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Game Review #354: Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Steven Green

Developer: 17-Bit

Publisher: Golem Entertainment

Category: Turn-Based Strategy

Release Date: 07.11.2019

Price (at time of review): $19.99

Buy Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Shunned Shogun

Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition is a turn-based strategy game in the vein of Advance Wars that offers silly characters, difficult combat scenarios, and tons of fun gameplay. Battle through varying levels in the campaign mode to help General Akamoto get revenge and fight to become the Shogun of the Dead. Also offering an online multiplayer mode, this game offers all the replay potential you would look for in a game like this. Quirky, intuitive, and thoughtful; battle on in Skulls of the Shogun!

Et tu, Brute?

You play through Skulls of the Shogun’s campaign mode through the eyes of General Akamoto, a formerly living general who was fighting to become Shogun before getting stabbed in the back and killed by a shadowy figure of unknown origin. Upon arriving in the land of the dead he finds that entry is slowed to potential hundred year wait times, and finding this quite unreasonable he decides to take on the forces of the Shogun of the Dead in order to take over and be the ruler he was destined to be in life. Travelling through the regions you meet characters of interesting personality who are all fun and quirky in their own ways. But beware, you also will find plenty of drama and a continuation of the evil plots you succumbed to in life. Don’t trust anyone.

Cranium Crunchers

In this title you will find some classic turn-based strategy mechanics, as well as some interesting derivatives that make for a unique experience. You start with an army that includes your general, archers, samurai (infantry), and cavalry units. With these troops you match up against a similarly casted enemy army and attempt to outmaneuver and strategize against them while completing the objectives. The gameplay also consists of considering counterattacks from the enemy units, which can be manipulated based on troop placement and situational awareness, and this adds another dimension to the otherwise straight forward move-attack cycle.

The main interesting addition to this title in the ability for your units to eat the skulls of defeated dead men. With this you gain back health, increase your max health, and move closer to the evil evolution into a demon-soldier. Each unit can make this transformation, and in this form, you gain additional attacks and a maxed-out health bar. This is obviously advantageous as it allows you to maximize your troops’ fighting potential, and deciding which units to pump up is something that you must consider and change up based on the situation in which you find yourself, the map you are on, or the units you are against.

Finally, the last part of the basic gameplay you will work through is the summoning ability and farming. There are rice patties on some levels that can be “haunted” which allows your side to gain valuable rice from it each turn (for 6 turns) that allows you to summon new units. Shrines are available as well that must also be converted to your side to allow you to do this summoning. This is crucial in the tougher maps and is something that will be a major focus of the early game of each match you participate in. You also have shrines that summon a single special unit to your side. These units include: the Fox Monk, who is a healer unit; Salamander Monk, who uses deadly fire spells and summons; the Crow Monk, who uses wind magic; and finally, the Tanuki Monk, who uses field shifting abilities.

Side Hustles

Besides the deep gameplay you can let yourself melt into; you also have some fun side items that add another dimension to the gameplay. You have a leaderboard for each level that lets you try to improve your score and move your way up against all other players, per most leaderboards. You also have Golden Skull achievements that are bonus objectives for each level that can make beating the level harder or take you on a different route to beat the level. These achievements can include beating the map in a certain amount of time, defeating the enemy general in certain ways, and many more interesting objectives. There is also a player progression system in which you gain experience points as you progress and level up with advancement. Along with this you gain emblem-emotes you can use with the multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer Potential

I want to first note that the online multiplayer functionality was not available at the time of this review, so this portion of the review is not based on my personal experience with this mode. However, if the multiplayer comes through as advertised it should offer a ton of replay potential in a game that offers great gameplay. The game offers up to 4-player battles with either local or online functionality on multiple available maps. Hoping for a smooth launch for the multiplayer and will be sinking some time into this mode as the main campaign is brilliant!

Feudal Craftsmanship

A beautifully hand-drawn art style is what you have to look forward to along with all the other spectacular parts of this game. It truly looks great, and the vibrant colors and designs add a ton of flavor and charm to this title. Character models are extremely detailed, and the game is so well done in design and in character building that the game’s story was picked up for an animated series on the Nerdist. Even though this is first and foremost a strategy game, totally focused on gameplay, the game oozes brilliance in its background features, and the art, story, and characters add a tasty cherry to this well-crafted game. Animated cutscenes take you through the story, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

In closing…

Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition is a superb title in the turn-based strategy genre. With all the charm of a Saturday morning cartoon, I found myself feeling inspirations from classics like Samurai Jack and other top-notch cartoons. On top of just having fun characters, story, and art design, you also have baseline gameplay that matches up with most of the diamonds in this genre. A unique non-grid-based movement system, deep strategy with simple mechanics, and great jump in and jump out availability make for a game that shines in almost all aspects. It’s hard to find many knocks against this title, and anyone who is a fan of strategy games or quirky titles will want to grab this for sure.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Outrageous PR

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