The Dynamek Perspective – Special Edition: Flashback

Another fifth Sunday, another Special Edition for the masses. I'm aware that I am a little late with this, but some VERY big things are currently in the works for us here at KPB and my attention was somewhat divided. Apologies. If you have the time, I'd like to talk to you all about Capcom...

Now, it's no secret that I've been very critical of Capcom in the past, but my once harsh opinion of the company & its practices have softened quite a bit as of late. That being said, I'd like to reminisce for a second & go back to 2010. You see, Capcom released a game that left a very deep impact on me that year. In order to spare anyone reading this some frustrating guessing, the title I'm referring to is Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes. Through avenues I can't precisely recall right now, I remember getting an invite to an even in Manhattan showcasing the game. I saw no reason to decline... hell, it looked like fun. For as long as I can remember, Sengoku Basara was always Capcom's answer to Koei's Samurai Warriors series. The only real drawback was that I never got a chance to play it before that night.

The staff at the event made everyone feel very comfortable. They even had a projection screen set up for people to play the game & try their hand at entertaining the crowd. Because it was only a demo at heart that we were able to play, the character selection was very limited. When my turn came up, I chose series mainstay Masamune Date, the "One-Eyed Dragon". Before we go any further, it should be noted that yours truly is somewhat obsessive-compulsive. Whenever my interest is piqued by something, I have to know as much about it as possible. This lead me to watching the correlating anime based off the series. In doing so (and in relation to my choice of character), I learned that Masamune fought with six swords, a la Wolverine. On top of that, in both the anime's dub & the game, he was voiced by Reuben Langdon, the same guy who did the voice for Dante in the Devil May Cry series. Even before really playing, the game was firing on all cylinders for me. Although it was only a single stage exhibition, I had a LOT of fun with Masamune's War Dance (six sword style). Even managed to pick up a little swag from the gathering.

Now for a little personal history. I love the Dynasty Warriors series. Been playing it since DW2 & have been a fan ever since. Aside from the fact that it's always been pure cathartic joy for me, it's a beat 'em up based on my favorite book, Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Gunazhong. Each installment improved on the core gameplay & introduced new features that made me one very happy gamer. For my money, the pinnacle of the series was Dynasty Warriors 5. Unique individual stories, no more cloned weapon movesets, a Weight system for all the weapons, awesome voice acting & some of the most memorable music of the series (at the time). Then Dynasty Warriors 6 happened. For the record, I appreciate what they did to try & innovate the game, but I will always view DW6 as a beautiful misstep. As such, my appreciation of the series waned a bit. In the time between DW6 DW7, I got invited to that event. Suffice it to say, SB:SH filled a void in my gaming life.

A few months later, I was able to pick up the game & immediately dove headfirst into it. I cannot stress enough how much this game impressed me right from the start. The character designs & overall presentation were vivid, each of the stages were remarkable little puzzles unto themselves, the music was incredible & the game was just pure fun. Each character played differently with their own ludicrously unique style & they all had personality to spare... even the mute one! However, as I came to learn, the real beauty of this game was in its replay value. Due to that aforementioned OCD of mine, I'm a real completionist when it comes to games. In order to obtain all the odds & ends it had to offer, you have to beat the game with each character a total of four times. In nearly any other instance, this would be tedious & laborious, but not here... not with this game. I would come to find out that every time you beat it with a character, you'd be rewarded with alternate costumes, unlockable/secret characters, new viable weapons, different paths in their storyline, remixed stages and -- the real prize -- a piece of their "Kanji Banner": four items that, when equipped in tandem, granted everyone an ever more special ability than what they already brought to the table.

That built-in system provided me with hours & hours of increased joy playing the game. Want to know the best part? None of that was DLC. Everything that could be unlocked in that game was attainable through nothing more than simply playing the game. There were no expansion packs, no pre-order bonuses or anything like that... all you had to do was play. I know how ridiculous it might seem that I'm making a big deal of that, but keep in mind that this was done during the DLC Era. At the time, the only way you could enjoy most titles was by heavily investing into it after your initial purpose. Personally, I see most DLC as a way of rewarding a title that proves itself to me. There are some games out there that I won't buy any add-ons for after the fact because they don't earn the rite. On the other hand, a select few titles I've played over the years are fully loaded because their initial gameplay/setup won me over. Samurai Heroes, though, didn't fall into either category. It was ultimately just a game deserved to be played.

By now, I'm sure you're exceedingly curious as to why I brought up a non-fighter on a website that exclusively focuses on the genre. Well, this might sound idealistic, but... there's a part of me that would like to think that the Capcom that made Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes way back when is the same Capcom that's now giving us Street Fighter 5, not the company that fell from grace & suffered those darker times. They've already gone on record to say that we won't need any more discs after that first initial purchase & that all the content in the game can be obtained through gameplay. Sure, you can buy it as DLC later on, but we have the choice now. I don't know about any of you, but I see that as a major olive branch to the gaming community & a huge improvement in how Capcom treats its fans.

The best surprises often come from the least likely sources.

The most wonderful surprises can often come from the unlikeliest sources.

Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.

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