At first glance, Samurai vs Zombies Defense looks like another band-wagon jumper. It's full of the undead, dripping in freemium trappings, and its gameplay is borrowed from dozens of other successful titles.
Of course, that first glance is entirely accurate. But in spite of its unwavering reliance on ideas and mechanics that other games have already pioneered Samurai vs Zombies Defense manages to slot itself together in an entertaining sort of a way.
It won't court the fluttering eyelids of the high-brow set, but if you enjoy killing reanimated corpses with a sword, some arrows, and a spattering of magic, then you could do an awful lot worse.Dealing out honourable death
The game is set in a side-scrolling strip of feudal Japan, and casts you as the titular noble warrior. You've been hired to protect a village from vile hordes of recently deceased soldiers, hiring more muscle as you fight.
You can run left and right along the battlefield by pressing on the appropriate side of the screen, but your standard bow and sword attacks are handled for you when you get within range. Rechargeable super-moves are unleashed by tapping buttons at the bottom-right.
As you fight, your leadership increases, which lets you spawn more troops to back you up. To start with, only flimsy villagers will come to your aid, but soon you'll be spewing out armoured warriors and accurate bowmen for your cause.Ronin with the top down
Every battle you win earns you coins, which you can spend on upgrading your samurai, as well as beefing up the village's defences and training your units to be more proficient fighters.
Of course, this being a freemium title, you never have quite enough coins, but the balance is tilted enough in your favour that it doesn't make too much of a difference.
Glu Credits, which you can buy with real-life cash or earn by playing the publisher's other games, let you purchase more exclusive loot, but the game is easy enough without them.
Clever design means you're always being pushed back by the zombies. Dodging out of the way of attacks to replenish health and wait for backup is often your only option, but it gives up a few metres of precious ground, as the flesh eaters inch towards an all-you-can-eat village buffet.Slash and burn
After a while, the lack of control you have over your samurai becomes telling. He's hacking and slashing away, and it looks like a lot of fun, but you don't really have anything to do with it. Repetitive gameplay doesn't help matters either.
In short bursts Samurai vs Zombies Defense is a lot of fun. Its cartoon gore and excellent animations are a pleasure to watch, and it keeps the tension pitched just right. Over longer plays, though, its shortcomings become a little more obvious.
While it won't set the world alight, Samurai vs Zombies Defense is a solid and dependable slog, with some nice touches, a decent helping of violence, and the odd visual flourish that's more than worth a second glance.