Sengoku 3 Review

Sengoku 3 Review 1.0

Sengoku 3 Review

(by Zinho)

The last installment in the Sengoku trilogy, Sengoku 3 (Sengoku Denshō 2001) was released by SNK during the final stretch of the Neo Geo’s life cycle, while the first part was released right at the beginning of it. Developed by Noise Factory, which was responsible for the development of other titles on the Neo, it is a beat ‘em up (or “bump”) situated in feudal Japan and other countries such as China and even Brazil. The game is chock-full of spirits and demons, and you can select one of six playable characters to defeat them, each one quite different from the others. I bought an AES copy from the Neo Store (I assure you this is an unbiased review) for a pretty penny in 2021, but a MVS kit can be procured at a more affordable price. The size of the cart is somewhat big too, at 364 megs it packs one hell of a punch. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of Sengoku 3 (oh no, a positive review of something you don’t care for, let me close that tab for you).

Graphics - 8/10

The character design is superb. All six characters look unique and well drawn, it seems to be inspired by the Samurai Shodown series and the animation is quite fluid and enjoyable. Kagetsura’s sword, Kongoh’s metal staff and the enemy weapons all look great, it would be great if some foes had bright red blood, but they are undead after all. Boss sprites are big and special effects look marvelous. Some digitized artwork looks to be a little out of place in this one but it’s still 24-bit (I’ve summed it up for you) eye candy. My only problem here is with the backgrounds, washed out colors and empty scenes which pale in comparison to King of Fighters or even older games. It appears as though they were hastily done in a lazy manner. The objects are nice, there’s even a Neo Geo Pocket hiding in a barrel. I’d say that even with the cons, the pros make up for them.

Music and SFX - 9/10

The score was composed by Toshikazu Tanaka, known for his work in Fatal Fury 2, in the latter Metal Slug games and King of Fighters series, among others. The soundtrack is thoroughly enjoyable, the USA and Brazil tracks being my favorite. It has a techno essence combined with Japanese themes and it’s very memorable. It sets the tone to the brutal beatings that you will engage in. I find the lack of a voiceover in the intro is bizarre, as the game could have a couple of extra megs for this, but then again it would probably be kind of cheesy and would be unnecessary. The sound effects are great, swords deflecting each other, grunts and death screams are awesome. I can’t find fault in them. They are brutal and very crisp. I would say that this game has some of the best audio ever to grace a Noise Factory game.

Gameplay - 8/10

Each character has a unique weapon and specials, called ninja arts. Unfortunately some of the opponents have long range weapons and they’re bound to hide offscreen and hit you with them or with their projectiles. It’s cheap just like the boss attacks. The final boss is quite powerful and can fend off your attacks easily. It takes a lot of practice to master this beat ‘em up, but you have some tricks up your sleeve for that. Ninja arts can quickly shred the opposition, each playable character has up to three of them. Your punches can start combos and dashing and punching or kicking can lead to huge air combos. You’re going to have to herd the supernatural beings if you want to get big combos, you can do that by walking diagonally and being patient. If somehow one of the bad guys is about to stick you from the other side it’s best just to turn into a log and burn everybody, but you lose life in doing so. Your slashes are a powerful attack and projectiles are very versatile, but the ultimate attack which drains your energy gauges to hell just obliterates everyone. It’s best to use ninja arts constantly to avoid just storing energy until the gauges stop absorbing it. The gameplay on this title is rewarding yet a little flawed.

Replay Value - 10/10

With so many playable characters (quite a lot for a “bump”), a few alternate paths in some levels and the ability to enjoy this in 2P mode, the big journey provided by Sengoku 3 is worth embarking on over and over again. Being able to coordinate a game plan with a friend (which I’ve done and it feels great) is beyond entertaining. Mastering combos is satisfying and you will likely pick this up again when you’re craving a decent Neo Geo experience.

Average Score - 8.75

This is a must have for any Neo collector, unless you’re a picky collector or a player that doesn’t like (SNK) beat ‘em ups.
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