‘Samurai Bloodshow’ is a Strategic Defense Game that Oozes All Sorts of Style

When I hit up the Sega preview event this past Tuesday, there was definitely a running theme. Held at the Kabuki hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown, there was an overwhelming amount of Asian decor in the lounge Sega had reserved as well as a delicious spread of gourmet sushi, pork buns, and veggie spring rolls. It turns out that this choice of venue by Sega was deliberate and fitting, as the main title they were showcasing at this event is a game called Samurai Bloodshow [$1.99].

Out of respect for Sega’s embargo wishes, we weren’t able to talk about Samurai Bloodshow until now, but the game has been available in Japan since June and we have even had a thread in our forums for discussing the game since then. Due to the popularity of the title in Japan, Sega has now officially brought the game to the US App Store.

Samurai Bloodshow is a strategy defense game, very similar to Plants vs. Zombies [$2.99/HD]but card-based and with a striking Japanese scroll art style. The story takes place in 12th century feudal Japan and is loosely based on historical fact. Both the Taira clan and the Minamoto clan are struggling to overthrown the Japanese Imperial government. The Taira clan is eventually successful, and then turns its sights on eradicating the Minamoto clan. This is where the defensive gameplay comes in, as you play the Minamoto clan defending the constant attacks from the Taira clan.

While the story is intriguing, Samurai Bloodshow is all about the gameplay. It’s a card based game, and there are roughly 64 different kinds of cards you can use offering a variety of different kinds of soldiers, characters, and items to use in battle. You have the ability to create multiple decks if you choose, and even trade cards with other owners of the game. Playing cards or making moves costs gold, which is a huge part of the strategy.

You can choose to spend extra gold to draw more cards for your turn, but you might regret that decision later when you’re low on funds and need to make an important move. You’ll also need to be careful when placing your cards into the field of play, as changing their position can cost gold too which can really add up.

The play field can be up to 5 lanes, depending on the terrain. Dragging a card into the field will create the soldier or item on that card. With so many different card types, there are a ton of combinations you can use in conjunction with each other for different results. For example, you may use a warrior with a spear who can reach forward a couple of squares on the gridded battlefield, but place a shield-wielding soldier directly in front of him. The shield will protect your spear while still allowing him to attack incoming enemies. You can also drag additional cards onto the characters you already have in play in order to level them up.

The single player campaign has you defending your General from 10 waves of attackers, and each mission in the campaign has multiple levels of difficulty to complete. Also, a survival mode lets you test out your deck against endless waves of enemies. Then there is a versus mode, either locally over Bluetooth or online via Game Center. Here, you’re not only trying to defend your own General, but you’ll need to be more offensively minded and go after your opponent’s General as well. The multiplayer is a ton of fun, especially since there is so much nuance and strategy to the gameplay, and I can see Samurai Bloodshow being a big hit with online players.

Perhaps my favorite part about this game so far, though, is the visuals. The old-school Japanese artwork is beautiful, and there’s something charming about the simplistic animations in the game. The coolest touch is the actual scroll on the side of the screen that will actually roll up the battlefield scenery as you scroll left and right. I haven’t seen a strategy defense game with this unique of an art style since Legendary Wars [99¢/Lite/HD], and like that game Samurai Bloodshow doesn’t look like anything else currently available.

I’ve been enjoying an advanced copy of Samurai Bloodshow for the past day or so, and have really been enjoying it. I’d definitely recommend taking a look at Samurai Bloodshow, as it feels like a fresh take on a genre that’s been done to death and it has a fantastic visual style to go along with its deep strategic gameplay.

App Store Link: SAMURAI BLOODSHOW : les vagues blanches, les nuages rouges, $1.99 (Universal)