turn-based strategy genre will want to check out the new release, as it offers the best gameplay the genre has seen since the release of Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, and a colorful artistic approach and a fun storyline will keep you playing even when you're feeling a bit overmatched.

The story of Skulls of the Shogun takes us to medieval Japan where the celebration of a great army general's latest conquest is cut short when he is brought down by a shadowy figure. General Akamoto finds himself awakening on a boat to the shores of the netherworld before he even realizes what is going on. This is where he decides to fight back against the armies of the underworld with the assistance of his own loyal subjects that had served the great general while they were still living. Akamoto will have to take down an imposter general, track down his betrayer in the underworld and battle his way through hordes of undead armies on his way to becoming the Shogun of the Dead. Plenty of humor and bizarre characters keep the mood light and keep you interested in a storyline that manages to remain fun through its duration despite offering the biggest plot twist early in the game. The single player campaign isn't jut tagged on in Skulls of the Shogun, and many players will be spending more time attempting to unlock all of the special gold skulls in the campaign than in multiplayer sessions.




Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy title for one to four players. Each turn, players get five moves to order their army around the map where they can attack enemies, find a better vantage point or hiding spot, harvest rice to unlock additional troops, haunt shrines to summon the troops or complete a number of other various moves. Skulls of the Shogun seems like a very simple game, but you will play through 20% of the game and your first boss encounter without even scratching the surface of what all you will need to complete the game. Different types of troops will soon be unlockable in the game, and defeated enemies drop skulls that can be eaten by your armies to level up to more powerful versions of themselves. You'll typically not control an army that is too large to handle individually, but it can sometimes be difficult to issue your commands to troops when they are huddled up for bonus area defense. Skulls of the Shogun is a difficult game that doesn't do a good job of easing players into combat. It's easy to die in the tutorial levels if you don't know what you're doing, so pay attention to the in-game hints or your enemies will be dining on your skull!



After you've completed the 20 stages in the single player campaign, there's still plenty to do and see in Skulls of the Shogun. Multiplayer can be played either online or offline in free-for-all deathmatch for up to four players or team deathmatch for four players and comes with three ways to play: player match custom games, ranked matches or the all new Skulls Anywhere mode that allows players to enjoy the action across different Microsoft devices. Skulls Anywhere allows one player to take their turn and then send it to the other players and vice versa until one player comes out victorious. In addition, your save file for the campaign can be saved to Microsoft Cloud storage to be played on other Microsoft devices on the go or on Windows 8 PC. The game's presentation also features a fantastic art design that is fondly reminiscent of Castle Crashers and other vibrant worlds of today's downloadable generation, and a catchy theme song doesn't hurt either. With so many reasons to play and so many ways to play, it's hard not to recommend Skulls of the Shogun. Just make sure you're willing to put in multiple hours to learn the intricacies of the battle system, or you may become frustrated before you summon your first demon into battle. It's time to eat some skulls!

Skulls of the Shogun is now available for Xbox LIVE Arcade, Windows 8 PC, Microsoft Surface & Windows Phone and can be purchased for 1200 Microsoft Points or $14.99. Skulls of the Shogun is rated T by the ESRB for Blood, Suggestive Themes & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Skulls of the Shogun website.

Game Features:
  • Online/Offline Multiplayer 2-4
  • Play on the Go with Skulls Anywhere
  • Online Leaderboards
  • DLC Support
  • Achievement Support


  • Game Information:
    Developer: 17-Bit
    Publisher: Microsoft Studios
    Platforms: Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed), Windows 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone
    Release Date: January 30, 2013

    Score: 8 out of 10
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