Skulls of the Shogun takes turn-based strategy and, to use a technical term, squishes it around a bit. The end result is an entertaining, witty cartoon romp through the afterlife with a bunch of skull munching samurai.
It might not quite have the depth and minute tinkering that some turn-based strategy devotees crave, but it's a welcoming, enjoyable experience that's likely to appeal to people who don't usually take the time to consider their tactical options.
You play as General Akamoto, a samurai warlord who, on the verge of becoming Shogun of Japan, is stabbed in the back. He wakes up on the shores of the afterlife, now a skeleton, and decides that the best way to get revenge is by taking over this new realm.
He soon has other dead samurai flocking to his banner, and the game walks you through the basics of play in a series of skirmishes. Your army is made up of individual units, all with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Infantry are stout but slow, riders can attack then retreat, monks offer buffs and debuffs, and archers can lay waste to your foe before they even get a chance to react. At the heart of all this action sits your commander, but if Akamoto dies it's Game Over, so protecting him is of the utmost importance.
Battles are quite small, and each of your units can move a certain distance and perform one action per turn. Later in the game there are resources to occupy that let you call for reinforcements and use more powerful spells.
Once an enemy has been killed you can send one of your units to eat their skull. Eating skulls gives you a little more health, a little more strength, and if your unit eats three it becomes a demon and gains one extra attack per round.
The touch controls work well, with single taps and double taps letting you choose your units, and movement handled by dragging your finger around the screen.
Things can get a bit muddled when your units are tightly packed together, but a handy 'next unit' button means you can usually bypass any problems.
Fights are essentially balancing acts. You need to work out which foes you need to take down first, and how reckless you can be with your own men, all the while making sure your commander is protected.
Sam, you're all right
There's a simple pleasure to be found in watching your enemies fall before your blades and bows, and it's made even sweeter by the fact you can to devour their skulls afterwards to make you even stronger.
Throw in a strong cross-platform multiplayer mode and you're left with an engaging, funny game that's hard to dislike and gorgeous to look at. This is turn-based strategy done brilliantly, and if any game is going to change your mind about the genre, Skulls of the Shogun could well be it.